A journey to Japan: South Lake Tahoe scout Griffith experiences global cultures at World Scout Jamboree
Local scout Nathan Griffith was among 30,000 young adults who traveled to Japan for the 23rd-annual World Scout Jamboree. And it was an experience he’ll never forget.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.
Griffith, a sophomore at South Tahoe High School, joined scouts from across the United States and 160 other countries for the 23rd annual event held in Yamaguchi, Japan, from July 28 to Aug. 8. He is a member of South Lake Tahoe’s Troop 468, one of two on the South Shore.
After reading about the jamboree in Scouting magazine, Griffith had his heart set on traveling internationally. A strong interest in Japanese culture along with a love of anime, gaming and computers fueled a desire to make the trip.
“I like Japanese architecture, culture and the medieval stuff — the castles and all that,” Griffith said.
Fundraising and a scholarship from the Boy Scouts of America national office helped Griffith cover the trip’s cost of $5,750. Local fundraisers included letters and a bake sale — and that effort was worth it when he finally touched down in Yamaguchi, a coastal town on the southern tip of Honshu.
“All of it was insanely fun,” he said.
At the jamboree, Griffith traveled mainly with a group of 30 scouts from Northern California and Northern Nevada. The trip included four days in Tokyo, the Japanese capital.
“It was surprisingly clean for a city and very compact — they had store to store to store to store,” Griffith said. “It was very entertaining and we never ran out of things to do.”
Griffith’s favorite stop on the trip was a town next to the scouts’ campsite in Yamaguchi that was dominated by forests. Other highlights included a trip to an aquarium, a concert with scouts from around the world, and a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial dedicated to the legacy of the nuclear attack 70 years ago.
“It was surprising and offered a different perspective of history,” Griffith said.
Griffith was joined by his father Dan Griffith on the trip, who worked as a volunteer. The two spent portions of the 12-day jamboree together, including the trip to Hiroshima.
“The damage it did was unfathomable,” Dan Griffith said. “Going through the sites, they had the memoirs of people who survived the attack.”
While experiencing Japan, Griffith also learned about cultures from around the world. He camped next to scouts from Italy and Indonesia, played games with Australian and Irish scouts, and tried native dishes that included Japanese bacon-wrapped eggs, authentic Belgian Waffles and potatoes and sauerkraut from Germany; the Americans contributed s’mores to the meal.
In terms of Japanese food, Griffith said his favorite dish was a stir-fry with fried vegetables, rice and meat. He described the plate as unique and something that American culture couldn’t create.
The theme of this year’s World Scout Jamboree was “Wa: A Spirit of Unity” — the Japanese character “wa” means harmony, unity friendship and peace. The event gave scouts the chance to explore global issues, the environment, developments in science and technology, and participate in community service.