For the first time in the history of American scouts, girls were allowed to fully participate in the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree in West Virginia, and among the list of female participants from all over the country and abroad, there was one name from Whidbey Island. Twelve-year-old Isabella de Souza Oliveira Mc Fetridge, a scout from Coupeville Troop 4058, was one of the female scouts to attend this historic event between July 19 and July 28, and the only girl representing Whidbey.
The National Jamboree is an event that happens every four years, where scouts gather to participate in outdoor activities and learn useful life skills. Girls have attended this event before, but it was the first time that all-female troops were invited to participate. As a result, female attendance to this year’s event was 20% of the total of 15,000 participants.
“It gives girls the opportunity to show we can do what guys can do,” said Mc Fetridge, who has been a scout for about two years.
Though the event was less than two weeks long, Mc Fetridge believes the experience changed her, making her a more patient and attentive person.
The 2023 Jamboree was held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, on more than 10,600 acres of forested mountains. The event’s 20th edition was initially supposed to happen in 2021 but was rescheduled to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were also participants from outside of the country — Austria, Canada, Egypt, Ghana, Great Britain, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Trinidad, and Tobago — offering participants the opportunity to meet peers from other parts of the world and learn about new perspectives.
The activities included mountain biking on 33 miles of trails, zip-lining over 3,200 linear feet of cable and skateboarding on the world’s second largest skate park. Mc Fetridge said her favorite activities were rock climbing and whitewater rafting down the New River.