Guatemalan Scouts visit capital on way to Jamboree
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CHARLSTON, W.Va. -- Elizabeth Smith welcomed friends into her South Hills home Sunday afternoon for refreshments. Some were old friends, from just down the road in South Hills, but most had come from much farther away. They were a group of Scouts from Guatemala, stopping off in Charleston on their way to the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.
They were hosted by Jessica Lane, who, like the Smiths, is a member of Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston.
Lane and her family volunteered through Christ Church to host a Scout troop on their way to the Jamboree. The troop's seven youth members and three adults had just arrived at Yeager Airport the night before, and were eager to explore the area after such a long journey -- from Central America to Appalachia.
"If I were traveling in another country, I know that I would really appreciate people going out of their way to help me," Lane said.
Lane said Jeff Purdy, Scouting executive for the region's Buckskin Council and a member of Christ Church, had asked if any of his fellow members would be willing to host Guatemalan Scouts who would be traveling through Charleston on their way to the Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve along the New River Gorge.
The Scout troop was staying in the fellowship hall of the church, and Lane and her family showed them around Charleston. On Sunday, that included a hike on the Carriage Trail in South Hills and a visit to Smith's house.
"It was nice to hear them talk about their excitement for getting to the Jamboree and meeting all of the different Scouts who are coming from all over to participate," Smith said.
Unlike in the United States, which has traditionally made a distinction between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Guatemala's Scouting program is open to all youths. The troop that visited Charleston is comprised of four boys and three girls between the ages of 14 and 19, with three leaders, two women and one man. That co-ed dynamic will be all over the 2013 Jamboree -- this year marks the first-ever Jamboree that includes girls, who take part in Venturing, an adventure and outdoor challenge program that will draw nearly 1,000 girls the Jamboree.
"Scouting is different than in the United States because, here, you separate boys and girls, and we mix them," said Monse Rrath, 16. Rrath, who has been a Scout in Guatemala since she was 3 years old, said this is the first Jamboree she had been to in the United States, and she and her fellow troop members are excited to see more of the state.
"We were really excited to come because we started preparing like six months ago," she said. "We have really liked the experience here. The people have been really amazing to all of us."
Smith, whose children have participated in the Boy Scouts, said she wanted to leave each of the Guatemalan Scouts with a token from their visit to this year's Jamboree that would remind them of the Mountain State.
"Each area has a little patch that they take to the Jamboree and trade, so I gave each one of them a patch from the Buckskin Council," she said. "They can either trade it once they get to the Summit, or they can keep it as a souvenir."
Lane's daughters have been members of the Girl Scouts. For her, the idea of helping the troop was just something she felt compelled to do.
"I speak a little Spanish, and I like to practice whenever I have the opportunity, and willing ears," she said. "I had no [time] conflicts, and I really thought it would be a fun thing to do -- and it is."
The 2013 Scout Jamboree runs from Monday through July 24 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, a 10,600-acre site that will also host the World Scout Jamboree in 2019 and will serve as the permanent venue for the Jamboree. For more information on this year's event, click here.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5100.