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National Scout Jamboree 1973 & 1977 - Portersville PA

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The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), a youth organization founded in 1910, held a National Scout Jamboree (NSJ) in Washington D.C. in 1937 and usually every four years since. Moraine State Park in Butler County played host to the 1973 and 1977 editions of the NSJ. The 8th NSJ was held in 1973 at two sites – on August 3-9 at Moraine and August 1-7 in Farragut State Park in Idaho – and attended by over 73,000 total Boy Scouts. The 9th NSJ was held at Moraine on August 3-9, 1977, and attended by 28,600 Boy Scouts. Pictured above is a Boy Scout Troop from Weymouth, Massachusetts, that attended the 1973 Jamboree. (1973) Full Size

The 16,725-acre Moraine State Park was opened in western Butler County in May 1970. The park is centered around 3,225-acre Lake Arthur, formed by the damming of Muddy Creek and other streams. The park played host to about 40,000 Boy Scouts in August 1973 and 28,600 Boy Scouts in August 1977. The 9th NSJ is remembered for the thunderstorms and heavy rains on Aug 6-7, 1977, that turned the Scout camps into muddy quagmires. The boys came to refer to the area as “More Rain” State Park. Unfortunately, the 1977 event is also remembered for the death of Cal D. Armstrong, a 14-year-old Boy Scout from Utah that was struck by lightning on August 6 and died four days later in Jameson Memorial Hospital. (c1980) Full Size

A typical Boy Scout camp at “Jamboree East” in August 1973 – held at Moraine State Park. (1973) Full Size

An overhead view of one of several campsites along Lake Arthur in August 1973. (1973) Full Size

During a severe storm on Saturday, August 6, 1977, fourteen-year-old Cal D. Armstrong (1962-1977) of Santaquin UT was struck by lightning while running between camps. Cal, an Eagle Scout, was taken to a U.S. Army medical tent before being rushed to Jameson Memorial Hospital in New Castle. His family flew in to be by his side. Sadly, he passed away four days later – a week before his fifteenth birthday. He was buried in his hometown in Utah. (c1977)

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  1. hello, i was wondering if your county has any archived photos of the 1973 scout jamboree. i work with a gentleman who attended that event as a scout and
    was one of the scouts who participated in the flag ceremony to honor president eisenhower when he passed. i am trying to find the picture of that for him, if you are able to locate that, if you have it, could you please email me a copy of the photo. thank you

  2. Do you know who was the music headliner at the 1973 Jamboree.

    I was there and think I remember but would like some independent confirmation.

    I have found no mention of entertainment for the 1973 event listed anywhere on the internet

  3. (EDITOR’S NOTE) David, the celebrity guests at the 1973 Jamboree East included entertainer Danny Thomas, Archbishop of New York Terence Cooke, Harlem Globetrotter Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, and NASA astronaut Gene A. Cernan. Jeff

  4. I was at the 1977 Jamboree with the Grand Canyon district troop. I remember the day one of my fellow scouters was struck by the lighting. I was within 100 yards of where Cal got hit by the lighting. I never saw him but I can still remember the flash and how loud the thunder was. I myself was running between tents and must have jumped up about 3 feet. Scared me right out of my wits, even more so now knowing it could have been me. In the days that followed everybody was praying for the scout. I never knew if he survived or not until I found this site today. Overall my experience at the Jamboree was a good one, with the exception of the constant rain and now finding out about the death of a fellow scouter.

  5. I was at the 1977 jamboree with the US. Army 10th Combat Support Hospital. You can see the Army Hospital location marked on the map above. I had shamefully forgotten Cal Armstrong’s death until finding this site. I was an Operating Room Tech., but worked with the Dentists and had charge of the Oral Surgery unit. My vague and prone-to-error memory is that we did not treat/addmit Cal since he was immediatly evacuated. I do have fond memories of my 3 weeks there. I just missed running around the lake with then Olympic Decathalon Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner. My friend Spc. Terry Spradlin did run with him. But I did have lunch with Burl Ives in the Army Mess Tent, easily the most memorable lunch I ever had! 38 years later I recall the event with GREAT admiration and respect. I truly miss those times and all of us who were there.

