Admin is not a Place in China!

Apologies for the missing week, especially as we get closer to the big day. I’ve been ridiculously busy between work, GSL duties and having a vague attempt at asocial life so we managed to miss last weeks deadline entirely. I will try and make this back this week, but work looks to be just as busy so we’ll see.

It’s now less than 6 weeks till Matthew and I fly to New York, New York (so good they named it twice) to start our Jamboree adventure. To use the Everest metaphor, we’re prepping our climbing gear for the final ascent. We’re looking up, we can almost see the summit, but there’s still that bit to go.

Most of the exams and such are over for the participants (and some of the IST), some of you will have finished school/college/university for the summer and the Jamboree is looming ever closer. For at least one member of the UK Contingent, the Adventure has already started – I saw on Facebook that a member of the IST set off on their travels over the weekend!

With this in mind, today’s Top Tip relates to the countdown starting. I’m going to talk a little bit about Admin.

Lyndsey started talking about packing a few weeks ago, and she spoke about making lists. Everyone likes a good list. I have several (dozen), a few of which relate to the Jamboree.

Firstly, is a packing list. I’ve got a big shiny holdall sitting in my spare room that I’m (probably) taking with me for my month-long adventure. I’ve started a list of what needs to fit in there. Some of them are essentials, some are nice-to-take-if-there’s-room/weight-left. There’s actually presently three of these, one at home on my desk, one on the fume-hood in my lab and one in my works desk drawer (somewhere). I’m going to have to work on pulling the three of those together at some point and checking I’ve not missed anything…

Lyndsey’s packing list for the Jamboree

The big box that my issue kit came in is in the spare room too. As I find things or buy things that I’m planning to take, they get thrown in to be dealt with later.

Related to this list is a list of things I still need to get. I’m in the very fortunate position of having done one or two of these events before, so I have a lot of the kit stashed away in the garage or the loft, or in the garage, or tucked away somewhere safe.

But some of my kit has seen better days – I’m in the process of replacing my battery packs as these have seen a lot of use, and abuse, since I bought them for going to Japan.

Laying out all my kit before heading out to Iceland – firstly to check I had everything I needed and secondly to make sure I knew where all of it was!

There are other things that I’ve never had before and want to try, things like an inflatable pillow. It’s a relatively cheap item, but I’ve never taken one away before, I usually use my dirty laundry stuffed inside a drybag with a hoodie or a towel over the top. I’ve also got silly things on this list, I could do with some more boxers and socks, so every time I go past a big Tescos, I pick up one or the other to replenish my stock.

I have a third list (and the final for now) on a whiteboard in my bedroom. This is things I need to get once I’m in America. At the moment these are toiletries, a hammock, a Stetson, and cowboy boots but for some reason those last two keep getting crossed out whilst I’m at work…

With these lists, we need to budget for them. Doing small shops of £10 – 20 a week to pick up odds and ends is probably better than panic buying £100 worth of stuff the day before you fly.

For those of us with pre-existing medical conditions, we need to think about how much medication we need whilst we’re out there and all those sorts of things. Right now I’m having issues getting more than 25 days worth of Insulin out of my Pharmacist (which is convenient given I’m in America for 28 Days…) so I need to arrange to see my GP about that.

The other side of Admin is time management. I have 5 weekends before I fly. I don’t stop work till Friday 12th and have to drive down to Manchester to fly on Saturday 13th. Of my remaining weekends, I have two camps (Catering for the High Ropes weekend at Linnet Clough, then the All-Scotland weekend), I’m working one (Armed Forces Day at Salisbury Plains) and I’ve had an invitation to attend a Jamboree day as well 300 miles away and on the weekend before I fly, leaving me with exactly next weekend free.

My Calendar looks awfully like this at the moment!

I’m either going to have to manage my diary very carefully (and follow my own advice about sleep!) or start backing out of things. As it stands right now, when do I pack? Never mind do any dry-runs…

The final thing I want to talk about is paperwork. Love it or hate it, it’s what makes the world go round.

Make sure you know where your passport is. Put it somewhere safe. There is probably just about enough time to get an emergency reissue, but it’s added stress no-one needs right now. If, like me, you could loose your passport in a completely empty room, give it to someone less organisationally challenged to look after.

Six years ago, I was both getting ready to go out to the World Scout Moot in Canada, and, moving down to Preston to start my year in Industry. My parents decided that my passport would be safer with them as they were going to be holidaying in rural North West Englandshire whilst I was away, and so could take me to the airport. What is the point of this story you ask? Read on…

We have a dog (two now), but Nevis (so named for his size), was just a puppy at the time. I think he was around a year old and he had never chewed anything in his life. He had never taken anything off a low worktop and ran around the garden with it in his mouth chewing it. To be completely honest and fair with him, with the exception of the occasional bra off the washing-line, he’s never done it since.

Look at him. Butter wouldn’t melt…

Except once.

For those who are quick off the mark, you may have already guessed.

Nevis, getting somewhat wound up and starved of attention as my parents loaded their caravan to go on holiday, took my passport off the worktop and ran around the garden with it, leaving a corner of it somewhat chewed, and excuse the pun, dog-eared. I don’t have a photograph of it, but I almost cried when I saw the state of it.

By a miracle of fortune, Nevis (not what I was calling him at the time…) had chewed the corner opposite my photograph and all my details were still readable. I can’t describe the anxiety as I approached check in at Manchester with my chewed passport.

Turns out this is a relatively common occurrence when I googled “chewed passports”. This isn’t mine, the damage to mine was thankfully not this severe…

Needless to say they let me through (after they’d finished laughing) and the Canadian officials had the same approach (laugh, try and tell me it’s fine but struggle from laughing, eventually calm down, look at me again, laugh again, eventually just hand me my passport back and wave me through whilst trying to wipe the tears away and regain their breath…)

The point here, is that the TSA officials of America are infamously humourless, and so, keeping your passport away from well meaning pets is probably something you need to be doing.

The same goes for things like the Safe From Harm Certificate for the Adults. I’ve been advised that if it’s not been completed, or indeed, there is no record of you completing it, you will be delayed by 24 hours (plus!) before you’re admitted to the Jamboree site, so make sure you have a digital copy to hand, and a physical copy (or two) nearer the time.

I’ll talk a little bit more about important paperwork in a future post, but it’s probably time to start bringing it all together and making sure you know where it is. Especially if you live away from home or have left your passport etc. with parents for safe keeping whilst at Uni or work etc.

So, I think I’ve said everything I wanted to say. If you’ve got any other Top Tips regarding Admin and getting ready to go, please let us know!

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