A Mormon chaplain, along with chaplains from other faiths, served 12,000 scouts and 4000 leaders, at the 23rd Australian National Scout Jamboree in Maryborough, Queensland in January 2013. Held every three years, scouts came from every state and territory of Australia as well as from a number of other countries. Amongst these were 35 scouts from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Scouts, who ranged in age from 10 to 15 years, were invited to “Dream It, Live It”, the Jamboree’s theme for the ten day extravaganza of adventure, laughs, and of course the presentation of badges.
Gregory Kearney, a Latter-day Saint, held Church services for Mormon members and those of other faiths, as did the other Jamboree chaplains including Rabbi Peter Moore from Melbourne, and Father Ian Furby, an Anglican Priest from Bundaberg, Queensland.
“I gave out over 500 certificates to recognise scouts who completed activities at the Religious Observance Centre,” said Chaplain Kearney. “Working with Father Furby, we had developed a short general knowledge quiz. This was one of the Passport Book activities which helped the scouts set goals for participation and keep a record of their many Jamboree activities.”
A scout from the Baptist faith attended his worship services and thanked him for his message by saying, “Mormons are Christians just like me!”
Chaplain Kearney also visited the scouts in the Jamboree hospital and found books and games for them. He brought in what activities he could from the Jamboree for them to participate as much as possible.
Chaplain Kearney said, “I tried to encourage the LDS youth to continue with their scouting and show how scouting fits into the current Church youth recognition system.” While the Church has not been formally affiliated with the Australian scouting movement for some years, it encourages its young members to participate in community programs that enhance their skills and build citizenship and the spirit of interpersonal cooperation.
In addition to its own medical centre, the Jamboree was a mini-city with a mall, radio station, and newspaper. One hundred and twenty buses a day took the youth and leaders off-site to local attractions, and more than 80 tonnes of food was consumed.
The 12,000 participants had their skills put to the test, including an obstacle course through deep mud. Chaplain Kearny said, "Any Scout worth their orienteering stamp knows that sometimes the best way to deal with mud is just to grit your teeth and go through it." As a memento, the scouts received a unique woggle to wear during their time at the Jamboree.
Each scout troop was also invited to master a “world first” – six parallel flying foxes consisting of 60-metre-long cables held nine metres above the ground.
The Jamboree was not all dirt and knot tying; it was a well-rounded experience including entertainment by Reece Mastin, Timomatic and comedian Josh Thomas. What all the running, jumping, problem solving, swimming, flying, painting and dancing meant is that scout leaders had thousands of sleepy bodies lining up for their evening Milos.
“The kids finished the day absolutely exhausted at about 10:30 pm,” a Jamboree spokeswoman, Mel Burke, said.