Aiden Rabbitt, 14, of Baker was the only Boy Scout from eastern Montana to attend the National Jamboree in West Virginia July 15-29.
By Angel Wyrwas
Aiden Rabbitt, 14, of Baker was the only Boy Scout from eastern Montana to attend the National Jamboree in West Virginia July 15-29. “About 35 scouts met in Billings and 35 scouts met in Missoula to fly to Washington, D.C.,” said Aiden. But the journey to get on the plane began the previous November.
“We had to fill out a lot of forms and send in to the state commission,” explained Aiden. “They have to back check everything and you wait 30 days to see if you’re accepted.” He received an email notification that he had been accepted.
Aiden has been in Scouts since third grade. “It took a lot of popcorn sales to make this trip happen,” he said. The young entrepreneur and soon to be high school freshman has averaged $4000 in popcorn sales the last three years. Aiden has also owned and operated his own lawn care business for the past three years.
The scouts gathered in Great Falls in June for a meet and greet event before heading to the Jamboree. Once in D.C. the Montana group boarded a bus and toured the Iwo Jima, Air Force, Boy Scout and Einstein Memorials.
On Sunday, the scouts visited Arlington National Cemetery. “The Changing of the Guard was an emotional experience,” said Aiden. That afternoon they visited the Smithsonian Institution. Sunday evening they toured the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials.
The next day was about government. In the morning they visited the Capital Building, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. “We had a private tour of the Pentagon,” said Aiden. “It was incredible. We couldn’t go in any of the rooms except the 9/11 Memorial but we walked through all the main areas. It was different than I expected. Some people live there so there is every kind of restaurant, basketball courts and theaters. There’s four Starbucks and two Dunkin’ Donuts in the Pentagon.” That evening the scouts toured the Washington Monument, WWII and Lincoln Memorials.
On their way to the Jamboree the next day, the scouts visited Mt. Vernon and Monticello. “I really liked Monticello,” said Aiden. “The house designed by Jefferson was so different. It had things in it that hadn’t been thought of before, like doors in different rooms that could be shut at the same time.”
The Jamboree took place at the Summit Bechel Reserve in Mt. Hope, West Virginia. The 10,600 acres of property sit adjacent to New River Gorge National River. Over 30,000 participants and leaders converged on the camping ground to enjoy 10 days of comradery and activities.
“One day was set aside for Day of Service,” said Aiden. “My group helped at a homeless cat shelter. I got the best job. While everyone else cleaned cat boxes and built houses, I got to play with two military dogs. Throwing balls, brushing them, bathing them. That was my job for seven hours.”
One day was also set aside for a Day of Worship. There were different church services all day and no activities were open.
There were hundreds of different activities including mountain and rock climbing, skateboarding, BMX biking, swimming, concerts and scuba diving to name a few. “I went scuba diving,” said Aiden. “It was great. We were in a crystal clear pool and they even had fake coral in there for the experience.”
President Donald J. Trump visited the Jamboree. He spoke Monday evening as the seventh of eleven sitting Presidents during a Jamboree to attend in person. “My feelings have nothing to do with politics,” said Aiden, “but it was really neat to actually be in the same place as the President of the United States. Not a lot of students ever get to say that. We were only about six rows in, so very close.” Their group was close enough that if you look at a photo of the President on stage at the Jamboree you can see Aiden in an orange shirt and a red cap off to the right.
“The whole experience was great. It is really a once in a lifetime trip because only 12-18 year olds can attend and it only happens every four years. I’m so glad I had the chance to go,” said Aiden. “The World Jamboree happens in 2019. I think that would be a super experience too.”