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Jamboree 2007: A Great Sense of Community
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by Janis K. Oppelt | 2007

Jamboree kindles the spirit of community and productivity in defense of the environment.

What do you get when you combine members of the Maryland chapter; a picture-perfect fall weekend in the Catoctin Mountains—complete with changing leaves; and an agenda full of educational workshops, networking time and loads of fun? Jamboree 2007, of course! 

From October 19 through 21, first-time attendees discovered just how rewarding a weekend with like-minded environmentalists could be. Veterans of past Jamborees also reveled in the opportunity to air problems and share solutions, to listen to innovative ideas and offer a few of their own, and, of course, to visit with old and new friends. Even visitors to Maryland—and to the chapter’s functions—exclaimed over the positive experiences.

Annie Sanders, an environmental organizer from Green Corps (http://www.greencorps.org/), attended her first Maryland chapter jamboree. Annie said, “I was excited to meet so many passionate and committed members from throughout the state. I enjoyed being part of this group, which came together for a good time and also wanted to get involved in helping to protect the state’s environment.”

For the last four months, Sanders has worked closely with members of the Prince George’s County group on their Cool Cities efforts. In early December, she and her colleague, Claire Miller, whose focus has been Greater Baltimore County, moved on to their next assignment.  At the Jamboree, they conducted three valuable workshops: volunteer recruitment, relationship building, and campaign planning.

 “People in our workshops were eager to learn and were lots of fun,” Sanders said—an opinion with which Miller heartily agrees. “Everyone had things to contribute—experiences, issues, problems etc. Annie and I weren’t the only sources of information.”

Many others who attended the Jamboree also felt that their time was well spent, and relished the chance to be out in the woods on such a beautiful weekend. As Miller opined, “It was very wholesome.”

The Jamboree planning committee should be congratulated on the varied and interesting workshops offered. Here are just a few examples of topics from which participants could choose: leadership development, solar energy basics, Native Americans and naturalism, introduction to invasive species removal, and native grassland.

In addition to a good balance of educational opportunities, the Jamboree planning committee used creative techniques to encourage networking. At mealtimes, it arranged seating in varying groups, such as similar geographic locations or areas of interest. This small but effective decision made it easier for people to mingle and immediately have something in common to talk about.

Last but not least, the Jamboree was fun! One clear highlight of the weekend was Saturday night’s bonfire complete with song-singing and marshmallow-roasting. Another was the closing ceremony on Sunday. Both of these special times delivered an “amazing sense of community” for Sanders and Miller.

To close the 2007 Jamboree, attendees came together in a circle and held hands. Walking together toward the center of the circle, each person was asked to say one word that represented the weekend for them. Words like love, community, nature, and organizing rolled off their tongues. Returning to the outer edges of the circle, everyone was reminded that they had all come together to learn about the environment and how to protect it, and that it was now time to go back to their respective communities to make Maryland a better place for all.   

> 2007 Table of Contents

   
   

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