Opening Ceremony at Boy Scout Jamboree overlooking field

The characters from Jules Verne’s novel traveled around the world in 80 days. Two scouts from Morgantown’s Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop 52 managed it in less than a fifth of that―all without leaving the state.

From July 22 to August 2, Patrick Ryan and Nathaniel Selfridge joined more than 45,000 young adventurers and their leaders representing scouting organizations from more than 150 countries at the Summit Bechtel Reserve near the New River Gorge. What could possibly cause a small city to suddenly form in the hills of West Virginia? The 24th World Scout Jamboree. The Summit Bechtel Reserve regularly hosts the BSA’s National Scout Jamborees, but the only other time the United States has hosted a global celebration was in Idaho in 1967.

Morgantown caught up with Patrick and Nathaniel to get their insights—and pictures—from this momentous event.

Let’s Get Together

Scouts packed the grounds for the opening ceremony on Tuesday, July 23. A Unity Show marked the middle of the Jamboree on Friday, July 26 after a day full of cultural celebrations.

Wanna Trade?

Boy on Consol Energy Bridge at Boyscout Jamboree showing his neckerchief

Patrick Ryan on Consol Energy Bridge showing his neckerchief.

Trading is a traditional scouting past time. Patrick―pictured standing on the Consol Energy Bridge―and his friends walked as far as five miles round-trip through campsites to trade patches and neckerchiefs for their foreign equivalents. Patrick’s collection now includes neckerchiefs from Germany and Taiwan, and he says others were even trading T-shirts and uniforms. Nathaniel also gathered international coins as part of a metal-detecting activity.

A Whole New World

Scouts at the Boy Scout Jamboree waiting in line for food at the Cricket Cafe

Scouts in line at the Cricket Cafe.

World Point was an international mecca featuring tents for nearly every culture and scouting organization present. Scouts could grab food at some booths―the pancakes and coffee with maple syrup from the Candians was Patrick’s favorite―and learn about worldwide concerns at others.

At the Dinner Table

Different cultures having dinner at the Boy Scout Jamboree

The boys’ contingent group enjoying dinner with Danish, Italian, French, and British scouts.

Nothing beats sharing a meal. One night Patrick and Nathaniel’s United States contingent group ate dinner with other contingents from Denmark, France, Great Britain, and Italy.

One for All

Friendship at the Boy Scout Jamboree

Nathaniel Selfridge (right) and friend. Appreciating diversity, sharing friendship.

Appreciating diversity proved to be a major theme. Nathaniel met scouts from across America and from other countries including the United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, and Denmark. Patrick chatted with someone from Great Britain to compare and contrast the educational systems of the United States and its neighbor across the pond.

High Adventures, Long Lines

Activities such as rock climbing and zipling—to name a few—kept the scouts busy and entertained.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve is known for its high-adventure activities―rock climbing, ziplining, mountain biking, and skateboarding, to list a few. As one would expect with tens of thousands of people, lines grew long. Nathaniel and his friends left for a canopy tour at 5:30 in the morning, but he also heard of others who headed to lines even earlier. The scouts took the wait time as an opportunity to make friends.

Grand Finale

Sending the scouts home with a big bang.

Both Patrick’s and Nathaniel’s favorite ceremony was the closing one on Thursday, August 1. The event featured a laser show, music, and fireworks to send the scouts home with a big bang.

The World Scout Jamboree was a rare opportunity for Patrick, Nathaniel, and scouts all across West Virginia to meet people from many other cultures firsthand, all in their own backyard—an experience they will surely remember for the rest of their lives.

Sunset view from camp.

Photographed by Patrick Ryan and Joseph Wright.

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Written by Jess Walker
Jess Walker came to West Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in English, but stayed for the culture, nature, and stories. She writes for WV Living and Morgantown magazines. Her best ideas happen when she’s outdoors, preferably near a river and with a cup of coffee in hand.