  6. Burl Ives performed at the 1973 Jambo.

  7. I do not know if Burl Ives was at the 1973 jamboree or not. I was not there. Jeff the editer does not mention him above. But I promise you, whether or not he was a performer or guest or entertainer, he was there in 1977. I can name military officers and enlisted men who were also there and had lunch with us. Sincerely, Brian Blanchard.

  8. (EDITOR’S NOTE) In a previous post seen above I listed the celebrity guests that appeared at the 1973 Jamboree at Moraine. The celebrities at the 1977 Jamboree included entertainer Burl Ives, Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner, country singer Dottie West, astronaut Karl G. Henize, and Miss Teenage America Becky Ann Reid of Dallas TX. Another special guest was 88-year-old Thomas J. Keane, a former U.S. Navy officer who revamped the Sea Scout program back in the 1920’s. Burl Ives did not appear at the 1973 Jamboree, but he did perform at the 1977 Jamboree and again at the 1981 Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. Jeff

  9. I was at the 1973 Jam at Moraine State Park. My Wife and I used the map from this wedsite and took a weekend trip there. Oh my, how things have changed.
    Big tree in the area we had our camp( camp 22 I think).
    The Amphitheater is still there with the poles that were used for the stage. I remember seeing Danny Thomas on stage and the fireworks were awesome until something happend in the fireworks area, that was the end of the fireworks show. It was a long walk from camp 22 to the Amphitheather. We measured it at 1.1 miles.
    It is a beatiful park and well worth the trip. There are campgrounds nearby, no camping in Moraine State Park.

    Troop 251 Wales Hollow NY. Hub of the Universe !

  10. In the 1973. The music head liner, were the Carpenters. I was there. I remember them singing “Top of the World”
    Karen Carpenter, God rest her soul.

  11. I was at the 1977 Jambo.
    My memories and experiences are still clear and vivid today (I’m 55y/o now). At the age of 15, I was in awe of the amount of scouts there, and I question the official number of scouts in attendance. Official dress was the green shorts, green short sleeve shirt, green knee socks, and red beret. I remember watching the long lines of scouts marching 4 abreast heading from all directions into the natural ampatheater where the final ceremony was to be held. I could see up on a hill a long red line of scouts! It was this closing ceremony that I remember so well! The fireworks were the best I had ever seen!!! Amazing show! Our troop won the honor of serving lunch in our camp with Bruce Jenner. Oh, and yes, the rain!
    Thanks to my incredible scout leaders – real men who took the time to help develop the skills and morality in a 15 y/o punk to become a man.
    thank you men, for your guidance.

  12. I was at the 1977 Jamboree when Cal Armstrong was struck by lightning. I was with my co-assistant scoutmaster Thomas Lee Mack who administered cpr to Cal before the army medics arrived and took over. We were in a nearby camp when the lightning stuck and one of Cal’s fellow scouts ran into our camp calling for help.

  13. I was Senior Patrol Leader of our troop. Cal D. Armstrong was one of my scouts. I was playing Frisbee in the rainy field with him when he got hit and I felt the electricity travel up my legs and into my chest. I doubled over and when I looked up there were leaders already giving him CPR. I can say that there was not a better boy scout there. We found out later that he had had surgery on his skull when he was younger and the metal plate in his head may have been a factor in attracting that fatal strike. I will never forget that moment.

  14. I was in college at Slippery Rock and a group of us worked at the jamboree in 1973 cleaning porta john tanks next to the showers. The jeeps would go around and collect them and bring them to us. We’d dump, clean and sanitize them. I remember working long days, often til midnight.

    It’s one of the most unusual jobs I ever had (the other is working cleanup after the Johnstown flood). I was one of 2 girls working there (we never met but I heard about her) and I worked just as hard next to the guys. Of course I was lots younger and stronger then! We got used to the smell after about an hour.

    I was an anomaly so I had my picture taken quite a bit. Since we worked behind the scenes, I haven’t found any photos. If anyone has any, send them on! My kids will never believe me.


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