The Canadian Path is a balanced program with adventures in six Program Areas: Environment & Outdoors, Leadership, Active & Healthy Living, Creative Expression, Beliefs & Values and Citizenship. This last Program Area – Citizenship – is all about sharing adventures that help youth to become better citizens in their home communities, in Canada and in the world. The world is a big place, and there are many opportunities for youth to learn about other countries and cultures, and even provide service abroad. And it may be easier than you think. After all, Scouting is a world-wide movement!
When considering adventures that involve other countries and cultures, youth and Scouters may stop themselves before they even get started. Why? The cost of travel may be a factor, as well as the logistics of planning that may be required to mount an adventure to another country. However, international program adventures can easily be planned as part of an evening meeting or a weekend camp. Youth should be encouraged to look through the Citizenship Trail Cards for your Section. They’ll find appealing ideas for international-themed adventures.
Some stay-at-home international adventure ideas could include a party with the theme of a festival from another country. To celebrate the diversity in your Section, youth can share a potluck supper with traditional dishes from their families’ cultures. There are even opportunities to meet with other Groups in their same city to learn about diverse backgrounds and cultures. For instance, if your Group happens to meet in a church basement, you might visit another Group that meets at a synagogue or a mosque. There will be things to discover about another culture during your visit.
There are also ways that you can include international guests in your adventures without having to travel anywhere. Your Section can take part in Scouts Canada’s Pen Pal program (Scouts.ca/ca/penpal), which will give your youth an opportunity to correspond with a matching Scouting Section in another country. You can do this the old-fashioned way through snail mail, or connect online using email http://www.scouts.ca/scoutinglife/2016/11/canadian-path-including-international-opportunities-program/?preview=true or social media. In this same vein, your Group can also participate in the Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA) of the Jamboree-on-the-Internet (JOTI). These are virtual jamborees sanctioned by the World Organization for the Scouting Movement. They take place every year on over the third weekend of October. It’s a safe and exciting way for youth to connect with others in Scouting from all around the world!
All of the things mentioned so far are great ways to get youth thinking beyond Canada’s borders, and they are particularly useful if your Section happens to be Beavers or Cubs. International travel can be difficult with those in younger Sections, but stay-at-home international adventures will give youth the opportunity to think about other cultures, and they can even make contact with youth in other countries. This can make international travel feel less daunting when they get older and have opportunities to travel internationally through Scouting.
Youth in senior Sections can organize or take part in an international event, an international exchange or an international development project (visit Scouts.ca/ca/scoutsabroad for more information on these opportunities). Jamborees can also be a great opportunity to travel to other countries and meet youth from around the globe. Because visiting another country can be both complicated and expensive, get your youth thinking about such an adventure well in advance. Youth will need plenty of time to plan and raise the funds they will need to make the adventure a reality.
Fortunately for Canadian Scouts, the next World Scout Jamboree is taking place nearby! The World Scout Jamboree 2019 will take place at Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, where thousands of youth aged 14-17 from all over the world will meet to share in adventures and make new friends. A World Scouting Jamboree can be a great introduction to international Scouting travel for youth, and the fact that the jamboree is in North America means that the logistics of organizing the trip will be less daunting, and the overall cost will be lower. More information on WSJ2019 can be found at 2019wsj.org. Get your youth to start thinking about this fabulous opportunity as soon as you can!
Scouting is a global movement, and because of this there are many opportunities for youth to experience the world, both at home and abroad. If you’ve had an excellent Scouting adventure that either allowed your Section to learn about another culture, or that took you to another country, why don’t you share it with Scouting Life so that everyone can learn from your experience? Canada is a vast country with many places to visit, but there’s an even bigger world for our youth to explore beyond our borders!