World Scout Jamboree (mini) reunion

A couple of weeks ago, I met with some of my World Scout Jamboree unit in Birmingham. The reunion included Blue the bear and if you remember Brian the flamingo. Yes, you read that right, we walked around Birmingham with a flamingo and a bear.

We started the day off with coffee before then heading to do a little bit of shopping. We went into the Worlds largest Primark where there was a Disney café, a Harry Potter section, and over 5 floors of clothing and sales. In the make up section, we decorated Brian (the flamingo) with some of the eyeshadow before we headed to get some food to eat. The downfall here was, we all agreed to meet at McDonalds, except we went too 2 different stores – however, En route we did see a Santander building. (I’m still a proud member of the International Anthony Santander Fan Club)!

After lunch we did a bit more shopping and went into all 3 Pandora shops looking for a charm for my friend. In the end, we managed to find the charm in one of the shops. We then wondered around for a little while before, one of my friends brothers (who did attend WSJ) met up with us and so he took a photo of us by the Bullring statue. We all then wondered around for a bit more until it was nearly time to leave – in order for everyone to be able to get the right trains home as in the morning there was a little bit of a train issue.

A couple of us went into Tesco Express before saying goodbye where we brought a meal deal to share between us all. The chicken and bacon sandwich was very nice – thank you! It was then time to say our goodbyes before everyone headed home.

As I then went to meet my parents, we spotted some bears in H&M home, so conveniently, Blue had to have a photo with them. Also, as we headed home we stopped at IKEA for our usual rendezvous before continuing to head home.

BLOGMAS (day 1)

Hi all, to get into the spirit of Christmas (and writing more blog posts more frequently), I have tasked myself with taking part in a challenge I like to call BLOGMAS. It requires me to write a blog post each and every day counting down the days until Christmas. Blue might write a few blog posts as well here and there. For now, lets get into todays blog.

Yesterday evening I attended my County’s Explorer and Network ball. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I got to see my friends from across the County. I got to see Santa and sang many classic Scouting songs. To top off the night, the World Scout Jamboree Participants all sang Country Roads swaying together in a circle.

The badge we recieved

There was a Pick ‘n Mix, Buffet and drinks all to our delight. We even got a badge from the event (I can’t say enough how there is a badge for everything in Scouting!). It was a lovely evening and I cannot wait to see all of my Scouting friends again soon.

84’s Busy Weekend

Howdy readers, it’s me again. I’ve taken over the blog again! Which means that yes, I am now living with 84 permanently. I’m super excited as I know that we are going to get to go to the European Jamboree next year.

84 and I have had a fairly busy few days with Scouting activities – starting with the Remembrance parade on Sunday morning. 84 made paracord poppies and if I do say so myself they are marvellous. Not wishing to moan but she didn’t make any purple ones to remember all of the animals who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I think I’m going to have to raid the paracord stash and make one myself ready for next year.

The afternoon of Sunday was spent on the Young Leader’s module K first aid course. I stayed out of the way as I didn’t fancy being bandaged again.

On Monday evening 84 had an EJ2020 meet up, where they perfected their culinary skills and made meatballs and pasta. I feel a song coming on … On top of spaghetti all covered in there sat my poor meatball, until somebody sneezed. It rolled off the table and onto the floor and then my poor meatball it rolled out the door. (Note: no meatballs were harmed in the making of this blog post)

Last night 84 and I climbed a mountain at her Explorer meeting. It was a clear night so I got to see plenty of stars. I stayed warm in 84’s bag but did enjoy the sneaky burger she got on the way home. It made a nice change to chicken and rice!

Final WSJ camp

My last World Scout Jamboree meet up camp stared with boarding the minibus and drinking custard – a tradition we have upheld since our very first camp as a unit. Soon, we realised we had no speaker to play music with so started playing I-Spy.

This did not last very long.

Soon, we got the radio on and began listening to BBC Radio 2 – at first the music was substantial until it soon became clear it was mostly 60s music (which none of us knew). We then proceeded to sit in silence for the rest of our journey.

That evening, it was patrol 1s cooking duty where we cooked hot dogs with onion – the onions were so strong that we were all in tears cooking. After supper, we watched a movie called Hot Fuzz before heading to bed.

The next morning we all awoke at 8 o’clock due to the sound of unfashionable music – to say the least. Personally I’m still loving golden hour from our journey up. We then waited for the rugby to be put on except that ITV hub seems to be down – due to the amount if traffic.

