On the morning of the 20th of July, 2019, my fellow Homies and I embarked on what would be a life-changing experience that will remain with us for ever. 3 weeks on, I would have given anything for the chance to make it last longer and relive the memories alongside my Homies.
I had never previously heard of a Jamboree, the word itself felt so strange to me, but a captivating talk by my district had me set on being a part of it. I actually really enjoyed the selection event, meeting new people and undertaking tasks that seemed so bizarre, yet encapsulated the core values needed for the Jamboree.
As cliché as it might sound, one thing I’ve learnt throughout these two years is that it really is the journey not just the destination. This experience would not have been at all similar without the many monthly meetings we had, which gave us the opportunity to become closer as a unit, and make great memories. From bag packing, to camps to narrow boat trips and the monopoly run around London, this has been a brilliant experience where I’ve grown so much as a person, and learnt a lot about myself as well as gained lifelong friends. The process of a jamboree changes a person; I’ve grown in confidence and have pushed boundaries I didn’t know I had – I’ve gotten to know so many new people, and overall I think this has increased my confidence on a massive scale
Some of my closest friends from the unit I only really got to know them in Amsterdam, all bunched up in a room, with the continuous sound of laughter filling the room. This has truly been an insane experience unlike anything I’ll ever live through, and will remain with me forever. 4 months on now and I still find myself smiling at all the photos, despite seeing them hundreds of times. Because, it’s the memories that they bring, those same feelings that they trigger that transport you back to those coach journeys along West Virginia, all jamming to Take Me Home and Party in the USA. Whilst on the Jamboree, we were tasked with the impossible – resting and recovering, but at the same time not wanting to miss out on things that happened, even on those coach rides or moments in the airport. Suddenly you might wake up and Sam and Andrew have had to go to Vancouver to get a new passport!
Being at a Jamboree, completely immersed in other people’s cultures and languages was also a real eye-opener of the diversity in this world, and the differences in cultures. We shared a meal with the Taiwanese group camping next to us, and that was another really fulfilling moment for me, how despite the language barrier and cultural differences, we shared a meal and our own stories about scouting. The exposure to the vast array of cultures allowed me to learn many things during my time at the Jamboree. From dances with the Australians, origami with the Japanese, time spent with the Americans and mountaintop investitures with the Canadians, it has opened my eyes to the global links within Scouting – it is something all 40,000 young people present had in common – no matter our nationality, race or gender.
This has truly been an inspirational journey, and has sparked something in me that I didn’t even know was there. It’s a feat not to come back inspired after such an immersive experience – eager to take on the world and share your experience with others. Time works differently when you’re surrounded by scouters – the common sound of the lightning warnings and random choruses of Country Roads surrounding us – it’s a contagious hum of happiness – and needs to be spread.
The closing ceremony brought many things for us, streams of tears, the end of a journey and the mark of the beginning of our next adventure. But it also brought about anticipation for what was to come, following the inspirational words of Ban Ki-moon urging us to fight for the protection of our planet, and be committed to service and helping of others – which we can achieve through the sharing of our adventures with other generations and future scouting ambassadors. Who knows, in the future some of us will take on board the huge task of being a leader to one of the Jamboree units, and try to live up to those who made our journey possible.