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2023 Scouts BSA National Jamboree will be the first to include female Scouts

Tony Gutierrez

The 2023 Scouts BSA National Jamboree will be the first Jamboree in Scouts history to include troops of all-female scouts from around the country for the week-long outdoor gathering.

The Jamboree will take place at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia. Every four years, the National Jamboree hosts thousands of Scouts from around the country.

The W.D. Boyce Council, which is the governing body of the Central Illinois district of Scouts BSA, will send nearly 80 scouts to this year’s Jamboree.

Ben Blumenberg is the Scout Executive for the W.D. Boyce Council. He said there will be a variety of outdoor activities, including whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, and a half-mile-long zipline.

“The Jamboree allows us to exercise everything that we've been preparing throughout the year,” Blumenberg said. “Kids exercise their leadership roles, they get to experience new things, they meet new people, they learn about different regions of the country, and how scouting works in other areas.”

The first Scouts BSA National Jamboree took place in Washington, D.C. in 1937 and drew in over 25,000 scouts.

Blumenberg said stories from previous Jamborees are passed down through generations of Scouts.

“Often the kids that are going to Jamboree are going because their parents went before and had an incredible experience or some of their leaders went before and continue to talk about the experience they had,” he said.

This year’s Jamboree is the first time female participants have been allowed to attend as Scouts. Blumenberg said women have been included in past Jamborees, but this will be the first time all-female troops will be attending as Scouts.

The W.D. Boyce Council governs four Scouts BSA districts that encompass 14 Central Illinois Counties. This year the Council will be sending one all-female troop to the Jamboree.

“Girls want to do the same things that the boys who have been in Scouting want to do,” Blumenberg said, “They're just as excited to pick up an ax and chop wood and go down the zipline as any of the boys are.”

Siblings Ben and Emerson Jones are members of a Central Illinois chapter of Scouts BSA. Ben has been a member of the Scouts since the first grade, and his sister Emerson will be one of the first young women to attend the Jamboree as a scout.

Ben said his experience and current path in Scouts BSA has set him up for success in his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout.

“It honestly really developed me as both a person character wise, and then also my leadership skills and how I've grown as a leader throughout the years and how I've grown as a follower, knowing when to be which, and just working as a team to accomplish goals and stuff like that,” Ben said.

Emerson said she wants to follow in her brother’s footsteps and work her way up to the rank of Eagle Scout.

“It has really brought me together with the people that I usually wouldn't have in day to day life,” Emerson said. “We're all so different and diverse in our own ways. But one thing brings us together, Scouts, and trying to help our community and the world and try to better ourselves as well.”

Ben and Emerson will join fellow Central Illinois Scouts troops in West Virginia for the National Jamboree from Wednesday, July 19th to Friday, July 28th.

For more information on this year’s National Jamboree, visit jamboree.scouting.org

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Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.