National Boy Scouts Jamboree July 19 – 27, 2017

Boy Scouts in turbans at the American Sikh Council ‘Sikh Exhibit’

The American Sikh Council (ASC) participated in the National Scout Jamboree held by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia from July 19 – July 28, 2017. The National Jamboree is held every four (4) years. This year over 40,000 Boy Scouts and over 6,000 adult volunteers and organizers participated in the event.

The American Sikh Council (ASC) participated in the event with ten (10) adult Sikh volunteers, two (2) Sikh Boy Scout volunteers and eight (8) Sikh youngsters who volunteered at the event. The American Sikh Council specially invited Sikh American youngsters to participate and volunteer at the Sikh exhibit so that they could have a immersive experience and finally go back and not only join Scouting but also inform others within the community about the awesome experience. Over 11,000 brochures were given out and every Sikh volunteer was completely engaged with the Scouts, while answering questions and having discussions.

The ASC Sikh exhibit at the Jamboree presented a number of posters that highlighted the basic principles of the Sikh Faith, such as ‘Ik-Onkar’; and the ‘Khanda’. There were posters of the three main principles of the Sikh Faith, Sikh soldiers in World War I & II, and two Sikh Eagle Scouts. A few short documentaries explaining the salient aspects of the Sikh principles were

Boy Scouts outside the ‘Sikh Exhibit’ in turbans

presented including, the Sikh martial art of ‘Gatka’, showcasing the first Sikh American idol – Gurpreet Singh, the first Sikh American officer from West Point – Captain Simratpal Singh was run constantly in a loop. Several types of brochures were distributed to the participants. These included a brochure on ‘Sikhs and Scouts’, which is now regularly printed by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Brochures such as ‘Sikh Faith’, ‘History of Sikh Americans’, ‘Bullying of Sikh American Children – Through the Eyes of a Sikh American High School Student’, ‘Sikh Genocide 1984-1998’, ‘Sikhs in Scouting’, ‘Sikh Scouting Initiative’ were some of the other brochures disseminated to thousands of Boy Scouts and Scout leaders.

The Sikh exhibit at the National Boy Scouts Jamboree attracted tremendous attention, with constant lines of participants waiting for an hour or more to learn about the Sikhs and tie turbans. There was a stream of Scouts asking questions, and groups of Scouts gathering around Sikh volunteers who unwearyingly answered their queries. 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 throughout the day. Over a twenty three hundred (2,300+) turbans were tied by the end of the 4th day and after wearing the turbans on their head through the day, most scouts took their turbans with them as souvenirs.

As stated by Scott B, “Everyone had only positive things to say about your outstanding exhibit”.

Some of the American Sikh Council volunteers with the National Commissioner of BSA

The organizers of the BSA Jamboree were highly impressed with the presentations at the Sikh exhibit. They not only complemented the ASC participants for a phenomenal job, but also made a strong pitch for continuing and further strengthening the collaboration between ASC and BSA by inviting us for the World Jamboree being held in July 2019.

On Monday July 24, 2017 Karanveer Singh an Eagle Scout, was honored by the Boy Scouts of America, by being asked to give the opening prayer just before President Trump gave his speech to the entire Jamboree. Karanveer Singh introduced himself, then did the ‘Ardas’ in Punjabi and then translated it into English and finally thanked the crowd of over 45,000 Scouts, adult leaders and visitors. The crowd was not only extremely respectful but also hugged, high fived, took pictures with him and many Scouts wanted the same style turban the next day.

Karanveer Singh about to give the ‘Opening Prayer’ at the Jamboree on Monday July 24, 2017

The Jamboree provided an outstanding way to bring awareness about the Sikh Faith to a vast number of non-Sikh youth. ASC is engaging in further collaboration with BSA, in particular propagating the Sikh Religious Awards (SRA) across the national spectrum so that anyone and everyone can learn and earn the Sikh emblems if they so choose. ASC is leading the charge for the nationwide Sikh Scouting initiative, so that children from all 200+ gurdwaras and elsewhere get into scouting to improve themselves and thrive for a better future.

This event has provided a significant opportunity for Scouts from various faiths to learn about Sikhs since there are over 2.4 million active Boy Scouts with another one million adult leaders across the country. There another over 2 million Girl Scouts and another 800,000 adult leaders across the nation.

President Donald Trump addressing the Boy Scouts on Monday 24, 2017 at the Jamboree

In turn, it will help in enhancing interfaith understanding and harmony among various segments of society in the country and beyond.

The ASC contingent of volunteers consisted of Kirpal Singh, Sutinder Singh, Amardeep Singh, Dr.Navinderdeep Singh, Dr.Gurdas Singh, Karanveer Singh, Sherveer Singh, Navjeet Kaur, Jaspreet Kaur, Jaswinder Kaur, Avneet Singh, Veer Singh, Agamjyot Singh, Tanvir Singh, Navjot Singh, Jeevanjot Singh, Kharag Singh, Kheber Singh and Kavneet Singh. In addition Dr.Rupinder Singh a Jamboree VIP staff volunteer and his son Jujjar Singh a dynamic Scout also assisted at the Sikh Exhibit.

American Sikh Council volunteers at the ‘Sikh Exhibit’ on Sunday July 23, 2017

The lines were 80-100 deep, waiting to tie their turbans at the Sikh Exhibit

The young Sikh volunteers tying turbans while visitors wait patiently in lines

On Sunday July 23, 2017 the Sikh Prayer was held at the ‘Worship Tent’. More than 250 Scouts and Adult Leaders showed up to observe and participate in the services. A s(h)abd was sung, then translated for the congregation, basics of the Sikh Faith were presented, the protocol of the Gurdwara was explained and then there was a Q & A session. The well attended Sikh Prayer session last a little more than an hour.

The extraordinary message of ‘Guru Nanak’ the enlightener and the founder of the Sikh Faith must be shared outside the Gurdwaras so that everyone around us understands the inclusive, universal message of love and camaraderie, especially in time when there is so much ignorance about minorities in particular.

The Boy Scouts of America and the Jamboree staff did an incredible job of hosting everyone and they cannot be thanked enough for their selfless service.

The Ardas/Sikh Prayer at the ‘Worship Tent’ with over 250 attendees Clip ends at 12:39 mins.  In the 6th paragraph there is mention about a Sikh Scout giving the opening prayer.  Mention about the Sikh Exhibit. Mention of the Sikh Booth being busy.  Mention of the Sikh Exhibit.   Pictures of the Jamboree

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