July 2010, Fort AP Hill, VA - National Scout Jamboree
Legendary Olympic gold medalist, X-Games champion, skateboarder and snowboarding pioneer, Shaun White signing autographs. He traveled cross country, from the X-Games in California, where he competed the evening before, to be with Boy Scouts and Venturers.
It's a shame the POTUS, Barack Obama, did not find time to make the 12 minute flight in Marine One. Instead of helping celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, the honorary President of the BSA visited the TV show The View and later met with Jewish community leaders in a NYC deli. Sure, the stops were on his agenda, but I guess addressing 40,000 males aged 12-20 and 3,000 females aged 14-20 just wasn't important enough to bump those critical meetings. But really, these things are extremely difficult to schedule: just how often would he have the chance to meet prominent Jewish people in a NYC deli? Plus, The View only airs 5 days a week, year-round.
The hard truth is, the BSA is simply not Mr. Obama's demographic. Although, the annual address to the nation does make for a convenient photo-op. After all, the BSA is charted by the US Congress. Just as well, then Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, gave a wonderful speech during the daytime arena show. See, Mr. Gates himself is: an Eagle Scout, a Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow and recipient of The Distinguished Eagle Scout award. Later, in May 2014, Mr. Gates began his two-year term as voluntary, national president of the BSA. So, the POTUS patch of the day became more valuable, with the distinguished Mr. Obama declining to appear; the Scouts and Scouters got to listen to a man who knows the importance of, and cares about, our youth organization.
Anyway, above photo is Shaun White signing my son Jacob's hat. Needless to say, it made a twelve year-old's day! Our Scouts woke up early and got in line: waiting and waiting. As they got close to the front, it was announced that Mr. White would have to leave soon, to catch his plane back to Los Angeles. The older Scouts, from his Indian Waters Council Jambo Troop, rolled Jacob under the temporary orange fencing to make sure he got a chance to meet the iconic X-Gamer and Olympian. Jacob has never worn that hat again - it is a cherished keepsake of youth. Now 18, he can still tell you exactly where that autographed hat from 2010 is.
Thank God, some people of importance and fame still get it. They understand how positive and life-changing Scouting can be for our nation's youth. I remain ever grateful to Secretary Gates and Olympian Shaun White for cheerfully sharing their time, visiting the last Jamboree ever held at Fort AP Hill.