At this Jamboree, a brand new concept of lectures, enabling young people and scouts from the world’s every corner to share their experiences, has been introduced. It’s suitably named “Summit Stories” and consists of four days filled with Ted-talk styled lectures, group discussions, and reflections, upon different contemporary issues that concern the Scout Movement and the general “outside” world.
The day started early, more specifically at 05:00 AM, when I had to force myself out of my warm, cozy sleeping bag and out into the cold, pitch black morning. My patrol and I were responsible for shopping breakfast and so we had to take our carriage and head down to the closest supermarket – a huge tent were all kinds of food is stored and distributed. While there, we used our Grub Master app to scan each item as a means of ’paying’ for the food.
When the surprisingly difficult task of finding bread, salami, milk, cheese (it’s incredible how many different types of cheese there are – finding the right one is nothing but rocket science) and coffee was completed, we hurried back to our Unit and had a slightly delayed breakfast.
Eventually, the clock turned 09:00 AM and I took my supposed-to-be-yellow backpack in one hand and my phone in the other, knowing that it isn’t a wise decision to trust Google Maps when navigating around the Summit Reserve but figuring that I simply had no other choice.
Luckily enough, I ended up in the right place at the right time and exchanged my ticket against being allowed to enter the Pigott Dining Hall, the building were the Summit Storied were taking place in just a few minutes. The topic of today was “Sisters and Brother Together for Gender Equity”, which covered a broad range of talks focusing on different ways to achieve, or at least strive for, gender equity (which differs from equality in the sense that equity doesn’t require everyone to be treated exactly the same, but instead fair considering each and everyone’s different needs).
First out was a speaker from Canada, who gave a passionate and well-written talk about her personal fight for gender equity and everyone’s right to receive equal possibilities, together with some stories of her own personal experience. I was awed by what a great speaker she was, seemingly both confident and experienced when it comes to public speaking. She ended on a very inspirational note, encouraging us all to take action, while reminding us what a huge difference it would make if 45 000 scouts (the approximate number of scouts present at the Jamboree at this very moment) went on to educate just one person each about gender equity and the importance of showing each other respect.
Continuing was a group discussion where each and every one of us got the opportunity to share our thoughts and exchange ideas, after which a few more relatively short presentations were made, the lecturers having vastly different backgrounds. Furthermore, a video presentation was shown, held by a Dutch girl who made us all uncomfortably aware of what a toxic environment the Scout organization can be if not sexism and hatred is coped with properly as well as actively prevented.
After another session of group discussions, some lunch, and a few minutes reserved for having a breath of fresh air, the last speaker of the day entered the stage. Having slept only four and a half hours the previous night, at this time in the afternoon I would normally have experienced a state of mind resembling the Walking Dead – but not today. It took approximately thirty seconds into the speech and the entire audience were lost under his spell. From the way he talked, to his gestures, to the message he aimed to convey – it was just amazing. He was, without doubt, one of the greatest speakers I have ever had the privilege to come across. Having previously worked under President Barack Obama, he surely knew what he was talking about as he preached the importance of neither striving to be a great man, nor striving to be a great woman – but to strive towards being a great human being. He emphasized how crucial it is that we are all willing to take on a shared responsibility for eliminating discrimination of any form, regardless of whether or not it affects us personally. As he wrapped up his speech, giving out some last powerful phrases, I sensed that I was close to crying and realized I had been constantly shivering for the past couple of minutes. And I wasn’t the only one.
Walking back to my subcamp I felt both empowered and a bit sad, having realized that today half the Jamboree has already passed by. But that, of course, means that there’s just as much to look forward to as I have already experienced – which, I can promise you, is quite a lot.