A week on as the dust has settled, the memories are still as vivid as when we stood onsite surrounded by 30,000 other scouts. The idea of a “mini-town” being built for 10 days to cater for 30,000 people from 150 countries, is an alien concept to most. However to a new band of Scouts from around the world, it became home and formed a once in a lifetime culturally diverse setting. As a troop, Log an Lágh grabbed this opportunity by both hands, forming friendships with scouts from numerous countries around the World.
There was a packed program onsite and the troop actively participated in every activity, whether it was in the “Global Development Village”, learning about forced child labour to panning for gold in “Science” or Japanese Drumming and lassoing a horse in “Culture”. As well as this we had a number of offsite days including the “Community” day, where each Patrol went to a different location including a Zoo, Pump Factory, Elementary and a High School. In each location the scouts interacted with local people gaining an further awareness of Japanese culture and customs. Our visit to Hiroshima was a moving and emotional day for many as we toured the museum and peace park. Nevertheless this brought away a resounding message for Peace within the world we live today. To round off our offsite activities we had a trip to the Yamaguchi Prefecture Water Sports Centre. Here the scouts took part in yoga, slack lining, a boat trip and an afternoon at the beach – these activities were all led by our IST member for the day, Andrew.
A significant part of any participants Jamboree experience is the swapping market between scouts from different countries. It is an incredible way for scouts to swap stories and gain an insight into each other’s cultures. Many scouts prefer to swap with scouts that they have formed a bond with, creating many friendships. Not only is it the swapping of neckers and badges, it also gives scouts the opportunity to set themselves a goal of which neckers they would like to swap, encouraging them to go in search of such contingents. The Irish necker was highly sought after creating a constant stream of visitors onto our site throughout the Jamboree.
There were numerous personal challenges throughout our journey including the distance from home and the heat to name but a few. Each scout dealt with these challenges in their own manner and as they conquered them it helped them to develop as a person. One challenge that faced everyone was the heat and how to deal with it personally. It was a novel experience sleeping with the sides and doors rolled up on an Icelandic as other scouts were still moving about each night. Once we acclimatised, a balmy 32C at 0730 proved to be an issue as a number scouts required for their hoodies to be donned until the sun had fully risen and the humidity kicked in to raise temperatures.
Like the preparation time of almost 18 months seeped into a memory passed as the pace of life at the Jamboree took hold it too had all passed in a flash, where we were breaking site and preparing for a night under the stars to round off, 10 days of life long memories at the Jamboree before embarking on the next phase of our journey to Miyajima Island.
The experience of our time spent on Miyajima was a memory that will last in itself. The island proved to be a fantastic location on the beach and a short bus ride into the local village and ferry terminal. From here we had two days in Osaka with a split on day two to Universal Studios or a chance to see another part of Osaka City. Both days’ involved journeys on the Bullet Train and moving through a number of key Japanese Railway Stations, which was an experience in itself. A highlight of our time on the island was the festival day where we were lucky enough to see one of the largest fireworks displays that lasted an hour. We also had two trips into Hiroshima City where a number of sights were taken in including Hiroshima Castle. The local shopping streets were explored in detail with numerous shopping bags returning to the island each evening especially from the Daiso Stores (100Yen). To round off our time on the island we took the cable car and finished the rest by foot to the top of Mount Mizen and took in the spectacular scenery and views of the island and out into Hiroshima Bay.
It has been an incredible journey from the other side of the fall in from four years ago from when I was a participant in Sweden. To see the scouts get so much out of the journey and to experience something that such a small number of people have the opportunity to attend has been a pleasure. These experiences throughout the last 18monts have developed and encouraged the scouts to mature and grow into the people that they will become in the years to come and the memories will stay with them for a lifetime.