HOWARD LAKE, WINSTED, MN Nathan Dressel, 14, of Winsted, and Mark Anderson, 14, of Howard Lake, experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event: the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, from July 21 through Aug. 2.
Both boys were in first grade when they joined the Cub Scouts, but even after nearly a decade in the Scouts, they had never experienced anything like the Jamboree, an international event which first took place in England in 1920. This year’s Jamboree was in West Virginia, returning to the US for the first time since 1967.
The Jamboree hosted more than 50,000 Scouts from around the world, which temporarily made its location at the Summit Bechtel Reserve the second largest city in West Virginia.
Interaction between Scouts of different countries and cultures was a large part of the Jamboree, and both Dressel and Anderson shared their excitement at being able to visit with such unique individuals.
Dressel said, “It’s such a big thing. You can interact and trade with different countries, and there’s also plenty of activities.”
Anderson agreed, saying, “I thought it was really cool how many other countries we got to meet.”
Trading was an important part of the Jamboree, giving the Scouts an opportunity to interact and exchange their countries’ Scout memorabilia. Each country had its own special contingent patch, which is unique to its respective country. The Scouts traded patches, neckerchiefs, hats, and uniforms, as well as crafts and personal projects.
Dressel described their camp neighbors, saying “We had a bunch of kids from South Africa right next to us; they usually came over and we talked a lot. Sometimes, it was kind of nerve-wracking because you didn’t know what they were going to talk about. Sometimes they weren’t afraid to talk about politics and stuff; that kind of worried me a bit at first, but it all turned out really well. Otherwise, we played games like chess, checkers, and card games.”
Anderson added, “We talked to Brazil and South Africa a ton, and then Sweden and Norway were straight across from us, so we talked to those two a ton, too.” They also interacted with Scouts from the US, UK, Mexico, and Canada.
According to Dressel and Anderson, the biggest difference between the Scouts of other countries was simply the organization of their leadership.
“We have a senior patrol leader, and then an assistant senior patrol leader, and then patrol leaders; but other countries would just have a male leader and a female leader or something like that, or they would just have a small group leader. Every single country was different,” Anderson explained.
Other than local group leadership, the Scouts found more similarities than differences with international Scouts. Dressel explained that communication was never an issue, joking, “They all knew English better than I did.”
After 12 days of activities, the Scouts returned home, bringing with them photographs, patches, and other gear, but most importantly, the memories of an experience they will never forget.