|Parkersburg, W.Va. August 2010 – Hundreds of Boy Scouts attending the 100th anniversary National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, learned the age-old art of woodcarving from a dedicated team of volunteer instructors with support from Woodcraft Supply and its partners. The young carvers were fulfilling the requirements of the Woodcarving Merit Badge, one of many badges that scouts could complete at the Jamboree’s Merit Badge Midway. Originally part of the woodworking badge, in 1927 woodcarving became a separate badge.
Over the last century, Scouts have earned more than 117,649,000 merit badges and in the process learned lifetime citizenship lessons, personal fitness habits, and life skills, and, in some cases, gained a lifelong hobby or a career, according to information on the scout Web site. National Jamborees, which have been held roughly every four years since 1937 (17 so far), offer numerous activities for scouts, in addition to merit badge work.
“Woodcarving has always been popular,” said Paul Ries, coordinator of the woodcarving booth. “In 2005 we had over 1,050 completed merit badges. This year, with over 120 merit badges offered, we had in excess of 650 merit badges completed. Usually the badge takes each scout between 2½ and 3 hours to complete.” Carvers worked in a 20' x 100' tent on the Midway.
Woodcraft’s involvement as a Jamboree sponsor dates back to the 1997 event. The purpose, according to Jody Garrett, Woodcraft vice-president for marketing and merchandising, is to expose young people to woodworking and woodcarving. “The Boy Scouts is a good organization to do that,” he said.
During his visit to the 2010 Jamboree held July 26-Aug. 4, Garrett was impressed with the instructors and the professional environment they provided at the carving tent. “There are 35 instructors—volunteers who pay their way to the Jamboree, live in Army barracks, work 8 to 5 with barely time to eat lunch. These folks are passionate about woodcarving and want to teach the next generation.”
“It is a very controlled atmosphere. No one is allowed in the tent unless they are carving so there will be no distractions,” Garrett said. “The kids were serious about learning, and the instructors were serious about teaching.” Each instructor helps from one to three scouts at a time as they learn about safety, carving tools, and woods for carving, make basic carving cuts, and finally carve a project.
Carving tools are always sharp, thanks to a person dedicated to sharpening them as soon as scouts return them. This is part of the safety regimen, Garrett said, explaining that a sharp tool is safer than a dull one because it requires the carver to apply less pressure to make a cut. Only one scout experienced an injury (it required three stitches), according to Ries.
To ensure that the young carvers had the appropriate tools and accessories, Garrett said Woodcraft donated thumb guards and carving gloves in several sizes, scrollsaw and bandsaw blades, and carving brochures. Woodcraft also arranged with its partners to provide a 10" bandsaw (from Rikon), a 20" VS scrollsaw (from DeWalt), and carving knives (from Flexcut).
“Without the support Woodcraft has provided we simply would never be able to offer the type of program that we presented this year,” Ries said. “The supplies, printing, and encouragement that Woodcraft provided were invaluable to me as the coordinator and to the booth operations as a whole.”
For more information about Woodcraft, contact the store nearest you, visit www.woodcraft.com or call (800) 535-4482. To see more about the Jamboree, go online to www.bsajamboree.org.