Kavneet Singh with Scouts from Egypt at the ‘Sikh Exhibit’ – WSJ2019
The American Sikh Council (ASC) planned and participated in the World Scouts Jamboree (WSJ2019) hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico jointly and held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia from July 21 – Aug 2, 2019. The World Scouts Jamboree is held once every four (4) years somewhere on the planet. This year over 50,000 Scouts and over 8,000 adult volunteers and organizers participated in the event from over 165 countries.
The American Sikh Council (ASC) participated in the event with eleven (11) adult Sikh volunteers (six women and 5 men), who volunteered at the event. Over 15,000 brochures were given out and every Sikh volunteer was completely engaged with the Scouts, while answering questions and having discussions.
Kavneet Singh with Scouts in turbans at the Sikh Exhibit (WSJ2019)
The Sikh exhibit at the World Scouts Jamboree contained several types of presentations. Posters that highlighted the basic principles of the Sikh Faith, such as ‘Ik-Onkar’; and the ‘Khanda’, along-with the Sikh Faith, Sikh soldiers in World War I & II, and two Sikh Eagle Scouts were also displayed. Several short documentaries explaining the salient aspects of the Sikh principles were presented in a repeated loop – which included: 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 has regularly printed by the Boy Scouts of America (Scouts – BSA). Brochures such as ‘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 Scouts and Scout leaders.
Kavneet Singh with Scouts at the ‘Sikh Exhibit’ in turbans (WSJ2019)
The Sikh exhibit at the World Scouts Jamboree attracted tremendous attention, with constant lines of participants waiting for an hour or more to learn about the Sikhs. 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. Thousands of turbans were tied through the course of the ten-day event. After wearing the turbans on their head through the day, most scouts took their turbans with them as souvenirs.
As stated by G.Forbes, “Your exhibit in exceptional and I appreciate you highlighting the Sustained Sikh Genocide as it is so important that the young learn about it”.
Scouts waiting in line to tie turbans at the Sikh exhibit
The organizers of the World Scouts Jamboree were highly impressed with the presentations at the Sikh exhibit. They not only complimented the Sikh participants for a phenomenal job, but also made a strong pitch for continuing participation in future Jamborees.
Sikh volunteers tying turbans at the Sikh Exhibit
The Jamboree provided an outstanding way to bring awareness about the Sikh Faith to a vast number of youths from so many other faith denominations from across the globe. ASC is engaging in further collaboration with BSA, to particularly propagate 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 250+ gurdwaras and elsewhere get into scouting to improve themselves and thrive as great citizens for a better future.
The World Scouts Jamboree event has provided a significant opportunity for Scouts from various faiths to learn about Sikhs since there are over 50 million Scouts worldwide and 170 countries are members of the World Scouting Movement. There are 2.3 million active Boy Scouts with another one million adult leaders across America. There are over 1.8 million Girl Scouts and another 800,000 adult leaders across the nation.
Scouts at the Sikh Exhibit – World Scouts Jamboree (WSJ2019)
In turn, it will help in enhancing interfaith understanding and harmony among various segments of society in America and beyond our shores.
Activity at the ‘Sikh Exhibit’
On Sunday July 28, 2019 the Sikh Prayer was held at the ‘Worship Tent’. More than 200 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, 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 unique 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 message of inclusiveness and stopping hate everywhere was highlighted through the ‘Sustained Sikh Genocide 1984 – 1998’ brochure so that the mature teenagers present in the large venue were educated and informed about the trauma of an entire faith community which it has faced in the recent past, and must never be repeated – ever!
ASC requests all gurdwaras and Sikhs across our nation to get involved and support the wonderful initiative of Sikh Scouting which has taught more than 170,000 (non-Sikh) Scouts since 2013 and is getting hundreds of young Sikh American children involved in the unbelievably wholesome outdoor activity of Scouting, so that they learn various life skills, appreciate nature, outdoors and gain self-confidence and learn leadership.
Scott Beckett (Director of Programming), Kavneet Singh and Charles Dhalquist (former National Commissioner) at the Sikh Exhibit (WSJ2019) Saturday July 27, 2019.