Written by Ben Strong
Nobody embraces preparedness more than the Boys Scouts of America. That is why the United States Coast Guard moved more than six boats, a damage control training simulator, aids to navigation equipment, a weapons simulator, dive and search and rescue equipment and more than 75 people to landlocked West Virginia. The National Scout Jamboree served as the perfect opportunity to share our 11 different missions and safe boating techniques to scouts, visitors and staff from around the nation.
The National Scout Jamboree held July 19-28, 2017, at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, was the place for participants to test their mettle and complete their performance qualification standards, or PQS, and earn the Coast Guard patch. Active duty, reserve, auxiliary, civilian and retirees rounded out a Task Force led by Capt. Jeffrey Westling who returned as this year’s Task Force commanding officer.
There was something for everyone at Freedom Trail, where the majority of Coast Guard equipment was displayed. Scouts received their PQS and started their journey to earn a patch. First, scouts learned about marine life and how the Coast Guard works with fishermen and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The partnership between the Coast Guard and NOAA was further highlighted with a water erosion sand table. The sand table taught scouts about the impact of water and erosion on beaches. From there scouts learned law enforcement techniques or tried their hand at a weapons simulator. Scouts also learned about Coast Guard innovation, vessel stability (think watertight doors, progressive flooding and sinking ships) and how the Coast Guard responds to an oil spill.
Sea Scouts were treated to their own area and challenged with a series of skill stations including knot tying, buoy toss, identifying proper life jacket types and learning about the impact of trash and garbage in the ocean.
“It’s our pleasure to have been invited back to participate with our Department of Defense partners at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree,” said Rear Adm. Dan Abel, Director of Operation at Southern Command and the Coast Guard flag-officer sponsor for the Jamboree. “Besides sharing the Coast Guard experience with young men and women from around the nation, the Jamboree gives us an opportunity to strengthen our relationships with our local, state and federal partners if we’re needed to respond to something in the future.”
Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary were on hand to demonstrate how to fit and wear a life jacket properly. A Coast Guard diver let scouts try on a hard hat diving helmet and Coast Guard aircrew members shared their experiences in search and rescue missions.
If navigation and the boating rules of the road were more your interest there was an aids to navigation station and the entire Coast Guard display was numbered with red or green day markers to help the scouts navigate through the PQS journey.
The highlight of the entire process was the damage control trainer. Scouts donned firefighting boots and entered a mock-up ship compartment where they were challenged to work as a team to stop the ship from sinking. Equipped with wedges, rags and other tools of the damage control trade, scouts were further motivated by actual Coast Guard machinery technicians who enthusiastically encouraged the scouts to stop the leaks. Scouts came away wet, cool and happy after trying to put round pegs in square holes.
“This is an amazing opportunity to share all of our Coast Guard missions with the participants,” said Westling. “Most people, after spending an hour with the Coast Guard, walk away with a better understanding of what their Coast Guard does for the nation. It’s exciting to see the scouts earn their patch and learn how the mottos of the Coast Guard (Semper Paratus – Always Ready) and scouting (Be Prepared) are so closely linked.”