GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Although rain delayed the start of the World Scout Jamboree’s closing ceremony Thursday night, the celebration went on, bringing the 24th edition of the international event to a close.
More than 45,000 scouts from 169 national scout groups spent nearly two weeks at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County, learning about different cultures as well as the shared principles of the Scouting movement.
“Just look around you tonight. This world-class Summit has been the capital of world scouting for the past 12 days,” said Ahmad Alhendawi, the secretary-general of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.
“This gathering is a beautiful reminder of how we celebrate diversity and unity. Together, we built a city founded in unity and understanding, guided by brotherhood and sisterhood, lighted by laughter and helping each other. A truly global city, (and) an example of how the world out there should be.”
Jamboree staff told MetroNews throughout the event that if the Summit Bechtel Reserve was a city, it would be the largest city in West Virginia; Charleston’s population was estimated to be 47,215 in July 2018.
Alhendawi, the youngest person to serve as secretary-general, said the experience has been “life-changing” for the scouts and himself.
“Today, I thank you for acting like a global citizen during the jamboree,” he said. Scouts responded with a chant of “Jamboree!”
Alhendawi added the scouts need to return home and be active in addressing issues facing the world.
“Now more than ever, we need you to stand up and take actions around issues and challenges facing our communities and planet,” he said.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also gave remarks, telling scouts to be leaders of change.
“The secret of peace and harmony that you have unlocked here is not meant for you to retain simply as a memory. Rather, it’s a mission beckoning you to do your part in unlocking the possibility for peace for our entire world moving forward,” he said.
“In this regard, I’m confident you scouts are now well-equipped to tackle the challenges of both today and tomorrow as engaged global citizens. More than ever before, a world needs a new generation of thinkers and doers that are globally engaged and sustainability-minded like yourselves.”
Ban stressed three ideas: global citizenship, implementing “sustainability goals” related to improving communities and addressing climate change.
“Global citizens must not build walls, but instead build bridges among people,” he said. “They’re understanding and tolerant of other people and cultures. They fight for the protection of our planet. They are committed to service and helping others.”
Regarding climate change, Ban said the global community must implement the Paris climate agreement, in which counties agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
“Climate change is approaching much, much faster than we think. We cannot negotiate with nature; nature does not wait for us. Nature is sending a strong warning for us to act now,” he said. “You must remember this: We do not have plan ‘B,’ because we do not have a planet ‘B.'”
President Donald Trump announced plans in June 2017 for the United States to withdraw from the agreement, making America the only nation with no plans to take part in the deal. The United States is expected to officially exit in November 2020.
Delegates from the Boy Scouts of America, Scouts Canada and the Asociacion de Scouts de Mexico were recognized Thursday evening, as well representatives of Korea Scout Association, who will host the next World Scout Jamboree in 2023.