Be Prepared

Evan and Family at Centennial National Scout Jamboree

In my last blog post, I mentioned I’d be spending a week and a half working as a member of the archery staff at the BSA National Scout Jamboree, helping the Boy Scouts of America celebrate its 100th Anniversary.   Well, I’m happy to report that I made it back to work last week, safe and sound despite having spent 10 days surrounded by sharp flying objects. 


This being my first BSA National Jamboree, I didn’t really know what to expect.   “Boy Scout camping” typically involves getting away from civilization, sleeping in small tents in the woods, being surrounded by nature, practicing outdoor skills, sitting around the campfire at night, singing silly songs, roasting marshmallows.  But for me and the other 45,000 Scouts and adult leaders who attended the 2010 National Scout Jamboree, this was a very different “camping” experience indeed.

To be fair, the Jamboree is not really about “camping” at all.  We were not away from civilization; on the contrary, with 45,000 people in attendance, the Jamboree was approximately double the size of Fairfax City, where my office is located.  And just as in Fairfax, the Jamboree had almost all of the modern amenities you can imagine — multiple shopping venues, concerts and entertainment every night, even air conditioned bathrooms and shower houses to help keep us comfortable while we created memories for a lifetime.   Oh yes, and lots of modern technology.

Modern Technology in Boy Scouts?

When the Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910, the latest advancement in communication was the manual telephone switchboard. Now, 100 years later, the BSA has fully embraced modern technology.  All Jamboattendees had access to wireless Internet connection.  Portable cell towers dotted the landscape, and Scouts were encouraged to bring and carry cell phones to communicate with each other and their leaders.  A text messaging system was used to communicate important alerts directly to Scout leaders, staff, youth, or visitors, and an emergency notification system was in place to broadcast directly to Scouts, Scouters, and their families. 

Technology was the rage throughout the Jamboree.  Those visiting the Merit Badge Midway were able to earn the Inventing Merit Badge — the newest BSA Merit Badge.  At the Technology Quest program area, my son and I got a taste of Robotics (the next BSA Merit Badge under development) by using the device that modern surgeons use to perform robotic surgery. 

There was even an “Extreme Duo” who wore cameras attached to their heads to deliver an immersive day-in-the-life sampling of their experiences which you can view on the jamboree Web site.  Check out the video segment that’s posted at and you’ll see the Extreme Duo at the archery range where I was working.  If you look real close, you’ll even see me towards the end of the video (my face is obscured by shadow, but I’m one of the instructors in the bright yellow shirts).   

Technology was also at the forefront of Jamboree health and safety preparedness.  The Jamboree had 20 fully staffed medical centers and hundreds of roving EMTswho were able to access an electronic medical record system that, with a simple scan of a jamboree ID card, delivered almost instant wireless access to a patient’s medical record and enabled medical staff to record treatments electronically and track public health trends.  Fortunately, there were no major injuries that I’m aware of — just lots of little ones.  I’m still itching from a spider bite that made my arm swell up. 

What Does All This Have to Do with Elder Law and Estate Planning?

Much has changed, in Scouting and in our society, in the past 100 years.  Like everything else, today’s Estate Planning is very different from the Estate Planning of yesteryear.  When I started practicing law in 1987, a General Power of Attorney was an extremely simple, one-page document; today, my powers of attorney are twenty-page documents — not because longer is necessarily better, but because the law and society have become much more complex.  In 1987, most people used Wills to transfer their assets at death.  Today, most people use living trusts to transfer assets at death in order to avoid probate because of the complexity of the probate process.  As for Elder Law — in 1987, the field of Elder Law didn’t even exist. 

But one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 100 years — either in Scouting or in life — is the need to plan ahead and prepare for life’s eventualities.  The Boy Scout Motto — “Be Prepared” — is as important now as it was in 1910, and it applies to Estate Planning and Elder Law just as much as it applies in Scouting.   You never know what life is going to throw at you, but if you plan ahead and expect the unexpected, you’ll always Be Prepared.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.