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Refugee scout troop to visit their native country

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — A Boy Scout troop in South Salt Lake calls itself the most unique in the country.

All of the young men came from refugee camps in Thailand.

This month, Scout Troop 1262 is practicing scaffold building. The young men will demonstrate this skill at the World Scout Jamboree in Japan this July.

Law Reh said he is very curious about meeting other scouts from Asia.

“I’ve never been to Japan before, and I’m excited to see what they have and what activities they’re going to have there,” he said.

Two years ago, the troop gathered in the Gold Room at the Utah State Capitol to meet Gov. Gary Herbert, a man who said he is a better governor because he was a boy scout.

Young men in the troop were born in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, formerly Burma, but they lived with their families for years in refugee camps across the border in Thailand.

The troop’s story began 10 years ago when a group of Scout leaders became aware of the number of young refugees having trouble adjusting to life in America. Michael Nebeker, now a Scout master to the World Scout Jamboree, and his family had lived in Thailand and he felt a personal connection and desire to help.

“We spent a lot of time going to youth correctional facilities, visiting them, getting them out of jail, bailing them out of all sorts of trouble,” Nebeker said. “So we started a Scout troop.”

The troop has grown to now include 100 boys.

With the help of *GoFundMe, the Scouts will travel from the World Jamboree in Japan to their native country, visiting the refugee camp they once called home.

“It’s going to be very special for me because it’s going to reconnect me with my homeland,” said Hay Soe. “And maybe rekindle my light inside of me of who I really am and figuring out my place in this world.”

It may be the most unique Scout troop in the nation because all of the members are refugees, but also because there are so many different faiths represented in this one group.

“We have Baptists, we have Latter-day Saints, we have Catholics, we have Seventh-day Adventists, we have Buddhists,” Nebeker lists. He added that they are encouraged to participate, learn and grow in their scouting activities while practicing their faith.

Their leaders remind them to think about where they were born and grew up.

Scouting leaders hope to impress their fellow scouts in Japan and then learn more of who they are and where they came from.

* does not assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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Carole Mikita


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