Dan McCarthy

On July 22, 2019 close to 45,000 Scouts, adult leaders and staff members will create the third largest city in West Virginia, virtually overnight. The city will stand for 12 days. What is this event, should you consider visiting and, if so, what should be your visit strategy?

What is a World Scout Jamboree?

Fundamentally, a World Scout Jamboree is an educational event that brings together the world’s Scouts to promote peace and mutual understanding and to develop leadership and life skills. Held every four years in a nation selected by the World Scouting Committee much like the selection process used to select the site for Olympic venues, World Scout Jamborees are a celebration of Scouting around the world and the many cultures represented in the participating nations.

The 2019 Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve is the 24th World Scout Jamboree. It is being co-hosted by the national Scouting organizations of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. (the first time this event will be co-hosted by multiple nations). It is also only the second time a World Scout Jamboree has been held in the U.S. (the last U.S. hosted World Scout Jamboree was in 1967 at Farragut State Park, Idaho).

This Jamboree is expected to be the largest World Scout Jamboree in history with 45,000 Scouts, leaders and international staff members expected from approximately 150 member nations of the World Organization of Scouting Movement (WOSM). Like previous World Scout Jamborees, this one will be filled with fun, adventure, service and educational experiences for Scouts and visitors. Its theme, “Unlock a New World,” suggests its worldwide focus.

A World Jamboree is a complex event. In addition to developing on site programs, the movement of scouts and leaders from 150 countries must be coordinated and all support components put in place (meals, housing — mostly tents in this case — transportation, security, sanitation, medical support… everything associated with managing a city…. a city primarily populated by teenagers!) It’s truly a unique and exciting global event.

Should you consider visiting the Jamboree?

In a word, absolutely! As a visitor to the 24th World Scout Jamboree you will experience the adventure, excitement and cultural diversity of this event as the world scouting movement is on full display right here in southern West Virginia.

There will be plenty of exciting things to see and do including daily activities and displays featuring the music, dance and crafts of these nations; the World Scout Center headquarters itself; the Global Development Village; Centro Mondial where the host nations tell their story, displays by faith-based organizations from around the world and an innovative introduction to living in the 21st century focused on a wide array of developing efforts in food, exploration, communications, and transportation just to name a few.

What's the best strategy for a visit?

First, try and target a weekday visit when crowds are lighter. Purchase your tickets in advance at Come early and plan to spend the day. Wear comfortable walking shows and bring along sunscreen, a water bottle, a camera to capture memories and your kids (or grandkids). This is an event the entire family will want to experience.

Your day will start at the J.W. and Hazel Ruby Welcome Center (mile marker 6.0 on U.S. 19). You’ll park there, complete security screening and be transported by motor coach to the Jamboree site. You’ll learn more about the Jamboree on your coach ride in from a Visitor Experience Team member who’ll ride with you.

Once on site you can set your own agenda depending on your areas of interest. When in doubt, you can visit a Visitor Experience information booth or stop one of the Visitor Experience team members for help (you’ll be able to spot them by their multi-colored neckerchiefs). And when you get hungry, you can try out the cuisine at one of the Jamboree’s 11 international food houses.

One thing’s for sure, you’ll have an exciting and fun-filled day. So plan on joining us on one of the Jamboree visitor days between July 24 and July 31 and be part of this truly unique celebration of scouting. Visit for more information.

Dan McCarthy, a lifelong Scouter and resident of Fayette County, was the first director of the Summit Bechtel Reserve, overseeing its construction and the first four years of its operation. Dan has participated in three World Scout Jamborees.

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