Loaded with their sleeping bags and exhausted after a 22-hour bus ride, 35 area Boy Scouts returned to Cape Girardeau Thursday morning from the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Bowling Green, Va.
Scoutmaster Bill Eddleman said the local Boy Scouts "had a blast" at the Jamboree, which started July 25 and ended Wednesday, even though it grabbed national headlines for tragic events. On July 25, four troop leaders were electrocuted when the dining tent they were erecting hit an overhead power line. About 300 Scouts suffered heat-related illnesses July 27 after waiting for an appearance by President Bush.
While the weather was stifling, especially during the early part of the week, Eddleman said, his Scouts weren't really affected by the high temperatures. A few of his Scouts had minor symptoms of heat exhaustion, like headaches, but Eddleman said no one got very sick because they were all hydrated.
Eddleman said the boys had the most fun swapping patches, because each Boy Scout area council provided its own commemorative patches for Scouts to trade. He said many of the boys donated some of their Jamboree patches to the sons of the Scout leaders who died earlier in the week.
Several memorial services for the four troop leaders were held around the camp, and Scouts observed a moment of silence at the stage show Sunday, when the president spoke.
Nick LeGrand, 14, of Cape Girardeau said he missed the memorial services, but he donated a few of his patches to the victims' families. LeGrand, a Star Scout, said he ended up with about 30 patches after trading with other boys.
But LeGrand said his favorite part of the Jamboree was seeing President Bush.
"I thought it was kind of awe-inspiring that the president would come and see to a bunch of Boy Scouts," he said.
An estimated 70,000 people came to hear Bush speak, and LeGrand said his troop ended up sitting near the back of the audience. LeGrand said their seats were better July 27, when Bush was originally scheduled to come.
"I was there in the front few rows so if he would have come, I could have gotten some really cool pictures," LeGrand said.
The local Boy Scouts also spent several days visiting sites in and around Washington, D.C., before and after the Jamboree.
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