President Bush joined more than 30,000 Boy Scouts from around the United States and other parts of the world during their "Jamboree" in the eastern state of Virginia.
This year's Jamboree began tragically, when four scout leaders were killed in a freak accident. They were erecting a dining tent and were electrocuted when one of its poles hit a power line. A few days later, unusually high heat at the camp site near Washington, D.C. left some scouts sick and dehydrated.
But the Jamboree went on, the weather eased, and as the gathering drew to a close, the Scouts honored the four leaders at an event headlined by President Bush.
"As scout leaders they devoted themselves to helping young men develop the character and skills they need to realize their dreams," Mr. Bush says. "These men will always be remembered for their leadership and kindness."
The president had never before taken part in a Jamboree, and the White House went out of its way to make sure he would be able to attend. His appearance was postponed and rescheduled twice due to summer storms and the heat. He said he could not pass up the chance to pay tribute to America's long tradition of scouting.
"Millions of Americans have pledged the scout oath: 'On my honor, I will do my best.' And through the generations, scouts have made America a stronger and better nation," Mr. Bush said. He urged the scouts to strive to be men of conviction and character, and to stay true to the lessons learned in their years of scouting. "When you follow your conscience and the ideals you have sworn as a scout, there is no limit to what you can achieve for our country," Mr. Bush said.
The president noted that he was a scout as a young boy in the state of Texas. He added that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reached scouting's highest rank as teenagers, Eagle Scout, as did former President Gerald Ford.