December 2008: Over 3 million pilgrims are now in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj, the pilgrimage every devout Muslim hopes to make at least once in a lifetime.
As in years past, more than 4,000 Scouts, from throughout the country are on hand to help with providing information, directions, helping lost children rejoin their parents, first-aid, etc. It is probably the single largest annual Scout service project in the world.
The Scouts volunteer their time for 15 days, and receive special training in first aid and communication skills.
The thank-you notes sent by pilgrims they have helped have one common theme: they were lost in a sea of literally millions of people, and then they saw a familiar sight – a young man in a Scout uniform, like they see at home, or like they were once themselves – and they knew they were safe.