Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Power of a Ticket

A couple times during Weekend One, I made a reference to the 2007 World Jamboree. Since those were just glancing references, let me follow up and add some context. My interest in attending this event started with what I thought would be weakest ticket item as part of my vision that as a Cub Pack Committee Chair:
“I will be a more effective leader and as a result my Pack will have a better program.”

As with all 21st Century Wood Badge participants, we were “asked” to have at least one ticket that spoke to diversity. I struggled with this concept since my downtown pack was already diverse by most standards. Having seen the World Friendship Fund collection as part of the Day 3 service, I decided to check out who was to benefit from this money. Searching the internet, I discovered that nearly every country had scouting and that scouting programs were connected by an organization called the World Organization of the Scout Movement. My interest was piqued and I decided that one way to bring diversity to my unit was to introduce them to scout customs in other countries.

Over the next year, I crafted a month of programs for the dens which culminated in our Blue and Gold Banquet – with the theme Scouts around the World. During the month, the boys played games from other countries, made table centerpieces out of the other scout logos, and wrote letters to a Cub Pack in Australia. It became so interesting to me that I started to collect patches from other countries and did my first large watercolor featuring logos from scout programs (boys and girls) from around the world. My weak ticket had become a personal passion that hopefully expanded my pack’s view of the world.

Three years after my ticket was complete, I kept that newly-found interest going by signing up to attend the World Jamboree in England. If there was ever one to go to, it would be this one – celebrating the 100th anniversary of scouting’s birth. For three weeks I was assigned to be one of 8000 International Service Team members. This group’s purpose is to make the camp function so the youth and their leaders would have a great experience. Specifically, my job was to walk the beat as a steward (their name for security guard/information officer) with my team members from Pakistan, Switzerland, and Great Britain. When not working, I took my sketchbook and sat down to draw some of the things around the site. Invariably, a scout would be curious and come look at my sketch. It was a great way to start a conversation and after a few minutes, I’d present the scout with a council strip from the Heart of Virginia. After 20 days of rotating shifts, 200 miles of walking, and meeting at least 1500 people from 50+ countries, I had the full multi-cultural experience.

The most meaningful memory for me was not one of the big production shows or even guarding a future King of England. It was the simple act of donating my new Jamboree tent to the delegation from Zambia. One of their leaders shared a need for any kind of equipment that would help new scout units in their country. After carefully folding it up on the last day, I quietly put it at the simple signpost that marked the entrance to the Zambia camping area.

Baden-Powell’s vision for scouting was to see scouts from around the world united in peace and sharing a spirit of brotherhood. The power of scouting became very real to me that day – and showed me that what I took away from the Jamboree was not as important as what I could leave behind. That “weak” ticket item from Wood Badge became pretty great.

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