Taking Your Place in the World Scouting Movement

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world scouting movement

Steve Fox’s list of roles and responsibilities in Scouting spans five decades. From his boyhood home in Maryland, to college in Indiana and Illinois, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, and during eight tours of duty with the Foreign Service in East and South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa Scouting has continued to be a big part of his life. 

Steve was generous enough to write this article and share some important thoughts and resources to help us all take our place in the world Scouting movement. 

Our Scouts are already connected to the world in very practical ways; they wear a T-shirt from Guatemala, ride in a car from Japan, listen to music by a British band on a portable device designed in Korea, manufactured in China with parts from Thailand, packaged in Mexico, and marketed by an American advertising agency.

Taking advantage of international Scouting opportunities is a great way to broaden our understanding of exactly how we are connected with our fellow Scouts.  Millions of Scouts around the world share the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, as they participate in the same kinds of activities. The diverse fabric of worldwide Scouting is woven of common threads that mirrors the our 21st-century world.

Every Scout should endeavor to understand their place in the wider world of Scouting. Here’s a number of resources that individual Scouts, Patrols, and units can use to better understand and participate actively in our world Scouting movement:

BSA Program Connections

Citizenship in the World Merit Badge
Citizenship_in_the_WorldThe most accessible opportunity for a Scout to explore citizenship in a complex world.  Counselors and leaders can encourage Scouts to explore current issues in cultural and historical perspective.  Several international news organizations (especially the BBC) have excellent online resources for in-depth understanding of current issues.

American Cultures Merit Badge:
American_CulturesScouts explore cultural diversity through direct contact with other cultural experiences in the US that will broaden their perspectives on what it means to be “American.”

World Conservation Award
A Scout who earns the Citizenship in the World and Environmental Science merit badges (both Eagle-required) plus either the Soil and Water Conservation OR Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge qualifies for this award.

International Spirit Award
A basic level of international Scouting and world affairs accessible to any Scout. Four mandatory requirements (including earning the World Conservation Award) and two of nine optional activities.

Messengers of Peace Program
Global initiative of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement designed to inspire Scouts around the world to work toward peace.  Scouts from around the world share service projects and inspire fellow Scouts to undertake similar efforts in their own communities.  Scouts who participate in qualifying projects earn a “Messengers of Peace” ring that goes around the World Scouting Crest on their uniform.  Their projects are registered on a worldwide database.

International Scouter’s Award
isaknotEncourages Scouters to broaden their involvement in Scouting through participation in world Scouting activities and recognizes Scouters for their contributions to world Scouting.

Virtual Connections

Permanent Digital Jamboree
In late 2013, the World Organization of the Scout Movement reorganized its website to provide a social media resource for Scouts and Scouters around the world.  It is just getting started, so creative Scouts and units have a great opportunity to post information about their best activities, things that excite them, or questions they think other Scouts might be able to help answer.  It is well worth exploring, especially as a creative new way for a unit’s Webmaster to publicize activities.

Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) and Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI)
These two programs are held simultaneously during the third full weekend of October every year.

  • JOTA  ( BSA Page) allows Scouts to talk via amateur radio with Scouts around the world.  Contact your Council’s International Representative for locations where Scouts can participate and see these resources from the American Radio Relay League.
  • JOTI  is an e-mail and chat-based experience that allows Scouts to contact others around the world.  Participants earn a special activity patch.  Check with your Council’s International Representative for arrangements in your area.

International Events

WSJlogoideasWorld Jamborees
Held every four years.  The opportunity to attend one is limited, but will be the highlight of a Scout’s experience.  The 23rd World Scout Jamboree will be in Japan in July and August of 2015. Exciting activities, include: Global Development Village, City of Science, Cross Road of Culture, and the Peace Program.  The 2019 World Jamboree (co-sponsored by Canada, Mexico, and the US) will be held at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.

BSAcontingentBSA Contingent Program
Invitations to international/national events around the world. Scouts to connect with the world and meet local Scouts and Scout leaders.  BSA has been invited to send contingents to the 15th Caribbean Jamboree in Curacao and the Iceland International Jamboree in the summer of 2014.

