WHEELING - It was 1937 when a 14-year-old Carlyle Farnsworth boarded a train in his hometown of Parkersburg and traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the very first National Boy Scout Jamboree.
During the 10-day event, Farnsworth and the 20,000 other Scouts in attendance saw President Franklin Delano Roosevelt drive by in a car to inspect the troops, watched a series of baseball games between the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox, and toured the Potomac River by boat. He has vivid memories of camping out on the National Mall, of meeting Scouts from all over the world and of cooking his own meals each day.
Now, 76 years later, Farnsworth has visited the National Scout Jamboree in its new West Virginia home, where the Boy Scouts of America honored him and others who attended the inaugural event. That ceremony took place last week at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia's New River Gorge region, site of this year's National Jamboree.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Carlyle Farnsworth of Wheeling holds a picture of the Parkersburg Boy Scout Troop in which he was a member and participated in the very first National Scout Jamboree in Washington, D.C., in 1937.
Farnsworth, a Wheeling resident, said there is a world of difference between this year's event, which wraps up today, and the 1937 Jamboree.
"There's nothing like it," he said in reference to this year's Jamboree. "It is quite different from the first Jamboree, because of so many activities today for young people that didn't exist when I started out.
"This is unbelievable what you see in West Virginia. ... The rifle range is second only to what the NRA has ... It is just mind-boggling to be there and to see it. ... The zip lines impressed me the most - they can get you traveling up to 60 mph!"
An estimated 50,000 Scouts are attending this year's Jamboree.
Farnsworth said shortly after he arrived at the Jamboree site this past weekend, Scout officials converged on him to see what memorabilia he had brought from the very first Jamboree. He met Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock, who signed a special Jamboree patch for Farnsworth's grandson, Holden Farnsworth, and later presented him with a special event medallion. Farnsworth said one young Scout, after asking him a question, even asked to have his picture taken with him.
"It was such a wonderful experience. ... I was very grateful for their consideration," he said of the Scouts, also thanking the office of Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., for assisting with his visit. Farnsworth attended this year's event with his wife, Sue, and Dr. Robert Vawter of Wheeling.
Along with attending the first and most recent Jamborees, Farnsworth attended the 1987 Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., to commemorate the Jamboree's 50th anniversary.
He has served as area vice president for the Boy Scouts of America, received the Silver Beaver Award and the Silver Antelope Award for the East Central Region.
Farnsworth remains an active member on the local Scout council.