Ordering Thai will never be the same for Philip Schuchardt. After spending his winter break at the Boy Scout World Jamboree with 30,000 other Scouts in Sattahip, Thailand, he tried the Springfield version of Thai food when he got back, but the authenticity was missing.
"It was not as spicy," Philip said. His adventure gave him lasting memories, though, some on the international scale.
Especially the cultures he experienced with Scouts from 130 nations. The ultimate experience was "finding out they're not that much different than you are," he said.
Philip, 16, lives in Fairfax Station and is a junior at Hayfield Secondary School. He's been scouting since he was a Tiger Scout in elementary school, and he earned his Eagle Scout award when he was 14. He is still a Boy Scout but recently became a "Venturer," which is a similar group whose motto is "to seek truth, fairness and adventure in the world." Older Scouts get into the Venturing program, and it has less adult supervision. Girls are allowed to join, as well. Philip was the only Venturer Scout on the trip from this immediate area. Another Venturer from Baltimore was the only one from around here.
"It's more laid back," Philip said of being Venturer Scout
He lived up to the Venturing motto in Thailand. His adventures included seeing elephants, tigers, monkeys, a jungle hike, visiting Buddhist temples, and getting covered from head to toe in mud. He experienced the downside of the Asian nation, as well. While touring Bangkok by boat, he was surprised to see "very beautiful Buddha temples in the poorest areas," he said.
Where there, the Scouts did community service, landscaping a local school.
Philip and a few other Scouts got caught up in the moment New Year's Eve and shaved another Scout's head in the shape of "USA" and then dyed it. Philip had over 400 pictures and a box full of Scout contingent patches to show for his trip. The Scouts traded patches the way Olympians trade pins. He had a few Scout shirts from other places, as well.
"The big thing was trading your contingent patch," Philip said.
His mother, Jane, said it went further than that.
"He traded off all his uniforms," she said, remembering the significance of the trip.
"I think it's tremendous that a person who's 16 gets to meet people from all over the world," she said.
Philip did miss some school, but the teachers were understanding and allowed him to make up the work. Just in case, the Boy Scouts provided a form letter for the school, but the Schuchardts did not need to use it at Hayfield. Philip split the cost with his parents with money he earned from his lawn-mowing business. He has 12 regular lawns for the growing season.
"It's better pay than a regular job," he said.
The Boy Scouts paid for all the camping gear and then donated it to the Thailand scouting program after the Jamboree was over.