Registration now open for 2023 World Scout Jamboree in South Korea

A Scout from Italy at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. (Photo by Jeff Hattrick)

In just a year and a half from now, you could be living it up with 50,000 of your closest friends from 170 different countries.

Registration is now open to join the BSA contingent at the 2023 World Scout Jamboree, set to kick off on Aug. 1, 2023, in Saemangeum, South Korea.

World Scout Jamborees are the signature event of world Scouting. Every four years since 1920, Scouts from around the world have gathered in a spirit of fellowship, fun and peace.

The BSA will send a contingent of about 500 youth participants (ages 14 to 18) to the 2023 World Scout Jamboree.

With 50,000 people expected, that means Scouts from the BSA will comprise just 1% of the Jamboree population. Translation: If a Scout meets 100 people in a day, about 99 of them will be from a country that isn’t their own.

BSA Scouts will form Jamboree troops of 36 youth and four adults, with separate units for male and female Scouts. To better facilitate pre-Jamboree meetings, units will be organized by geographic region.

As of this writing, about 30% of the BSA contingent’s capacity has been filled, meaning families with interested Scouts should start planning now.

Here’s what else you should know.

Scouts swap patches (and stories) at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. (Photo by Kevin A. Shaw)

Who can attend?

Any registered members of the Boy Scouts of America who meet the age requirements below can attend.

Youth participants: Youth must be at least 14 by the first day of the Jamboree (Aug. 1, 2023) and have not turned 18 by the last day of the Jamboree (Aug. 12, 2023). Venturers and Sea Scouts who will be too old to be youth participants should consider joining the IST (see below).

Adult leaders: Adults must be at least 21 by the departure of the U.S. contingent’s pre-tour of Korea, which is tentatively set for July 26, 2023. Prospective adult leaders must apply to be considered. Those who are approved will be sent a link to register.

International Service Team: At World Scout Jamborees, the staff is known as the International Service Team, or IST. IST members must be at least 18 by the first day of the Jamboree.

Bear Grylls, Chief Ambassador to World Scouting, meets with Scouts at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. (Photo by Randy Piland)

How do I apply, and what is the cost?

Applications opened Nov. 15 and will be reviewed on both a council and national level.

To apply, follow this link.

The cost for youth participants and unit leaders is $6,100 per person. Fees include air and ground transportation, the Jamboree fee, pre-tour, insurance, and a Jamboree “kit” of patches, neckerchiefs and other contingent memorabilia. A $500 deposit is required when registering.

The cost for IST (staff over the age of 18) is $2,300 per person. This does not include air transportation or a pre-Jamboree tour, but it does include ground transport from Incheon Airport to the Jamboree site.

When you register, make sure you have your BSA membership number and online credentials to access the registration site. More information, including the required documentation, is on the website.

What will the Jamboree experience be like for the BSA contingent?

Scouts who join the U.S. contingent will meet their units through virtual and live meetings to plan their trip. Each unit will have four patrols and a senior leadership team. Most units will have a chance to camp together at a local Scout camp prior to the Jamboree.

Scouts and leaders will fly as a unit to Incheon International Airport near Seoul. Upon arrival, Scouts will go through their check-in procedure and receive their official Jamboree credentials and participant neckerchief.

Prior to the official start of the World Scout Jamboree, the U.S. contingent will tour Seoul and South Korea. Details are still being finalized, but this pre-tour will last three or four days and may include experiences like eating local Korean food, seeing historic sites, hiking in national parks and visiting with local Scout groups.

On Aug. 1, all participants will arrive at the Jamboree site and be escorted to their subcamp and campsite. The unit will set up tents and patrol gear (provided by the Jamboree) and help other units set up their camp. The Jamboree will officially open the next day with an opening arena show.

Scouts will receive recipes and food lists through a mobile app before the Jamboree. Units will work together to plan meals and order food. Scouts will go to the commissary in their subcamp every day to pick up their food order.