Blue watching the Rugby

We watched the rugby – no spoiler but we lost which was disappointing. Nevertheless, we then played a game of ‘Pigs’ which some of our unit learnt on the Jamboree before doing some reviews. We reviewed our personal unit kit, selection process and then fundraising – which was followed by lunch.

Blue writing down his favourite fundraising ideas

After lunch we played an odd version of netball before heading back inside to review how many camps we had and whether this was substantial enough as well as reviewing our leaders leadership. Following this, we then listened to the county commissioner of Shropshire discussing the Queen Scout Award as well as other Scouting activities happening. We then a went back outside to play the odd version of netball.

In the evening, we were supposed to go on a hike to see a firework display except our dinner was running very late – I learnt a couple of new card games during the wait. After dinner (of chicken and … PASTA!), my patrol quickly finished washing up before we headed on a mini walk to try and watch the fireworks. We saw a few fireworks before heading back and eating pudding.

Chicken and pasta for dinner

In the evening, we watched a movie of our World Scout Jamboree experience which included photos and videos from all of our pre-camps. Many laughs later, it was time to head to bed which was around 00:45.

The next morning, we woke up at around 8:30 and started to pack away. Breakfast consisted of pancakes with maple syrup – taking me back to Canada. This was then followed by free time as well as a whole unit reflection. We also played with frisbee and a a game of Ninja.

Top 3 fundraisers

It was then time to say goodbye to everyone before we headed back home via the minibus. This was very sad with lots of I’ll see you very soon, before we grabbed some lunch and headed back home.

And so it’s not a goodbye, it’s more of a see you later …

European Jamboree 2020 Precamp 1

I have been selected to attend the European Jamboree next year (as I like to nickname it EJ2020). The Jamboree is based on ‘ACT’ which is the idea of acting upon the environment to make the world a better place. A few weekends back, I went on my first unit camp with my EJ2020 unit.

Blue at the entrance to the campsite

On Friday evening we set up camp. We helped to move bags up to the kitchen area before I set up my tent and sorted out my roll mat, sleeping bag etc. I then talked to other people before heading to help put up another tent. The thing with this tent was that someone got told to take down their one man and sleep in a 4 man by themselves. As clever Explorers, we put the outer side of the new tent over the old small one man tent to save time taking down one tent and putting up the whole of the other tent.

Campfire circle

That evening we headed to the campfire where we were told who was in each patrol. We were told some of the programme for the weekend including that on the Saturday we would be helping clear some of the site as part of our ACT mini project. As my patrol would be cooking the next morning, we played 2 truths and 1 lie to get to know one another before we soaked up the rest of the campfire. We ate supper and then headed to bed.

On the Saturday morning, I had to wake up slightly earlier as I had to cook breakfast. We cooked bacon for bacon sarnies and then eggs for the vegetarians. After breakfast we washed up before helping put up tents as part of our ACT project. We had to check the quality of the tents before taking them back down again. In the end, the tent I put up was one of the worst tents as so we swapped the good poles of the tent with the broken ones from other groups.

Blue with the trailer containing the weeds we had cut down

After a quick snack break, we were then on weed cutting duty. My group cut all the weeds around the traverse wall as well as some near a car parking area. The rake I was using kept breaking so at first I fixed it with some rope, but that only lasted for 5 minutes before it broke again so then I used some duct tape which lasted for longer. After this activity, we ate lunch before proceeding to the afternoon activities.

Blue at the Tomahawk throwing

In the afternoon, we stayed in our patrols during a rotation. Our first activity included going around the traverse wall and coming up with our patrol’s name. The name had to include the word ‘ACT’ so our current name is ‘PACT man’. Our next activity was tunnelling where we played hide and seek in the dark followed by a talk from one of our leaders. Our final activity was Tomahawk throwing before we had some free time before dinner.

Blue after the hike

During this free time, we went back into the tunnels and had music playing through the tunnels. For dinner, we had chicken curry, rice and naan – so a variation of chicken and rice. After dinner, we plotted grid coordinates onto a map for our hike the next day before toasting marshmallows on a fire to make smores. I then headed for an early night to bed.

