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Oct. 19, 2021 | Tuesday
Local News
Irish scouts visit NOTL after world jamboree
Irish scouts Emma and Conor both said the friendliness of NOTL locals stood out for them. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Irish scouts made NOTL their home for four days as they took to the Commons to unwind after a 12-day jamboree in West Virginia, and one scout took notice of the large number of locals with Irish heritage.

Conor, a 16-year-old scout from Ireland, said aside from taking immediate notice of the straight roadways and manicured sidewalks, which differ immensely from the winding roads he’s accustomed to back home, he was surprised by the number of residents claiming family ties in Ireland.

“Everyone who came up to us was sort of like, ‘Oh yea, my great-granny, twice removed, came over during the famine.’ So, they all had Irish heritage,” he said.

The world shrinks when countries come together, and the 24th World Scout Jamboree, which hosted 45,000 scouts from 150 countries in West Virginia, was no exception. Irish scouts fully embraced the jamboree’s theme, “Unlock a New World,” and carried that idea with them to NOTL, said James Murphy, Scouting Ireland’s head of communications.

The theme encourages young scouts to broaden their thinking on climate change, sustainable development and gender inequality.

Taking sustainability a step further, Scouting Ireland specifically adopted another theme, “Going Green,” for this year’s excursion. The motto had a double meaning, Murphy said. The scouts “went green” in their environmental awareness, as well as in their national pride.

“We go green in two ways. In the environmental way and also to make the site green in terms of the Irish, and make sure everyone knows us,” Murphy said.

The scouts spread Irish pride throughout the jamboree, leaving unique souvenirs in their wake.

“The neckerchief that everyone is wearing, or ‘necker,’ is one of the most sought after in the world, just because of its design and uniqueness,” he said.

The Irish scouts are a relatively small group compared to others around the world, Murphy said, so to get one of their “neckers” is quite rare. “A lot of the kids have been flat out swapping them.”

Conor said going green is just natural at this point and the whole troop just knows not to leave rubbish behind.

“I think everyone, instinctively, if you see something on the ground, we just pick it up, without really thinking about it,” he said.

The scouts arrived at the Commons late Friday night, setting up half the camp in the middle of the night. By Saturday afternoon, the remaining tents were erected, and scouts ventured off for hikes, scooter tours and general exploration, said Murphy.

The group stayed in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where the World Scouting Jamboree was held in 1955.

The next world event will be held in Ireland, Murphy said. It will be a smaller scale event for the older scouts.

Ireland’s scouts could have gone straight home after their West Virginia adventures, but he said they planned the quick stay in NOTL to unwind.

“Because if we just fly home, there’s this thing called the Jamboree Blues, where you don’t really get closure, you don’t get a full wind-down of the event,” he said.

After staying in town for a few days, the friendliness and kindness of the locals made a lasting impression on Murphy. He said he’d like to retire here.

“There’s a saying, ‘We came as scouts and we left as friends.’”