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The World Scout Jamboree and personal development

In just a few days, the Scouting world will be coming together in West Virginia, USA for the World Scout Jamboree. The word ‘Jamboree’ now firmly belongs to Scouting, I reckon. In many people’s minds, perhaps, it conjurs up sepia toned images of good, hearty fun for young people, stories being told round campfires and lashings of Enid Blytonesque ginger beer. Well, those pictures aren’t wrong, of course, but they only describe a thin veneer. Underneath are 40,000 young people, supported by more than 4,000 adults, all learning what it’s like to live together, sometimes in very close proximity, for ten days of adventure, learning and reflection. They will be exposed to cultures they’ve never encountered before. They’ll be asked to question their own preconceptions. They’ll begin to understand the interconnectivity of our world. And they will learn a great deal about themselves.

A World Scout Jamboree takes the Scouting experience and condenses it into an unforgettable ten days. As the Founder once wrote, “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.”

To help young people and adults take charge of and reflect on their learning, my own Contingent from the UK has been inviting its members to go online, set some personal development goals, achieve them and then get recognised for doing so. All members ofthe UK Contingent can take part, with Unit members undertaking six personal goals and all adults (Unit Leaders, IST, Contingent Team) undertaking three. The goals fit under The Scouts areas of physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual. The Personal Development Zone offers many suggestions, linked to the existing badge scheme and the higher awards for young people, and adults can link their goals to their modular training if they want to or they can set a goal unique to them. The idea is that individuals set their own goals and say how they will achieve them, making it a very personal and significant personal development journey. More information can be found at

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, their national Jamboree contingent has been using the framework of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award to do the same thing. Everyone has had the opportunity to work towards one of the levels of the Award – and I will be presenting successful participants with their pins and certificates at the Jamboree.

Two different approaches to personal development. But it’s great to see that national leadership teams have recognised that the World Scout Jamboree is a wonderful learning experience for all involved, not just a holiday to be consumed.

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