GLEN JEAN, West Virginia, Brechtel Family Summit Scout Reserve, 2017 National Scout Jamboree (July 24, 2017): Boy Scouts, Explorers, Venturers and adult leaders set a Guinness World Record this week for the largest group of people simultaneously spinning Hanukkah dreidels. The event was sponsored by the U.S. National Jewish Committee on Scouting (NJCOS). 820 out of the estimated 40,000 Scouts in attendance entered the arena and was given a dreidel.
Then at the set time, the Scouts spun their dreidels for ten seconds, breaking the world record.
The prior record was set in 2014 in Tel Aviv by 754 spinners.
Several hours later, U.S. President Donald J. Trump arrived at the jamboree and spoke to the assembled scouts. It is standard practice to invite the current president to the jamboree, even though the movement remains non-partisan.
Presidnet Trump dropped the “hell” word once, and though he said he would not speak of politics, he did.
The Jamboree had issued a warning on its blog about being respectful. It read: “Chants of certain phrases heard during the campaign (e.g. ‘build the wall’, ‘lock her up’) are considered divisive by many members of our audience, and may cause unnecessary friction.”
But, sadly, President Trump encouraged some scouts to “boo” former President Barack Obama (who was a scout). President Trump also discussed how he won the election, fake polls, and compared Washington, D.C. to a swamp, cesspool and sewer. Some in the crowd broke into chants of “USA, USA.”
President Trump also gave the assembled scouts a lesson in management when he – as a joke – turned to Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and told him he would be “fired” if the Affordable Care Act did not get repealed in a vote this week in Congress. President Trump then took aim at West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who might not support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Trump said to Price, “You better get Senator Capito to vote for it… gotta get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time.”
Trump told the scouts that ten members of his Cabinet were Boy Scouts, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson – a former Eagle Scout – addressed the Scouts on Friday; Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ascended to the stage in his uniform. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a former Governor of Texas, also attended.
President Trump also recited portions of the Boy Scout Oath. He paused on the word “loyalty” … He said, “As the Scout Law says: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal’ — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,” The scouts finished the oath for the President, saying, “helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
Speaking of reverent, and “to do your duty to God and Your Country,” Trump added that, “And By The Way, Under the Trump admininstration, you’ll be saying Merry Christmas again when you go shopping… believe me… Merry Christmas” The Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and other non-Christian scouts were probably happy with that sectarian comment. (Also for at least the fifth time, there was a shomer shabbos delegation of scouts at this year’s jamboree)
Trump also told the scouts a story of a NYC cocktail party filled with New York City society swells that he attended several decades ago. He saw a lonely man there, Mr. William Levitt, who years earlier had been one of the richest men in America. He had created Levittowns and sort of created suburban living in post-WWII America. Trump failed to mention that he was later accused to misappropriation of funds and housing segregation and discrimination, but,… whatever.
Overall, the speech was inappropriate, IMHO, for the audience. I doubt that the BSA will issue an apology, but it creates a great learning moment for troops and scoutmasters: namely, to dissect the speech and point out areas where it deviated from the derech.
The full transcipt is here. It sounded like a scary youth rally and not a jamboree.