The 25th World Scout Jamboree was held in South Korea. Normally, the BSA National Jamboree and World Scout Jamboree are offset by two years. Due to the COVID pandemic, these two events were held within weeks of each other. WOSM (World Organization of the Scouting Movement) organized a “Faith and Beliefs Area” representing eleven recognized world faiths – including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vanguard sponsored the Latter-day Saint exhibit, with similar themes and images to the 2023 National Jamboree display.
Due to a lack of planning and preparation, much has already been written about the intense physical challenges at the World Jamboree. However, it’s essential to know that the issues facing attendees led to the US and UK pulling all of their Scouts and staff (about 6,000) out of the Jamboree early due to safety concerns. Combine that with a typhoon that struck the Korean Peninsula and required the evacuation of all remaining participants – you begin to understand the challenges faced at this year’s event.
Despite these challenges, the feeling inside the Vanguard exhibit was inviting, calm, and a sanctuary from the chaos outside. The Vanguard staff had a marvelous and richly spiritual experience. They rose above the physical challenges and helped participants from around the globe feel that they are, indeed, sons and daughters of a kind Heavenly Father who loves each of us. Attendees had the same opportunity to earn the Be A Light Award, with almost 400 awarded during the tumultuous Jamboree.
Another highlight was the Latter-day Saint Sacrament Meeting, held on Sunday. We had an LDS Scout from Ecuador passing the Sacrament, with another Korean Scout blessing the Sacrament. With over 60 attendees (after the US & UK pull-out), almost two-thirds were members of other faiths. What a delightful experience, as the meeting was difficult to find – they wanted to be there. Afterward, the entire group proceeded to our exhibit and spent the afternoon earning their Be A Light Awards!
We were lucky to have two local, experienced Latter-day Saint missionaries come and serve in our exhibit. Elder Cummings and Elder Chapman were beautiful examples of Christ-like love as they engaged Scouts in meaningful conversations. We also enjoyed the presence of Brother and Sister Harvig – a senior missionary couple from Seoul. These good saints helped make the booth an inviting and meaningful experience.
The Vanguard staff rose the challenge of delivering a fantastic experience for Jamboree participants despite food, water, medical, heat, and humidity issues. They focused on serving our global brothers and sisters individually, just like the Savior. We witnessed miracles with this missionary-minded group; they were the people needed for this particular experience.
All-in-all, these Jamborees were a very positive experience. The impact of the presence of Vanguard International Scouting Association at the events cannot be underestimated in maintaining the influence of good, faithful Latter-day Saints in Scouting and helping Scouting to continue to be the organization of character values and integrity it has been for over 115 years. In addition, it reaffirmed the impact of Scouting in strengthening Latter-day Saint youth and families – when coupled with their religious Church participation. We were pleased with the significant number of Latter-day Saint youth and leaders who have voluntarily determined to continue their Scouting Adventure – and their enthusiasm for the entire Scouting program.
By Neal Robison and Charles Dahlquist