The Adventure of a Lifetime
In the summer of 2011, I was lucky enough to be one of just 36 Scouts – handpicked over a year earlier – who represented Berkshire at the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden. This page is devoted to that great trip – from what we did before it, to the reunions afterwards.
My clothes are long-since washed and put away; my holdall was emptied and thrown into the loft ages ago; and the 1,050 photographs I took whilst I was there have all been downloaded and catalogued into my computer. The Berkshire Unit returned from the last part of the Jamboree trip on Thursday, 11 August 2011, and by clicking here you can download my full diary from the adventure as a PDF.
Timeline to the Jamboree
Although the pinnacle of the Jamboree experience was those twenty days away from home in the summer, as a unit we’d known each other for months.
It all started in December 2009, when I completed writing my application form to be on the team. I’d been inspired by Nat Pickett (a former fellow Furze Platt Scout, who’d been to the 2007 World Scout Jamboree) and John Stevens (a friend from church and former Scoutmaster).
In January 2010, I received an invitation to attend the selection camp, to be held in early March at Bears Rails Campsite. It turned out to be a bitingly cold weekend, where all 150 applicants were tested for the ability to work both in a team and independently.
I went away from the camp convinced I wouldn’t get a place and, in fairness, the odds were stacked against me: I’d got off to a bad start when I couldn’t find the pegs for my tent, which had been lent to me by my Scout group and brought by Daryl Mills and Matthew Keen (both were unsuccessful in gaining a place on the Jamboree team, but instead did much more valuable work as part of Project Africa). To make matters worse, I’d left my packed-lunch for the first day at home, and unusually was too shy to lead the campfire. It therefore came as a surprise when the phone rang two days later and the voice at the other end told me of my good fortune. Delighted, I was quick to share the great news, and spoke to Nat Pickett on an instant messenger.
Andrew says (22:35:45): I just got told that I have been successful in my bid to attend the Scout Jamboree 2011.
Nat says (22:36:06): well done mate
Nat says (22:36:17): its life changing mate
Nat says (22:36:28): you should be very proud
Andrew says (22:36:55): I am so happy!
Nat says (22:37:27): and you should be
— Extract from a conversation on Windows Live Messenger between Andrew Burdett and Nat Pickett, 9 March 2010
A couple of weeks later, the first parents’ information evening was held at the splendid De Vere hotel in Reading. How funny it seems now, to look back at the blog I wrote after that meeting, excited about the prospect of there being “just” 490 days until we set off. At that information evening, it was made clear that, even if parents could afford the hefty £2,100 cost, so much of the whole ‘experience’ and build-up to the three week camp was about finding the funds ourselves.
Myself and the other six Maidenhead and Cookham District Scouts were lucky in that we worked well as a small team, and therefore negotiated stalls at each others’ summer fairs, with proceeds going towards our places. In June 2010, I was soaked in the stocks at the Cookham Scout Group Village Fair – all in the name of fundraising!
Other fundraising opportunities we secured included a place at the Lions Club of Maidenhead’s 2010 fundrun, and the Maidenhead Boundary Walk. Of course such opportunities would have been useless without the generosity of my friends and congregation-members at church, who were the prime ‘targets’ for my blank sponsor-form!
I put my profits from the production of the 2010 Furze Platt Dance Show DVD into my fundraising pot, and Mum kindly split the commission she received from her November Chocoholics party between my funds and the brilliant local charity People to Places: a helpful little lift.
By the end of 2010, with the help of magnanimous grants from Maidenhead District and The Spoore Merry and Rixman Foundation, I completed my fundraising efforts.
Mixed into all of this were a number of weekend camps, where activities aimed to blend valuable skills and training (such as pioneering and cooking) with unit-bonding exercises like a trip to the Welsh coast in September 2010.
One of the more controversial exercises involved crawling through a muddy assault course. Although some were more reserved, the most fun was had by those who got stuck in from the start, because everyone got dirty anyway!
From Humble Beginnings
On Saturday, 23 July 2011, at an unremarkable Scout hut in Slough, the Berkshire Unit‘s remarkable trip began. It was from there, in the extremely early hours of the following day, that we left for Heathrow T5.
Once in Denmark, we headed off to what had been billed as a ‘beach party’. However, the heavy rain took the shine off the event, so we were driven to the hostel much earlier than originally scheduled. During the course of the following two-and-a-half days in Copenhagen, we took a ride on the fastest speedboats in Scandinavia, enjoyed an evening at Tivoli Gardens, and had time to explore Denmark’s capital city. Our time in Denmark concluded with the UK Contingent send-off party, held at a disused warehouse where we were entertained by Alphabeat.
The Jamboree Itself
We arrived at the Jamboree campsite (just outside Rinkaby) on Wednesday, 27 July 2011, though the Opening Ceremony was not until the day after that. During our time on-site, we slept, cooked, ate, drank, worked, and lived together for ten days. On Sunday, 31 July, our unit was sent away from the Jamboree site in patrols. For 24 hours, we spent time with local Scout groups across Sweden, in an activity known as Camp in Camp.
Another of the day-long activities was the International Day of Culture, whereby every single unit prepared their areas with elements of their culture, for the browsing eyes of fellow Jamboree participants.
The camp finished on Saturday, 6 August exactly as it had started: in the pouring rain. Unfortunately, few of us had lived up to our ‘Be Prepared’ motto, and had ignored the obvious warnings of the storm that would follow, by forgetting to bring a coat with us as we marched to the Closing Ceremony. Those who did stay to the bitter end were rewarded with some great musical entertainment, though, including a performance of The Final Countdown by eighties’ rockers Europe!
The final part of the Jamboree trip was Home Hospitality (HoHo) where many of the international units were shipped around the world to stay with Scouting families in different countries. Berkshire were assigned to Finland, and we were split up into pairs or small groups to stay with each household. It turns out that Alec and I had, by far and away, the best HoHo hosts, and we enjoyed games of basketball, a trip to an indoor cross-country-skiing snow-tunnel, and a trip on the family’s sailing boat.
On 11 August, we left our HoHo families, flew back to Heathrow, and re-met our real families back at the Scout Hut in Slough.
“The Burdett has landed. Tonight, it all ends here, back at the Scout hut in Slough, where our Jamboree trip began 20 days [ago.]”
— Andrew Burdett, tweet, 11 August 2011
Below are links to blogs I wrote before the Jamboree.
Excellent News! – 9 March 2010
Cookham Summer Fair – 19 June 2010
Fund-run for the Jamboree – 25 September 2010
Scout ‘Speak Up’ Event – 23 to 24 October 2010
Making a Splosh for Dosh – 8 January 2011
Jamboree Training Day: Clothes-washing – 22 January 2011
Jamboree Training Camp – 11 to 13 March 2011
Jamboree: Saying A Few Words – 16 March 2011
Jamboree Training Camp – 17 to 19 June 2011
Jamboree Countdown: 3 Days to Go – 20 July 2011
Right, Chaps, This Is It – 23 July 2011