What is a Jamboree?
A Jamboree is a large gathering of Scouts (40,000+) from all across the world. In July, five Highworth Scouts and one leader went to the World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, USA. It was a trip of a lifetime which allowed us to try new experiences and to meet new people.
Our journey started about 2.5 years ago when we were encouraged to apply for the Jamboree. We had to complete a written application and attend a selection camp, where we were assessed for how well we worked as a team. Two weeks later, we received a letter telling us that we had been selected for a place at the Jamboree!
Then the hard work started, with a total of £4,000 each to be able to go! This amount didn’t just cover our attendance and costs of training camps but also went towards helping Scouts from other developing countries to go and to be able to have the same opportunity as us. After numerous bag packs, car washes and sweet sales, we finally reached our target!
Having the support of Highworth in our fundraising efforts made this a lot easier.’
In the run-up to the Jamboree, we had a number of camps aimed at getting to know the rest of our unit, and also learn some extra skills that would be useful at the Jamboree (such as hand washing clothes)!
Around 8 training camps (and a lot of fundraising) later, we were on our way from Heathrow to New York. Three units were on our plane: 76 (Gloucestershire), 77 (Somerset and Wiltshire) and 78 (Wiltshire). Approximately 9 hours later, we arrived at JFK airport at the start of our adventure. The next day we hopped on a yellow school bus and went sightseeing around New York, visiting popular tourist attractions like Times Square and the Empire State Building. The only downside to our day in New York was the heat which felt like 40 degrees, which meant a lot of sun cream, water and shopping so we could get out of the heat and into an air-conditioned building.
We arrived at the Jamboree site – the Summit Bechtel Reserve and started setting up our camp when it started tipping it down. If there was a hole in your tent you found out pretty quickly! Before we had even started setting up, we were surrounded by a group of Americans’ wanting to help us put our tents up and introducing themselves. We had quite a quiet night so lots of us went around our subcamp seeing what countries we were near and saying hi.
The next day we started by trying out some of the activities, with our evening entertainment being the official opening ceremony. The show started with Lebo M (one of the singers from the original lion king) and a person from each country attending waving their flag at the front of the massive stadium. After a bit of talking about the jamboree and what went into making it happen, we heard from our friend Jess, in the Wiltshire unit, who wrote and then sang the official jamboree song. After a bit more singing and dancing, there was an amazing drone show to close out the evening! It was finally actually happening and it felt so unreal.
The next 9 days were amazing full of physical activities like mountain biking, scuba diving and white-water rafting and also cultural and educational activities like the sustainability treehouse and the global development village (GDV) where we learnt about some global issues and the sustainability goals. We also got to experience the (very popular) food houses which contained food from a range of countries such as Brazil, Chile and Hungary. Talking about the experience, Evie (14) said:
It gives you different perspectives on what’s happening in the news and how it effects others in other countries and cultures’
During ‘culture day’ all the activities were closed, and each unit made food or set up games or activities from their country or area. We took it in turns to look around and run activities. When it was our turn to explore, we tried pasta with some Italians, played some games and made woggles with some people from Denmark and dressed up with some Ecuadorians. The day ended up with a unity ceremony where some people were talking about their religion, culture and the mayor of West Virginia also spoke, the ceremony then ended with a performance from Disney on Broadway.
We had some great opportunities and made so many amazing memories throughout the camp. The camp ended with another ceremony (which was delayed due to a few major thunderstorms) that started with some parachutists and some people talking about the next jamboree (which sounds really good) and a slideshow of photos from our adventure. The show closed with Pentatonix (an American a cappella group from Texas) and a glow in the dark dance crew, and an awesome firework and laser show!
It’s introduced me to a wide range of skills that have pushed me out my comfort zone which will help me in everyday life, especially having the confidence to speak to new people no matter where they’re from’ – Elliot (16)
We then all went back and ended up sitting back at camp into the early hours of the morning not wanting to go to bed because we knew when we woke up it would all be over, and we would have to leave. The next morning, we jumped on another coach for our journey to Washington DC. I don’t think anyone remembers this though as no one on our coach was awake an hour into the journey!
We had 3 days in Washington where we saw all the big tourist destinations like the White House and the Washington monument. We also went to see a baseball game – Baltimore Orioles vs Toronto Blue Jays, where all the Scouts there decided to support one player and formed a fan club for him… Anthony Santander!
We then headed off for Canada, where we managed to get very wet on our visit to Niagara Falls. We also explored a museum, had a tour around Hamilton and even managed to experience the Canadian Starbucks – ‘Tim Hortons’!
At the end of those 3 days, we packed up and got on a coach back to New York. It was weird – you knew it was the end but also you wanted to make the most of the last hours you had with your friends and people who had become family over the past 3 weeks.
All that was left was the bus journey from Heathrow to our collection point with our parents. Unit 77’s coach was full of music and dancing (at least until the first people had to get off) whereas unit 78 managed to sleep the whole journey!
We got to the hardest part, saying goodbye – and just like that, we went our separate ways. A common phrase is the Jamboree Blues – it’s that feeling of being alone, with the flu, and jet-lagged that goes with the whole Jamboree experience. Waking up the next morning, alone, with nothing to do but remember what an amazing 3 weeks it had been!
I wouldn’t have done anything differently as it was a trip of a lifetime and something I will never forget, filled with people I will never forget!
The next Jamboree
The next jamboree is in 2023 in South Korea, if you are in scouting born before 1st August 2009 then you will be eligible to attend. I would definitely suggest applying and getting involved. It was an amazing trip and a feeling I truly can’t describe, we all made friends that will last a lifetime, it is not just the jamboree that is an amazing experience but also how you get there with the fundraising, training camps and even writing stuff for papers and giving presentations. The whole experience isn’t just a great trip but something that can make you look at things differently, help you learn new things and even boost your confidence.
Article was written by Evie with help from Elliot