9 Guides and 1 leader from the Midlands region attended the World Scout Jamboree, held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. The girls travelled with the Warwickshire scouts forming UK unit 85 “The Capulets”. The unit was made up of 40 and we really bonded as a family
The trip took two years in the making, with many briefings and get together events as well as intense fundraising.
The first stage of our trip involved flying to New York. We had 24 hours to enjoy the city that never sleeps. We went to the Top of the Rock, to enjoy views of New York at sunset. Although New York never sleeps we had a long journey and so settled down for a night’s sleep at Kean university. The next morning, we explored New York visiting, Central Park, Times Square and Battery park where we glimpsed the statue of Liberty. We then took a ferry across the Hudson river to New Jersey where we boarded our coach to the jamboree.
This was the hottest journey most of us had ever experienced as the bus aircon had broken at one point the bus was 40degrees Celsius (it was only 30degrees outside)! As it was a 10-hour journey we stopped halfway staying at another university. The next day we arrived at the Jamboree site.
The jamboree had 45,000 participants so it was no surprise that it took us over an hour of queuing to get on the site. We were welcomed onto the site by members of the international service team (IST). Hilariously the member of IST who welcomed us onto the site was the brother of one of the leaders!
We spent the rest of the day setting our little campsite up – unfortunately it was hammering it down with rain so we very quickly had to work out a system of putting the tents up under a shelter, running out pegging them out, and then getting back into the dry. Our little campsite soon became home for the 10 days on jamboree. We had neighbours from Egypt, Slovenia, Sweden and the USA.
The camp itself was AMAZING! Each day we would head out in small groups to sample the activities. Between us as a unit we managed to do all the activities including BMX, skateboarding, white water rafting, Scuba diving, climbing, stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, and of course the zip line which s supposed to be one of the longest in the world.
As well as the high-octane activities we were also able to visit the Global development where we could learn about problems facing our world, the contingent tents where each nation could show their cultures and the Sustainability treehouse.
One day on camp was dedicated to sharing culture. All activities were closed, and each unit put on a display of their culture. The Capulet’s ran a traditional English pub called the Capulet Arms. In this we served Powerade in pint glasses and salty pub snacks such as nuts and crisps. We also had one of our members playing the guitar as we all sang along to songs.
We also experienced a day of traditional camp activities at Mount Jack, the highest point of the campsite. We were able to take part in the Spartan Run, an obstacle course run as well as trying traditional American camp activities.
The ceremonies at the Jamboree were unbelievable. At the opening ceremony we watched performances from Lebo M (who wrote the Lion King music) as well as a drone display. 100 drones with lights on them were programmed to make images in the sky. Later in the jamboree we had a performance from Broadway does Disney. At the closing ceremony we were entertained by the Pentatonix, a world famous Acapella band and Light Balance who won American got talent. The jamboree was closed by an insane firework and laser display which was one of the biggest in the USA in 2019.
After the jamboree we travelled to Washington DC where we stayed at the University of Maryland with all the UK units. We enjoyed our first non-campsite meal and our first warm shower in 10 days.
The next morning headed into central Washington; arriving at the Mall. We then were allowed to go and explore the iconic landmarks such as the Whitehouse, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Museum Capitol Building and Lincoln Memorial. This was also an opportunity that most of used for shopping. Later that evening we used the subway to get back to the university. That night was the UK contingent party on the University site, which included a gift, music and fun carnival games. The next morning, we got up nice an early to travel to Baltimore to see a Baseball game between Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. Upon arrival to the stadium we were given a foam finger and an Orioles hat. We had meal vouchers for an all-American hotdog and a refillable drinks cup. During this game the whole of the UK contingent were cheering for a player called Anthony Santander forming International Antony Santander Fan Club.
The next day we had a 15hour coach journey to Canada where we undertook our hosted hospitality where we camped with the Loyalist area scouts. The next day we split into two groups; one went canoeing and the other went on a scavenger hunt. The canoeing group went down a canal and several locks. Despite the rain it was an enjoyable day with great views and many laughs. The scavenger hunt went around Kingston town doing their hunt alongside the Canadian scouts. That afternoon we had a slight change of plans as the rain meant we couldn’t have gone to the water park as planned. We instead went to a swimming pool and had just as much fun playing volleyball. That night we had a BBQ and had a few members of local council speak. We also had an aboriginal man come and talk to us as Canadian scouting is based on the aboriginal ways. Then we had a local band come a come and play some songs for us. The next day we explored the local town and went to Fort Henry an old British fort. During the day we took soldier lessons before watching the world-famous sunset ceremony, which included a shooting sequence that the soldiers did and saw a firework display. That night we stayed in the barracks at the fort before leaving at 2:30 am for JFK and the long journey home.
The Jamboree was a once in a lifetime experience, our unit was truly a family we supported each other and had so many laughs together.