We hope, if you’ve found this site that you’re beginning your journey to attend the 24th World Scout Jamboree, held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, West Virginia, USA. If not, and you’re heading off on another International adventure, a lot of this site will be of use for you too. If you’re thinking about applying for other events, and just want a taste of what these are like, you’re welcome to poke around and get the feel of things.
This post is written by Martin, who’s been on a fair number of events and started these Top Tips back in 2017 to help people get the best from their international adventure, in that case the 15th World Scout Moot. Over to Martin…
For those of you coming with me to West Virginia next year, well done. I know the competition for places in Units, as Unit Leaders, CMST and IST has been fierce. Seriously folks, well done. This article is very much for everyone attending, it is my thoughts on the Jamboree experience as a whole and where we are just now based on my experiences.
Attending a Jamboree, as a participant, unit leader, IST, CMST, or any of the other acronyms available, is a journey. It has a very definite start, a middle and an end.
For most of you, the day you decided to put an application in was the start of your journey. The first foot on the path that’s going to take you to the adventure of a lifetime.
For me, this journey started back in 2006 when, as a 15 year old Explorer Scout, I took the plunge and became the first person from my Scout Group, ever, to apply to attend a World Scout Jamboree. I was invited to attend an interview where I sat with three people who grilled me for twenty minutes on what I thought I knew about a Jamboree, Scouting and what I’d contribute to the Unit.
I left feeling exhausted and sure I’d messed it up. I knew that there were four places available to attend the 21st WSJ, to be held in Essex to celebrate the centenary of Scouting. I knew that there had been six applicants in the District. Three of whom I was very good friends with, two of whom I knew fairly well through our District Explorer Scout Units. Three of us came from one unit, three from our “rival” unit and I was convinced that they’d take two from each unit so they didn’t appear to be favouring one over the other.
Of the three of us from my unit (CO2 ESU, Chorley District, West Lancashire for anyone curious), I was the youngest. I’d not completed by Chief Scouts Gold, I hadn’t done any of my DofE stuff, though I was slowly chugging through Bronze. I was a Young Leader in a nearby village, with the Group I’d been through Beavers to Scouts with. On paper, I was convinced that I was the poorest of the six applicants and was certain not to be going.
As it was, I got a phone call just a few short hours after the interview. I’d been selected. I was in fact the first one they’d all agreed on. I was going to the Jamboree.
I remember that day clearly after 12 years. I remember that was the very first step on a journey that’s taken me to Hungary, Ireland, Essex, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, France, Japan and Iceland, and is taking me to the USA in 14 months time.
The very beginning of that journey was meeting the rest of the unit in a campsite near Lancaster for the very first time. Working together to complete various tasks, organising us into patrols for cooking. One weekend became two, which over time became six, including a weekend in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Weekend in 2007. We gelled as a unit, got to know each others strengths and weaknesses, and understood how to get along. We found out how to support each other through the inevitable exams etc. This was all part of the middle, we formed, we stormed, we normed and then, we performed.
Before we knew it the Jamboree was upon us. We spent two weeks down at Hylands Park celebrating the world around us.
For anyone that’s never been to a Jamboree, the experience is truly unique. It’s almost indescribable unless you’ve been there. Jamborees exist in a little bubble where everyone wants to be your friend. You can walk down the road and meet people from twenty different countries in as many steps. People will trade the t-shirts off their backs for one they like, having seen it coming down the road. You can get lost amongst the food houses, trying traditional dishes from as many countries as are attending
It’s a journey that’s taken me to places I’ve never been, to see and experience things I never even imagined. It’s given me to opportunity to meet some amazing people that I am honoured to call friends, including my two partners in crime for this page.
Then as suddenly as it had began, we were back on the coach and heading back up the M6 towards home. The Jamboree had ended and our Unit was about to break up and go its separate ways. We had, in the words of our Unit Leader, ascended a Scouting Everest. There was no feeling like it, the blues kicked in and there wasn’t a dry eye in the car park where the coach stopped. We all promised to stay in touch, no matter where we ended up. Three days later I moved from Chorley up to Scotland.
