Pre Jamboree TourOur trip started with a pre-jamboree tour organized by the our Contingent staff. We camped on Kibblestone, a reasonably big camp-site in England. Getting there involved two buses, a baggage-lorry and a boat. All the luggage of our troup, consisting of 40 persons, had to go with us on each of these vehicles. The boat was easy, but getting everything into the other three was a bit of a challenge. However, everything arrived safe and sound around 2 AM in the morning. After putting up the tents everybody slept like a baby.
The wheatherThe first day of our stay in Kibblestone was accompanied by lots of sunshine. During my first meeting there where already complaints that some of the female participants had to put on more clothing when they walked around. Luckily for the complainer, this was forced down upon us by the weather-gods. It did not rain all the time, but it rain enough to turn the grass, the roads and the toilets into a big mud-pit. During the jamboree itself it was common to pull an item out of its storage place and see the original Kibblestone-mud still sitting on it. It was just everywhere!
ActivitiesThe weather also influenced the activities we did. Most of the activities could also be done in the rain, in between two showers or indoors. Most of the participants enjoyed the numerous excursions, sport games (of all kinds) and campfires. For some of the participants the visit to Stratford-upon-Avon was a good excuse to buy all sorts of goods, including the new Harry Potter. Unfortunately for them they had to wait to get it because the first event in this town was a visit to the shakespearience. However, upon arriving in the right street it was quit clear that we would not be entering the theater. Between us and the theater was not the expected road, but a small river of about 30 centimeters deep. More time to shop, more time to start with Harry Potter!
Home HospitalityAn even more relaxing and special activity in the pre-jamboree tour was the home hospitality. The original concept was that each duo in our troop would stay with a family for two days. This was canceled by the English organization because there was a shortage of families that would host our scouts. Luckily, there where several scout-troops that wanted to host complete troops! After traveling for about six hours we arrived in Cardigan, a small city on the coast of Wales. We stayed wit the "3rd Cardigan Sea Scouts", a great group of people that terribly spoiled us. Our stay was a bit at the end of our pre-jamboree tour and the scouts of Cardigan made sure that we got our well-needed rest before we headed off to the real Jamboree. I cannot thank them enough for this fantastic time!
Surprising News?On the last day of the pre-jamboree tour I finally spoiled a game that a part of our Contingent staff was playing for over a week. Each day, my girlfriend got one or two letters that together would form a sentence. Several people tried to work it out, but they all failed before I finally showed the answer to my girlfriend. For those of you that are curious, please visit the news-site of our troop on the 26th of July.
World JamboreeIt took a while before we left Kibblestone, one of the buses broke down after loading, but everybody of the Dutch contingent was on their way to the Jamboree. Some of the participants thought that there were a lot of people on Kibblestone (roughly 1350), they had not seen the Jamboree site yet. After only 3 hours on the bus we got out in the main bus terminal, only a short 20 minute walk from our campsite. I was told that many of our participants finally understood that taking to much luggage can really, really hurt your back.
Opening CeremonyEven though the 20 minute walk showed a little bit of the size of the Jamboree, the opening ceremony did the rest. After 3,5 hours everybody was assembled into the arena, roughly 40.000 scouts from over 150 countries. During the opening ceremony, every country was welcomed by both a real and a digital flag. One can imagine that it took a while before every country was named.
The opening ceremony was to be held in the evening, around 8pm. This was changed once, twice and again because of a special agenda that needed to be respected. It turned out that Prince William himself was attending the opening ceremony. Our places in the arena give us a change of seeing him close by and even hitting him on the head, although nobody thought that would be wise.
OrganizationSpeaking of being wise, it was a good habit to pack as much as possible for a complete day. Walking to the other end of the campsite took about 45 minutes, that is without any chitchat-time. Furthermore, it could take some time to get you your food, a place to shower or a place on the bus. The shortest waiting time for a seat in the bus was about one hour, but it was not uncommon to wait for two or more. This showed that the English organization is pretty good in PR, everything was said to be completely organized, but not so good in actually making things happen. I still have to get a staff handbook which explains rules, procedures and activities for the Jamboree, something that could have been arranged a few months back. Furthermore, some of the activities themselves could have been prepared better. Sometimes even the people in charge of the activity did not know how things should be done.
Don't get me wrong, the majority of the activities were fun and exciting. Our participants and the staff had a great time! Everyone just expected the English organization to be more organized.
Scouting SunriseOne of the biggest events during this World Jamboree was the Sunrise ceremony, held on the exact moment that the Scouts movement turned 100 years old. During the opening (and closing) ceremony the arena was filled with all sorts of different flags, during this ceremony everyone had the same Purple Scouts flag. Even though the ceremony was a bit too religious for my taste, I enjoyed the ceremony very much. Especially the moment that everybody was trying to collect 100 signatures on their sunrise scarf, 40.000 people wanting each others autograph is kind of cool to see. The rest of the day was filled with the food festival, each country on the sub camp prepared a dish typically for its country, sharing this with other countries. It was very nice to see so many cultures sharing their own ideas and rituals. This was truly one of the highlights of the Jamboree.
DepartureYou might expect that the departure wasn't that well organized, but would you believe that the English organization began to think about the departure 3 days before the event ended? All of the previous arrangements with the Dutch Contingent where suspended which resulted in a rather huge challenge. In the original scenario we could stay on the Jamboree site until Thursday and Friday, but this was not possible anymore. After long debates ans short nights our Contingent staff provided a solution that was workable. The first group, including me, departed from the site on Wednesday to London for an excursion and from there to Essex University to sleep. It was very nice to sleep in a real bed and have access to your own shower! The next morning we started traveling around 6.00AM, I was home 14 hours later. The second group first had to relocate to a single spot on the Jamboree site after which they had a day of active excursions. They slept one more night on the Jamboree site and then had the same program as the first group.
ConclusionI have not yet begun to tell everything that happened on the Jamboree. For more information about our contingent you can visit http://www.wj2007.scouting.nl/, for more information about the activities of the Jamboree you can visit http://eng.thejamboree.org/ when it is back up.
All there is left to say is that I had a great time at the Jamboree. Hopefully I will be able to join the 22nd World Jamboree in Sweden in 2011. Now lets get back to actually making sure I can actually graduate in October 2007 :)