More than 37,000 Boy Scouts, leaders, parents, and other visitors traveled to West Virginia in July for the largest gathering of Boy Scouts in the country. Like the Olympics, the National Scout Jamboree is generally held once every four years and involves numerous sporting events, from rock climbing and mountain biking to shooting sports and zip-line courses. More traditional Scouting skills, training to earn merit badges, and community service projects are also available.
Another important part of the Jamboree is the Conservation Trail, where leading nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies provide interactive experiences for Scouts on a range of natural resource conservation topics. The Izaak Walton League was honored to be part of the Conservation Trail for the first time this year –one of just 20 organizations represented on the trail.
League staff coordinated with interns and member volunteers to staff the booth for 10 days. More than 2,500 Scouts from 49 states and several countries visited the League’s booth, where they learned about the Clean Water Challenge
and what they can do to improve water quality in their communities.
League interns caught a variety of macroinvertebrates from a nearby creek, including stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies. “Scouts got hands-on experience identifying the macroinvertebrates using the League’s Aqua Bugs
app, and they loved that the app let them scroll through photos to see what each macroinvertebrate looks like,” said Save Our Streams
naturalist Steven Pearce, who coordinated the event for the League. “Leaders installed the app on their smart phones to use as a teaching tool. Numerous Scouts expressed an interest in stream monitoring as a possible Eagle Scout or Hornaday Award project.”
Scouts took home business cards from the League with information on Aqua Bugs as well as the Stream Selfie
project, which the League is using to build a national map of potential stream monitoring sites. Adult leaders received a four-page handout that explained how stream monitoring can help Scouts meet the requirements for several merit badges as well as national Scouting awards. Staff encouraged Scout leaders to adopt a stream locally or coordinate a council-wide effort to adopt multiple streams.
About 90 percent of the Scouts and leaders who visited our booth had not heard of the Izaak Walton League, reports Pearce. So while many League chapters are currently working with Scouts, there is plenty of room to expand in this area.
The League encourages every chapter to work with Boy Scouts on stream monitoring projects and our mutual goal of protecting and improving water quality.
VIDEO: League staff and volunteers at the Boy Scout National Jamboree >>