From Juneau to the Jamboree

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scouts from all over the world gathered at the 2007 World Scout Jamboree, held July 27 to Aug. 8, at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, United Kingdom, for the Jamboree held once every four years, but also to celebrate the 100th anniversary of scouting on Aug. 1. Among them was Juneau resident Shaun Nesheim, 16, the only Southeast representative.

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Nesheim's Troop 417 represented Seattle and Alaska. There were eight scouts from Anchorage, three from Moose Pass, one from Homer, one from the Wasilla region and several from Seattle, Nesheim said.

This year's Jamboree accommodated roughly 40,000 scouts, approximately 15,000 girls and 25,000 boys, from 187 countries. Attendees were split into 16 subcamps, each with about 2,000 people, which were then organized into 50 troops, each with 36 scouts and four adult leaders.

The troops were organized into four patrols of nine youth. Most of the troops were made up of scouts from one country. Others were composed of scouts from a number of countries that sent smaller contingents.

"It was kind of like a really small city system," Nesheim said. "You'd have a strip of road. It'd be 8 feet wide by maybe 500 feet long. ... On the sides, you'd have essentially properties where troops from all over would be."

"There were plots of land, and we would set up tents on it," Nesheim said. "We would set up our kitchen areas and set up some tarps for dining."

The Jamboree provided benches, tarps, tents, tables, cooking equipment, poles and gear to build a gateway.

"A gateway is essentially something flashy that you put up at the entrance of your site to represent something about your country or just something to hold up flags," Nesheim said. Nesheim's troop put up a Washington flag, an Alaska flag, an American flag and their troop flag.

"We just made two columns, connected across with two boards and made tripods on the columns, faceted them down with guideline rope and put our flags on it," Nesheim said.

Scouts had a plethora of pre-planned activities to choose from, such as going to "Splash," a water recreation area which included raft-building, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and more.

"They had all sorts of cool stuff," Nesheim said. "A couple of the nice things were the opening ceremony, closing ceremony and sunrise ceremony."

The sunrise ceremony, which took place on the 100th anniversary of scouting, featured a large party with performances by celebrity impersonators, such as "Madonna" and "Cold Play."

"Every night they would have some kind of huge party somewhere," Nesheim said.

But the Jamboree wasn't all just fun and games: "It was a lot of stuff that you learn to pretty much influence the world on stuff," Nesheim said.

Nesheim also reflected on the multicultural experience of the Jamboree. He and a friend from Anchorage participated a dinner swap with two scouts from England. About the dinner, he said, "I was just talking with some guys, and we were just talking about snowboarding and skiing. We were talking about wakeboarding. We were talking some service projects. You get to just talk, talk about whatever."

Nesheim said the Jamboree "shows a lot about what other people are doing, how other people are living."

"You get to see how other people live and explain to them how you live," Nesheim said. "You get feedback on what they think about your lifestyle. You know, you get to argue a little, but it's tons of fun."

This year's Jamboree motto was "One World, One Promise."

"The promise essentially means that everyone - all the scouts, all the youth around the world - are working together to make the world a better place," Nesheim said. "A bunch of scouts in other countries are doing all these projects to benefit their communities."

Nesheim said scouts from Sierra Leone are working with a company to recycle aluminum cans for use in construction, such as for roofing and walls.

"It's just small stuff like that," Nesheim said. "But it makes a difference."

According to Nesheim, most of the large service projects the scouts do is done to earn their Eagle Scout rank.

"(Eagle Scout projects) are put on by one individual, or sometimes two if it's a huge project, who plan out everything and then get a bunch of materials to do a project that benefits a religious organization or a school, or some other thing in the community," Nesheim said.

Eagle Scout projects Nesheim has helped with were building a gazebo at the Methodist Camp, making a ¼-mile loop trail near a church and cleaning up and restoring a graveyard on Douglas Island.

"Just recently, we power-sanded a lot of chipping paint off of a building next to Resurrection Lutheran Church downtown here," Nesheim said. According to Nesheim, the building, used by Threshold Music, was also "a really gross color too."

One scout in Nesheim's troop will build a new shack to store emergency equipment in at the top of Eaglecrest Ski Area. Another may build a bench on East or West Glacier trails.

For his project, Nesheim will take the next couple weeks to plan some sort of work on Bear Creek Trail.

"I talked to the school, because the school is mainly the one who uses it, as well as a couple members of the community who live pretty close to it," Nesheim said. "And I talked to the city, and they were like, 'Oh yeah, totally.' It all depends on who you talk to."

In regards to the service work he and his fellow scouts do, Nesheim said, "It's kind of things that you do so often that you can't name them unless someone sees you doing them and tells you. You don't know what it is, but you do it."

• Kim Andree can be reached at 523-2272 or

Kim Andree / Juneau Empire

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