Facebook Twitter



The 216 participants in the eighth Annual Jamborette for Scouts with Special Needs spent Saturday engaged in the types of activities enjoyed by Scouts everywhere.

They learned archery, cheered at a canoe race, hiked through the woods on a treasure hunt, crafted key chains, constructed toy rifles and dressed up like mountain men.But some of the Scouts at the Jamborette, which began Friday and concluded Saturday, were older than their Scoutmasters. This year, the oldest participant was 58.

They are "mentally Scout age," said Mike Mortensen, a recreational therapist at the West Jordan Care Center who accompanied 10 severely retarded men to the Jamborette.

Jay Higbee, 38, showed off a key chain he had made by stringing brightly colored beads and stamping designs into leather. What did Higbee enjoy at the Jamborette? "A lot of things," he said, especially the meals.

Mortensen said the pride in accomplishing a task is a big part of what participants take from the Jamborette. "They get really excited when they get to complete something," he said.

Ino Stokes, director of the Jamborette, said the event provides the mentally and physically disabled with the opportunity to have experiences many Scouts take for granted, such as camping outdoors.

"It's a big event for them," Stokes said. "Anything you do for them, they love. Anything you do. You could burn their dinner and they'd love it."

Among those helping the Jamborette participants in their activities were Scouts from area troops. Many were there to earn a merit badge in handicapped awareness.

Jason Lojka, 10, said he was impressed by the participants and "the neat way they do things. They talk different and have different emotions. They're pretty funny, too."

Some, like 13-year-old Phillip Chipping, come back to volunteer, even though they have already earned their badge. This year, he helped the participants shoot arrows.

"When they hit the target, it made them feel good. I felt good that they did, that they could achieve," Chipping said.

The Jamborette is sponsored by the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America and is the only such program in the West that includes an overnight campout, Stokes said.

The theme of this year's Jamborette, which was held at the Boy Scouts' Camp Tracy in Mill Creek Canyon was, "Wigwam Rendezvous."