Some 8,000 miles from the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America — across the Atlantic Ocean and past northern Africa — you’ll find a Cub Scout pack that looks like any other Cub Scout pack.
They learn, they form friendships and they have tons of fun.
But Cub Scout Pack 813 differs from your typical pack in one big way: It’s based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The 115-boy pack has a clear mission: form friendships with young Scouts from other countries and spread goodwill wherever they go.
That’s why in February the boys and their parents held a Founder’s Day celebration with a group of British Scouts, ages 6 to 10. They shot bows and arrows, traded patches, learned knots (what we call a “square knot” others call a “reef knot”), and had all kinds of crazy kid fun.
At this point you might ask the understandable question: Why is there an American Cub Scout pack based in the Middle East?
That’s because Pack 813 is part of the Transatlantic Council, a traditional Boy Scouts of America council serving Americans who are serving overseas in various capacities.
Cub Scout leader Scott Smith shared his story with me recently, in a short essay he calls “International Friendships, Lifetime Friends.”
Find it — and more great photos — after the jump.
International Friendships, Lifetime Friends
By Scott M. Smith
Spreading the word of the Scouting movement is a rewarding experience. But what is amazing are the friendships that one can create while at the same time creating worldwide friendships.
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, convincing some to take the time needed to allow for such friendships is no easy feat. However, that is exactly what Pack 813, based in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates was able to accomplish.
Yes that’s right. Pack 813 of Dubai, is a member of the newly formed Horizon District of the Transatlantic Council, one of hundreds of councils in the Boy Scouts of America. But there is one difference, Dubai Pack 813 engages International Scouting on a regular basis, just by being a unit formed in a country outside the United States.
This pack, with 115 registered youth, set out to bring international cooperation to a whole new level — to Cub Scouts! On Feb. 20, 2015, Pack 813 and the Dubai-based Scout Groups of British Scouting Overseas, Middle East District; held a Founder’s Day celebration. In this event, to commemorate the birthday of Scouting’s founder Robert Baden-Powell, these boys, aged 6 to 10 from several different countries and cultures, participated in activities rich in Scouting Heritage.
There was knot-tying, archery, tug-of-war, slingshots and camping skills. Rather than pitting boy against boy and country against country, these young boys formed groups called “tribes” based on American-Indian Tribes and European ethnic groups.
There were Cherokees and Vikings, Apaches and Romans and many more. Each group was comprised of boys from both organizations and across all ranks and age groups.
The fantastic thing about this event was that the boys were able to learn different things from each organization. What we call the “square-knot” others call a reef knot. But they both are a symbol of what unites Scouts and Scouters across the globe: the unbreakable bond and unity that we all have.
Here in the Middle East, there are many opportunities to spread the word of the Scouting movement, and these boys are a fine example of that. With the conclusion of this very successful event, several other opportunities for Scouts in the region are undoubtedly in the works.