Health, Hygiene, Hydration and Happiness at the Jamboree

Howdy folks, I’ve spent most of this week staring at TGA-Mass Spectroscopy sheets in the vague hope they start making sense. Do Chemistry they said, you’ll get a good job and it’ll be fun they said… So I decided that I’d try and write something to stop me going completely mad…

I am going to talk about the 4 H’s of the Jamboree (Not bent coppers, sorry Line of Duty Fans). Health, Hygiene, Hydration and Happiness. The three are very much linked in a cyclic relationship, demonstrated in the funky chart I just made below. Remove one and the others suffer to the point that the whole cycle collapses and you stop enjoying the Jamboree

The H Cycle at the Jamboree

I’ll talk a little about each of the three blocks, but we’ve already covered a lot about health and happiness, and as much as I don’t really want to, I’ll talk a bit more about hygiene at a later date.


Hygiene falls into to broad categories. Personal and Catering.

Personal Hygiene is by far one of the most important things on the Jamboree. It is going to be hot. Maybe not Japan-hot, but hot enough. When we’re hot we sweat, it’s a totally natural thing and nothing to be too worried about. The sweat evaporates and this action (being endothermic) cools us down. The problem being sweat is salty, and the salt doesn’t evaporate with the sweat, leaving it on your skin. Salt is an irritant and causes your skin to dry out by drawing the moisture out.

That’s right. The air temperature reached 51.1 Degrees Celcius in Japan

Sweat is also a lubricant (to a degree) so where you have skin-skin contact (armpits, groin etc.) you sweat a a fair bit here. The salt deposits in these areas cause the skin to dry out. Between rubbing or chafing and these salt deposits, this is the cause of things like heat rash which makes life very uncomfortable.

For those of us prone to chafing, take some gel out with you. Before Japan I spoke to my GP and was prescribed a cream I could use as symptoms started, and by morning I was right as rain. (I wish it had rained…)

As unpleasant as it may be to think of it demonstrates why personal hygiene is important. I’ve said elsewhere that it’s easy to forget to shower because there’s so much going on or you want that extra 15 minutes in bed. But it’s important to make sure you do get a wash, even if it’s a rub down with some wet-wipes in your tent. But this is where a Buddy can come in, making sure your buddy has showered is important.

I won’t spend too much more time on hygiene, but the basics, like washing your hands before meals, or after using the toilet are important. I tend to carry a wee bottle of alcohol gel and use it religiously. If you’ve been doing activities in the mud, or handling bows or whatever, get into the habit of washing your hands. Some of you may have heard about the Norovirus outbreak at Norjam, but it is speculated that some of the spread was a result of poor personal hygiene.

Catering Hygiene is also critical. As someone who got a nasty case of food poisoning back at the Jamboree in 2007 (to the extent I was hospitalised) I’m in a pretty good position to comment. I’m sure that the units have covered this, but do be careful. It wasn’t fun.

The other thing to bear in mind (excuse the pun) is that we’re in Bear country. Bears (and various other wild animals) will be attracted to the smells of foods left out. I have found particularly militant squirrels raiding an open box of biscuits in my Groups mess tent one camp in the UK. For those of us of a certain age, we remember this story…

…A bear came

All in all Hygiene is something to keep on top of. If you keep your Hygiene good, it’s going to reduce the chances of you falling ill and impacting your Health…


Health is the second H. I generally mean keeping yourself healthy at the Jamboree. Part of this is, as just discussed, keeping on top of your personal hygiene. Part of it we’ve spoken about before. I’ve spoken about sleep and Lyndsey spoke about Mental Health as well.

The other part of this is pre-existing medical conditions. I’m Diabetic, and I need to keep an eye on this whilst I’m away to make sure I don’t end up in hospital. Anyone with any medical condition or health concern, speak to your GP or specialist care provider about going and ask advice.

Specialist groups have advice for travelling with medical conditions. Since we’re talking about Diabetes, Diabetes UK does have travel advice on its website and there’s also advice on the NHS website. Again, for Diabetics. Have a read of the necessary advice.

In specific cases you might need to declare medication before you travel or at Immigration/Customs, knowing this and understanding it is probably something you should know if not now then at least before you fly.

The other thing to think of is that some medical conditions will be exasperated by travelling across time zones, jet lag, being tired etc. I know for me, personally, travelling across time zones messes up my insulin regime so I have to think about how to deal with that

And, whilst I remember, some medication, again, insulin as an example, has to be stored in a fridge when not in use. Every Jamboree has a slightly different way of looking after this, but it’s something to flag up with the contingent.

Overall, keeping yourself healthy will help give you the best Jamboree possible.


Hydration had a post all by itself a few weeks ago based on my stupidity. It’s here for anyone who hasn’t had an opportunity to look. Keeping yourself hydrated is vital.


The Jamboree should be the time of your life. It should be an amazing experience and I know many of us will bend over backwards to make it that way for those around us, but sometimes we need to think of our own happiness.

I’ve said elsewhere, living in such close proximity to other people can be tough. I remember having very irrational thoughts regarding physically harming one of my fellow participants back in 2007 because he was crunching his cereal in a particularly irritating way. Tensions do rise when we’re in these situations, when we’re tired and stressed and not feeling the greatest. We just have to be ready to speak to someone.

The Listening Ear team are around to help with this, as should be your buddies (unless their the one who’s crunching their cereal, in which case maybe someone else…) This is a bit of a pressure tap, it lets us blow off steam before it does physically come to blows. I understand talking about feelings and such is massively overwhelming and I struggle with it personally, but we’re all after the same thing. A fantastic experience.

Something as simple as a smile can go a long way.

(I Just Googled “Smiling Scout” and this is what I found…

Keeping yourself Happy will encourage you to look after yourself and so the cycle continues.

If you don’t stay Hydrated, your health will deteriorate, potentially rapidly. If your Health deteriorates, you will find that you lack the time or energy to keep on top of your Hygiene. Overall your Happiness Suffers.

I would say that keeping on top of your Hygiene, taking care of your health and making sure you stay Hydrated are the key to keeping yourself Happy at the Jamboree, if not generally in life.

I hope this has been in some way useful. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next week as I’ll be heading down to the All Adults Weekend, but I’ll try and write something, either there or before.

And on that note, I think it’s time to get back to the TGA Mass Spectroscopy…

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