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.

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 …

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!

North America in a Bag

This week I’ve been out and about with North America in a Bag.

First I took it to the Beavers where I am a Young Leader. I know my Beavers well and I know they like doing craft so I planned the main activity to be making Dream Catchers. We played a version of “North, East, South, West” but with a WSJ spin. I also made some salsa in advance to take along so they could try salsa and nachos. The Beaver Leader was so impressed with how it went that I was given Barry the Beaver to take home.

I stayed on after Beavers to run a session for my old Scout unit. I didn’t think they’d want to spend half the meeting making dream catchers, but I still gave them 10 minutes to make one in their patrols. To add to the challenge after 5 minutes I told them they could only use one hand each. We played the Stealing the Sombrero game and then held a debate over which was better: tea or coffee. The session ended with lots of really good questions about both the Jamboree and the fundraising to get there.

The following evening I took the bag along to the Scout group my Explorers are attached to. All 4 sections meet on the same night, with some overlap, but I managed to spend some time with all of them. I spent the most time with the Cubs, I’d been a bit worried about this sessions as unlike the night before I didn’t really know any of them. It went really well with them enjoying themselves and showing a lot of interest. I also managed to speak to the Scouts and Explorers and run some games with them too.

My final visit was to my old Rainbow unit. I turned their regular circle time into a Pow-Wow with the headdress passing from one Rainbow to the next as they gave their news. They also enjoyed making the dream catchers and playing the games.

Although I’ve been a Young Leader with Beavers for a year and a half it was good to try and plan things for the older units as well. I’m also secretly hoping some of the Rainbows might defect to Scouting in the future.

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.

A Wild Weekend in the Woods


I have been on another training camp with my Jamboree unit last weekend. On the Friday night, we travelled up on the minibus, jamming out to music for 2 hours and catching up with one another.

We arrived at the campsite after pulling down a very very bumpy lane. Once the minibus had parked up, we were told by one of our leaders that there were no proper toilets – instead it was a wooden shed with a hole in the ground which fed the soil.  In the dark I was not prepared for all the spiders I was going encounter especially after Strategy.

State of the art toilet facility!

Before we set up our tents, we had to help the rest of our unit put up the cooking tents and say hello again. Apart from the disaster of me not being able to find my spare batteries and then finding them in the only pocket I hadn’t looked in I could help. We then got to set up our own tents before sitting around the campfire.

Pretty Fire

Around the campfire we had an introduction where we got new numbers to call out when someone would shout ‘number off’ and we’d count in order our new number. We got put into our patrols for the weekend and agreed on a time to wake up and start to light a fire to cook on.

I woke up on time to meet with my patrol to collect fire wood and start the fire. We collected lots and lots of wood as there is no such thing as having too much wood and we started cooking once the fire got hot enough. We cooked the eggs first, then some veggie sausage on a giant saucepan until I found a smaller saucepan so we could start the bacon. I was on putting the bacon onto the frying pan duty and saved my egg to have a bacon and egg buttie. Our patrol then washed up and gathered with other patrols, 20 minutes late, for flag break.

We would be doing 4 rota activities in the morning including; social media, personal hygiene, airport security and washing.

At the social media station we learnt about how landscape should be the natural photo shot with the photo not being staged and hence natural. So, our task was to take natural photos of the other groups without disturbing them.

At the personal hygiene station we learnt that our main goals would be to be happy whilst keeping clean by washing our hands and to always tell a leader if something is wrong. Our task was to be blindfolded with paint on our hands and to wash it off and to stop when we thought they were clean.

At the airport security station we had to work out what items we would be able to take in our holdall going to the USA from the UK and visa versa. I learnt that you can only take liquids of 100ml and your water bottle has to be empty when taking it through security.

Clean as clean can be

Finally at the washing station we had to make our t-shirts muddy and then cleaned them. First we rinsed them to get the majority of dirt out and off of them and then we used hot water with washing powder to wash our t-shirts and then rinsed them in cold water again. We then wrung out excess water and hung them up to dry and went to get lunch.