International Scouting Events
A list of international events are available at the WOSM website.

National Jamborees
There is always an interesting display on International Scouting at The Summit, staffed by Scouters full of interest and enthusiasm, ready to share their experiences with Scouts and Scouters and to talk about ways to get involved.  Scouts from other countries also come to participate.

Council Program Connections

Council International Representatives organize activities and programs tailored to local resources and interests.  Check with them frequently; call your Council office for contact information.
Many Councils along the Canadian and Mexican borders have regular events with Scouts across the border.  Contact your Council’s international representative or activities committee to see what may be available in your area.

World Friendship Fund
Scouts helping fellow Scouts around the world. Since the inception of the World Friendship Fund, American Scouts and leaders have donated more than $11 million to these self-help activities.  Initially a program to re-establish Scouting in countries devastated by World War II, this fund has provided Scouts around the world with Scouting literature, uniforms, summer camp equipment, computers, and other Scouting-related supplies.

Unit-based activities

A unit can include a wide variety of international and cross-cultural activities to enrich its program.  For all of these, it is important for leaders to discuss with the Scouts afterward what they learned from the experience, so they have a chance to organize in their minds what they saw and to share views.

  • Have an ethnic theme for cooking on a troop campout.
  • Invite an exchange student from a high school your Scouts attend to speak at a Troop meeting.  Ask them what they know about Scouting in their home country.  Learn about the differences between school in their home country and in the United States.
  • Visit the Consulate of another country in your area.  Search for “Consulate” plus the name of your city online to find what countries are represented.  There are Consulates in most large US cities, and explaining their country to US audiences is an important part of their job.  Many have open houses once or twice a year.
  • Attend a music, dance, or other performance from another culture.
  • Attend a game of a sport that does not have a professional league in the United States.  Learn where the sport is popular.  There are rugby and cricket leagues in many large US cities.
  • Invite a person who has immigrated to the US to speak at a troop meeting.  Ask about life in that country and why they now live in your area.
  • Visit a place of worship identified with an international ethnic group.
  • Visit a museum to see a program or exhibit featuring another culture.
  • Attend a local international festival or fair.  This can be as simple as “international night” at school or as big as the Cinco de Mayo festival of your local Mexican community or the Lunar New Festival of your local Chinese community.
  • Check with your local and state governments about international activities.  Many states have trade offices focused on particular parts of the world.  Many cities and counties have “sister city” relationships with cities around the world that can give you ideas for programs for your unit.
  • World Affairs Councils of America is a network of nonpartisan organizations around the US dedicated to educating and engaging Americans on global issues.  Check with a chapter in your area to find out what the possibilities are.  These may be particularly appropriate for older Scouts.

International Career Connections for Scouts

Service to others is often a motivating factor when a Scout begins investigating career options.  Many Scouts become teachers, civil servants, or work in the non-profit sector.  International service professions in the Peace Corps, US Agency for International Development, and the Foreign Service all place a high value on a record of service to others  when hiring employees.  Non-governmental organizations that work as partners with these government agencies are actively searching for people with the values instilled by Scouting. All of these organizations have student and internship programs that allow young people with an interest in international service to experience it for a summer, a semester, or a year.  Many are highly competitive, so it is best to apply to a variety of programs.

A tremendous variety of organizations work with US government agencies and the UN to deliver their programs around the world.

  • Refugees International, for example, asks interns to commit to 15 hours of unpaid work per week for at least 10 weeks in their Washington, DC office.
  • Save the Children offers some internships at their headquarters in Connecticut, their Washington, DC office, and some other field offices in the US.
  • There are many faith-based organizations as well; check with your religious leader if you are interested.

Scouting instills a commitment to service, and teaches skills of self-reliance, flexibility, perseverance, tolerance, and inquisitiveness.  All ideal qualities for living in another culture. Living in another country is a “high adventure” that rivals anything Philmont has to offer!

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