The 2017 Jamboree returned to the Summit in West Virginia. Many of the difficulties from the 2013 Jamboree had been dealt with and in most cases remedied. Staff accommodations had improved, busses for staff had regular schedules and staff members seldom had to work long hours without relief.

Communication had been a difficulty in 2013, for 2017, Jamboree Today and Leader's Update, were consolidated into a single operation, JamboLink. It covered mass emailing, social media and all communications. Scheduling for popular programs like zip lining or mountain biking were available online. The number of charging stations for cell phones was doubled, solving a problem recognized in 2013.

Entertainment became a difficulty with scheduled groups pulling out at the last minute despite the BSA modifying it’s stance on Gays. Entertainment was not announced until the nights of the performance. During the “Celebration of Scouting” show the lead singer of the band made pointed comments about President Trumps scheduled appearance. It seems that the BSA was coming to grips with how very expensive huge Arena Shows were. $200,000+ for sound systems, more for lighting, etc. After admitting gay youth in 2013, the BSA admitted gay adult leaders in 2015. The BSA’s detractors had gotten almost everything they demanded, but the BSA still had difficulty attracting entertainment.

Donald Trump was President, he attended in person, his speech and attendance caused such a controversy that I’ve covered it elsewhere.
2017 BSA National Jamboree Patches
2017 BSA National Jamboree Patches

One source states that about 40,000 attended. Another says 25,000 and 6,000 staff on opening day. In 2013 visitors were counted in the totals, I’m unclear if they were counted in 2017. Membership had declined so Jamboree attendance might be down. Reduced attendance might adversely affect the bottom line on whether the Jamboree breaks even. The theme was Live Scouting's Adventure and the Summit’s various activities lived up to the theme.
Scouting Recap between 2013 and 2017
So much happened in Scouting between 2013 and 2017 that would affect the Jamboree and Scouting far into the future, it might be worthwhile to recap.

The BSA ended it’s ban on gay’s entering Scout units in the spring of 2013. In 2015 the BSA removed it’s ban on gay Leaders, but again the BSA didn’t seem to derive any benefits. The admitting of openly gay youth and leaders adversely affected membership in some of the more fundamentalist religious unit sponsors. Some conservative families are still resistant to gays. Sometimes for religious reasons sometimes for homophobic reasons, but the fact remains that their children may not receive the benefits of Scouting. It will be interesting in the future to see if gains offset losses. For one hundred years Scouting had avoided getting into societal issues, today the BSA is in front of societal changes.

BSA membership numbers were in continued decline. This affected attendance at the Jamboree. I highlighted in an editorial at the end of my 2013 Jamboree how ferocious and negative national press coverage had been. I suggested that Scouting had real “enemies” and National leaders still hadn’t figured out that our detractors weren’t just well meaning people with different points of view, but real enemies of everything Scouting stood for. You can only placate your enemies for so long before it produces changes in the organization.

Local Council administrative costs had skyrocketed and membership losses created difficulties. A medium size council that previously had six District Executives might now have four. But, there is a Scout Executive, often a Program Director or Assistant SE. A Camp Ranger, an office manager, a Scout Shop manager and maybe a Registrar. Salaries can amount to $650,000+ and operating costs; mileage, meals, travel and office expenses might add another $300,000+ to the Council budget. A medium sized Council might need a million dollars to operate. Modern Scout Executives need to be prodigious fund raisers. Some are not and those Councils are most in jeopardy. Scouting started Endowment Programs years ago, but many councils were slow to get one into effect. Local Councils are unsustainable with membership decreases, small or no endowments or an Executive whose a poor fund raiser.

With Councils merging and membership in decline, Scout camps become a liability. In the past, summer camp had been a profit center for the local council. Camps would be full with 16-20 Scouts in each campsite. With camp’s only half full, often with small 6-8 Scout units, the operating costs of the camp remained the same. Every veteran adult leader has a camp that they remember fondly and often love. Difficult decisions were made and many camps with longstanding traditions were closed. Operating costs for the councils were usually given priority over the needs of camps. The idea that not all councils might even need a camp was being “floated”, much less a couple.

In the early years Scouting was administered out of a rented office in NYC by one Chief Executive, an Assistant and four department heads sitting at desks outside the Executives office. More program support was provided to units doing those thirty years than in the seventy years afterwards. Since the 1960’s Scouting has grown to a become a huge bureaucracy. Ineffective District Executives transfer to another Council. Ineffective Scout Executives often get a job in the Region or National office. There were reportedly over 300 people drawing what might be considered “executive” salaries at the National office in Texas. Scouting professionals can retire after 19 years of service. Professional Scouting has almost become a fraternity, professional people help each other make it to retirement. This is a problem in large corporations where there is plenty of money, but with registration fees declining, Scouting no longer had unlimited funding.

In 2017 National BSA was just starting to understand what the future might look like. In the future we’ll know if placating all of our enemies helped increase membership.
(Below) - There are two varieties of the 7 1/2” backpatch. My source didn’t know anything about them. Type A is the common variety with a Blue Figure of the climber and Front view of the face (2 ears).  Type B to the right features a Black figure of the climber and Side view of the face.
These large emblems were presented to Administrative Staff as an appreciation gift. They were mounted on a large foam board. THANKS Matt Anderson.

There are two distinct varieties (sizes) with unique details similar to above.
Type A 14” x 8 1/2” details like A (above).
Type B 16” x 11” details like B (above).

The Larger one has STADRI embroidered on it, Stadri Emblem (?)
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Paul Myers Goshen, Indiana