As you learned back in March, the Omaha Beach Camporee invites Scouts and Scouters from across the world to recognize the sacrifices of American and Allied soldiers who fought and died fighting for freedom and peace in 1944, during an unforgettable experience in Normandy, France. The camporee takes place April 21-23, 2017 yet it precedes many momentous events of years past. Diann Johnson of the Mayflower District has attended every Omaha Beach Camporee since its beginning and recounts what the Scouting event has meant to her in a touching testimonial below. Continue reading to learn more about why she continues to attend and why you should make plans to go, too.
The Normandy Experience
I wanted to think about the importance of Normandy and the experience it brings to so many members and families in our Scouting Community.
My family has been at every Normandy event. The event started as an activity for the Mayflower District, of which I am a member. That first Normandy was very special. My family had moved from Dan Beard Council in Ohio only eight months earlier and were missing being active in Scouting. Being with the troop on such an amazing adventure secured our future as being part of the Scouting family in Transatlantic Council for now going on 23 years.
By the third Normandy, I had become Head of Staff Cooking and have been ever since. Being Staff Cook gives me a very special opportunity to meet the members of staff. Sure I spend a lot of time preparing food, cooking and doing the washing up, yet eventually, most staff members need to come to my kitchen to eat and relax. Many share their stories of the new arrivals and trying to sort everyone to their proper location, but there are also the stories of the families as they arrive for the first time ready for an adventure – and for some, a life changing event.
The duties of Head Cook for all these years has not changed. The numbers have increased from about 12 to 60 plus staff in 2014. A lot of mouths to feed but more stories to share. Each and every Normandy has something special to remember and the people who make it happen. My volunteer position helps me to see many old friends which I may only see once every three years. Sometimes it is also a time to remember those who have passed on during the past years. It is also time to make new friends and help make this their best ever experience while in Transatlantic Council.
Finally I need to mention the importance of Scouting to all of us in Transatlantic Council. Those of us, Americans civilians, who have chosen to stay in Europe for whatever reason find that little bit of ‘home’ every time that we are together in Scouting. I also feel so proud to be able to stand together with our military in Europe as we pay our respects on Sunday morning at the American Cemetery, Omaha Beach. The Boy Scouts of America uniform takes away all rank, race, civilian or military, male or female and makes us as one.
Diann Johnson, Mayflower District
Attend the Omaha Beach Camporee!
Discover more about what’s in store for Omaha Beach Camporee attendees and how you can take part by checking out the Omaha Beach Camporee page. Have you attended this camporee in the past? Share your experience in the comments below!