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Liverpool North District Scouts

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Blog | 24th World Scout Jamboree, West Virginia.
10/09/2019 By Stephen James


The World Scout Jamboree, for a Scout, is the ultimate adventure. It is a once in a lifetime experience held every 4years. I was fortunate enough in July this year to attend the 24th WSJ as a unit leader, taking 36 teenagers away to the USA for 21days. There are not enough words available to describe the experience however I am going to attempt to give you a very small insight into the culmination of two years of my life.


It is a quick google search to find out what the World Scout Jamboree is about, however for ease, a quick description to explain could be summarised as follows; The World Scout Jamboree is above all an educational event that brings together the world's young people to promote peace and mutual understanding and to develop leadership and life skills. The 24th WSJ did not disappoint!


If you can imagine 45,000 scouts, from 152 countries, along with support staff (all volunteers!) camping together for 12 days then this will only begin to describe the experience and atmosphere. Add to this on site shops, trading posts, medical facilities, any activity than you could imagine from abseiling to whitewater rafting, educational events and seminars, Model UN workshop, food halls, all along with the sharing of cultures, swapping of badges (patches to the americans), neckerchiefs, country merchandise and everything in between, topped off with three massive shows, numerous sub-camp events and much much more and we are still only part way to describing what I can only admit to being the biggest and most amazing WOW moment of my life to date.


The opening ceremony was the first time all 45,000+ scouts converged into one single location, the onsite AT&T Stadium. Flags where processed in in the style of the Olympics. The scene of the 24th WSJ was set and several key speakers, along with entertainment ensued. The highlight of this ceremony was the drone display which I unashamedly admit led to a few tears. The youtube videos do not necessarily do the display justice, but if you have a spare 6minutes, look up “wsj 2019 drones”. None of these are my videos but hopefully you will get a small peek of what I am talking about.


Bear Grylls, Chief Scout of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement, attended to open the event formally, abseiling onto the stage before his inspirational address. Holding onto his neckerchief around his neck, Bear states:


“This scarf [neckerchief] is about standing up for the environment, gender equality, about scouts helping where most needed, about taking care of our neighbors, about making the planet a more sustainable, better place.”


To me, this powerful statement encapsulates the meaning of not necessarily the WSJ, but what it means to be a scout, day in, day out, in everything we do. But it set the scene perfectly for the following 10 days events and you could see that in every single young person’s actions and emotions following this, that they too believed in this. That they too, may only be one small cog of a machine, but when all 45,000 cogs turn together, action and results can be accomplished.


The Jamboree itself led to us as a unit coexisting in a field with nations we may never visit again. We had on site next to us, Americans, Indonesians, Mexicans, Sweedish, Danish, Czechs, Dutch, Germans, Japanese, Hungarians, Finnish and more. This is without going further afield and spending time on activities with Angolans, Brazillians, Venaziallians and a whole host of other nations. The time spent going around the site, meeting these other scouts and getting to know more about their cultures enabled each and everyone one of us to learn something new whether it be scouting related or a general way of life in these different places.


By far the best day of the event unanimously was the culture day. On this day, all activities were suspended and the day was devoted to welcoming, and being welcomed, to experience other people's cultures. Here I learnt how to write my name in Icelandic, got to see a traditional Czech summer tent, tasted delights from Mexico, Denmark and beyond and spoke with people who I may never meet again, yet still had a direct connection with and it was as if we had known each other for longer than the 5 minutes we actually did. The day started with the whole camp sharing one big breakfast meal together, like a giant street party before we were welcomed around the site by our neighbours, and finished with the Unity show, the 2nd of three big events. Here we listened to different cultures and religions explaining their beliefs and seeing that we all, despite our differences in cultures, ways of life and beliefs, in fact share with one spiritual existence. A heartwarming thought when in the ‘outside world’ as we came to see it of everyday life, so much terror, injustice and inharmony exists. To close the night, stars from New York’s Broadway entertained us with a Disney melody. I can’t say I’ve ever sang out so loud and proud ‘Under the Sea’ or ‘Let it go!’ before!


The closing ceremony of the Jamboree saw more guest speakers and the closing and summarising of this amazing event. Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations addressed us all with some powerful words. I have included his speech at the end of this article and would ask you read it as it summarises the aim and objectives of the issues we have in today’s world nicely and also challenges us to make a stand and make a change.


Two things from this speech have stuck in my mind. The first;


“Scouts, you have discovered the key to live in peaceful coexistence over these last ten days. If you can do this for ten days, you can certainly do this for one hundred days, and then a thousand days.

Choosing this path is yours”


With today’s problems in society; World leaders disagreeing. Homlessness. Civil unrest. Brexit; It is easy to forget that a peaceful coexistence is an option. The experience of the Jamboree was a constant reminder that no matter what goes on in the world, with the right attitude, determination and understanding of each other, harmony can ensue. And this is something that each and everyone of our 36 young people will have taken away with them. That they can make a difference in this world. And I have no doubt in my mind that each one of them will make a difference.


The second:


“Climate change is approaching much faster than we think.

– We cannot negotiate with nature.

– Nature does not wait for us.

– Nature is sending strong warnings for us to act.

