Simon Hunt, the Assistant Scout Leader for the Christchurch Darley Scout Group, was selected two years ago to be a Unit Leader to take 36 explorer scouts, aged 14 to 18 years old, and self-named The Octopirates, to the 24th World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, U.S.A. Simon was aided by three assistants. This jamboree is held every 4 years, in different host cities, and was started by Lord Baden Powell almost 100 years ago in Olympia, London.
Simon took his annual leave, from one of the UK’s leading independent ground engineering consultancies CGL in Harrogate, to attend the jamboree that took place 23rd July to 2nd August where 45,000 scouts attended from 150 countries across the world. Held at Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, the home of the second largest skate park in America, and the largest man made climbing facility in the States, there were plenty of outdoor activities to try – from five miles of zip lines, white water rafting, paddle boarding to high rope courses.
Whilst the scouts and leaders had loads of fun, the jamboree was about sharing scouting, cultures and beliefs in other countries. Mealtimes were spent with scouts from other countries such as Ecuador, Switzerland, Sweden and New Zealand. Simon’s unit taught their Sri Lankan neighbours how to play touch rugby and the Ecuadorians showed The Octopirates how to dance. At the Global Development Village and Eco Treehouse they also learnt about human rights and how to live in a sustainable way.
The jamboree was preceded by a day in New York, where Simon and his Octopirates took in as many sights as possible. Then post jamboree they had three days, based at Maryland University, exploring Washington DC and attending a baseball game. Then two days in Cobourg, Canada, hosted by a Canadian scout group, where they learnt traditional Canadian scout activities including an evening of cooking smores and sharing campfire songs and doing skits. A day at the beach, swimming in Lake Ontario, concluded a very successful 20-day trip.
Simon said, of the event:
It was an amazing trip. The Octopirates got to take part in a lot of incredible experiences at the jamboree. At the last dinner they chatted about how much they had enjoyed themselves, had made many friends and the lessons they had learnt about others and themselves.
Over the two years one scout had gone from someone who lacked the confidence to take part in group activities or interact with others to standing up and playing his guitar and singing in front of a group of strangers at the Canadian campfire.