To call the 2013 National Jamboree a “transformative experience” is (A) putting it lightly and (B) sounds way too hokey to describe the biggest, coolest gathering you could attend in all of Scouting.
But, the national jamboree IS definitely a “rite of passage” that all Scouts should experience as they go from Tenderfoot to the apex of leadership and character.
Besides, the jamboree is WAY more fun and WAY less scary than other rites of passage you could experience elsewhere in the world.
Check out these peculiar—and sometimes painful—rites of passage that make the national Scout jamboree look even cooler:
- Vanuatu Land Diving—On a tiny island in the South Pacific, off the coast of Australia, some men participate in this feat that was the real inspiration for bungee jumping. In land diving, men leap from as high as 100 feet with vines tied to their ankles. The land diving is part of the annual yam harvest and is associated with masculinity in the indigenous culture. Maybe you’d rather try zip lines at the Summit?
- Poy Sang Long—Translated as “Festival of the Crystal Sons,” this rite of passage from Myanmar and Thailand goes on for three days. During that time, young men take monastic vows and are carried everywhere they go on the shoulders of male relatives. Your Scoutmaster is glad we don’t do this at the jamboree! Instead, you might like loading up a pack for the trek to Garden Ground Mountain at the Summit.
- Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling—For 200 years, merry souls have been chasing a giant round of Gloucestershire cheese down Cooper’s Hill in Brockport, England. Racers attempt to catch the cheese—which reaches speeds up to 70 mph—as it rockets down a steep, wet and grassy hill. The racers often tumble most of the way down the hill. Instead of wheels of cheese, how about you try two-wheeled downhill action on the jamboree mountain bike trails?
- Bullet Ant Gloves—The Brazilian Amazon tribe of Sateré-Mawé initiates their young warriors by placing their hands into gloves that are made of leaves and bullet ants. The ants’ stingers are so powerful it can paralyze the hands and arms. You might wear gloves at the jamboree, but it will be during rappelling and challenge course activities!
- Running of the Bulls—The Festival de San Fermin challenges runners to hoof it through the narrow streets of the Spanish town while being chased by bulls! The run is part of a week-long celebration, but sometimes people do get hurt. Maybe you’d prefer a boat to a bull? Then sign up for whitewater rafting at the jamboree!
All of these rites are about overcoming fear, demonstrating courage or character, or just plain having fun. Many activities at the jamboree are designed for the same purpose.
Does your troop or crew have any special traditions? What’s your favorite ceremony in Scouting? Let us know in the comments.
As a bonus, share this post to see more awesome video of cheese roll racing!