Blue with an ice lolly

The next day, we woke up slightly late for breakfast but fortunately did not miss it. After breakfast I packed my bag for the hike before heading off in our patrols. The walk was around 7 miles long and halfway through we met with another patrol and walked the rest of the route with them. After our hike, we returned to the campsite and helped move a few things to help finishing taking camp down. We moved a trailer of weeds before being rewarded with an ice lolly to then take down our tents. Our parents then had a meeting before we were collected and headed back home.

Over the weekend we found a bit more about what our Jamboree experience would be like. We were informed that we would fly to Amsterdam, then travel by train to Berlin and then on to Poland. As part of the main Jamboree, there would also be a 2 day hike as part of the programme. We would then fly directly home.

Unexpected use for a necker

Never in my Scouting life did I ever think that I’d use a necker to cover a very exposed rip in my shorts. Typically, I would’ve thought my necker would’ve been used as a sling or a bandana yet, it was used completely differently. So how did this come about you may ask (and no it was not intentional).

It was an early Sunday morning and I was helping at a festival to move people’s kit back to their cars: on the Friday evening I had moved the kit from people’s cars to their pitch so today it was the reverse. Proceeding one of the hauls to a car my group were walking back I decided it would be a brilliant idea to sit in my friends wheelbarrow and they could drag me back (1st mistake!). Secondly, I was wearing fairly tight shorts (2nd mistake!) and decided to sit cross legged (3rd mistake!). After less than a minute of being pulled around sat on the wheelbarrow I got out where I noticed my shorts had ripped. Quickly improvising I held the bucket in front of my legs as I waddled back to the base where we were stationed.

Here I realised that I had no spare clothes and only a hi-vis jacket. At first we attempted to create a hi-vis skirt (I’m certain I would’ve pulled it off) until we realised it would not work. It was not until someone mentioned trying my necker that I realised I was not following protocol of ‘Improvise, Adapt and Overcome’. I then was able to tie my necker around my leg and through my belt loop.

The very important lesson I’ve learnt after this experience is that you should never underestimate your Scouting necker. A necker is the key to the Scouts’ motto to ‘Be Prepared’.

Leading Questions with Blue.

Hey everyone, guest blogger Blue here again!

I got to spend a few days with 84 again after meeting back up at one of her county’s events. Since she interviewed me last time I thought I’d do the same.

So 84, you’re looking a lot better by the way, what was the day about?

This day got together the patrol leaders in my county who were leading a patrol on the 24th World Scout Jamboree. We took in a range of activities to learn different leadership skills and techniques.

That sounds good. So what sort of things did you talk about?

We talked about different personality traits – drivers, thinkers, feelers and entertainers. They told us how each different section are motivated as well as push and pull factors.

We briefly talked about what makes a good leader as well as the characteristics they should have; they should be allowing everyone to have equal responsibility, able to handle all situations as well as giving credit where it is deserved.

On top of this we learnt about how to delegate well and the ladder of unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent.

Did anything in particular surprise you or make you think “oh yeah”?

I learnt about the ladder of unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent.

At the bottom of the ladder you have those who are unconsciously incompetent.

These are the people who have seen a new skill and believe thoroughly that they are able to do this without even asking for help the very first time. They are usually very happy and excited to give a new skill ago; this is until they give the skill ago and become consciously incompetent.

They now have tried the new skill and are unhappy as they are not able to do it; as time progresses they will become consciously competent.

This is where they are still a bit worried about the activity but are able to now take part with very little assistance; this is until they become unconsciously competent.

They now are able to do the skill without really thinking about what they are doing such as tying a reef knot. This is a good place to be in but sometimes they can forget the specific steps in the task and forget exactly what they are doing.

So what would be your top tips for other patrols going out to the Jamboree?

My top tip would be to learn about the different personalities in your patrol. to learn what motivates each individual and the main category of people they fall into.

Are they a “Thinker” who like to work out the problem step by step or are they a “Feeler” who cares about how the rest of the patrol are feeling and doesn’t think about themselves as much?

Are they a “Driver” who drives to make sure that everything has been done on time and to task or are they even an “Entertainer” where they have the most fun with others joking and laughing around?

The more you know your patrol the easier it will be in the long run to delegate specific tasks to and help them to drive towards their target all whilst having fun and enjoying them whilst doing even some of the more boring tasks.

Finally, tell me one thing you learnt about yourself.

