Tri-City scouts climb Mt. Fuji in 1971

July 11, 2012 

These not only went outside the county on their jamboree, they went outside the country.

This Scout jamboree was different

By Jini Dalen
Herald staff writer
Published on August 22, 1971

They slept in tents, cooked outside, climbed a mountain and it rained a lot.

Other than that, you couldn't call it your typical Boy Scout camping trip.

Tri-City Scouts who returned Thursday from the 13th World Jamboree held in Asagiri, Japan, at the base of Mt. Fuji, are telling tales about:

-- Being rained out of their tents when a typhoon struck and 36 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

-- Moving their sleeping bags to a temple and being ousted from there to an Army camp because the next day was a holy day.

-- Awakening to an earthquake while spending the night at the Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo.

-- Discovering that no one would cash their travelers checks the day President Nixon declared the wage-price freeze -- several days before their return home.

Other than that?

"I think I'd stress it was more of an 'experience' than a pleasure trip," Wayne Caplinger decided.

Caplinger, 618 Newcomber Ave., scoutmaster for Troop 202, Richland, served as assistant scoutmaster for Jamboree Troop 1154 made up of 19 boys from the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Eastern Oregon.

Goal of the eight-day gathering of about 25,0000 Scouts was "for understanding" and there was a lot of that.

"Our boys would get together with scouts from other troops," Caplinger said, "and talk about all the things you're not supposed to talk about in other countries -- like religion, sex, politics.

"But that's really what it's all about," he said.

Son Wayne II, 14, who'd been reading up on the fabled, mysterious Orient, got a shock when he arrived there.

"Just change the lettering on the signs," he concluded, "and you could be in New York City."

Eagle Scout Jay Sumsion, 2005 Pullen St., Richland, who was surprised with a party for his 16th birthday at camp, was most impressed with the friendliness of the Japanese people.

"Especially the little kids. Those Cub Scouts thought Americans were the greatest," he recalled.

"They'd salute you and ask for your address and your autograph. I never had anyone ask for my autograph before," he grinned.

Jay saved two years to pay for his trip.

"I picked so many cherries I never wanted to see one again," he said.

But he'll be back on the ladder next summer since he and several friends plan to return to Japan in two years "to do all the things we missed this time -- like staying in a Japanese home."

His brother Dale, 13, a Star Scout, will be up there with him to earn money for the 1973 jamboree in Norway.

Jay made the mistake of washing his clothes the day the typhoon hit.

He thought all that wind added up to a good drying day.

"But then it was like someone dumping a giant bucket of water over the whole place for three days."

His sleeping bag is still soggy two weeks and 6,000 miles later.

Others making the trip included Tom Seaton, Richland, who served on the jamboree staff, and Scouts Howard Rickard, Roger Jay Sharp and Eric Doman, Richland; Robert Ness and James Batch, Pasco; Joe Atwood and Bruce Kerr, Kennewick; Vern Don Mason and Scott Davidson, Hermiston; Mark Madison, Echo and Dennis Wickham, Pendleton.

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