Local physician and veteran Scouter Dr. Don Robinson and his wife, Dawn, Cleveland City School Board member, were among the 8,000 adult and youth staff members at the 2010 National Boy Scout Jamboree held July 26 through Aug. 4 in Fort. A.P. Hill, Va.
The couple have made this pilgrimage every four years since 1993 as staff members of the national jamborees.
“I have been involved with Scouting since my youth,” said Don Robinson. “I have 35 years as a Scout or adult leader.” Currently, he serves on the executive board of the Cherokee Area Council and has been honored with the council’s highest award, The Silver Beaver Award.
Dawn Robinson has nearly 25 years as an adult in Scouting, first as a Cub Scout den leader then as a troop committee member for Troop 10. Scouting has, of course, been a family affair for the Robinsons. All three of their sons, J.B., Chris, and Colby, were Eagle Scouts (as was their dad). Their mother proudly displays her three “Eagle Mom” pins on her uniform. “That always gets a lot of comments,” she said. The Robinsons have been both recognized by the Boy Scouts as James West Fellows.
Scouting has been active in the United States since 1910 and in Bradley County since 1913. Troop 10, sponsored by Broad Street United Methodist Church, is the oldest active troop in the area. It was organized in 1924. An exhibit about Scouting in our community and the centennial celebration of Scouting is being featured at the Museum Center at Five Points through mid-October.
Dr. Robinson attended the 1964 National Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge as a new Eagle Scout. “It was my first time that far away from home. We toured Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia before arriving at the Jamboree. I got to see President Lyndon Johnson there.”
Most presidents have made it a point to attend the Jamboree since it was chartered by Congress in 1910 and it has been associated with good character and patriotism. Scouts have been known for “good deeds” and service, such as war bond sales and drives to collect items needed for the war effort.
National jamborees have been held about every four years (except during the war years) since the first one at the foot of the Washington Monument in 1937. One had been planned for 1935, but was canceled due to a Polio epidemic.
Since World War II, jamborees have been held at various locations, but since 1981, they have been hosted at Fort A.P. Hill, an expansive Army base near Fredericksburg, Va.
“We visited our son, J.B., at Fort A.P. Hill in 1989 at the Jamboree. He was the youngest Scout in his troop. I was never in a hotter environment than that day in 1989,” said Dr. Robinson.
Nevertheless, in 1993, he volunteered to be on the medical staff. In the process, Mrs. Robinson was recruited to be the postmaster of the subcamp, which is a group of troops from the same region, numbering about 2,000 individuals. The Robinsons were invited back in 1997, 2001 and 2005 to serve as subcamp chief physician and postmaster, respectively.
Don Robinson was asked to be in the national senior leadership of the medical team for the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. “We began planning for this Jamboree in 2005 just after the last Jamboree. Hundreds of hours, thousands of e-mails, and several trips to the national headquarters in Texas were spent planning the medical services for this Jamboree.”
Mrs. Robinson took on a new challenge, also. She volunteered and was appointed headquarters manager for the medical service for the entire Jamboree.
“I knew she could do it,” said her husband. “She has excellent organizational and people skills. She was praised up and down the organizational chart of the Jamboree.”
They arrived at the Jamboree one week before the boys arrived and stayed a day after they left, nearly three weeks in all, including travel time. “Basically, there are a few tents up when you arrive, but you have to set everything else up from scratch,” said Mrs. Robinson. “Making things more difficult is the heat. We had several days when it was over 100 degrees,” she said. “We did get to sleep in barracks instead of tents this time, but they were not air-conditioned.”
The highlight of their time at the Jamboree was getting to take a ride on a Blackhawk helicopter the day the boys arrived at the Jamboree. “That’s something not many people get to experience,” the Robinsons agreed.
The Jamboree officially lasted for 10 days, during which the boys could trade patches, do high-adventure activities, earn advancements, or just meet people from all 50 states as well as 25 foreign countries.
There were several large gatherings for shows in the arena, a hillside where 45,000 to 75,000 people came to watch the festivities celebrating 100 years of Scouting. The day culminated with a live webcast of the closing arena show and a giant fireworks display.
The medical service consisted of more than 20 clinics staffed by volunteer physicians of all specialties, as well as nurses, paramedics and other health professionals — all adult Scouters in their communities. In all there were nearly 800 people involved in the Jamboree medical service.
A 50-bed Air Force mobile field hospital known as “Jambo General” also was on site for more extensive medical evaluation and care. Everything from blisters to fractures to heat illness to appendicitis was diagnosed, treated or transferred. Medical care at the Jamboree clinics was comparable to any urgent care clinic in the “real world.”
The medical clinics were equipped with a computerized health record network which could be accessed throughout the Jamboree.
The purpose of the Jamboree staff is to see that the boys have the Scouting experience of a lifetime in a safe environment.
“Volunteering is a way to thank those who have gone before us, by giving back to this wonderful organization,” said Dr. Robinson.
“Scouting teaches many lessons which are useful for living a productive and meaningful life. It teaches servant leadership, achievement, self-sufficiency and goal orientation. We also get to work with some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet.”
The next National Scout Jamboree will be held in 2013 at The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia — a recent $50 million gift to the Boy Scouts of America.
It will be the permanent site of the National Scout Jamboree as well as a year-round high-adventure base.