1989 brought a trip to the National Jamboree at Ft. A.P. Hill, Virginia. Our troop combined the jamboree with visits to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Williamsburg and Norfolk, Virginia. We flew into Baltimore, and spent two nights in Washington’s Maryland suburbs, seeing the sights between the two cities. Amazingly, the adults left us alone, and without my dad on the trip, I felt slightly liberated. We felt so liberated, that my small group visited both the Air and Space Museum, and a museum dedicated to American popular culture in the same day. Baltimore taught me one thing: Fuddruckers was a funny name for a restaurant. But they did accept travelers’ checks.
We managed to cram visits to historical Williamsburg, an aircraft carrier in Norfolk, and Busch Gardens amusement park in one day. I actually displayed good judgment in this amusement park visit, avoiding the roller coasters, thus, avoiding public vomiting. Kids at that age don't appreciate the Williamsburg sites like the adults. I should return someday.
Despite using the land of the armed forces, the National Jamboree afforded us no mess hall, and no canvas tents, but we acquired bus access. Multi-colored tent cities and Dutch ovens sprung up all over the place. In the first few days, one of our more irritating comrades got racked in the scrotum with a wayward yoyo. Everybody laughed at his pain. It is a sight one cannot "un-see." I still talk about it to this day.
One of the more interesting activities involved patch and pin trading. Each troop belonged to a larger council or conference. Each such group had regular patches for the shoulder of the boy scout uniform, as well as special Jamboree patches. I had 25 extra Jamboree patches, and five special Jamboree patches with gold trim. Evidently, these had some value. People handed out patches left and right. Others traded seriously. People tried to rip me off for my gold-trimmed Heart of America Council patches. I eventually surrendered just so people would leave me alone. I still have three of those special patches, though. Anyone who tells you these patches have value is fooling you. They only have value to the few people who collect them.
Later in the week, the scoutmasters told us to put extra stakes down for our tents. They didn’t say why, other than the vague term “bad weather.” Since we came from Kansas, we understood several types of bad weather. But, word spread that a hurricane spun our way. My understanding is the hurricane, or tropical storm, had made landfall in the Gulf states, and now the remnants were screaming in our direction. How fortunate that we had double-staked tents to ride out the storm! Apparently, tents in other troops’ sites blew over. We also learned the previous Jamboree in 1985 took a more direct hit from a real hurricane.
The week ended without fanfare, and a lot of us ready to fly home. President Bush spoke to the jamboree on the next-to-last full day. Lee Greenwood performed, and I learned of the poison that is "God Bless The USA." For whatever reason, our flight from Baltimore to Kansas City required a one-hour layover in Charlotte.