Some say that when it was done growing, the row of tables stretched on for a quarter mile.
But it started small, as these things tend to.
It started with five troops from five different countries sitting down for dinner together at the 2015 World Scout Jamboree in Japan.
“A few of the units near our campsite decided to gather together for dinner,” says Mark Beese, Scoutmaster of World Scout Jamboree Troop 70302. “We pulled the tables from our sites and lined them end to end in the grass avenue in front of our camps.”
One table per patrol, four patrols per troop and five troops. Twenty tables were lined in one long row, but that was just the beginning.
Before long, Scouts from Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Germany and Finland had joined the fun. More tables and chairs arrived. Food was shared. Music was played.
By the time the party ended after sundown, hundreds of Scouts had gathered around the longest table anyone had ever seen.
“For me, the long table was a metaphor not just for the World Scout Jamboree, but for the global community of Scouting in which we live,” Beese says. “All were welcome, regardless of where they came from or what language they spoke. Everyone contributed to the meal and benefitted from the experience. We all learned something new and made a few new friends.”
That memorable moment started when one Scout asked another to join them for dinner. It shows the power one Scout has to make a world of difference.
Beese, an Eagle Scout, is now deputy vice chair of the BSA’s International Committee. And he wants more young people to have that kind of connection to World Scouting.
He knows two things to be true:
- Only a lucky few will ever attend a World Scout Jamboree.
- You don’t have to attend a World Scout Jamboree to have an transformative experience tied to World Scouting.
For those reasons, Beese and the International Committee have created a “Unit Guide to World Scouting,” which includes three things every unit can do every year to strengthen their connection to World Scouting.
We’ll share those three things below. But before we share the “how,” let’s go over the “why.”
Part of something bigger
Of every 1,000 people on the planet, seven are Scouts.
That means that, as Scouts, we’re in rare company.
Of the 7.7 billion people on the planet, 54 million are Scouts.
That means that, as Scouts, we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.
To help Scouts understand Scouting’s global reach, Beese likes to pose this thought exercise: “Imagine if there were a global organization made up of 54 million young people, and each one of them was committed to making the world a better place through their actions and attitudes. These young people receive leadership training early and practice servant leadership in their communities through service projects and being advocates for diversity, inclusion and peace.”
Sounds like just what this fractured world needs, right? Well, Beese continues, that organization exists. It’s World Scouting, and it’s making a difference through 171 National Scout Organizations around the globe.
“It’s important for Scouts in the U.S. to understand that they are part of the world’s largest youth movement and that the movement’s goals are centered around making the world a better place,” he says. “Every Scout in the U.S. should feel a connection to their 54 million brothers and sisters around the world who share a common Oath and Law, a common commitment to community service and a vision for a more peaceful and better world.”
Three things your unit can do
Beese encourages every unit in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts to do three things related to International Scouting every year:
1. Hold a World Scout Night program.
By following the suggestions in this guide, you can plan a fun, engaging and educational 60- to 90-minute meeting or summer camp activity. The guide includes more ideas than any unit could accomplish in 60 or 90 minutes, meaning you can pick those that will work best in your pack, troop or crew.
2. Conduct a Messengers of Peace service project.
Serve your community, have fun and get a patch — that’s the promise of a Messengers of Peace service project. Follow the four-step plan in this guide to get started.
3. Promote the World Scout Jamboree, World Scout Moot and Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA) and Jamboree-on-the-Internet (JOTI).
The World Scout Jamboree is held every four years, with the next one scheduled for 2023 in South Korea. But World Scouting events happen more frequently than that.
Make sure your Scouts know about other opportunities to meet Scouts from other countries — online, on the radio or in person.
Follow this guide to learn more about the World Scout Jamboree and World Scout Moot.
Use this guide to learn more about the annual Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA) and Jamboree-on-the-Internet (JOTI).
“Thank you for your service to Scouting,” Beese says, “and for reminding our Scouts that they are an important part of the world’s largest youth movement that has the capacity to change the world.”