More than 250 miles from any open water, Scouts will find more than 80 members of the U.S. Coast Guard and eight of their boats on display during the Jamboree.
Capt. Jeff Westling is the commanding officer for the Coast Guard’s presence at the Jamboree and until recently commanded Coast Guard Base Kodiak in Alaska. This is his third Jamboree, and as an Eagle Scout he’s excited to share the Coast Guard with tens of thousands of Scouts this year.
Numerous displays and activities around Freedom Trail and Freedom Field provide opportunities for Scouts to explore. The eight boats on display include a medium response boat, an over-the-horizon cutter, a port security boat, a 20-foot air boat and a lights and navigation boat.
Westling predicted that the Coast Guard’s most popular activity will be the Damage Control Wet Trainer, a mock-up of a sinking ship used for active duty Coast Guard training. “There’s damage, and you have to stop the water from coming in so the ship doesn’t sink. Scouts can get wet and cool off during the hot day while they’re plugging holes and mending pipes,” he said. Just make sure you wear your swimsuit when you visit the trainer!
The Coast Guard exhibits also offer practical safety applications for all participants. “There are applications for people with small boats, canoes, and other vessels that can leak,” said Westling. Participants can learn how they can mend their own sinking craft.
Another Jamboree activity is the Vessel Stability Trainer, which is used to teach the importance of safely loading boats with a low center of gravity. These boating safety lessons are important for any boater and are part of the Coast Guard’s mission to promote maritime safety.
Scouts can earn a Coast Guard Jamboree patch, and if they visit all of the Coast Guard’s exhibits, they can get a second, limited patch, or pick up a Coast Guard blanket, mug or other swag. Demonstrations include a maritime law enforcement demo and rescue diving demos.
At noon on Friday, the Coast Guard will simulate a helicopter water rescue in Goodrich Lake, off Twelve Points Plaza. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer will jump from an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and demonstrate rescue techniques by saving a mock person overboard, or a “duck,” as Westling calls it. The rescue helicopter is piloted by an Eagle Scout whose son is also attending Jamboree.
After the rescue, the helicopter will fly to Garden Ground Mountain, where Scouts will have the opportunity to explore the helicopter and talk to the crew and its Eagle Scout pilot.
Friday through Sunday, and again Tuesday and Wednesday, there will be meet-and-greets with two Coast Guard admirals, both of whom are Eagle Scouts.
In fact, many of the 80 active, reserve, civilian and auxiliary Coast Guard members here are Scouts. “For some of them it’s their seventh Jamboree, and for one it’s his tenth,” remarked Westling. “Many of them are either Scoutmasters or involved with Scouting in other ways back at home.”