I learnt that I am partly a thinker and a feeler; I like to plan ahead of time to make sure that everything will get done whilst checking that everyone is happy; I need to be able to be a bit more firm with others when they are not listening and to also make sure that I not only play to the strengths within my patrol but also can teach them new skills.

Finally I have learnt how the patrol leaders team has been arranged. Personally in my patrol leadership team we have an entertainer (who can also be partly a driver) with me being a thinker and a feeler – everyone has all characteristics which work well together within a team.

Thanks 84, sounds like it was a really good day. Can’t wait to see you again!

Jamboree Camp: Take 5

So this weekend I went on another Jamboree camp and caught up with all my friends. We arrived on Friday evening and got put into our patrols. I got the position of being the assistant patrol leader for my patrol and so once we were all in our patrols we had to come up with patrol names. As a patrol we came up with some very obscure and weird names, we could not decide on a name so still haven’t chosen our final name yet! but we did chose a time to wake up and cook breakfast the next morning.

‘Before bed’ (as quoted) we had hotdogs and hot chocolate for supper. We then watched Toy Story 3 in the hut all cosied up with our sleeping bags and roll mats. As usual on my Jamboree camps we didn’t get to sleep until way past 2 the next morning.

The next morning we cooked omelettes for breakfast and washed up before the activities began. One of our morning activities was to plan our unit video to be sent to the UK contingent. We discussed what represented our counties and what represented our unit as a whole as well.

After this we discussed where we wanted to visit in NYC and Washington DC. For NYC we had discussions on visiting Ground Zero, Times Square and Central Park. For Washington DC we discussed visiting the White House, The National Mall and Smithsonian museums including the air and space museum (Mum and Dad- I promise not to sleep through the whole of the first floor exhibits if we go).

We then watched a short video on the timeline of the 9/11 attacks, we then discussed how it had changed and shifted the world and how we now experience air travel.

Our unit then played a couple of games before we went inside for lunch. To practice having to use points to buy meals we were given a set amount of points and had to decide the best way to ‘spend’ them on our lunch. Each of the lunch food items were worth different points and so we had to work out what we wanted for lunch and to make sure we had enough points to buy it.

After lunch, we had a talk about what to expect if we go to Canada and which countries we would also be going too. We also looked at the additional kit and what kit we would be given. As we were doing this we wrote down any queries into a box and also who we wanted to share a tent with out on the Jamboree.

In the afternoon, we went on a mini hike around the village where we had to go on a mini scavenger hunt. We had to find a blue item, see how many people we could fit in a phone box, get a takeaway menu, take pictures of birds (we cleverly took picture of chickens in the butchers) and more. My patrol lost but I believe this just gives our patrols a lot of room for improvement. When we returned we were given an activity to find out what was stuck onto our forehead and the pair. Later, we found out that this is who we’d be sharing a tent with.

For dinner we had chicken curry and rice and for the only time ever the whole unit had finished cooking and cleaned 40 minutes before planned. We were then split into half and talked about some of the things which might happen on the Jamboree and any more worries we might have followed by yet another unit discussion.

Our evening activity consisted of as called ‘Unit 82 got talent in their eyes factor, get me out of stars in their strictly popstars on ice’. In our patrols we decided on our ‘talents’ with my patrol doing a mini magic show with magic tricks. I did a card trick and we had other card tricks and a plate trick. Other patrols did dancing and acrobatics. My act came second from last but as I mentioned earlier there is always room for improvement. Our leaders also surprised us by dressing up in suits and dresses to be the show’s judges.

To finish ‘Unit 82 got talent in their eyes factor, get me out of stars in their strictly popstars on ice’ the whole unit sang Bohemian Rhapsody. After a couple of rounds of Irish snap and cheat, we settled off to sleep. Yet again, we weren’t asleep until 2 the next morning.

Breakfast was bacon baps and was then followed by a first aid session. We talked about what we might experience on the Jamboree and how to prevent it. For example, we were reminded of DR ABC, what to do if someone faints, how to prevent dehydration and sun burns as well as how to clean and cover grazes.

We played a couple more games and then it was time to set up afternoon tea for the parents and to eat our lunch (no point system today). The parents then had a parent meeting where they learnt some more information and had the chance to ask any questions. It was then time to say goodbye to all of my friends before we left to go back to our county.

