Boy Scouts of Mongolia

I recently found out that one of our Mongolian Peace Corps staff members, named Mende, was involved in the Boy Scouts of Mongolia and was able to talk to him today for the first time. As it works out, he is not only involved in Scouting, he is two steps below the Country Director of the Mongolian Boy Scouts. Specifically his job is Program Assessment and Management, monitoring the country’s Scoutmasters and regional and national activities. He was very excited that I was an Eagle Scout and we had a long conversation about Boy Scouts in Mongolia, its history, its current status in the country, its similarity to Boy Scouts of America and most important to me, how I might get involved and help out while I am here in Mongolia.

Boy Scouts in Mongolia started in 1991, following the transition from a communist to a democratic state. Since then it has grown to around 10,000 members today. From what I understand, which will no doubt be refined over the coming months, Scouting in Mongolia has basically the same organizational structure as the Boy Scouts of America, starting with Patrols, with then make up Troops, Districts and Councils which are represented in each of the 21 aimags (or states) of Mongolia. As far as levels of Scouting, Mongolia has Cub Scouts (ages 8 to 12), Boy Scouts (ages 12 to 16), Ventures (ages 16 to 18) and Rovers (ages 18 to 25). Cub Scouts have basically the same three ranks that they do in America (Bear, Wolf, Tiger), but Boy Scouts here rank based on three arrows rather than by Tenderfoot and so on as in America. Apparently in Mongolia it is the Venture and Rover Scouts that advance ranks toward an Eagle Scout-type award. This not only seems very interesting to me but also presents what I think would be an incredible opportunity to influence a very excited and capable group of young people. Imagine, if you will, taking a group of 16 to 20 year olds on a three-day horseback ride into the mountains of Mongolia to learn survival skills. Amazing?

If that wasn’t enough, Mende also tells me that he will bring me to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar in August to visit the Boy Scout Country Office where he works full-time to sit in on one of the National Council Meetings. There he says he can give me a better idea of what goes on during the year with Scouting, including the National Jamboree where all of the Scouts get together, Summer Camps which run in several locations throughout the country and also the weekly Troop meetings and monthly regional Council meetings. It’s even possible, he mentioned, that I could help out as an adult leader or even Assistant Scoutmaster. I think that would be incredible. Also, their Scouting uniforms are apparently my favorite colors: a light blue shirt and dark blue pants. Can’t get much better than that.