Adventure Korea had the privilege of welcoming Utah International Scouts to Korea this week as they prepare for the 25th Annual World Scout Jamboree. The troop led by Michael Nebeker, is a mixed troop consisting mostly of refugees who immigrated to the USA. Utah International Scouts have been providing scout training to refugees for over a decade. The Scout Troop was started by Nebeker and Robert Roylance in 2008. Witnessing first-hand the problems that the refugee youth encountered in Salt Lake City, they decided to create the troop as a way to keep refugee youth off the streets and out of trouble. The troop has demonstrated a remarkable impact on its members, many of whom embraced scouting with enthusiasm, as they had previously acquired resourcefulness and survival skills from their experiences in Thai jungle refugee camps, where they learned to hunt and forage for food. In 2019, the Boy Scouts of America took a significant step by welcoming women scouts into their ranks, prompting Utah International Scouts to establish their first women’s troop. This program has been a resounding success, attracting over 60 young women and 20 female leaders to participate actively.
As the troop continued to grow, Nebeker sought support from his Church, where volunteer leaders generously stepped forward. These dedicated volunteers meet weekly to teach not only physical scouting skills but also the fundamental principles of Scout Law, which emphasizes qualities such as trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courtesy, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thriftiness, bravery, cleanliness, and reverence.
Over the last 15 years, Utah International Scouts have welcomed over 500 refugees to their program, providing a community where they can feel safe and learn valuable life skills.
After a delayed flight, the Scouts arrived in Incheon Airport and were taken for their first meal in Korea, Korean Barbeque. The scouts enjoyed rib cuts of beef with a variety of Korean side dishes. We then checked into our accommodation in Yongin, where scouts were surrounded by the peaceful mountain and forest. We had a slight bump in the road when we found out some of the scouts had issues with their travel papers and could not come over with the large group, but luckily, they were able to join us a day later and still got to see Seoul before meeting up with the group!
Utah International Scouts had a jam packed itinerary while with Adventure Korea. Exploring Seoul, the bustling capital city, they participated in engaging activities such as Marketeering and Cityteering, including a scavenger hunt at Gwangjang Market and Bukchon Hanok Village, providing insights into Seoul’s history and savoring its renowned street foods. They then visited Gyeongbokgung Palace to learn about its history and view a stunning example of Korean architecture. In the evening, the Scouts had an opportunity to explore MyeongDong Street, known for its food and shopping stalls. They then ended the day by going to N Seoul Tower for a panoramic night view of the glimmering city.
The adventure continued as the scouts journeyed to Taean on day three, making stops at the Oil Spill Restoration Memorial to learn about the 2007 Taean Oil Spill and its impacts on local wildlife, as well as the subsequent restoration efforts. The troop then embarked on a picturesque hike along the Taean National Park Coastal Trail, experiencing the ocean breeze and the beauty of the Korean coast. Participating in a microplastic investigation, they gained insight into environmental issues and how microplastics affect ecosystems. They then spent hours at the beach spending time swimming in the ocean, playing volleyball, and enjoying the Korean coast.
Day four was filled with water sports fun! The troop spent the day learning how to surf and paddle board from trained experts! The scouts loved the water and took the opportunity to cool off from the hot and humid Korean summer by diving right in.
Day five and six, the scouts traveled to Geumsansa Temple to rest and refresh after 4 days of adventure. During their overnight stay, they completed a lot of activities such as lotus lantern making, mediation, bead necklace making, participating in a tea ceremony, and the 108 bow ceremony.
The Utah International Scouts are in Korea for the 25th Annual World Scout Jamboree. The Jamboree is held every 4 years and this is the second time Korea has hosted the event, the first time being in 1991. This year’s Jamboree has over 43,000 scouts from all over the world coming to Saemangeum. The event has a lot of activities planned, such as rock climbing, raft-building and starting fires. There will also be a K-pop concert for the scouts in attendance, with acts such as NMIXX, xikers, STAYC, ZEROBASEONE, IVE, P1 Harmony, Lee Chae Young, and more are slated to perform.
We hope the entire experience has been a remarkable journey of exploration, growth, and cultural exchange for the Utah International Scouts. Adventure Korea is honored to have worked with such a generous and supportive group who are doing amazing things for their community! Have fun at the Jamboree, Scouts! We hope to see you soon!