Few, if any, have attended more national Scout jamborees. Monsignor John B. Brady, a Roman Catholic chaplain in Base Camp Delta, has attended jamborees since his first visit to one, in 1937, with his father at age 8.
“It was at Washington, D.C., right in the middle of the city. The only jamboree they ever had in the middle of a city… My father thought it was important for me to see, and it was a life-changing experience,” Brady said. “Franklin Roosevelt spoke and rode through the crowds on the street.”
Brady has been a Scout for over 75 years, and jamborees have always been special. “I’ve only missed a couple. It’s been at least 15 Jamborees,” he said. Brady served as a chaplain for the 12th World Scout Jamboree in Idaho, in 1967, and has visited several other world jamborees.
He’s from Clinton, Maryland, and at 88 years old, he has lived a Scouting adventure many dream of. He found his calling at a jamboree; he had just graduated college and was looking for his career path, when a priest approached him and set him up to go to seminary to become a priest.
He has been a priest for 63 years. At all the jamborees he has worked at, he has been a chaplain. “I like it there because that’s where the action is. In the camp,” Brady said. “Now, I try to locate at least one person at every jamboree who was like me and just needs to be reached out to, like I was reached out to.”
The jamboree is a great place to find out what you want to be. “That’s my favorite part about them,” said Brady.
He pointed to the fact that the 2017 jamboree includes more than 600 medical staff members, including young people going to school to be a nurse, doctor or a medic. “There’s probably every kind of doctor there is here. There’s no place in the world someone can get this kind of experience where they can work alongside a professional like a surgeon, a radiologist, or a nurse… It’s a great place to find out what you want to be.”
The service needed has kept Brady coming back. For the last five jamborees, his responsibilities have included helping to arrange a Mass that is held for thousands of Scouts. It requires quick set up, which he rehearses all year to prepare for.
On weekdays at the jamboree, Brady celebrates Mass at 6:30 a.m. at Delta HQ and then travels around the subcamps during the day. He also visits nearby program areas.
“This will probably be the last Jamboree I attend,” Brady said. “It’s just getting too hard for me.”
“There’s not as many priests now, so I have to cover the whole camp instead of just one subcamp,” he said. But even with his busy schedule, Brady still has a blast at jamboree and enjoys making special moments happen for thousands of Scouts who are attending jamboree just as he did years ago.