Local Scouts visit D.C. for jamboree

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - A group of local Boy Scouts ventured through New England earlier this month to tour America's roots before landing at the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in Washington, D.C.

Eleven boys from Snoqualmie Valley Troop 466 spent six days touring Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Washington, D.C. and Mount Vernon before arriving at the jamboree. There they met up with a larger group of Scouts from the Eastside chapter of the Chief Seattle Council to form Troop 737 especially for the jamboree. Troop 737 camped with 40,000 other Scouts from across the country for 10 days.

While at the jamboree Scouts could earn 80 of the 102 different merit badges available in the Boy Scouts organization through training from top Scout masters from around the country. Troop 737 earned 144 merit badges by the end of the jamboree. Activities consisted of everything from fishing to a confidence course.

"It was a huge accomplishment and we were able to get involved in scuba diving, shotgun shooting, conservation [and more]," said Doug McClelland, Scout master for Troop 466. "But the merit badges were just part of it. The activities were phenomenal."

The jamboree is held during the summer every four years at AP Hill, Virginia. This was the first jamboree for everybody from Troop 466 who attended. Each Scout had to pay his own way and most raised the bulk of their money by selling popcorn at Safeway and QFC.

Jamboree-goers were divided into 20 different camps representing all the regions of the United States. Troop 737 was in sub-camp 7, or the "Northwest Camp," which consisted of more than 1,500 Scouts from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. Each troop set up a display that symbolized their region of the country. Troop 737's included a gateway mural of Mount Rainier, a Seattle cityscape and other Washington landmarks. They also took along items donated from Boeing, Microsoft, Costco and REI.

Those Scouts representing the Eastside included: KC Bailey, Jimmy Dunn, Lucas Eiffert, Stephen Eytel, Nic Gaudio, Tony Gaudio, Ben Grandlic, Stephen Hannan, Craig Hauser, Matt Lynne and Jacob McClelland.

Gaudio, 15, of North Bend earned his engineering and nuclear science badges at the jamboree and hopes to return to the next jamboree in 2010 as a Scout master.

"I think my favorite part was just being there, getting to experience a once-in-a-lifetime thing, having fun and meeting new people from all across the country," Gaudio said.

He added that the mood changed, however, when two Scout masters from Alaska were electrocuted and died on the first day.

"Nobody wanted to do anything; we were all feeling sad. It happened right across the street from my camp site. We could hear people screaming - that was the scariest thing; not knowing what happened at first and then finally hearing about it," Gaudio said.

But the Scouts carried on, enjoying events that included a speech by President Bush. Unfortunately, none of the Scouts from Troop 466 got to meet him.

Scorching hot days meant Scouts got to practice some of their survival skills.

"It was certainly one of the

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