International education is a key tool for building "bridges" between countries and cultures. In addition, when ordinary people of any age travel outside of the United States for their first time, their view of the world will likely change into a multicultural respect for others, resulting in a stronger worldwide coalition of friendship, understanding and goodwill.
Through scouting, one can get this experience. I know because I did scouting in New Zealand when I was in high school and I have now taken Venturers and Scouts to Brazil (1992 International Jamboree), New Zealand (1995 Venture), Canada (1997 Jamboree), Australia (2000 Venture), Austria (2002 International Hiking Trek), United Kingdom (2007 World Jamboree) and Ukraine (2012 Jubilee) as a contingent leader.
International scouting experiences can be categorized into three ways for Venturers and Scouts to travel and a fourth for Scouters:
When attending any event, the lead person should obtain the International Letter of Introduction (pdf) which is issued by BSA International to registered members upon the recommendation of their local council. The letter identifies the scout or scouter as an official member of a recognized national association of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.
Probably, the most common way to get an international scouting experience is by registering with BSA for a World Jamboree. The next World Jamboree is at Summit Bechtel Reserve, West Virginia in 2019. More information about the 24th World Scout Jamboree can be found on at this web sites - 2019wsj.org.
World Jamborees are for scouts, both Venturers and Boy Scouts, between the ages of 14-17 and happen every four years. With a four year window, that means every scout will have one opportunity to attend as a youth. To join a BSA contingent, a Venturer or Scout must follow the process that will be provided by BSA International.
World scouting is dominantly coed so if you can attend, I highly recommend going as a Venturer with a BSA contingent Crew. You have that choice and you do not have to be a Venturer to have the choice open to you. At the World Jamboree, there will be exchanges with other countries and it is more fun to be with a coed Crew when you exchange.
Other opportunities are also open to scouts and scouters through BSA International. One can learn about these opportunities from BSA International at www.scouting.org/scoutsource/International/BSAContingent.aspx; through their Newsletters; and on the International Events page on this website.
As a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the Boy Scouts of America gets invited to many international/national events in different countries every year. Often a contingent will be formed for these international events. Once a contingent formation is approved, BSA Scouts and Scout leaders will be selected to join this contingent.
Current Individual Opportunities
As a former International Representative, I receive information about new opportunities and I will post the many of the opportunities on the International Events page which will include a contact person when available.
Organizing your units own trip takes a lot of work but can save you a great deal of money. After my Crews trip to the International Hiking Trek in Austria, I put up a web page that offers a great deal of help in planning. The web address is: www.sageventure.com/venturing/planning.html.
These trips are best done with Crews as the young adults are more mature and ready for travel. Additionally, Crews are smaller and lend themselves to the planning and travel involved. For most of my trips, my wife was my co-leader so it made it easy to travel with our coed Crew and abide by the BSA Guide to Safe Scouting.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement has an events database by country and year from which a BSA unit can select. The web address is www.scout.org/events.
Another location that is highly recommended is Kandersteg International Scout Centre, www.kisc.ch. Kandersteg is a World Centre of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). The Centre began in 1923 with Lord Baden-Powell, who, after the first World Scout Jamboree, had a dream about a place where all Scouts from all over the world could meet. At Kandersteg, you can plan your own activities from the many activities the centre has to offer.
Through the European Camp Staff program, young leaders from the Boy Scouts of America have the opportunity to learn more about Scouting in Europe by working at a European Scout center. Information about this opportunity can be found on this web page: www.scouting.org/scoutsource/International/ecamp.aspx.
There are some countries that have special activity centers that you may be interested in. The information I have at this time is available on the Activity Centers page.
Other than Kandersteg, applicants are highly likely to get the country of their choice. Kandersteg chooses only two BSA Scouts each season, so it is very difficult to be accepted at Kandersteg.
Any of these opportunities are worth sharing with your unit's young adults. The best thing you can do is learn all you can and share the information with others. A PowerPoint slide show that talks about the Venturing Super Activity that may be helpful can be found here: www.sageventure.com/venturing/expedition/SuperActivity.pps.
For various international experiences, a good place to start is here: www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/Home/International/ProgramEnrichment.aspx.
Most, if not all jamborees, require IST support. Scouts and Scouters who are at least 18 years of age at the start of the jamboree are eligible to join the IST, and they usually attend the jamboree as part of a National Contingent. Additionally, they should be ready to perform any tasks necessary for the jamboree. An IST member will be part of a team of volunteers to ensure the success of the jamboree.
Sometimes they are required to arrive before the beginning of the actual event for preparation. It is important to understand the requirements when signing up. IST members will need to be adaptable, especially given the location of the jamboree and the cultural differences and language barriers that this brings. Days at the jamboree are generally long, sleep is at a premium and IST jobs may be physically and mentally demanding.
IST opportunities are also part of the jamborees listed on the International Events page which will include a contact person when available.