From Jackson to Japan: Teen travels to World Scout Jamboree

JACKSON -- Imagine pitching a tent in the sand on foreign soil, enduring daytime temperatures of 110 to 120 degrees, eating strange foods and being surrounded by people you don't know. Oh, and by the way, you are only 16 years old.

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Justice Badgley, Jackson, was one of three Minnesota Boy Scouts to attend the World Scout Jamboree recently in Japan. He is shown with several of the patches he traded with Scouts from other countries, as well as a T-Rex banner filled with autographs of the people he met. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)
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JACKSON - Imagine pitching a tent in the sand on foreign soil, enduring daytime temperatures of 110 to 120 degrees, eating strange foods and being surrounded by people you don’t know. Oh, and by the way, you are only 16 years old.
For Justice Badgley, the experience was one he will never forget. Just a week after returning home, he’s still grinning about the adventure. His eyes light up when he goes through the backpack filled with mementos of the trip and talks about the people he met.
Badgley, of Jackson, was one of three Minnesota Boy Scouts to attend the 23rd World Scout Jamboree July 28 to Aug. 8 in Kirara-hama, Japan. The event drew 39,000 Scouts from 161 different countries, including 1,000 Boy Scouts from the United States.
The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that does not have co-ed Scout programs, so its contingent to Japan included all boys. Badgley said other countries simply have Scouts - and there was about a 2:1 ratio of girls to boys at the World Scout Jamboree.
A member of Jackson Boy Scouts Troop 80, Badgley was among 36 youths and four adults from Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin. Together, they represented the Central Region Boy Scouts of America, Areas 1&3, Troop 101. Badgley was the Patrol Leader for the T-Rex unit. They left Minnesota on July 26 and returned Aug. 11.
“The purpose of (the Jamboree) is to learn about different cultures,” he said. “This one was to learn about Japan’s culture and make friends around the world.”
The World Scout Jamboree is offered only once every four years. Because Scouts must be at least 14 years old, this was Badgley’s only opportunity to attend the event while still a Boy Scout. Other qualifications for the trip included having a certain number of merit badges and camping experiences, learning First Aid and earning the rank of First Class.
Four years ago, the jamboree was in Sweden. Four years from now, in 2019, it will be at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.
Badgley visited the West Virginia site two years ago for the National Jamboree, and last year attended a Scouting Ranch near Philmont, N.M.
“There are two other big camps - Northern Tier (National High Adventure) in Minnesota and Sea Base in Florida,” he said. “I’m going to Sea Base next year, but I’ll be going to the one in the Virgin Islands.”

Working, eating together
Badgley described the World Scout Jamboree site as a large desert - land that had been reclaimed after a typhoon. As the Scouts arrived, a giant tent city was formed.
Their first night at the Jamboree included a parade of flags showcasing each of the 161 countries represented at the event. Afterwards, Badgley befriended Scouts from the neighboring campsites of Brazil, Indonesia, Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.
“Most countries learn English in first grade, so most of them knew a lot of English,” he said. “(Sometimes) they would say sentences that didn’t make sense.”
If they couldn’t communicate through the spoken word, they relied on hand gestures.
Throughout the Jamboree, the Scouts participated in educational activities. One day, Badgley joined Scouts from Holland to portray banana farmers and learn about fair trade. During Culture Day, his group learned and performed a traditional Czech song and dance. He also participated in a traditional Brazilian wedding dance.
Another day, Badgley visited the Global Development Village on the Jamboree grounds, where Scouts learned about different world issues and how to solve them.
Team-building exercises were also part of the adventure, along with a visit to the Japan University and a day tour of Kudamatsu City, where they toured a high school, listened to a band performance and attended a traditional tea drinking ceremony.
“We did origami there, too,” said Badgley.
They also toured a steel factory.
“It was 150 degrees in there,” Badgley said. “We had to wear white gloves to keep our hands from burning on the handrails.”
After the tour, the company served them drinks in cans manufactured at the facility. Badgley described the beverage as being similar to carbonated grape soda with grape-flavored gelatin chunks in the bottom of the can.
That was just one of several interesting food experiences he encountered while in Japan. Many times, the Scouts were given food - along with directions on how to prepare it. Bread was a staple, and often served with jelly.
“Every other day we were served these little meatballs, but nobody really liked them,” he said.
Badgley, who kept a journal of his entire trip, said evening meals were spent at different campsites.
“Every night we would trade who we ate with,” he said. One night he had spaghetti noodles with salt (no sauce) served by the Scouts from Switzerland. Another day he bragged about Japan’s French fries and how he avoided the seaweed-flavored sno-cones.
On National Food Day, Badgley’s group made s’mores and funnel cake. A couple of days later, on Aug. 4, he said it had its most challenging day.
“We had to cook a stew that night and I’d never cooked before,” he said. The meal was served to Scouts from Japan and Great Britain.
The next night, Badgley joined Scouts from Finland for the evening meal, which included steak wrapped in bacon, homemade croûtons and chopped fruit.
“I think that was probably the best meal we had,” he said. Earlier in the day, the group toured Hiroshima, where the city prepared for its annual ceremony at the mass grave for those killed when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on the city near the end of World War II.
Forging friendships
A major initiative of the World Scout Jamboree was to get Scouts interacting with each other, and that was done through the spirit of trading.
Badgley had numerous items to trade, from patches made for Boy Scouts of America Troop 101 to coins his mother purchased for him to give in trade. He also traded bandannas and T-shirts, and gave out pencils and rulers in exchange for trinkets.
Among the items he brought back home to Minnesota were bandannas from China/Taiwan, Switzerland, Holland and Brazil, along with arm covers from Hong Kong, a Taiwan beret, kickboxing shorts from the UK and an Indonesian man skirt.
A gallon-sized storage bag was filled with patches - some from countries Badgley can’t even identify because of the symbols used in place of words.
“It was easy trading with the UK people because they could speak English,” he added.
Badgley also returned home with a kimono he purchased at the World Scout Jamboree, as well as several sets of chopsticks, which he learned to master during his visit.
Badgley, the son of Brenda (Tim) Bachenberg and Duane Badgley, has been in the Scouts since the first grade, when he became a Tiger Scout in the Cub Scouts.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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