Remembering Mark A. Smith, founder of Jeep Jamboree

marksmithOn June 9, 2014 a legend passed away.  It is fitting that Mark Smith was eulogized on the website, as the man had contributed so much to Jeep culture over the years.

From the Jeep blog:

There are certain types of people who only come around once in a lifetime. They are the kind of people who regularly inspire everyone around them and bring out the best in others. Mark A. Smith, founder of Jeep® Jamboree USA, was one of those once-in-a-lifetime people. Today, we’d like to take a moment to remember Mark, who passed away at the age of 87 on June 9, 2014.

We recently spoke with Pearse Umlauf, Vice President of Jeep Jamboree USA, about his experience working with Mark and some of his favorite memories.

When did you first meet Mark?

I met Mark in 1996 at the second annual Camp Jeep event in Camp Hale, CO. Mark had been asked by Chrysler to build the off-road test track and staff them with experienced guides. Camp Jeep participants had the opportunity to test drive a variety of Jeep brand vehicles over the off-road course. It was a huge success. I remember being told back then that Mark was an off-road icon. He was sitting on the back of a pick-up truck wearing his trademark white cowboy hat next to his one-eyed dog named “Jeep.”

What were some of the major highlights of Mark’s career?

Mark started Jeep Jamboree back in 1953 with the first organized trip on the Rubicon Trail. Mark loved scouting new Jamboree locations around the United States. We would frequently receive calls from local Chambers of Commerce offices in small town across the U.S. asking us to host a Jamboree in their community. Small towns loved the Jeep Jamboree program. They saw the positive economic impact to the local businesses, plus our participants are some of the nicest people in the world, so it was a win-win.

One great story was in Martinsburg, NY, where the local volunteer fire department hosted all of our meals. They would pull their fire trucks out in front of the firehouse and everyone would eat inside. After the 8th or 9th year, the Martinsburg Fire Department was able to purchase their first-ever new fire truck because of the income generated from the Jamboree. Mark enjoyed knowing that the communities were benefiting from the Jamboree.

The Jeep Jamboree organization is known by fans across the country. How did Mark help it become a nation-wide event?

Expanding the program wasn’t a problem. As I said before, local communities from across the United States were courting Jeep Jamboree USA to host events. We still receive about 10-15 requests a year from local townships wanting us to host a Jamboree in their community. Also, participants that attended a Jamboree would go home and try to get one start in their hometown. Mark would scout many of the locations to see if they would meet the criteria and standards of hosting a Jamboree.

You can read the entire post HERE.

Jeep Jamborees are a great way to get outdoors, meet new people, and interact with the Jeep community.  You can find out more about upcoming Jeep Jamborees HERE.