Newtown Residents Journey To West Virginia For World Scout Jamboree
More than 45,000 Scouts and their leaders from 167 countries across the world traveled to the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia for the 24th World Scout Jamboree, from July 22 to August 2.
The World Scout Jamboree is an educational event designed for young people from the National Scout Organizations to develop leadership and life skills. It is also created to bring different nationalities together in one place to create a united Scouting movement that promotes peace and cultural understanding.
The first World Scout Jamboree to ever take place was in London in 1920. From then on, every four years, a different country has hosted the event.
The only other time the World Scout Jamboree has been in the United States was more than half a century ago, in 1967, at Farragut State Park, Idaho.
This year’s 12-day World Scout Jamboree experience had three host countries: the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada. Its theme was “Unlock a New World,” which focused on having the Scouts unlock new adventures, cultures, and friendships.
At the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, Scouts participated in activities and programs that captured the organization’s five core principles of adventure, friendship, leadership, service, and sustainability.
Since the Summit Bechtel Reserve is a training, Scouting, and adventure center — where the BSA’s National Scout Jamborees are also held — there were opportunities for Scouts to go whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, zip lining, and skateboarding.
There were also a variety of what the jamboree called “international venues” that included Food Houses, the Global Development Village, World Scout Centre, and Faith & Beliefs.
Read on to hear about the personal experiences of Newtown residents from the 24th World Scout Jamboree:
Jeffery, Spencer, And Ty Jorgenson
Newtown resident and cubmaster Jeffery Jorgenson drove the family’s motorhome to West Virginia — a 13-hour drive — so his two sons, Spencer and Ty, could experience the World Scout Jamboree for the first time, even for just a day.
Spencer, 13, is a Boy Scout in Troop 770 and Ty, 10, is a Cub Scout in Pack 270.
“It was really cool,” Spencer said of the jamboree. “I got to meet a lot of people from different countries all around [the world].”
Spencer spoke with people from Mexico, Britain, New Zealand, and Korea, and even conducted a mini mock news segment in front of a green screen for the first time.
Ty echoed his brother’s enthusiasm, citing the green screen as a highlight of the activities they participated in, and that the overall jamboree experience was “awesome.”
Ty also enjoyed trying all the food from other countries, learning about the different cultures, visiting the large tree house onsite that had information about ecological initiatives/sustainable energy, and receiving a Mexican Woggle when he engaged in some patch trading.
“I do suggest if it is in your area, or if you do have the money and the time, to go see or participate in a World Jamboree,” Spencer encouraged. “It’s a very moving — and I feel an important — experience of Scouting, and I feel like everyone should try to go at some point if you are in Scouts.”
Both brothers are also passionate about advocating for more boys and girls to join the Scouts, saying it comes with plenty of fun activities throughout the year, opportunities to make friends, and the ability to be part of a great community.
Gregg And Jackson Baimel
Joining the Jorgenson family in the motorhome to this year’s World Scout Jamboree were their friends and fellow Newtown residents Gregg and Jackson Baimel.
Mr Baimel has volunteered his time as a Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader for nearly a decade. He currently serves as an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 770 and is a Roundtable Commissioner with the Scatacook District of the Connecticut Yankee Council.
His 14-year-old son, Jackson, is a Star Scout and the Senior Patrol Leader with Troop 770.
With such involvement in the Scouting world, the father and son duo were eager to participate in their very first World Scout Jamboree.
“It’s the first time that it has been in the United States since , so we looked at it as a ‘once in a Scout lifetime’ opportunity and didn’t want to miss it,” Mr Baimel said.
While they were there, they connected with other Scouts and leaders from home as well as from Germany, Brazil, Japan, and Columbia. They enjoyed dining at a Columbian tent for lunch, which was among the variety of different nationally-themed eateries.
“It was a pretty remarkable event,” Mr Baimel said. “Forty thousand youth were there, 10,000 leaders, and about 20,000 visitors daily.”
Boy Scout Bear Nikitchyuk, 15, of Troop 770, based at St Rose of Lima, made his way through the Cub Scout ranks throughout elementary school before becoming a Boy Scout at the age of 11.