I’m currently finishing this blog on the way back with my motivation (a minibus classic and tradition) of cold custard. We also had a challenge this camp go try and fit all of our kit into a medium bag to practice for our first few days travelling to the Jamboree where highly likely we won’t be allowed to go into our big bags. I managed to pack mine into a small-ish rucksack, so my Mum didn’t have to call the plumber to remove the kitchen sink this time!

December meetup

Shortly before Christmas I went to another day long unit meet-up.

The day was a chance to find out more about where we were going, what we were doing and how we were going to go about it. As you may know we are off to New York as well as Washington DC and maybe even Canada. We were asked what we wanted to do on top of what the UK Contingent would arrange for us.

Some of the ideas we had included:

  • Visiting the National Mall in Washington DC, including the Smithson Museums, the White House, the various memorials and the Cherry Blossom trees (even though they won’t be on bloom).
  • Even though we are only in NYC for one day we’d love to see the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Ground Zero memorials, the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Although we don’t know where we’ll be in Canada we’re hoping we’ll get to see some small towns to contrast the big city experience, Niagara Falls (if we’re close enough), snow-topped mountains, beavers in their natural habitat (rather than the turquoise ninjas racing around the scout hall), and get a chance to buy some maple syrup from a maple syrup farm.

We also had confirmation about what kit we will be given and can purchase. One of our leaders said it was the best Jamboree Kit they have ever seen so we’ve got more confidence it’ll get there and back in one piece.

There were a lot of team building games but I had to sit those out as I was still recovering from my injury – I got to separate and fold raffle tickets instead.

As well as my injury our unit has also had broken arms, broken feet, sprained legs and loads more, hopefully we’ve got these out of the way before the Jamboree but they also told us about how good the on-site hospital will be.

Unfortunately I had to return Blue at this meet-up and found out he had missed the Christmas Meal the day before, although I did get a surprise Chocolate Santa in return.

I got another surprise from Father Christmas my own Blue Bear, who I have named Blue-Too. Blue-Too has found my Washington DC board book, which I got when I was nearly two on my last visit to DC and has been busy planning what he wants to see.

Blue on Tour

Hello!

Guest blogger Blue here. I’m Blue the Bear and I’m the official mascot of Unit 82. At our last unit meet-up I got the chance to hit the road with one of our more distant members and I was shocked to find out they were the secret blogger! I though I’d hijack their blog and tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to.

I got to visit the Beaver Colony that 84 helps out with and see some of the fun and games they get up to. I met their own mascot Barry the Beaver. We were taught about some of the things to take on a camp and the following weekend I went along to their winter camp.  I wonder if any of the beavers I met will be a participant at a future World Scout Jamboree.

I’ve been to visit a museum all about the history of jet planes. It was interesting getting close to the planes. I can’t wait until we fly out for the Jamboree although I imagine the plane will be a lot bigger than the ones I saw. Talking about flying I was really excited when 84 told me about the travel details that had been released.

With Christmas coming up 84 has been out fundraising at Christmas Fayres. I’ve been along to some of these where I was on guard duty looking after the collection pot and keeping an eye on everyone looking at the things she had been making to sell. Fortunately no one tried to buy me because I’m sure I overheard her discussing with her sister how much she could charge for me.

You may have noticed in some of these pictures I’ve been sporting a Double Blue Bow-tie. While I’ve been staying with 84 there was a winter ball for the Explorers and Network members in her county. She went to this with some of her Explorer Group friends, but there were also quite a lot of other Jamboree participants as well and there are some nice pictures taken of them all. 84 made me a bow tie so I could dress the part as well.

As well as all things Scouting, 84 also took me along to a Rainbow meeting. There I met Olivia, the Rainbow mascot. The Rainbows were doing a craft activity with lots of glitter. I think we need more glitter at Double Blue unit meetings. The Rainbows taught me a new song while I was there, a Christmas Nativity song to the tune of the classic campfire “Pizza Hut” song.

This week 84 has been poorly and so been off school and at home during the day. It was nice to get the extra time with her although I am also a bit sad that she is unwell.  I hope she recovers quickly in time for Christmas!

Sadly my time with 84 had to come to an end. Today we went to a meetup of all her county’s Jamboree members where we learnt more about what to expect. At the end of this I hitched a ride back up North.

While I’ve been staying with 84 we’ve written some other blogs together to publish in the future so I’m sure this won’t be the last you hear from me.

Yours in Scouting,

Blue