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Scouting other cultures

While headlines daily report escalating conflicts and tensions among nations, a nearby gathering of worldwide youth — including 36 from the Trumbull and Mahoning counties area — instead built friendships.

More than 45,000 boys and girls from about 150 countries worldwide gathered this summer at Summit Bechtel Reserve near Beckley, W.Va., for the World Scout Jamboree.

“They were exposed to how diverse the world is and to help expand their minds,” Albin Dearing of Poland said. “If you can’t see the future, you can’t become the future.”

Dearing, an Eagle Scout as a youth, was one of four Greater Western Reserve Council of Boy Scouts of America leaders to accompany the 36 local Boy Scouts to the Jamboree.

“We were worried how the kids were going to interact,” he said. “That’s the most amazing thing about kids — they don’t care. They had an amazing time walking around and making friends.”

Joey Clark, 16, of Champion, was among the local contingent.

“Our camp was in between two troops, one from Mexico and one from Japan,” Clark said. “So there was really no separation at our base camps. It was so cool to see the cultural diversity, and experiencing that firsthand really changed my perspective of worldwide Scouting.”

Clark, a member of Troop 4025 in Champion, said he started Scouting in first grade.

“I have stuck with Scouting because I can see the core values of the Scout Oath and Law, and in addition to that, I get to be a part of some really cool stuff,” he said.

“(The World Jamboree) was a very immersive experience,” he said. “I like to contact my friends about every two weeks. For some we talk daily, like my friend from Italy.”

The World Scout Jamboree is held every four years and rotates among countries. The next one, the 25th, is set for July 2023 in South Korea. Official hosts for the Jamboree this year were scouts from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“The last time it was held in the U.S. was in 1967. I was born in September of 1967, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Dearing, now vice president of operations for Dearing Compressor and Pump Co., a family-owned business in Youngstown.

“Every other night, we tried to have dinner with another troop from another part of the world,” Dearing said.

The Western Reserve group was divided into four patrols. Each evening for nearly two weeks, two patrols would visit another campsite, and two patrols would prepare American food for patrols from other countries.

“The United Kingdom, Poland, Japan, Italy… And at each dinner, through the language barriers, we got to learn what Scouting means to them in their part of the world,” Dearing said.

“In Poland, the Scouts are still very militaristic. In Italy, it represents the social aspects of it. In the U.K., they don’t have senior patrol leaders. It’s fluid. It was just, ‘We want you to be in Scouting to learn life skills and have fun.’ In the U.S., it’s more goal-driven, achievement-driven.

“The kids got to see how Scouting plays a role all over the world — and it’s a global world now. Hopefully, it expanded their horizons beyond Youngstown, Ohio.”

Howland attorney Ned Gold Jr., a member of Scouting for more than 65 years, said that during the Jamboree, the Summit Bechtel Reserve was temporarily the second-largest city in West Virginia.

“Everything that goes into a city has to go into a Jamboree,” Gold said. “We had about eight hospitals in the World Jamboree. We had security, roads, transportation, feeding, churches, entertainment … everything. And you pull it together, all of these people from all over the world. They never met and they come together three or four days before it starts and put it together and that’s what happens. It’s incredibly organized.”

Gold noted that 40 percent of the Scouts attending were female.

“Nearly all National Scout Organizations have been integrated since their beginning,” he said. “The BSA is one of the last to admit females to all its programs. What is not generally known is that the BSA has had females in its older Scout programs — Exploring and Venturing — for over 47 years.”

Clark said that as a member of Boy Scouts of America — which also is now open to girls — it didn’t phase him.

“Scouting in a lot of other countries has always been co-ed for years, even since the beginning of their programs. So to say the least, it wasn’t really anything new,” he said.

Gold noted that the Summit Bechtel Reserve is permanent site for the National Scout Jamboree, which is held every two years. The next one is set for July 2021.

“The great part about it is it’s only five hours down the road from Warren,” Gold said.

Dearing said that works for him.

“Scouting was a big part of my life. My first real job, I was hired by an Eagle Scout. In general, I’ve tried to live the Scout Law and Oath my whole life. It wasn’t something I did, it was something I became.

“The world is much more complicated that when I was a kid,” he said. “The only thing that’s going to get us through is a moral compass.”

bcole@tribtoday.com