Buffalo Trail Council

The 6th National Jamboree was held at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Gary Stillwell, a Life Scout at the time, and a member of Post 83 and also a charter member of that group, recalls the 1964 Jamboree. "We left for the Jamboree in late June and got back in July of 1964. 1 know this for a fact, because Steve Napper and I both had our 16th birthdays while we were on the trip, Steve's was on July 4th and mine was on June 30th. Our trip was made by bus. There were four bus loads of boys and leaders. I think each bus carried 50 people. Our leader was a man named Wilke. He worked for Humble and lived in Andrews. I will never forget him, he was a good man. I remember that we had a prescribed list of things to take. We were allowed only a certain number of items, and some things were definitely prohibited, such as live animals and plants.

We left one morning, a Saturday, I believe. I remember all of the parents and girl friends standing around to see us off. We were so excited we could hardly stand it. During the next twenty-one days we were to go through and stop at Dodge City, Kansas, Niagara Falls, New Jersey, New York City, Valley Forge, and a number of cities that I can't remember. I do know we went through 18 states and Canada. We spent eight days at Valley Forge. Dodge City was our first night out and we stayed in an elementary school. I remember going to old Dodge City, a western store front town, and I remember that night in the school, we all used our air mattresses and took showers in the boys locker room. It seems that about 98% of the boys had their first major problem the next morning trying to repack their duffle bags without their parents help. Some never got all their belongings back together correctly after that first night.

We spent either one or two nights in New Yark City, only a few blocks from Time Square. I remember seeing topless bathing suits for women on mannequins in the store windows. In 1964 that was really something. We spent our time just walking around New York sight-seeing. We rode the subways, saw the Empire State Building, rode the Stanton Island Ferry, and went out to see the Statue of Liberty. I remember it was raining most of the time we were there. We just ignored the rain, we stayed wet for those two days. While we were in New York two boys from Midland got lost and spend several hours on the subway before they asked for help.  Probably the prettiest thing we saw while we were on the trip was Canada and Niagra Falls. It really left a fantastic impression on me.

When we got to Valley Forge we thought we had already seen everything. I don't remember now how many thousands of boys were there, but I will never forget the gigantic tent city. There were thousands of tents and Boy Scouts. I can remember our group being on the outskirts of the tent city. I believe that the tent city was laid out to put most states together. The day we got there we had so much to do we could hardly get it done. We had to pitch our tents, dig our latrene, get our food from supply, take our check  in physical, unpack and a number of other things. We had been gone from home for about 10 days, and our first mail call came while we were all stripped to the waist for our physicals. There were about   500 boys standing in line and a truck came by with a Scout standing in the back shouting names of those getting mail. This particularly sticks in my mind because I felt like it was a military mail call, and because I had to make about 10 trips to the truck to get letters, everyone laughed at me because I got so many letters, I was embarrassed.

During our stay at Valley Forge we had many planned activities. There were a lot of patch trading, that seemed to be the thing foremost in the Scouts mind was trading patches. Earlier I said that we were not suppose to take animals or plants with us. To a West Texas kid, a horny toad is just an every day thing, but at Valley Forge they were worth more than solid gold. Some boys from Monahans had brought some stuffed, as well as some live ones. I can remember very well how terrified some of the northern kids were of the toads, and how some Scouts vJere able to get almost any number of patches for one of the toads. However, after a couple of days the authorities confiscated the horny toads that they could find. Believe me, this knocked the bottom out of the horny toad market. Probably the high point of the Jamboree came on the next to last night when President Johnson came to address the Scouts. I remember his helicopter coming down and departing after his speech.

Our trip back home was fast. I think it took only three days. We stayed at an Air Force Base one night on the way home. It was raining and one of the Scouts got hurt when he fell down while running to the bus. We were all excited about getting home. We stopped in Big Springs to let some of the Scouts off there. When we were coming into Midland, our only serious experience occured. We were going to have a police motorcycle escort into town. Our three buses were traveling quite close together. The bus I was in was second in line. As we came into town, the policeman pulled out in front of the first bus. The driver had to slam on his brakes in order to avoid hitting him.

When he did, our bus plowed right into the rear of the first bus. Our driver veered left, so our right front hit the lead bus. Everyone was thrown out of their seats, but no one was seriously hurt. However our bus door was completely smashed in and when we got to the church parking lot the police and bus officials had to pry the door open so we could get out. This was an eventful end to a very eventful trip. We had learned a lot, had a good time, tore up the inside of the bus, sang songs, told jokes, spent our money, took a thousand pictures, scared other Scouts with horny toads, saw the President of the U.S., saw the Statue of Liberty, and the Liberty Bell, saw all types of relies in Philidelphia, rode the subways of New York, and grew up a whole lot.

All of this was possible because we were Boy Scouts, scouting is a good program. I commend all of the leaders who work in the scouting program, all of them have helped a lot of boys grow into manhood.

Information for this page and quotations were taken from West-Texas, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers, by Olan B. Draper.
Last Updated:  September 2, 2013

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