Ben Beese's reflection on his time as staffer at the 2017 BSA National Jamboree International Exhibit
International Scouting is special. There is a magic there unlike anything else. As a member of the 2017 Jamboree’s International Exhibit Staff, I saw this magic come to life for Scouts young and old. Every day, our small team would uncover our international hub of activity, turn on the music, and welcome Scouts into the World of Scouting.
Passersby were greeted by blaring music and Todd, wearing hundreds of clothespins labelled “#intjambo.” From there, every visitor’s experience was unique. For some, it was enough to tell them that Scouting exists in 164 other countries to blow their minds. Or that the donations collected at Woodbadge fund leadership training in Ecuador and camp improvements in Mongolia. Other visitors stayed for days, building tents for our mini-Kandersteg, playing all of our Kahoot quizzes, messaging Scouts over our JOTI set-up, and, more than anything, chatting about Scouting in the world.
On discovering our tent, many Scouts and Scouters volunteered, often without notice, to add to our offerings. A friendly Egyptian Scout spent hours teaching a long line of Scouts how to write their names in Arabic. Scout leaders from home and abroad formed a rotation to test Scouts for interpreter strips in Spanish, French, Norwegian, and Japanese, among other languages. A patrol from Trinidad and Tobago regularly performed steel-drum concerts for us. Several Peruvian Scouts took up residence with us, occasionally sharing dance moves and, more often, simply hanging out. A patrol from Ireland led a very popular ceilidh before weathering a storm, trading patches and Scout stories, with us.
Our staff itself was also brought together an international range of Scouting experiences. Andy, Britnee, and Hossam shared their love of being Kandersteg Pinkies. Our staff had lived in at least three different continents. Only a some of us had World Jamboree of Moot experience which proved valuable when promoting the 2019 Jamboree. Some had first been introduced to International Scouting as staff for the Interamerican Scout Conference or Interamerican Leadership Training. Others still had been representatives to the World Scout Conferences in Slovenia and Azerbaijan. We were frequently joined by Dr Wayne Davis, the Chairperson of the African Scout Committee and, on one occasion, received a special visit from Ahmad Alhendawi, the WOSM Secretary-General.
Conversations regularly touched on topics from Scouting in Haiti to the Moots in Iceland and Peru to the governance of WOSM and Scout leadership training in Africa. Not everyone had much World Scouting experience, but everyone was passionate about what World Scouting does for Scouts at home and abroad.
Our International Exhibit was, humbly, but one tent in a massive Jamboree. Yet it became the meeting place for the BSA and the World. In a given day, one could talk about Star Wars, Global Development, Jelly Beans, and Kandersteg. It was worth it just to see someone discover that the world is their home, through Scouting. The joy of a Scout discovering, for the first time, a fellow Scout from across the world is just as magical today, in a sweltering tent in West Virginia, as ever.