7th August 2007, Chelmsford, UK- Tonight, 12 adventurous days after the Duke of Kent and Prince William opened the 21st World Scout Jamboree at Hylands Park in Essex, 40,000 Scouts will watch the sun set on the closing ceremony before beginning their journeys home to almost every country in the world where they will be able to share their experiences with friends, family and fellow Scouts.
1st August was also the key date for the centenary celebrations that are occurring across the globe during 2007 and signified a new dawn for Scouting, which has grown into the largest co-educational youth movement in the world with over 28 million members.
During the Jamboree, Scouts have had the opportunity to participate in hundreds of activities, ranging from the largest ever collection of water sports and tackling assault courses to learning about global development issues such as AIDS/HIV and climate change. Scouts have also been out in the local Essex region contributing over 300,000 hours of community service to a whole host of projects including renovating a playground at a special needs school and preparing land for the planting of new woodland.
There has also been a world record simultaneous flight by over 1000 model rockets, robot building and the construction of the biggest tented facility in Europe.
The idea of a Jamboree is to provide Scouts with the opportunity to meet up with different nationalities and to learn about each other’s cultures whilst experiencing new adventures. For many it will prove to be a life changing experience. Michelle Montalva, aged 18, from Chile said “For me going home is not the end of this adventure but the start of another chapter in my Scouting life: I am returning to my country with lots of new friends and experiences to share with fellow Chileans.”
With more countries represented at the Jamboree than will be seen at the London 2012 Olympics, most Scouts have spent time making new friends with their neighbours and learning about each other’s societal and Scouting cultures. Scouts from India and Pakistan spoke openly about the differences that exist between their countries that are transcended by Scouting whilst Scouts from Lebanon camped in the same areas as Israeli Scouts.
As this has been an exhilarating and exhausting journey for many of the Scouts, most don’t want the fun and life changing experience to come to an end. Daniel Stahel, aged 16, from Switzerland said, “This is the first Jamboree I have ever been to and I can’t believe how much fun it is and just how many different activities I’ve been able to get involved in. Being with so many other like minded other people makes me realise that if we all act together we can tackle the massive issues that face us and make this world of ours a much better place.”