– We do not have a Plan B because we do not have a Planet B.”


I want you all to think about what you have just read and then reread the last line. Now imagine 45,000 young adults applauding in agreement at hearing this. It is hard not be feel emotive, even writing this, at the feeling that overcame us when this statement was made.


Our young people around the globe have realised that we have a problem. That we are killing our planet quicker and quicker each day that passes. That without action now Plan A expires, and it takes us with it. The Jamboree experience highlighted this issue and made us all realise that, with one small change in our habits i.e. segregating waste and recycling, reusing materials, conserving energy or using renewable sourced energy, Plan B will not be required. It is not too late to save Plan A and with a few tweaks, make it work. Hopefully reading this and Ban Ki-moon’s full address below will make you stop and realise that it is not too late for each and everyone of us to make a change. In fact, we all must make a change.


The Jamboree experience was not all about telling us how the world is about to end. It was far from it. We took the opportunity to take in the sights of New York and Washington, attend a baseball game and also spend time in Canada staying with some Canadian Scouts, seeing both Toronto and Niagara.


The Jamboree portion of the experience, however, was by far the most fulfilling and most rewarding event I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of. All 40 of us have come away with a unique experience and new outlook of the world. Not one of us attending have come back the same person and this is only a good thing.There are many, many photographs and memories which I will in time share and the best way to find out more is to ask me. I don’t think I will ever tire telling the stories and recollecting the three weeks events.


I said at the beginning of this piece this was a once in a lifetime experience. While this is true as a participant, as a leader, the limits are endless. I for one am already looking towards 2023 and a trip to South Korea for the 25th World Scout Jamboree.


As one of our participants put on Twitter on their return “...bein a scout is amazing n I’ll never let anyone tell me otherwise”!







Opening Address of the Closing Ceremony of the 24th World Scout Jamboree, Glen Jean, West Virginia, USA by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 2007 to December 2016. August 1, 2019


Mr. Craig Turpie, Chairperson of the World Scout Committee,

 Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary-General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement,

 Scouts and 24th World Scout Jamboree participants,

 Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen,


It is my great honor to be here with you today at the 24th World Scout Jamboree in the beautiful city of Glen Jean, West Virginia!

 I take this opportunity to offer my sincere congratulations to the Boy Scout of America, Scouts Canada, and Asociacion de Scouts de Mexico for their hard work in realizing such an important and transformational event.


Scouts, you have discovered the key to live in peaceful coexistence over these last ten days. If you can do this for ten days, you can certainly do this for one hundred days, and then a thousand days.

 Choosing this path is yours.


However, the secret of peace and harmony that you have unlocked here is not meant for you to retain simply as a memory.

 Rather, it is a mission beckoning you to do your part in unlocking the possibility of peace for our entire world moving forward.


In this regard, I am confident that you Scouts are now well-equipped to tackle the challenges of both today and tomorrow as engaged global citizens.

 More than ever before the world needs a new generation of thinkers and doers that are globally engaged and sustainability-minded.


You are now true global ambassadors who will return to your own countries to unlock a new world; one anchored in coexistence, tolerance, and sustainability for our planet.

 Baden Powell, Scouting’s founder, had a driving goal throughout his life: to ensure that Scouting became a World Brotherhood of Peace.


The mission of the United Nations is very similar: to promote international peace, tolerance, and co-existence between all peoples and nations.

 In the last 112 years, a Scouting program has been adopted in nearly every nation on earth. Tomorrow’s leaders are built through Scouting and the values it instills. Its central mission is to prepare young people to be ethical citizens.


Today, I would like to humbly ask you 3 important ways you can contribute.


First, try to be a global citizen as you continue in your own lives, studies, and careers. Global citizenship is a unique tool that can help solve some of our most pressing challenges and assist us in building peace and reaching sustainability.


Global citizens are those who identify themselves not as a member of a nation, but instead as a member of humanity. They are understanding and tolerant of other people and cultures. They fight for the protection of our planet. They are committed to service and helping others.


Second, be a Scout championing to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are the most ambitious and far-reaching visions for us, humanity and nature the UN has ever presented to the world. SDGs cover all spectrums of human life and our planet earth.


Third, be an agent to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement. We need your active participation. Climate change is approaching much faster than we think.

– We cannot negotiate with nature.

– Nature does not wait for us.

– Nature is sending strong warnings for us to act.

– We do not have a Plan B because we do not have a Planet B.


Scouts and 24th World Scout Jamboree participants,

 Over the next four years, when the World Organization of the Scout Movement reassembles in Sae Man Geum, Chollabukdo, Republic of Korea, I challenge you to broaden the values of Scouting throughout our world.

 President Ham Jong-Han of the Korea Scout Association and Governor Song Ha-Jin and all the citizens of Korea will welcome all of you in 2023.


Particularly, I greatly hope that you can help widen respect for all people, expand care for our earth and its resources, and enhance the development of other young people through both education and guiding moral values.

 I have no doubt that through your vision and actions to this end, we can construct a more peaceful and sustainable future for all.


Dear Scouts, ladies and gentlemen,

 Let us work together to make this world better for all.

 The future of our world is in your hands.

 Thank you.



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