West Virginia Hosts 24th World Scout Jamboree With More Than 41,000 Attending Scouts

Aug 1, 2019
Originally published on July 31, 2019 6:54 pm
Copyright 2019 West Virginia Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now to West Virginia, where tens of thousands of young people from more than 150 countries are gathering. It's for the 24th World Scout Jamboree. It's being hosted in the U.S. for the first time since 1967. Glynis Board of West Virginia Public Broadcasting sends this report.

GLYNIS BOARD, BYLINE: More than 41,000 high-school-aged Scouts descended on a 10,000-acre surface coal mine in West Virginia repurposed for outdoor adventure. They've temporarily created the state's second-largest city. The majority come from troops across the world, including Randy Williams from Suriname, a tiny country in South America.

RANDY WILLIAMS: It was my dream to take part in the jamboree. Four years ago, my neighbor girl - she went to the jamboree in Japan, and I was interested, so I began to go to Scouting.

BOARD: Typical Scout jamborees give kids opportunities to collect individual merit badges. The World Jamboree focuses instead on cultural exchanges. Kevin Peacock from Denver says he has a new appreciation for Scout values shared globally, like kindness and trustworthiness. He's forged understandings living alongside kids from other countries.

KEVIN PEACOCK: We're right next to a troop from the Netherlands, and we've just really hit it off. We've had dinners together. We've shared a lot of music. And we've just hung out with the two of us. So the friendship I have with this one Dutch troop is probably going to be the thing that I carry with me for the longest.

BOARD: When they aren't dancing or trading badges or biking 32 miles of trails or learning to scuba dive in one of four above-ground Olympic-sized pools or learning to handle a gun or whitewater rafting or zip lining across a lake, Scouts explore educational exhibits like the sustainability treehouse. Repurposed materials, wind turbines and solar panels are featured in the 5-story treehouse.

ISOBEL PEEL: It was very interesting to see that it would be so easy to change the world. We just don't. I think it's just a lack of effort.

BOARD: Isobel Peel is from Wales. She's among the roughly 40% of Scouts at the jamboree who are young women. The Boy Scouts of America just opened their doors to young women this year.

PEEL: I think that we should start integrating this into our usual lives. This would be a good idea for the future, considering global warming and all that.

BOARD: It's the largest Scout gathering in the world since, well, since Scouting began in 1910. The U.S. Scouts national director of outdoor adventure Al Lambert says that the scene of world peace in West Virginia is inspiring and that the founder of the Scout movement, Robert Baden-Powell, would be very pleased.

AL LAMBERT: It was the dream of Baden-Powell that if we could get kids from around the world talking to each other and sharing a common set of values that, when they grew up, they could solve problems.

BOARD: The next World Jamboree will take place four years from now in South Korea.

For NPR News, I'm Glynis Board in Mount Hope, W.Va.

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