Hello everyone! I am Jeremy, the Global Ambassador for Singapore for the 24th World Scout Jamboree. The jamboree this year is held from 22nd July to 2nd August at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. The jamboree, in essence, is a celebration of the diversity in scouting. Over 40000 scouts from over 150 countries congregate together at the same spot, with a common global purpose – to make new friends and enjoy each other’s company.
The Singapore contingent consists of 9 people – as you can tell, we are a rather tiny contingent as compared to the 12000 scouts in Singapore. We are accompanied by three CMTs (Contingent Management Team), along with two ISTs (International Service Team). We are all blessed to have the opportunity to attend such an event, and I hope that I am able to share our experiences and reveal our life in the jamboree.
We assembled at T3 Changi Airport on 20th July (Saturday), 6.30am in our full scout uniform. Though we tried to hide it, we were all rather nervous. How would we be able to survive 10°C weather and 12 days in the wilderness? I supposed we all resolved to “just tahana bit”. We took some pictures, changed out, and prepared for our flight to San Francisco.
About to fly off
The flight lasted 15 hours. We left at 0930 and arrived at 0940. We kind of flew back in time (San Francisco is 15 hours behind Singapore). We had a long layover at SF, where we toured iconic locations of San Francisco – Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge and Twin Peaks. Unfortunately it was a little rushed because we had a flight to catch at about midnight. We were all also massacred from jetlag and halfway through the tour most of us were somewhere else. For lunch, some of us tried In-N-Out, which is a superior fast food chain to McDonalds.
The Singapore Contingent on Twin Peaks
We then took a flight, and we were whisked to Chicago on a 4 hour flight. By this time, most of us were very tired from the continuous travel, and dozed off as we flew into tomorrow (quite literally). All in all, it was a rather tiring day from all the travel that we did.
We arrived at Chicago at around 6.30am in the morning of July 21. We scuffled a very quick breakfast before we flew off again to Charleston. The flight was delayed for about an hour which was unfortunate. Our unit leader shared with us interesting stories about the international scouting movement as we waited. Upon arriving at Charleston, we had lunch at a nearby shopping mall to our hotel. Most of us had virtually no sleep, so we collapsed once we reached the hotel. We had dinner at a nearby steakhouse, which would be the last (proper) meal before we ate camp food for the next two weeks. We had a long rest, to be prepared for what was to lie for the next 2 weeks.
22nd July 2019: Day 1
It was now time to Unlock A New World. After eating hotel breakfast and buying Panera Bread for lunch, we left at about 9.45am to Charleston airport, and waited to board the bus to bring us to the campsite. That was our first taste of the diversity that was awaiting us all. We saw Portugese, US and Brazilian scouts over there. Some of us traded a few badges with them – the first ever trade that we did!
The actual bus ride was rather monotonous. We boarded the bus with Portugese and Brazilian scouts. They went multiple rounds around the Ruby Welcome Center in order to clear documentation, but I am not sure why they couldn’t clear everything in one go. The CMT also wasn’t cleared along with the unit, so they had to go back again which was rather tragic. In the end, we sat at the bus for about 3 hours. On the bus, we sang NDP songs (or attempted to do so) and also traded a few things as well.
We arrived at our campsite at about 3pm and met our Thailand counterparts. It was rather awkward at first because there was a language barrier. It was also especially challenging because we had to share cooking equipment and points with them. But I do suppose that it will get better over time.
Something that seriously dampened our spirits was the rain. In Singapore, the climate is very humid and it rains rather regularly. Raining during camps is not an irregular thing. What was unusual was the frigid cold. The rain, the mud, the wind with the cold huddled together served for a rather enlightening experience.
Even worse was when we tried to shower at 10pm at 15C weather. It is customary for us to shower at these times as the outside temperature is still rather warm. But obviously customs cannot apply throughout the world, and this showering time was no exception. The moment we turned on the tap, we were faced with instant regret. We shivered through the shower, languishing in pain as we attempted to clean ourselves but to no avail. Then at random
occurrences the wind started to blow between the gaps to our feet and that destroyed us even further. One can will yourself to expect the cold temperatures, but reality never fails to hit you like a truck. So that was a great shock to us. But we have a saying in our unit; pain is the feeling of weakness leaving your body. So hopefully by the end of this camp, we will get used to the cold!