Every three years, Scouts from across the state of New Jersey and beyond come together for the New Jersey State Police National Guard Camporee. With over eight thousand attendees, it will be the largest Scouting event held in the state of New Jersey this year. With a growing interest in STEM, the organizers of the camporee built the entire event around exploring technology. From touring a forensic lab to working with robotics and drones, there was a plethora of events Scouts could attend around the State Trooper Training Academy during the weekend.
The event is well known among Scouts for many reasons, whether it’s watching the parachute team jump out of helicopters or just trading patches with Scouts from around the Northeast. Participants have the opportunity to earn rockers for each station they attend, chasing the ultimate goal to earn all four to complete the circle, This was the seventh year the event took place, and while its program has grown significantly each time, this was the first time the Order of the Arrow (OA) played a role in the day program.
In the morning, Arrowmen scattered throughout the event to meet Scouts and fellow Arrowmen in all of the program areas. They handed out special OA edition event patches, and spread word about an ice cream social happening at the main stage at noon. However, the ice cream social wasn’t just for Arrowmen. The patches were handed out early, but the excitement was already starting to build. A few hours later, the crowd around the stage grew larger, but those who came left with much more than a bowl of ice cream.
By 12:30 PM, nearly one thousand Scouts and Arrowmen were gathered around the stage, their chatter and energy radiating far into the sea of tents behind them. Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh was spotted celebrating with Scouts in the crowd, and those without sashes were deep in discussion with their lodge leadership about how they too could get involved in the OA. Lenapehoking Lodge, in Northern New Jersey Council, brought their own surprise as well. Members of their dance team performed a ring dance for the crowd, which left all in awe of their dedication to lore and tradition.
This contribution to the camporee was a joint effort by lodges across Section NE-5, and truly demonstrated how coming together yields some truly extraordinary outcomes. Shane J., an Arrowmen from Woapalanne Lodge, Patriots’ Path Council, served as the OA chairman for the event, and knew from the beginning he wanted to orchestrate something that brought everyone together. Even though the camporee has had a long history of success, Shane emphasized why the OA needed to play a role. “As servant leaders, making a contribution to an event like this is part of what we do,” Shane commented. “Nothing makes me happier than seeing the spark go off in the eyes of a future Arrowmen, and I think getting out there like this to ignite a spark is valuable for both us and the units we serve. At the end of the day, these are our leaders of tomorrow, and it’s our duty to support them in any way possible.”
The camporee won’t be held again for another three years, but its challenges for participants began as soon as the event was over. From working together to solve large scale problems, to extending a hand to those who need it, the idea of coming together offer benefits that extend far beyond the events that weekend. Shane and the rest of the staff hope to see others follow in their footsteps to provide a fulfilling program for Scouts around the world.