We all came back with a better understanding of Scouting as a movement. I think, for example, that most of us were quite surprised to find out that about 2/3 of all Scouts are in the Asia-Pacific region. Indonesia has more Scouts and Scouters on their rolls than the U.S. does (8 million vs. 6 million), and they themselves estimate that they have at least as many more involved in the Movement that are simply not registered. There are a huge number of Moslem and Buhddist Scouts in the world, probably more combined than there are Christian ones. Many of us are still corresponding with the people we met via e-mail.
We all also came back with a better understanding of the world as a whole. Japan is just so different than America, in so many more ways than England or France or Germany are, that it really makes you look at the United States and our culture much differently.
By the way, this was an unusual trip. There had already been the "standard" SAJ-BSA friendship exchange earlier in the year. But the SAJ contacted the BSA and proposed an additional contingent for their Venture Jamboree and the Asia-Pacific Youth Forum. The BSA picked up about 20 people off of the waiting list from the earlier trip that year and proposed to send them to Japan. But the SAJ said "No, we want either 40 or none." Upon reflection I figure that they wanted to balance the size of the American contingent against the International one and to have a reasonably equivalent representation of Americans and Japanese in the two Venture Jamboree sub-camps that they sent us to. That put Irving in a bind, because due to the travel arrangement deadlines that only gave them 2 weeks to come up with 20 more people. Irving remembered that our Scout Executive had gone on the 2002 contingent to Japan. She had told Irving that they should call her if there was another trip like that, so they took her up on it. She sent out a bunch of e-mails and made some calls and managed to fill out the roster with people from our Council. It cost me $172 to get my passport renewed in a 2 week timeframe (no one could be confirmed on the roster until they faxed a copy of a valid passport to Japan about 8 weeks prior to the trip).
I think registration in Scouting is mandatory for Scouting-age youth in Indonesia, isn't it?