From April 8-10, 2022, 10 Scouts from Troop 160 (along with their families and siblings from Pack 1540, Lab 314, and Troop 7) arrived at the beaches of Normandy, France to witness about the historic deeds and sacrifices made during World War II and to experience the BSA Transatlantic Council’s 10th Normandy Camporee.
The Normandy Camporee is held every three years and brings together many of the BSA’s youth who are abroad, with parents in military or diplomatic posts across the European theater. Over 2,700 attendees packed a section of Omaha Beach bringing together French Scouts and BSA delegations from France, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. A handful of US units made the flight including a few families from fellow NCAC Troop 2012 in Aldie, Virginia.
“Scouting not only brings youth together to learn skills, but to learn from each other and history,” noted Scoutmaster Michael Hanson. Troop 160 opted to ‘twin’ with a group of French Mousses (Sea Scouts) from Saint-Brendan Saint-Nazaire at the end of the Loire River. The Scouts played games on the beach, traded neckerchiefs, and listened to a Scoutmaster Minute at the grave of Medal of Honor Recipient and Virginia native 1Lt Jimmie Monteith.
Though the Scouts themselves had some language barriers, with the help of the Scoutmaster and the Mousses Leaders, they soon found that they had a lot in common. A quick game of “Have you ever?” detailed sibling rivalry is international and no one likes to clean their room. Though the Scouts might agree that the highlight of the twinning was sharing in the tradition of roasting marshmallows and eating s’mores around a campfire.
Outside the planned camporee events, Troop 160 spent a number of hours touring the local museums cataloguing the land invasion of Operation Overload and the airborne deployments. They were able to get up close and personal with the remnants of artillery bunkers along the coast, walk into the ruins of the artificial harbors at Gold Beach, climb in the bomb craters at Point du Hoc, and see the preserved Pegasus Bridge which was the first engagement of D-Day. Troop Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Yusuf S., reflected, “I can’t imagine what it felt to invade that beach, standing in the frigid water, wearing a standard army uniform, and carrying hundreds of pounds of gear!”
After two days of activities and a touching closing ceremony at the American Cemetery, Troop 160 and their families returned to Virginia with some new friends, an appreciation for the World of Scouting, and greater respect for the men and women who fought and died for freedom.