He recognized what a rare opportunity it was for the World Scout Jamboree not only to take place in North America — the first time in more than 50 years — but to also be in the age range eligible to apply for attendance.
“I was selected to be part of the official United States contingent,” Bear explained. “The Scouts were collected into troops geographically. I was with United States Troop 110 that had Scouts from all over Connecticut, and [it] even had a Scout from Massachusetts. Three of our Scouts were from Newtown. We were in SubCamp C at the jamboree with other troops from the United States and around the world.”
To get there, Bear and his fellow locally chosen Scouts took a bus early in the morning from Meriden, Conn., to the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia.
Upon arriving, the Scouts worked together in the rain to build their camp, and since they were fortunate to arrive earlier than others, they helped troops from different countries get their camp areas set up, as well.
While there was a big opening show and closing ceremony for the jamboree attendees, Bear said almost every night each base camp had their own party with entertainment.
“My favorite part of the jamboree was meeting new people from around the world. Our troop was connected with a troop from Sweden, so we had some chances to get to know each other,” Bear said.
Being Ukrainian-American, Bear also enjoyed getting to meet Scouts from Dnipro, Ukraine, and was able to use a wristband system to electronically exchange contact information with the those he met.
Bear had the opportunity to interact with more international Scouts because of the popularity of trading at jamborees.
“I brought patches, neckerchiefs, and shirts, and other things to trade. I came home with Polish flag sunglasses, [a] Portuguese rain jacket, a neckerchief from Brazil, a shirt and hat from Finland, and patches from many other places,” he detailed.
Throughout his time in West Virginia, Bear also participated in rock climbing, the mile-long zip-line, whitewater rafting, and he visited the information tents that covered all sorts of topics and cultures.
After his first World Scout Jamboree, Bear is now eager to attend the next one and hopes to visit the European Jamboree in 2020.
Boy Scout Thaddeus Teraszkiewicz, 15, of Troop 70, based at Cullens Youth Center, was also selected to be part of the 24th World Scout Jamboree’s Troop 110.
“It sounded like a great adventure to meet people from all around the world,” Thaddeus said of what inspired him to seize the opportunity to go.
While he was there, he participated in activities that allowed him to learn more about the three host countries and about different cultures and religions.
“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Thaddeus said. “I got to make new friends from all over the world, I went to concerts, played volleyball at the top of a mountain with a group of Chileans, rock climbed, went whitewater rafting, and so much more.”
While at the jamboree, he traded items with other Scouts and now has souvenirs from a variety of countries. The mementos serve as a reminder of all the friends he met, and he has continued to keep in contact with the Scouts that he met there.
“I think everyone should have this experience,” Thaddeus said. “It changes the way you see people from different parts of the world.”
Newtown resident Nick Wolf, 27, has been a Boy Scout for the last 22 years, having originally started his scouting career in Cub Scouts at Pack 570 at St Rose of Lima. Today, he is an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 370 in Sandy Hook, based out of the United Methodist Church.
While this may have been his first World Scout Jamboree, he has attended four National Boy Scout Jamborees since 2005, two of which were held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
“This was a once in a lifetime event I couldn’t pass up...” Mr Wolf said.
He attended the jamboree with his longtime friends Venturing Scout Kayla Ruge, 26; Eagle Scout Andrew McCloskey, 26; and Girl Scout Gold Award winner Suzanne Leslie, 28.
The group participated in a Ham Radio activity, communicated with people from around the world, and spent most of the day trading patches/neckerchiefs with fellow Scouts.
“The experience was similar to a national jamboree, where there [were] Scouts in every direction with a smile on their face, many heading to activities (such as kayaking, shooting, or BMX racing) while others were in the shade trading neckerchiefs and patches with other Scouts,” Mr Wolf explained. “What made this event different was interacting with Scouts from across the world and seeing different uniform types and trying to trade patches with someone in a different language.”
He is already looking forward to attending the next major Scouting event at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, which will be the 2021 National Boy Scout Jamboree.
As for the 25th World Scout Jamboree, it is already scheduled to take place in Saemangeum, South Korea, from August 1 to 12, 2023. The theme will be “Draw Your Dream.”
For more information about the 24th World Scout Jamboree, visit 2019wsj.org.