World Scout Jamboree Report

Jamboree Ceremony

I am an Explorer Scout and also work as a Young Leader in my Group, 11th Caterham (URC). Scouting has always inspired me to attempt new things that I never thought of doing, and going to the World Scout Jamboree this summer was my biggest adventure with Scouting yet. Hearing that I had been selected to represent Caterham District at the Jamboree in North America was such an honour. 
My journey to the World Scout Jamboree began in October 2017 with a selection camp to secure one of the three places open to Caterham District. Following this I was placed in a unit with 35 other Scouts and 4 leaders from across Surrey. Over the following 18 months we had a number of camps and meet ups, where we formed friendships and had a great time. We also learnt many valuable skills such as washing clothes in a bucket and cooking.   
The World Scout Jamboree has a long tradition. The first jamboree was held in 1920 and was hosted by the UK at Kensington Olympia. 8,000 Scouts from 34 nations attended This summer the jamboree was jointly hosted by Canada, the USA and Mexico, and was held in West 
Virginia, USA at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, created the World Scout Jamboree as a way to draw international Scouting and the world closer together. 
WSJ 2019 was the biggest ever jamboree. The campsite held 45,000 Scouts from more than 150 different countries. The site was spread out over 13,000 acres with 36 miles of mountain bike trails alone. This jamboree had the largest contingent of UK Scouting to ever go abroad, with 4,000 Scouts and leaders supported by 60 members of the UK contingent team and 750 members of IST (International Service Team).  
The UK Contingent left on 20th July for a ‘Big City’ experience. We arrived in New York during the late afternoon and spent an amazing evening, where we were welcomed by a traditional American meal of ribs, chicken, fries and sour dough bread all on one plate at the Dallas Barbecue. We also visited Time Square. The next day we visited the UN building and our visit to New York finished with a ferry ride with amazing views of the city and the Statue of Liberty. 
The Jamboree itself was 11 days and was an experience of a lifetime. The theme was ‘Unlock a New World’ and the aim was to work together and seek solutions to international challenges such as sustainability, poverty, hunger and conflict. We were able to listen to experts on these issues, for example the former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. There were a wide range of adventurous activities to experience, from zip wires to BMX tracks and kayaking. Wherever you went you met people from so many different cultures and the Culture Day allowed us to showcase our own nation and culture.  
The opening ceremony had performances from the South African producer and composer Lebo M. The show’s main performance was by Recycled Percussion and it finished with a drone show that stunned the audience. The closing ceremony was even better with performances from Pentatonix and Light 
Balance (America’s Got Talent third place act).  
One major part of the Jamboree was trading. I took lots of items to be traded, such as scarves and badges. I managed to return with badges from around the word as well as a bag from Ecuador and t-shirts from Australia, The Netherlands, Hong Kong and Mexico. The overall feeling of the Jamboree was almost indescribable, as wherever you went you were confronted with new and wonderful experiences.  
Following the Jamboree event, the UK Contingent travelled to Washington DC for three days, where we visited iconic landmarks, such as the White House, Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Capitol Building. Then it was on to Canada for HoHo (Hosted Hospitality) where with four other UK units we were hosted in a Canadian campsite by the Canadian Scouts. We were lucky enough to be in the Niagara area so managed to visit Niagara Falls for one of its daily firework shows. 
We arrived back in the UK on 9th August. The Jamboree has been an amazing learning experience that has taught me all about international cultures. It has also shown me just how important Scouting is to the world as it is bringing people with very different backgrounds together to celebrate a common cause, promoting peace and cooperation. 
In the future I am hopeful that I will be able to participate as IST at the 25th World Scout Jamboree in South Korea. 
Matt S, Unit 65, Surrey Gryffins