As a scout I never had the chance to attend a Jamboree, so when my son Alexander had the chance to go, and it became apparent that Brooklyn needed an extra leader, my arm was relatively easily twisted. I was curious to know what I had missed out on – some 35 short years ago! Would you believe that on day two I met my original scout leader from 1st Karori, Dave Jupp (he looked just the same as I remembered), and he was able to point out a row of green canvas tents – the same ones which I had slept in all those years ago at various scout camps. Scary.
The Jamboree experience began weeks before we caught the Ferry. Six newly formed patrols met one Sunday afternoon to dream up patrol names and design their banners which they carried to most activities at the Jamboree. Our Contingent was an amalgam of Brooklyn (21 youth, 4 leaders), Karori West (7 youth, 4 leaders), Ellesmere (5 youth, 1 leader) and 3 Samoan (international) Scouts and their leader.
Personal suitcases were combined with troop gear in the hall. The gear ranged from tents and newly purchased kit (from an on-demand LPG hot water system (brilliant) to 3 big chilly bins – special thanks to the Infinity Foundation for their grant), to literally the kitchen sink. All this was loaded into a shipping Container (shared with five other Wellington contingents) which we later unloaded on site.
The evening Ferry trip on Kaitiaki was uneventful and we (some 150 youth) had a hot nights sleep in Marlborough College’s hall. We arrived nice and early on site the next day to set up camp. Luckily Andy (a cub leader) and I had checked David’s ‘not to scale’ site drawing on the ferry and realised his maths wasn’t too good – so a quick redesign ensured we met Jamboree rules. In the end we had to measure the distance between each tent (down to the nearest 50mm) to ensure compliance with site regulations!
The Jamboree was tightly and somewhat confusingly programmed but David did a great job of ensuring we all made key departure times and locations. This Jamboree was unusual in that all activities were offsite. On the worst mornings youth had to depart for busses as early as 5.45am – at that hour they were definitely in ‘manual mode’!
The first full day was hot and we were careful to manage youth so they didn’t get heat stoke or sun burn (plenty of others did). Wind blown dust got so bad the next afternoon it set off our smoke detector!? Ironically two days later after a Southerly front came through some youth on water activities (not ours) got too cold and had to be warmed up.
Aside from the daily rostered activities we had two days ‘off’. The first was a market day where all sites ‘sold’ products or services for Beaver Bucks (fake money). We did face painting and balloon shaving and other activities included pillow fights, wet sponge activities, life boat ‘rides’ and bungy water slides. Some even offered to do your washing (in a home made bicycle driven contraption) and sold freshly bagged leader’s farts!? Another aspect of the Beaver Bucks money was to swap out our own currency and collect everyone else’s – we came second overall!
Market day was the first and only time I got to walk around the whole Jamboree site and I saw future accountants, marketers, inventors, entrepreneurs and fraudsters at work! There were also some pretty swish camp site setups too.
The next day off was for a Jamboree wide battle with flour bombs and paper swords. We all enjoyed spending the morning making our weapons and it was the first time I felt a real camaraderie forming across all the patrols and the troop. We had a long walk to the battlefield. Unfortunately it all got out of hand when somebody mentioned the ‘start’ word before the organisers were ready…
Several Birthdays were had during Jamboree, including one significant one for Helen. I think we reached our target of singing Happy Birthday to her 50 times!?
Packing up and the Ferry trip back late at night was actually not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but waiting beforehand in Picton at the Sea Scout hall was tedious. Hopefully a mistake by the Wellington Regions organisers not to confirm the ferry booking will never be repeated!
Special mention needs to go to our Contingent leader, David, who spent countless hours (actually weeks) navigating and managing the bureaucracy that inevitably goes with organising such events. He was calm, even in the face of bureaucratic adversity throughout the Jamboree and he even managed not to make it look like his first time too! Anneleah, his wife, also played a key role in getting us to Renwick. Their contributions really ensured our youth had the best possible time! Thank you both.
Thanks to Terry for his advice and wisdom and ensuring we had some really great kit. And to Andy for keeping his side of our tent tidy.
Thanks to Karori West Leaders, Mary, Helen, Maggs, Lindsay and Jeremy for their wisdom and advice to a new leader!? And thank you to Richard for being brave enough to join non-Mainlanders on the Jamboree
There is not much difference between the ‘child’ in a scout leader and the the ‘child’ in our youth so I had a ball and I know everyone else did too!
Yours in Scouting