Boy and Girl Scout Jamboree at Laem Kruat School
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are very popular in Thailand. It is mandatory for upper elementary students and they wear their scouting uniforms at least once a week. Monday and Tuesday were regular school days where I was teaching English. There was no school Wednesday through Friday because the Boy and Girl Scouts from seven schools had their campout at our school. We had 168 students in our school, about 100 of which are old enough for scouts, and about 150 more joined us. We started the day at school with the scouts at 8:30 a.m. and returned home at 10:30 p.m. There were about 40 leaders. It was good to meet some kids and leaders from other schools. The English teachers were excited about picking my brain for ideas and ways to communicate to the students as well as explaining the difference between words such as "doing" and "making," "taking" and "bringing." Preparing the meals was quite an operation. I spent time with the scouts trying to talk to them and with the leaders. I washed dishes, served tables, helped cook and helped sign off sections in their books. The station I worked at was teaching and testing their standing at attention and giving the scout salute. Later in the day I was asked to lead the singing of one song. I had been trying to think what the best choice would be since there is so little comprehension of English. I decided on "If you are happy and you know it clap your hands" right after I decided that, the leader started singing that song (at least that tune) with the group, which made a great transition to the English version. Taking a phrase at a time, the children did well in singing it and it was popular with the English teachers from the different schools, several asked me to write out the words. They were singing something similar to "When the saints go marching in", so I led in that song. Again it was popular with the English teachers. One asked, "but what are saints?" So I got to explain saints are Christians. I found saying God bless you, when someone sneezes is a good opportunity to share briefly about God. They don't say anything, after a sneeze.
Thursday we started at 8:00 a.m. and went to 11:30 p.m. We took the scouts on a short hike and teaching time in the school's mangrove forest. They planted the mangrove trees about 5 years earlier, and were building a wooden plank nature trail through it, with some shaded structures for instruction. The roughly 250 scouts were broken into 4 groups and we had 4 teaching stations in the mangrove forest. The teachers and students liked for me to sign the studentís booklets after they had completed an assignment. Where I was stationed the scouts had to write a description and draw a picture. Later I was one of the timers and judges for jumping rope. That evening there was quite a show around the campfire. I would estimate 200 parents and family members joined us. The students from each school did several performances in small groups, mostly some kind of dance. Boys dressed as Indians started the event by dancing with torches and lighting the camp fire. Some girl teams did some traditional Thai dancing. I was given a seat of honor on a sofa with two other men, who I think really were important, and early on we were each presented with a lei. The young girls were doing a Thai dance around in the circle of people and we three men were expected to join them, I did the best I could to walk and dance like the man in front of me, while the children giggled. I was asked to sing, so I chose "I Love You Lord" and then tried to teach the crowd, "Hallelu, Hallelu, ...Praise ye the Lord." They could follow Hallelujah but had trouble with Praise Ye the Lord. They requested "If you are happy and you know it" again. Scouting is done at each school and participation is mandatory. It is a part of the education program in Thailand.