Local scouts who journeyed to Sweden recently for the World Scout Jamboree say the experience was a once in a lifetime venture.
The Town of Rinkaby, Sweden is home to about 750 people, but on July 27th became host to 38,000 scouts and volunteers for the event.
Local scout Candice Morse, 15, said the best thing about the trip was the camping. “The whole trip was pretty memorable,” said Morse.
It also opened the door to meeting people from many different cultures – an enriching experience in its own right.
“It was great to meet people from different cultures. I’ve kept in touch with people from all over the world including the United Kingdom, Sweden, and even Germany.”
This years’ theme was derived from a series of questions including what the Jamboree would be like and how friends would be made from all over the world. Learning about global development and other inquiries could all be answered by the theme ‘Simply Scouting’.
Logan Gebbink, 17, also said the trip was a lot of fun and that the most interesting part was meeting people from all across Canada and the world.
“Scouts challenges you mentally and physically and you become a better person out of it. I enjoy making new friends and challenging myself all the time.”
Upon arrival in Sweden the Scouts were busy unpacking and setting up in their camps, which also included sub-camps.
Each of the camp names were significant in some way. The first division was into the four seasons, and then a basic knowledge of the language was learned through the names of each of the interior camps.
Parents are ultimately pleased with the changes they see in their children.
“As a parent you always have that little concern in the back of your mind but you look at it as an opportunity for growth,” said Derrick Richards, a parent of one of the Red Deer Scouts on the trip. “It truly is all about multiculturalism. You can’t get more diverse than this because there are only five or six countries that are not currently involved in Scouts.”
Scouts have been around since 1907 and Richards said that if it hadn’t been for their terrific reputation, they wouldn’t have 31 million registered members.
The World Jamboree runs every four years for Scouts ages 14 – 18. They must be 14 on the day of departure for the trip, and must not turn 18 before the return date from the trip in order to qualify.
This year’s event actually goes in the records as being the largest gathering of Scouts for the World Jamboree in history.
Richards pointed out that because of the number of Scouts camping out in the town of Rinkaby, it actually became the fourth largest town in Sweden for two weeks.
“The kids got credit cards of sorts and had to budget for two weeks. The leaders were just there to chaperone. This was truly the kids’ program,” said Richards.
DJ Gough, executive director for the Northern Lights Council, which takes care of areas north of Innisfail said that for a lot of Scouts this would be the pinnacle of their Scouting career.
“It makes for a very unique situation specifically because you have so many cultures and countries coming together. For the kids it’s neat to find out that they’re part of a bigger picture and they can interact with Scouts that have the same values.”
Gough said the kids worked extremely hard and that it was amazing to see the support of the volunteers and leaders that helped them get there.
“Scouting can’t happen without dedicated volunteers,” said Gough. “It is a cooperatively run volunteer-based program.”