Jamboree last July was full of surprises, but the one that caught me most off guard was participant interest in duty to God. The Jamboree had been open a couple of days when I strolled into the Legacy Village and came across the “Duty to God and Country Pavilion.” It was a busy place with 21 faith exhibits from different religions and lots of traffic.
These booths included a vast array of religions: African Methodist Episcopal, American Sikh, Baha’i, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Churches of Christ, Church of Christ Scientists, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Disciple of Christ, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Friends, Muslim, Jewish, Lutheran, Presbyterians, Salvation Army, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists and United Methodists. Sadly I did not have time to visit all of them, but there were a lot of Scouts that did. That aside, this pavilion was packed all day, every day, with curious Scouts.
It was obvious because of the steady stream of turbans and dastars coming out of the World Sikh Council exhibit—one Scout from my home troop sported his for part of the Jamboree. As the Sikhs wrapped the Scouts’ head, they would explain how it is an article of faith that represents honor, self-respect, courage, spirituality, and piety. Then they would explain the Five K’s of their faith:
- Kesh(uncut hair)
- Kangha (a wooden comb for the hair)
- Kara (an iron bracelet)
- Kachera(100% cotton undergarment)
- Kirpan (an iron dagger large enough to defend yourself).
I knew a little bit about their faith from teaching a world religions class but learned so much more in a Sikh worship service that I attended.
Because it was Friday, when I got to this pavilion, I quickly visited the booth on Muslim Scouting to see when prayer would be held that day. The folks there pointed me to the Worship Center, an adjacent tent, but we were a few moments late so took our seats in the back of the tent converted to serve as a mosque.
I enjoyed the sermon delivered by Rizwan Jaka, and felt a common bond when he explained the meaning of the Scout Law through several Islamic readings, including the Qur’an, which I had posted earlier.
Also in the “Duty to God and Country” tent, youth and adults lined up at the United Methodist Men’s booth to learn more a Scouting as a Methodist. I got into such a discussion there with Tom McKee, who said working at the booth is “an awesome opportunity we have here to reach out to the kids,” adding that Scouting brought him and his family to join their United Methodist church after looking for a place to do Cub Scouting with their son.
I don’t know what others did to “earn” their copy of “Strength for Service for God and Country,” but Tom gave me one. Many other Scouts came away from the exhibit with a copy. This daybook was filled with an inspiring story for every day of Jamboree and every other day the rest of the year and was produced commemorating 100 years of Methodist Scouting
At the opposite end of the tent, the Latter-day Saints had another popular exhibit. Their visitors could earn the 2017 Compass Award, which was a replica of the Liahona, or compass, used by Book of Mormon peoples.
The award, also popular around the jamboree, was not hard to earn, but was very engaging for Scouts there. This included visiting two nearby merit badge booths, Genealogy and Family Life. It also required meeting a new friend at the booth and sharing beliefs with them, memorizing a scripture from the New Testament and a short quote from one of their church’s leaders.
When complete, the award hung around the neck. It featured a metal ring around a spinning, ball-like with the words “Decisions determine destiny” inscribed around the ring.