GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — David Treat and his son, D.J., have been to two World Scout Jamborees: the 2015 event in Japan and this year’s jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County. David Treat said both experiences were unforgettable, but this year’s international celebration is easily the better of the two jamborees.
“A World Jamboree is about meeting other people from other cultures. When you come to the Summit, you also have all these activities,” the Virginian said. “Rock climbing, biking, the skateboards. Only at the Summit are you going to see a World Jamboree take advantage of those activities on top of what they already have.”
The Treats were among the 45,000 scouts and leaders who attended the 24th World Scout Jamboree, international Scouting’s quadrennial event. Scouts from 169 national organizations took part in the two-week jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
D.J. Treat said the biggest difference between the two jamborees was increased opportunities to meet people from other countries; the Treats’ unit camped near scouts from Finland, the United Kingdom, Croatia and Argentina.
“(It’s) more than just hanging out and talking like we did at the other World Jamboree. Here, you can actually do things with other people,” he said.
The Treats spoke to MetroNews while exploring Brownsea Island, a miniature version of the first Scouting camp. While they were talking about their jamboree experience, a group of Taiwanese scouts was enjoying a game of tug of war.
“It’s international. We can just make friends in our other countries, but we’re in a different place,” said a member of Scouts of China.
Sofia Escobar, a member of Asociacion Scouts de Colombia, said she stayed busy during her time at the Summit.
“I went rock climbing and did water activities,” she said through an interpreter. “I really like jamboree because of the groups. I built a lot of friendships with other people.”
Escobar added socializing with units from other countries was rewarding.
“They share the same ideas and the same principles. It’s beautiful to connect and share ideas and love for Scouting,” she said.
Beatrice Mullan and Adam Dodge explored the Summit with their friends from the Scout Association, the United Kingdom’s Scouting organization. Mullan and Dodge were split on the best thing about the jamboree; Mullan said it was the various activities offered, while Dodge noted the international aspect.
“There are so many people around from places I’ve never been to. We’ve got Swedish scouts next to us and some Japanese scouts nearby. We get to meet them and interact with them for two weeks daily,” he said. “It’s just been really impressive.”
The World Scout Jamboree also marked Mullan’s first time in the United States.
“If this is the first experience I have in America, it’s definitely a good one to start with,” she said, adding her contingent visited New York City before coming to the Summit.
This jamboree came during a significant transition period in the Boy Scouts of America; the organization implemented changes in February to allow girls to join its main program, now called Scouts BSA. Cub Scouting began allowing girls last year. It is estimated around half of the jamboree’s attendees were female.
“I’ve been brought up with boys and girls always mixed. It’s always been a girl can do what a boy can do,” Mullan said. “Being here with the differences of having Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts is quite weird, but it’s also nice because it gives the ability to have specific activities.”
Dodge called having separate scouting organizations “quite strange.”
“It doesn’t feel backward, but it’s slightly odd to see it like that,” he noted.
David Treat said the Boy Scouts of America should take the jamboree as proof allowing children of all genders can work.
“We’ve got 45,000 of them here. It’s OK,” he said. “With the things they are teaching young people, it doesn’t matter what gender you are. We’re teaching them how to be a part of society, good leaders and good servants. It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl. You can do it all.”
Scouts left the Summit on Friday; some traveled to various airports, including Charleston’s Yeager Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, for further travel. The abundance of scouts at Charlotte’s airport resulted in long lines that were only made worse by flight delays.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the 12th busiest airport in the country regarding commercial services.