Taylorsville Boy Scouts ‘do good turn’ for Poland Scouts
Scouts from Taylorsville and Poland met one another at a Washington, D.C. museum. (Robert Pieper)
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Some 40,000 Scouts — most of them boys — attended the National Scout Jamboree this summer, in Glen Jean, West Virginia. Among them were about 1,100 from Utah, including 25 to 30 Taylorsville Scouts.
The Scouts worked on several merit badges, heard a controversial speech from President Donald Trump and made plenty of memories.
But the highlight of the once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of the Taylorsville Scouts came before they arrived at the 14,000-acre Summit Bechtel Reserve.
And a group of 11 Scouts from Poland have the Taylorsville group to thank, after they lived out the organization’s slogan to “do a good turn daily.”
“I was so humbled and proud to see what our scouts did,” said Jamboree Scoutmaster Robert Pieper. “They are such great kids.”
The Taylorsville s Scouts’ act of kindness came on their last day of sightseeing across the East Coast, before making their final bus trek to the Jamboree.
“Our Scouts flew from Salt Lake to New York City and spent our first two days there,” Pieper said. “We visited the Statue of Liberty, Time Square, the 9-11 Museum, Central Park and many other popular locations.”
From there it was on to Philadelphia, Valley Forge, rural Pennsylvania Amish country, Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.
“Our boys raised $3,450 each to make the trip,” Pieper added. “That covered almost everything—our flight each way, the bus charter, meals, Jamboree fees and other costs. We adult leaders paid the same, and it felt like a pretty fair cost for all we did and saw.”
The Taylorsville group’s final day before travelling to the Jamboree had them visiting Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. That’s where a chance encounter with a group of European Scouts led to their most memorable event of the trip.
“The Polish group featured older Scouts — five young men and five young women — ages 18 to 20,” Pieper said.
As Scouts normally do when they meet others — particularly from outside the country — the two groups exchanged patches and other keepsakes, took pictures and shared contact information.
“After our brief encounter we told the Polish group, we hoped to see them at the Jamboree,” Pieper added. “But, honestly, since the event had so many thousands of people, none of us really thought that would happen.”
Fast-forward several hours that same day, and the Taylorsville Scouts were having dinner at a restaurant when Pieper received an unexpected text.
“It came completely out of the blue, and it was from the Polish Scouts leader,” he said.
The text said the Scouts from Poland had a problem with the bus that had been scheduled to drive them overnight to the Jamboree site, about six hours away.
“The leader was simply asking whether we might have enough seats within our group of busses to let them ride with us to the Jamboree,” Pieper said. “They were scheduled to ride overnight. When I called the group they were preparing to spend the night on the floor at Union Station and wondered whether we could pick them up in the morning on the way out of town.”
Then came the moment Pieper said made him so proud of his Scouts.
“I told our kids the problem the Polish Scouts had and asked them what they wanted to do,” he said. “Our boys voted unanimously to not only let them ride with us the next day, but to also give up some of their rooms to give the Polish group a place to spend the night.”
“It feels nice to do something big to help someone else,” added Brenzer Jones, 15. The Taylorsville High School sophomore was one of the Utah group’s patrol leaders on the Jamboree trip. “Our Boy Scout slogan is ‘do a good turn daily,’ and that’s exactly what we did.”
As luck would have it, Pieper’s son had just returned from serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Poland. They were able to get him on the phone to translate to the Polish group the Utah Scouts’ generous offer.
The Taylorsville scouts sent their bus to pick up the Polish group and shifted around their motel rooms.
“I ended up sleeping that night on the motel room floor,” Pieper said. “Some of our kids did the same.” All totaled, the Taylorsville Scouts gave up three of their nine rooms to the Europeans.
Word of the Taylorsville group’s generosity made its way back to Utah long before the Scouts and leaders did. Councilman Dan Armstrong — who has been involved in Scouting for decades — was among the first to hear it.
“Their kindness toward the group from Poland just shows the caliber of young men involved in Scouting here in Utah,” he said. “It reflects their values—the kind of values every young man needs.”
Chances are some of those Utah Scouts will also have pen pals — or, more likely, Facebook friends — in Poland for life.