I was privileged to be one of the first eight female Saudi scouts to attend the 24th World Jamboree at West Virginia’s Bechtel Camp.
This initiative from Saudi Arabia to empower women in the field of informal education known as Scouting is in line with the American Scouting decision earlier this year to merge the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements.
With more than 150 countries participating in the Jamboree and more than 45,000 female and male scouts attending, the Saudi female team worked in different booths to serve the “Scouts for SDGs” initiative — to support young people and boost their actions in local communities in line with the UN agenda 2030: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We have experienced together, for the first time, how to scout, understand the pillars of scouting and listened to highlights from the director of the World Scout Foundation, John Geoghegan, who believes that Saudi females are capable of taking scouting in the Kingdom to a new level.
Besides our assignments as volunteers, we conducted field research to resource a future Saudi female scouts framework in Saudi Arabia.
We heard about the respondents’ experience of scouting and how it has changed their lives for the better and how this form of education is effective. Most scouts see it as a liberating experience that teaches independence and brings them closer to nature.
We had the chance to attend the reception hosted by the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and hear a speech from Ahmad Alhendawi, the secretary-general of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and the previous UN Youth Envoy, who highlighted the importance of scouting as an informal method of education for long-term investment in youth.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, the current UN Youth Envoy, delivered a speech during the “Unity Show” on preventing wars and conflicts, encouraging scouts to change the world and make it a better place.
The Jamboree ended with a celebration of international friendships that share the same values and a promise to fulfill the scouting promise. For me, this journey was the beginning of another bigger journey to include, not only eight females, but as many Saudi females as possible in scouting as a form of informal education to align with our Vision 2030 and the UN’s SDGs agenda to create more messengers of peace.
Alaa Ayesh Al-Majnuni is an English comparative literature postgraduate. She has a postgraduate certificate in international relations from Columbia University. She has worked in education management, research and development, and strategic partnerships in different government entities.