Every four years the scout movement holds a World Jamboree attended by scouts from all over the world.
In 2007 – the centenary of scouting – the jamboree was held in Britain. To coincide with this, Hampshire County Scouts held a large camp at the New Forest Showground near Brockenhurst.
The camp site was split into four or five sub-camps; I volunteered (or had my arm twisted) to be part of the management team for one of the sub-camps.
I’ve never been a scout leader, and attended my only scout camp when I was eleven, so wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the week and was overwhelmed by the friendliness, helpfulness and politeness of the scouts.
Here is an account of the arrival day:
Do you remember July 2007? It rained. And rained. And rained.
Lorries were stuck up to their axles.
The camp was being held immediately after the show. This was where our site was originally planned to be:
It was moved to here:
On arrival day I was given the task of showing the scout groups to their pitches. We’d spent most of the previous day re-writing the site layout but I had to make further changes as groups arrived – giving the first arrivals the drier pitches and hoping the wetter ones would dry out in time for the later arrivals.
Most groups were given a smaller pitch than they expected – and half of it was covered in mud. First surprise of the week was that not one person complained. They just got on with it. Some even offered me more space when they managed to fit into an even smaller area than provided.
When I showed one leader his pitch, he set four scouts to stand in each corner while he went to find the rest of the group. Twenty minutes later they were still standing there. “Hasn’t he let you move yet?” I asked. “No” they replied.
Eventually all the tents were up and it began to look like a proper camp site.
After Sunday the sun came out, and the ground started to dry out. By Wednesday I could wear footwear other than wellies or hiking boots.
And finally, here are a couple of emails I received after the camp. Says it all, really.
“A short note to all those staff who volunteered their week to care for our children – this is the first time my daughter has been away from home for more than 24 hours and she has returned to me a more confident and rewarded child, her life has been enriched by this experience…Thank you for enriching my child with the experience and the sense of freedom that children cannot always taste in this modern day.”
“I just wanted thank you all again for the great event that we have all just enjoyed… We endured mud and frustration as the careful plans suffered major re-writes, but we will long remember a terrific week of celebration and fun. All my Scouts enjoyed it enormously, with quite a few saying it was the best camp ever. The opportunities to meet and see other sections and nationalities in action were also especially valuable for our young people.”