The Jamboree journey was over.
Or so I thought.
I was signed up not long afterwards to become an Assistant Unit Leader to the Danish National Jamboree, then as IST to Sweden, then Canada, then I organised and ran an Explorer Belt. The journey had only just begun. I’m still in the middle of it, America is just another step along the road of my Scouting journey and I already have some ideas of where my next step will take me.
Whether you’re going to the Jamboree as a Participant, a Leader, IST, CMST, JOT, JPT, JDT etc. you are on a journey. Whether yours started in 2017 when you submitted your application, 2006 when you went on your first international or even before, you are in for the time of your life. You will walk away from this Jamboree having experienced something very few people in Scouting, let alone the World have ever experienced.
Live as much of the Jamboree experience as you can, the Unit weekends, the adventures with your new friends, the get together, the fundraising, the planning and both eventually and far too quickly at the same time you’ll find yourself walking through the gates of the site. Make the most of every opportunity the Jamboree gives you, whether Young Spokesperson training, or doing the three peaks challenge to raise funds.
Every Jamboree is unique. I’ve done three and each one was a totally different experience.
Every person who attends a Jamboree is unique. There are going to be over 40,000 people at the Jamboree, that’s over 40,000 unique experiences of a unique experience.
You will get out what you put in. Apply yourself to the Jamboree, throw yourself in and immerse yourself in the whole experience and there is nothing else like it.
That being said. Real life still happens. Exams, work etc. are all still things, and you need to be aware of them and focus on them when you have to.
I love Jamborees. I want you to love Jamborees.
And this love of doing these mad, crazy events is what led me to start “Martin’s Top Tips”. I have a fair amount of experience going on these events, and I feel that by sharing this experience I can help enhance other peoples Jamboree. As mentioned elsewhere, I’ve recruited two very good friends, Lyndsey and Matthew, to help me out this time and to share their experiences of Moots and Jamborees to make yours as brilliant as possible.
Go and check out the “Meet the Team” page to find out a bit more about us.
These Top Tips will vary in content. Some will be more aimed towards the IST, the next post I have planned relates entirely to IST because we have to make a decision on travel options and post-event tours fairly soon, and I’ve got my tuppence to add.
Some will be aimed towards everyone and some will be more aimed towards Participants.
Unit Leaders, you’re on your own 😉
None of us have ever been unit leadership for a World Scout Jamboree, so we have no specific advice for you. That being said, we do have experience of taking Scouts and Guides abroad and some of what we have to say might just be of use, and some of the “look after yourself” posts will apply to you, and some of the posts aimed at Participants, IST or everyone may be of interest.
We’re planning on covering a range of topics from what we’re planning on taking to safety and security, from health and fitness to badge swapping etiquette. As we get more information and get closer to the event these will go from general considerations that would apply to any international event to things specific to this Jamboree.
This being said, every Jamboree is different, and what we have learnt through our experiences may not relate particularly to this Jamboree. We don’t necessarily know everything, but I’m hoping that these blog posts can be catalysts for useful discussion and sharing of ideas and information. We’re hoping to get a couple of (very) special guests to write a post in the future on a couple of topics where they are definitely experts, or at least more so than us.
We will try and keep things light hearted. Even some of the more serious topics are best handled with a touch of humour. We may lay it on a bit thick in some posts. This is probably for a good reason, but we’ll try and make these occasional posts rather than the norm. In short, this is a hopefully light, entertaining series of Top Tips, suggestions and some amusing stories of experiences from past events, ours and others.
If you’re IST, I’ll be throwing in my tuppence about the travel options and the post event tours in the next wee while.
But to everyone – Welcome to the Adventure, it’s going to be one hell of a ride!