The 15th World Scout Moot opened on 25 July in Reykjavík and lasted until 2 August, when it closed in the Úlfljótsvatn Scout Center, Iceland’s scout camp. The Moot had 5,000 participants ages 18-25 (what are called “Rover Scouts” in other parts of the world, roughly equivalent to our Venture program). Participants hailed from about 100 different countries. The BSA sent a contingent of 60 some Scouts (as compared to Australia, who sent the largest contingent of 600+ Scouts).
The Moot Opening Ceremony
The Moot opened with a high energy opening show, squeezed into a local Reykjavík gymnasium. After singing the intolerably corny moot song, “Be Prepared,” and watching a circus performance, the then-Chairman of the World Scout Committee, João Armando Gonçalves, took the stage to discuss the Moot theme, Change, and how we as Scouts and Scout Leaders have the power and obligation to affect change in our local and global communities.
“We are … united by common values such as loyalty, respect, friendship, kindness, care for others, helpfulness, and trustfulness. But also united by a strong determination to improve the world around us. In our homes, our streets, our schools, our work, our city, or country. We are a powerful force for change and you play a crucial role in that.” João said, “Not only because of your energy, creativity, and expertise, but because you are in the very center of the phenomenal changes the world is going through. You know what works in education and what doesn’t. You know what is youth unemployment. You are doing the digital revolution. You are experiencing gender inequality. You are creating new forms of political engagement. You are changing the way we relate with the environment and its natural resources. You are experts in all of these and much more, and that is why you need to step up and be part of the game.” “You need to lead this world, your world, to become a better place. The world needs you.”
On that note, each tribe left for the first part of the Moot program, the expedition centers. My tribe, Vest 4, was bussed to Vestmannaeyjar (“The West Man Islands”) off the south cost of the mainland. Vestmannaeyjar was one of 12 expedition centers scattered throughout the country, each with a different combination of program elements. Every day our patrol of nine (two Brits, an Austrian, a Dane, an Australian, a Taiwanese Scout a Scout from Hong Kong, a fellow DAC member and myself) would set off in a different direction to explore the small island, sometimes to puffin watch, sometimes to mountain climb, and sometimes to visit the town and their local museums. In the evening we would come back to the campsite, home to the local scout group, Skátafélagið Faxi. In traditional scout fashion, life at camp consisted of poorly cooked patrol meals, pioneering projects, and late nights full of jokes and singing. Finally, at about 12:30am, it would start to get dark and we would turn in to get some sleep before the next day.
Patrol Vest 4-3 taking a rest at the summit of one of 7 peaks on Vestmannaeyjar. (left to right): Andy (Taiwan), Wendy (Hong Kong), Chris (Australia), Christian (Denmark), James (UK), Becky (UK), Christian (Austria), and Emily Ernst (Denver)
Later that day
The Unofficial Vest 4 Campfire with scouts from France, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Portugal, Chile, and more.
The Vestmannaeyjar Tribes gather for our final campfire
Christian (Austria) and Ben Beese after running up Eldfell one of two volcanos on Vestmannaeyjar, which erupted last in 1973.
After 4 days in Vestmannaeyjar, we reconvened with the rest of the 5,000 participants at Úlfljótsvatn, the Northernmost Scout Center in the world. There were 5 program areas, each based on either a traditional totem of Iceland or Norse mythology: the Giant Village (focusing on physical activity and play), the Dragon Village (arts and creativity), the Eagle Village (history), the Bull Village (nature), and Yggdrasil (Pronounced, Ig-dra-sill, the Religious tent which was named after the Tree of Life from Norse Mythology).
Participants gather for the Úlfljótsvatn welcome show…
…Where they were very excited to show their national pride.
The epitome of the Moot experience was International Day, a hallmark of every world event. We started the day with a Tai Chi lesson from a very friendly Irishman and a slightly more serious Scotsman. The rest of the day was spent visiting the booths of the various countries sharing their culture. The BSA contingent shared our culinary traditions in the form of S’mores.
The President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson (center) visited on international day. Pictured with João Armando Gonçalves (third from left) and the organizers of the Moot.
Finally, a rather unique element of this Moot was the Youth Forum. For over 1000 years the leaders of the country have met in Þingvellir valley to hold a national parliament, the Alþingi. In a continuation of this tradition, 220 Scouts were brought to Þingvellir to discuss the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how the scouting movement can contribute to achieving the SDGs. We were broken into patrols of ten to discuss our assigned goals and create suggested policies which were then sent to the World Scout Conference in Azerbaijan later in August.
Hard at work in Þingvellir. My Youth Forum Patrol included Scouts from France, Mexico, Costa Rica, Lichtenstein, Italy, and Luxembourg.
The BSA Contingent
The Moot closed on the morning of 2 August with a call from the Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, Ahmed Alhendawi, to go back to our communities with the courage to make the world a better place. “As scouts you can take on the most pressing challenges of the world, one action at a time.” he said, “In our world of disasters, conflicts, disease, and poverty, you can bring peace, comfort, health, and security, to so many.” Finally, he challenged us to “create an even greater legacy to scouting … by pledging today, once again, that on my honor I’ll do my best to create a better world. So let’s get out to create that better world.”
(Article provided by Ben Beese, Eagle Scout, Troop 888)