The World Sikh Council – America Region (WSC-AR) participated in the National Scout Jamboree held by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia from July 15 – July 24, 2013. The National Jamboree is held every 4 years. This year over 40,000 Boy Scouts and 12,000 adult volunteers and organizers participated in the event.
The WSC-AR participated in the event with a full contingent of ten (10) Sikh volunteers, eight (8) adults and two (2) Sikh Boy Scouts.
WSC-AR had an exhibit at the Jamboree that consisted of a number of posters that highlighted the basic principles of the Sikh Faith (such as ‘ik-onkar’: One God, Khanda, The three main principles of the Sikh Faith, Sikh soldiers in World War I & II, and a Sikh Eagle Scout from New Jersey). A presentation explaining the salient aspects of Sikh principles was running continuously in a loop throughout the event. Three brochures were distributed to the participants. These included a WSC-AR brochure on ‘Sikhs and Their Religion’, one on ‘An Introduction to the Sikh People and Their Faith’, and another one on ‘Sikhs and Scouts’. In addition, a few videos were shown at the event. These included Sikhs in America, Gatka the Sikh martial art, and Gurpreet Singh a recent contestant on American Idol. The Scouts particularly expressed their appreciation of the video on the Gatka performance.
The Sikh exhibit at the National Jamboree attracted tremendous attention, with constant lines of participants waiting to visit and learn about Sikhs. The streams of attendees had lots of questions, and groups of Scouts gathered around Sikh volunteers listening attentively to the presenters. The Scouts waited patiently and enthusiastically in lines, for their turn to get a turban tied on their heads, which many wore with pride around the event grounds. Over a thousand turbans were tied and after wearing the turbans on their head through the day, most Scouts took their turbans with them.
The organizers of the BSA Jamboree expressed their appreciation for the detailed presentations provided at the Sikh exhibit. They complimented the WSC-AR participants for an awesome job, and also made a strong request for continuing and further strengthening the collaboration between WSC-AR and BSA by inviting us for Jamboree in 2017.
The Jamboree provided an outstanding way to bring awareness about the Sikh Faith to a large number of youth. WSC-AR is engaging in further collaboration with BSA, in particular instituting a ‘religious award’ on the Sikh Faith for the Boy Scouts. This will provide a significant opportunity for Scouts from various faiths to learn about Sikhs since there are over 2.6 million active Scouts across the country. In turn, it will help in enhancing inter-faith understanding and harmony among various segments of society in the country and beyond.
You can see more pictures from Jamboree 2013 here