After lunch we got set the challenge to decide on what our patrol wanted for tea and decide on 2 people to go shopping whilst the rest of the patrol helped with the big bonfire/ campfire we would be having in the evening. By a fair game of rock, paper, scissors it was decided that I and a other person would go shopping. So, with our shopping list and £25 we checked the kitchen pantry and went to catch the minibus to the supermarket.

Look what we foraged!

After a quick stop to a scout hut to get extra utensils on the way, we arrived at Asda to go shopping. We got our trolley and were off. We met the vlogging patrol with their body camera and compared our shopping trollies. My patrol’s trolley contained; pasta, carbonara sauce, bacon, muffins, fizzy drinks and cheese. The other patrol’s trolley contained vegetables and noodles for their stir fry.

Not Spag Bol!

Once finished, we travelled back on the minibus to see the others had built a huge campfire whilst we had gone. As soon as we got back we started cooking our tea. Everyone wanted some of our carbonara and we served many of the VIPs who joined us. There was plenty to share round. We then washed up and headed over to camp break to finish the evening, to name our mascot bear and to play a few games.

After the games we had our massive campfire which the circumference was the size of a trampoline and the height of a traffic light. It went from freezing cold to boiling hot in the split of a second. We then did our sketches in our patrols as well as our campfire song.

The next morning we cooked pancakes with bacon and went full out on toppings. We then broke camp and had campflag where we were told we’d have to walk to the village hall to listen to the parents’ meeting. It wasn’t a long journey walking and we listened to the meeting while eating homemade cake. We said goodbye to our friends from the other county and then we were back on the minibus home – where we stopped off at the services on the way back quickly. We arrived back in our own county and went back our separate ways after our karaoke session in the minibus.

Blue helping with the washing

Our mascot’s official name is now Blue – in the photo you can see Blue having a go at hand washing our clothes.

The 3R’s

For the older audience these were ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’ for the youth of today it means ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. Sometimes there are 5 R’s to include Repair and Reinvent.

Recently I ordered the UK contingent supporters badges, I was shocked to discover that they are all individually wrapped. Inside two further layers of plastic bag.

In a World where we are becoming ever more conscious of the affects of our continued bad consumer habits and the affect that plastic has on wildlife to have them over packaged was a complete travesty. The 5 key principles of the 24th World Scout Jamboree are adventure, friendship, leadership, service and especially sustainability.

I try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.

Lots of restaurants now only give you plastic straws if you ask for them and many restaurants use paper straws, but these often coated in plastic. On a recent visit to a well known Asian based chain of restaurants I had a smoothie and it came with a paper straw which shows even big businesses are trying to cut down, (Although before I’d finished the drink the straw had disintegrated!)

Given our Unit fundraising badges aren’t individually wrapped I don’t see why these ones needed to be. Hopefully this can be rectified for future batches. How about it UK Scouting?

Planes, (Steam) Trains and Automobiles

This week I have been helping the community by helping at my county’s Vintage Fair. On Scout Scarf Day (Wednesday 1st August), I wore my scout necker with pride whilst line painting out pitches – we measured out the distance of the paths and the roads and then painted lines on the ground. We also put up barriers in the afternoon to set out areas for the main event.

On Thursday we helped to park all the exhibitors into the pitches we painted on Wednesday. On Friday, we set up our free stall and helped to direct more people to their pitches and in the evening we watched as the vintage cars, tractors, fire engines, steam engines and trucks drive around the site.

On Saturday and Sunday, we helped to run our stall. There were a range of activities including splat a Scout (which was refreshing as it helped to cool us down from the heat), a donut challenge (where you had to eat the donut from the string without it dropping, using your hands or licking your lips), a tombola (where all the prizes were kindly donated by some of the stall holders), a balance the coin on the lemon (where if it held for 5 seconds or more you won 5x the amount you put on the lemon), a teddy tombola (where you could win a prize every time) and finally a surprise tube (where under every tube there was a different prize ranging from good to bad e.g. there could be a tin of mushy peas to sweets to toilet roll to bookmarks).

On Sunday, before my shift I looked around the fair and took photos with my camera. I saw a Dennis fire engine from Dorset, which we believe my Grandfather may have driven as a fireman. Mum says one of the “vintage” cars I took a photo of was newer than her first car.

I also saw the Poppy Parachute Team who raise funds and awareness for the Royal British Legion.