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Question of the Week: Songs on the Road

In 1972, at the age of 15, I was one of several hundred other American Boy Scouts going to the World Jamboree in Japan. The Jamboree was at Osagari Heights on the slopes of Mt. Fuji.

I was too immature for such an adventure. I had not traveled by jet ever. The only foreign experience I had was either to Canada or Tijuana, Mexico. Normally boys so young were not allowed to go to World Jamborees. But the Japanese Boy Scout organization was worried that they would not financially break even on the event, and so asked the Americans to send as many boys as possible.

You can imagine how strange it was for me. First, you are with 50 teenage boys and there were only four adults managing the group. Second, the food was weird and I refused to eat it. (I lived off of the corn dog stands that existed outside every temple we visited.) Third, the toilets were different! And finally, you could be in one of the baths getting clean and women would come in totally naked and bathe with you! How bizarre could it be?

To top it off, the jamboree was hit by a typhoon. When the pit toilets overflowed and raw sewage began to run through the campsites, the Western Scouts were evacuated. We were sent to the gym of a girl's school with about 250 other boys. We were issued a green wool military blanket, given about six square feet of floor space to live on, and fed seaweed/rice cakes for two days.

When it finally came time to go home, and I was so ready to go home, the driver of the bus turned on Armed Forces Radio. The first song they played was John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." The whole bus cheered. I am reminded of how great it is to return home every time I hear John's song.



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