At the 2017 Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, the focus is on the youth. Activities are centered around ensuring the thousands of young visitors have a memorable experience. However, behind the scenes, the adult staff members that keep the camp running are having those same life-changing moments. 

We are greatful for the hardworking staff at Jamboree. Its great to know that despite all the work, they were able to make plenty of great memories. Some great memories were made by Debany Henriksen, works in a Scout Shop in Orem, Utah, and her husband, Bruce. Her husband shared their story about the experience he and his wife had while working at Jamboree this summer. Read their story below:


Bruce Henriksen, ready for a day at the canopy.

Hello from the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. My wife and I have been here twelve days now and I can truly say this has been a life-changing event for us.  Some things we expected. Many, many things we didn’t.

I’m here primarily because my wife, Debany, works for National BSA at the Scout Shop in Orem, Utah. She received a call from the Summit Territorial Manager in May who asked her to seriously consider coming and helping staff the Trading Posts. She said she would come and then looked at me and said ‘We’re going to the Jamboree’!

We put in our registrations and got the process going.  We knew she would be working at the Trading Posts but I needed a place to serve.  I found out that when you are approved as a staff member they put your resume on something like a computer bulletin board, and you start receiving offers to serve.

My first offer was for the Skateboarding venue but that didn’t excite me. My next offer was for the Canopy Tour. I did some research and thought maybe I could do that one, so I accepted.

The Canopy Tour is basically zip-lining from one platform to another in the treetops, over many gorges and creeks. There are 4 different courses, each having 4 zip lines each.  Two have the zip lines that end with a 35-foot rappel and two on a walk-off bridge. You travel at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and reach heights of up to 135 feet off the ground, with zip lines up to 825 feet in length. In other words, super fun.

After accepting  I received an email letting me know I needed to qualify as a level 1 guide.  “Here is your manual. Start studying.” I wasn’t expecting that. So in some of my spare time, I had to work in some study time. I soon found out there was a lot more to this than I realized. 

Next, I received another email with a link to some training videos to watch.  I was told to expect some intense training when I arrived. Okay, starting to feel a little intimidated but still feeling like I can do this.

Debany and I arrived on Thursday the 13th. We went to the Ruby Welcome Center and got ourselves registered and went to our lodgings. In the morning we rode the shuttle bus down to Camp Echo where the staff was staying. We had a wonderful breakfast. The food was great. I had a meeting with the Ariel Sports team and was told to show up at the Canopy on Friday for four days of intense training with a test on Tuesday to see if I could qualify as a level 1 guide.

The next four days my wife Debany worked in the Camp Echo Trading Post while I went to training from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Long days and a LOT to learn.  The training was excellent and very thorough.  Over those four days, I experienced 49 zip line trips, so it wasn’t all work. 

Tuesday came and we spent all day testing.  Wednesday morning we finished the last of the testing and I was very relieved to find out I passed and was now a level one guide.

Wednesday was the day the Scouts arrived in camp so in the afternoon we opened some of the courses for those who wanted to do the course. 

As the Scouts and leaders began to come on the course it was a very rewarding experience to be able to meet with individuals from all over the country from various backgrounds as they came through. The most enjoyable part has been seeing young men and young women come through who had never experienced anything like this. Many times fears are expressed, but with coaching and encouragement, they take that first zip-line trip in the trees.  After going through the course everyone I’ve talked to has very excited about what they had experienced. This has made all the work and time invested worth effort involved to be able to do this.

We still have three days to go and we are looking forward to each day and will be sorry to see it end.

Being at the Jamboree has been a very fun, rewarding experience.  It has had its ups and downs.  This is the first year they have provided shuttle buses between camps and venues.  It has taken about a week to get them to run smoothly which has resulted in some interesting logistical experience getting to where we need to be when we need to be there. I had heard the weather was hot and muggy, but I spent some time living in New York City and I can say that the weather in West Virginia isn’t that bad. The Summit is in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains so it is cooler in the mornings and evenings and not unbearable in the afternoons.  We expected mosquitoes and insects but that hasn’t been the case.

Debany has been working in three different Trading Posts which are situated in large tents and are very hot inside which makes for very long days for her.  We also were getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to get to where we need to be on time.

But being here has also had its rewarding experiences.  Mostly the people you meet from all over.  Scouting brings some of the best people together from all over the world to the Jamboree and it has been fun and enjoyable getting to know many of them and sharing stories and experiences.  Everywhere we have gone we have been treated with kindness and courtesy. Plus, as I mentioned above the food has been great at the dining hall.

One of the highlights here at the Jamboree was held last Sunday at the LDS Church Services in the main arena. Many significant Church leaders were there, making it a special experience we will always remember.

Debany and I are serving as Scribes at a Wood Badge course when we get back home and will be doing the Interfaith presentation there. So, we went to Catholic Mass and the Duty to God exhibit.  Our thoughts were that nowhere else allows different faiths to come together in such peace and harmony in one place like it can in a Scouting environment. It was pretty special.

So despite the long days, the hot July weather, the shuttle mix-ups, getting bit by a poisonous caterpillar,  etc. it has been a very rewarding experience and we are grateful to be here. The best part has been the people. The youth and adults that come together to pull off this miracle in today’s world.  Thanks so much to Scouting for the experience.

Yours in Scouting,

Bruce & Debany Henriksen

Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.

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