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Jamboree unites youth from Central, South

By Major Frank Duracher

Southern Spirit staff

Girl Guards, Salvation Army Adventure Corps Rangers and Boy Scouts from the USA Central and Southern territories forged friendships during "X-plore 2006," a week-long camping jamboree held at Coker Creek in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.

Over 600 youth and leaders met for the first-ever jamboree shared by the two territories. The Central Territory has held a jamboree every three to four years since the 1980s. The event has proven so successful that the Southern Territory accepted their invitation to join the fun this summer.

"It's good for the kids of both territories to meet new friends and discover that The Salvation Army extends beyond geographic boundaries," said Captain Kelly Igleheart, Southern territorial youth secretary.

Corps groups from Florida to North Dakota traveled great distances for the jamboree. Several corps in the Northern Division (Dakotas and Minnesota)banded together for a 22-hour trek to Tennessee. Igleheart said that the jamboree also allowed youth program leaders from both territories to exchange ideas.            

Divisions from both territories were paired at campsites over the sprawling acreage, encouraging the youth and leaders to bond. Groups were responsible for the tents in their area. Some meals were cooked over open campfires. Each division was also assigned certain daily chores to keep the event running smoothly.

Elective classes were available for youth to attend, many of which enabled emblems and badges to be earned. Large groups were scheduled for more intense afternoon and evening activity, such as white-water rafting, cave exploration, hiking and horseback riding.

"In our territory, another advantage we've found is that these jamborees are a great way for our kids to earn these awards - in fact, we've seen an increase (in earning badges) by as much as 600 percent," said Major Bob Webster, Central territorial youth secretary.

Evening programs emphasized the urgent need for today's youth to put Christ first in their lives. Christian comedian Nazareth and college football star Keith Davis gave their witness, resulting in scores of young people coming forward to commit their lives to the Lord, many for the first time.

Two representatives from the USA Western Territory were present all week to observe, leaving the door open for the possibility that youth of three territories may meet at the next jamboree, tentatively scheduled in about four years.



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