Scouts flock to Prague from all over the world

Barbora Trojak |  Photo: Khalil Baalbaki, Cesky rozhlas

Although the majority of the more than a thousand young scouts taking part in this year’s 15th jamboree are from Europe, mainly from the Visegrad countries, Barbora Trojak, spokesperson for the scout organization, says people came from 23 countries around the world:

“This year we have scouts from Israel and Ukraine. We can see at these gatherings that Scouting is our universal language – even though we are all from different countries, we have this in common, which is wonderful. This allows us to overcome language and other barriers.

For the next week and a half, Prague’s Stromovka Park will be full of tents. Over the course of three days, volunteers transformed the site of the Prague exhibition grounds into a scout camp, complete with cafes, a museum and a teahouse. The camp is in the same location where, in 1931, 15,000 Scouts from all over Europe gathered for a similar event, to celebrate 20 years of Czechoslovak Scouting.

“What’s interesting is that we’re now standing on the path that’s in one of the historical photos we have from 1931. That exact path is pictured there and there are tents all around, like now.”

Photo: Michal Kamaryt, ČTK

Upon arrival in Prague in 1931, participants traveled to Prague Castle, where they were greeted by the first Czechoslovak President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who addressed the young people and praised the ideas and thoughts of Scouting in his opening speech.

Not only is this event considered one of the biggest and most important events in the history of Czech scouting, but it also established the tradition of similar scout meetings. Known today as the Central European Jamboree, it was officially revitalized in 1997 and since 2004 has been held every two years. Organization of the event rotates between Czechia, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, with Czechia having last hosted it in 2014.

This year’s event promises sports and skills days, mass field games and a procession through the capital.

“One of the days we will have the traditional parade, starting in Vystavište and ending in Letná. We will all be in traditional costumes and will carry flags and banners with the names of our countries or cities. So I’m really looking forward to it, it will be very colorful.

The main objective of the meeting is to connect young people aged 14 to 17 from all over the world and to establish new friendships, regardless of their nationality or language.

Photo: Michal Kamaryt, ČTK

This certainly did not escape the notice of these two young Czech participants, who spoke to Czech radio.

“I had never been to an international event, so I wanted to experience what it was like.”

“I would like to meet Scouts from other countries, so that we can get to know each other better and write letters to each other.”

And, as Barbora Trojak adds, the idea is also that they leave inspired.

“The fact is that they will leave richer, and that means new contacts, new friends and new relationships. But also inspiration: they will try activities that they do not do at home, that they do not know and will be able to take something back to their Scout groups back home and also for them to have an experience – because this is most likely one of their first encounters with the wider Scouting family.

Berta D. Wells