In July 2013, a unique educational offering for medical residents and students was created in the New River Gorge in West Virginia. This four-week elective rotation in wilderness medicine was held in conjunction with the 2013 National Jamboree for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and was a first of its kind. There had never before been an organized rotation for residents and students held during a National Jamboree. In addition, this is the first wilderness medicine rotation ever offered by an osteopathic institution in the country. The concept for the rotation was inspired by my visit to the 2010 National BSA Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. My son was a scout attending the Jamboree that year, and my husband and I were visitors at the event. In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America moved the Jamboree to a site near the New River Gorge in our home state of West Virginia. The 10,600-acre site was donated to the BSA by the Bechtel Corporation and is named the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
My husband and I have been involved with the leadership of our local scout troop for the past 13 years. Both of our sons have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. We are both medical professionals. My husband is a firefighter/paramedic, and I am an emergency physician and serve as core faculty for the emergency medicine residency program at Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, W.V.
We had both committed to serving as volunteer medical staff for the 10 day event. In the midst of my excitement about this opportunity, I began to think that it would also be a great experience for EM residents to be challenged with providing medical care at this mass gathering in a wilderness environment.
Coming up with the concept for this medical rotation was the easy part. Turning this dream into reality was a completely different story. Arranging housing for the participants, finding a meeting space for lectures, and locating local resources and instructors for workshops and lectures was very challenging. I was able to reach out to the other Jamboree medical staff members, medical professionals from all medical specialties and from all over the country, and received a very good response. Many were eager to present wilderness medicine topics and were willing to arrive a few days early for their presentations or deliver them as morning lectures on site during the Jamboree. The schedule was arranged to allow most of the wilderness lecture topics and workshops to be completed during the first two weeks of the month.