WAUKESHA — On July 19, 40,000 Boy Scouts, Venturers, Explorers and unit leaders will descend upon Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia for the 19th National Scout Jamboree. The two-week event will give Scouts from all over the country the adventure of a lifetime. Most of them will only attend the Jamboree once as a Scout.
For Kathleen Cummings’ son, Joseph, this year’s Jamboree will be his fourth. Joseph Cummings has severe autism and due to his disability, he will not age out of the Boy Scouts program.
He is allowed to stay with the Scouts until he reaches the age of 99, or he chooses to retire. Last year, the 31-year-old Scout reached the rank of Star. He is part of the brotherhood of the Order of the Arrow. “There’s less than one percent of boys with disabilities that go to the Jamboree,” said Kathleen Cummings, a Waukesha Common Council alderwoman and county supervisor.
She says the Jamboree is truly a special experience that only happens once every three years. It used to be hosted at various locations across the country.
This year, Summit Bechtel Reserve will become the new permanent home of the Jamboree after the Boy Scouts of America purchased 10,600 acres of property next to the New River Gorger National River in 2009. The Reserve will also host the 2019 World Jamboree.
Cummings will travel with the Potawatomi Boy Scouts to West Virginia. “We have thousands of volunteers that go and make this happen for the boys,” said Kathleen Cummings. Adventures aplenty She says the Boy Scouts organization has gone above and beyond in trying to accomodate herself and her son.
They provide transportation, address food issues and can even accommodate those with religious differences. All of the boys will have an itinerary packed with outdoor adventures. “We try to do what everyone else does, but at our own pace,” said Kathleen Cummings. Scouts will have the opportunity to zip-line, rock climb, ride BMX bikes, scuba dive and whitewater raft at the Summit.
Almost every outdoor activity imaginable will be available to them. Scouts will also participate in events that aim to teach them history and encourage leadership skills.
The young boys will get the chance to tour Washington, D.C.. The Potawatomi group plans to take part in a day of community service along the way as they help rebuild a school. “Joseph will have the opportunity to go out there and earn patches and learn new skills, just like all the other boys,” said Kathleen Cummings.