On some days, units will participate in Jamboree programs together. On others, Scouts will be free to explore the Jamboree on their own, visiting areas like the Global Development Village, Faiths and Beliefs, Better World Tent, and displays put on by each of the 170-plus National Scout Organizations participating in the Jamboree.

Most Scouts will have an opportunity to go offsite during the Jamboree for an overnight experience in a local Korean community. Scouts will experience Korean hospitality, music and culture — and get to meet Scouts from other countries.

What makes a World Scout Jamboree so special?

The Korean Scout Association, as well as the national and local government of South Korea, is spending millions of dollars to create a safe, state-of-the-art Jamboree site and program. The programs will be fun and challenging, the shows will be wild and engaging, and the weather will be hot and humid.

But what Scouts will remember most are the friends they make from around the world.

When the program areas close in the late afternoon, Scouts find their way back to their campsite to make dinner and find new friends. Units will often invite neighboring units over for dinner.

Sometimes, hundreds of Scouts will join together for a cross-cultural meal. After dinner is cleaned up, Scouts are free to meet other Scouts, attend music and dancing events, or just hang out. The friendships formed in the twilight hours of the Jamboree are often the most memorable and meaningful part of the Jamboree.

What are Scouts saying about the World Scout Jamboree?

But don’t take our word for it. Let’s hear from some Scouts who attended the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

Daniel Le, Eagle Scout from San Jose, Calif.

“This might be a bit basic, but my true favorite memory of the Jamboree was being able to meet other Scouts of similar ages from around the world.

“It blew my mind how there were so many others also in the Scouting program aside from those I would see around my hometown. And those that went to the WSJ were only a fraction of the total population of Scouts around the world.”

Jenna Casey, Eagle Scout from Burlington, Mass.

“This is 100% something you will never forget. I had an absolutely amazing time, I made so many new friends and I still have my international patch collection and neckerchiefs. That experience is definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Gabriel Cooper, Eagle Scout from Springfield, Va.

“My entire campsite had an international volleyball tournament. Scouts from all over the world joined teams and duked it out on in the volleyball court — all for bragging rights.

“I was paired up with Scouts no taller than 5-foot-4, and we just rolled with it. Scoutmasters and Scouts alike tried to beat the shortest team, but they couldn’t handle the heat! The short squad absolutely dominated the court for a few hours, and we celebrated over a shared meal.

“It was by far my favorite Jamboree memory if not one of my favorite Scouting memories.”

Huy Tran, Eagle Scout from San Jose, Calif.

“My favorite memory was taking photos with different Scouts in their cultural outfits during Culture Day. I loved seeing how other Scouts were proud of their culture and were very willing to share this emotion with others.

“As I took photos with other Scouts, I really loved how I was educated about other cultures as I learned where the Scout was from.”

How are participants selected?

Youth participants will be notified by unit leadership if they have been accepted or placed on a waiting list. Placement in units is expected to happen before the first payment date of Aug. 31, 2022. Applicants on the waiting list that are not ultimately selected will receive a full refund, including their initial deposit.

Adult leaders will have their qualifications and experience reviewed before appointments to units are made during the first quarter of 2022. Anyone not selected as an adult leader is encouraged to apply for an International Service Team role.

IST members, once approved by their local council, will have their application reviewed by the U.S. contingent leadership before being submitted to the Jamboree host organizers. Host organizers will notify applicants of acceptance and job assignment.

What about someone who wants to ‘do the double’ in 2023?

It may be possible for Scouts to attend both the BSA National Jamboree at the Summit and the 2023 World Scout Jamboree in South Korea.

A special unit is being explored for interested Scouts, who would participate in the BSA National Jamboree and leave a few days early to fly to Incheon International Airport near Seoul to meet the rest of the U.S. contingent for the Jamboree pre-tour.

Additional details will be available in 2022.

Where can I learn more?

Check out the official BSA contingent website. For even more great info, visit the official 2023 World Scout Jamboree website, created by the hosts.

Additional reporting by Michael Freeman. Thanks to Joey Quick and Mark Beese for the blog post info.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.