While living as temporary residents of countries within the Transatlantic Council, scouts here are given incredibly unique and frequent opportunities to engage with scouts from other nations, including our own host nations. The most obvious implication of this is that it allows us to more easily fulfill the requirements for the Eagle required merit badge, Citizenship in the World. More importantly, however, is the spirit of the badge: to grow in our understanding of other countries and to develop lasting bonds with citizens from around the world.
This weekend marks a special weekend for international scouting, as many of our troops prepare to leave for Inter-Camp in the Czech Republic. Participants will have plenty of opportunities to engage with youth from other nations. As much as we all love these types of international events, there is another big reason why this weekend is special: On May 15th, 2016, the Austrian Scouts will join the International Memorial & Liberation Commemoration at the site of Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria. Both of these events exemplify the importance behind the scout spirit of building peace and developing international understanding.
We have a rich history of international events that bring scouts together from all nations. On one recent event last Fall, I went with my son’s troop to the Transatlantic Council’s Battle of the Bulge Historical Trail. It was an amazing experience that encompassed the opportunity to see the World War II battle’s trail and to have a close up and personal understanding of the valiant stand of the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne. This event, and others like it within the international scouting community, “provide Scouts a better understanding of American Heritage, as well as provide opportunities for hiking and possible interaction with Scouts from other countries” (TAC Bastogne Historic Trail PDF).
The Transatlantic Council, and our own Barbarossa District, provide many opportunities for international scouting events throughout the year. One interview with international scouter Philipp Lehar gives us this insight: “In international exchanges with Israeli and Polish Scouts, [and] also during [the] Normandy Camporee, 2011, I experienced the Power of History and building links and bridges between nations.” And indeed, we are now making preparations for the Normandy Camporee in Spring, 2017. This is a once every three years’ event that will certainly be both exciting and memorable to anyone who takes advantage of the opportunity to attend.
More importantly, our own BSA history was founded on international scouting: “William D. Boyce, an American newspaper man and entrepreneur, was lost on a foggy street in London when an unknown Scout came to his aid, guiding him back to his destination. The boy then refused Boyce’s tip, explaining that he was merely doing his duty as a Boy Scout. Immediately afterwards, Boyce met with General Robert Baden-Powell, who was the head of the Boy Scout Association at that time. Boyce returned to America, and, four months later, founded the Boy Scouts of America” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Boy_Scouts_of_America). Furthermore, all members of scouting wear the World Crest Emblem on their Official Scout Uniform as a symbol of world brotherhood. I am grateful for all of the opportunities we have in Europe that help develop and foster international relationships within the scouting community.