None of the 10,000 or so Boy Scouts and their leaders seemed to take today’s poorly scheduled end of the world seriously as they enjoyed the New Jersey State Police/Boy Scouts of America Camporee at the New Jersey National Guard training grounds in Sea Girt.
ALL PHOTOS: New Jersey State Police
“Today is not about the end, but about the assuredly proud future of a generation of Boy Scouts who place service to country, state and community above self,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, the New Jersey State Police superintendent.
“We are proud of the partnerships and great volunteer efforts that make this event possible,” Fuentes said.
As in 2007, attendance at the largest scouting event in the country this year was maxed out, as youth from all 21 counties and hundreds of towns statewide gathered to earn merit badges and see shows.
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Troopers from a State Police helicopter descended ropes to help capture “bad guys” fleeing from justice, while K9s and other troopers used an armored truck to enter the “crime” scene.
Scouts climbed a rock wall operated by the New Jersey National Guard, while others learned the science of Emergency Preparation to earn merit badges (very useful in end-of-world scenarios, by the way).
“Scouting prepares young men to be leaders, to be fair and ethical, and to have fun along the way,” said Craig Shelley, Scout Executive for the Jersey Shore Council.
“We believe there is a great match between our ideals and the ideals of the New Jersey State Police,” Shelley said. We are grateful for their partnership that enables this tremendous event to happen.”
Dozens of displays — bomb robot, police boats, army helicopter and all the things that make Scouts quiver with excitement — occupied the massive crowd for the entire afternoon.
Around 5 p.m., selected Scouts had the honor of serving dinner to nearly 130 special invited guests: the New Jersey Gold Star Mothers and their families. These are the families of our armed forces members who lost their lives while serving our country. The Scouts do this as a small token of appreciation for their sacrifice.
“I really believe this dinner will be a great starting point to form a bond between the Boy Scouts and the Gold Star Mothers. Our families receive a powerful healing from respect expressed by United States citizens and the public recognition of their loss,” said Judy Tapper, President of the New Jersey Department of Gold Star Mothers.
Tapper’s son, David, was a Navy Seal who lost his life in Afghanistan during his 3rd tour of duty in 2003. During the Camporee’s outdoor evening show, Mrs. Tapper will receive a bag filled with letters of appreciation from a large number of Boy Scouts.
The New Jersey Boy Scout community was buzzing with news of a visit from national Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca of Irving, Texas. Sure enough, he was surrounded by thousands of scouts clamoring for a photo or a special collector’s patch from the top man in the BSA.
Scouts also besieged the Colonel, one of the Bergen County’s favorite songs, as he mingled during the day’s activities.
Fuentes is speaking at this evening’s performance, which is supported by a 17-by-30-foot video projection screen. Fuentes is a member of the NJSP Pipe Band, which will be one of many featured performers during the show.
The Camporee is a Herculean effort spearheaded by the NJSP and the Jersey Shore Council of the BSA.
Their other major partner is the New Jersey National Guard, which provided the location as well as numerous pieces of equipment needed to accommodate so many people on the grounds.
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