We may not realise it all the time, but the Scout Method is embedded in everything that we do as Scouts. At the recent World Scout Jamboree, it was the foundation of the youth members experience.
World events serve as a great reminder as to why we Scout. Our Purpose may be educational, but it is through the Scout Method that we share a universal bond with peers from across the globe. The World Scout Jamboree was an opportunity to witness and experience our Scout Method in action – especially a few key elements!
We were part of a massive community – an international community bonded by shared values and a rich 110+ year history. We were involved within this community purely by this connection and interaction with others from all around the world. Many Troops and individuals made connections with others within this greater, global community (and their own smaller Troop community) that they will now keep for the rest of their lives.
Learning by doing began at the start, and just kept going. We learnt how strict and structured site setup in BSA is, how plans change and we just keep going, and how travelling in mass is both a beneficial and frustrating experience! If anyone returned to Australia without having built some resilience, we would be surprised. Cancelled flights, delayed flights, missing buses, interesting food distribution, queues and more queues, overnights in hotels, universities and airport terminals, to name a few!
The Summit Bechtel Reserve, one of the Boy Scouts of America’s High Adventure sites and the home of the World Scout Jamboree in 2019, has been developed as part of a large Scouting project. There would be few places that could rival the engagement with Nature and the Outdoors facilitated by this site, which was formerly a coal mine. Bordering the New Gorge River National Park, the Summit Bechtel Reserve site spreads across more than 4,000 hectares, with access to an additional 28,000 hectares in the neighbouring parks. Journeying from base camps to activities could have meant you were walking for nearly 2 hours to reach an activity on the opposite side of the campsite, which provided perfect opportunities to not only admire the natural surrounds, but also make many friends from around the globe. From the picturesque Mt Jack, also known as Garden Ground Mountain, to the numerous winding trails across the site, the twelve days on site were spent in and amongst a revegetated and regenerating site, dodging thunderstorms, rainstorms… and an occasional bear or deer.
Patrol System was embedded from day one, with the Australian Contingent gathering as Troops and then splitting into their Patrols to head out and begin exploring Washington DC. The Patrols banded together tightly and continued to operate as small teams – choosing the adventures that they would go on (and trying not to get lost in the process!) and planning and completing tasks when they were Duty Patrol (making sure everyone was fed and happy!)
If anyone returned to Australia without having touched on advancing their Personal Progression, then they would be few and far between. This could have been through learning new skills and techniques in activities; increasing fitness; increasing their patience and tolerance of queues and uncontrollable events; learning how to navigate through a vast array of terminals and gates across multiple airports; developing resilience with the continuous streams of gate changes, flight delays, transport changes, event modifications and changeable weather systems; or simply making many friends – the opportunities were plentiful. What each person learnt will be different, although the experiences may be common.
Just like any Scouting event, the Promise and Law was the framework for the code of living and expectations for all attendees. At a world event, we see over 100 nations represented in one location, which is more than the number of member nations in the United Nations! Whilst each National Scouting Organisation may have different wording for their Scout Promise and Law, all have been designed to align with the original intent exemplified by our Founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, incorporating the Principles of Scouting. These tenants provide a common understanding and platform for fellowship, friendship and respect.
Whether you are exploring the unknown or looking wide, the 24th World Scout Jamboree was about unlocking a new world. Each of these themes represent a Symbolic Framework which provides theming and structure to the experiences and event. For many Australian Scouts, the World Jamboree was a whole new world. Whether it was the activities, friendships, opportunities or sheer scale, for all 680 contingent members, it could be safely said there was something new for each of them.
Youth-Leading, Adult-Supporting was highlighted through the entire program – from the Australian Contingent Pre-Tour all the way through to the day everyone arrived back in Australia. From choosing what activities they wanted to do and the places they wanted to see, to needing to plan, acquire food and cook the meals for their Troop. Youth Members led from the front and were ably assisted by the Adult Leaders who were there to support them. In addition to this, Youth had a role in the running of contingents (including the Australian Contingent), running of sub-camps and activities and were also a key part of the Jamboree Organising Committee.