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Thursday, 29 May 2014

What on earth is a 'Jamboree'?

The last month has not been dedicated to fundraising, instead to another seemingly impossible challenge: GCSEs. For any of my international readers, GCSEs are exams that you have to sit in the UK when you're 15/16. There are around 10 subjects which are covered by approximately 20 exams. They're pretty important so scouting has had to take a backseat. Fortunately, I have just managed to crawl my way through them and reached the half-term holiday in one very stressed and tired, but complete piece. I only have 4 exams left and then I am looking forward to a beautiful long summer of cricket and scouting - the perfect combination!

The Oxfordshire Unit to the 2014 Iceland Jamboree
I'm off to the National Iceland Jamboree in late July as part of the Oxfordshire Unit. Also, Sri Lanka and India are touring the UK this summer in what's going to be some truly thrilling test match cricket. But I don't think you've come here to hear about the great Lasith Malinga or legendary Virat Kohli. Around 45 Oxfordshire Scouts are spending 10 days camping 25 miles from the Arctic Circle at the National Iceland Jamboree and touring Iceland which is going to be fantastic. This will give us the opportunity to share with foreign scouts our own scouting experiences, and to take part in some pretty unique activities.

Hopefully, I'll be able to meet some Scouts whilst we're in Iceland who are also going to Japan, next year. The Japan 2015 Oxfordshire Unit have managed, despite my constant unhelpful pessimism (which you would've picked up if you are a fan of the blog!), to exceed the £30,000 mark in our fundraising. Many, mainly me, told us it would be impossible but we reached it. Now we only have another £100,000 to go!  If you're interested about the 'road to Japan' and want more up-to-date updates in junks of 140 characters then follow us on twitter: @OxonJamboUnit - An account, which as an administrator of, I unashamedly misuse to retweet my own tweets.

Whether talking about Japan, next year, or Iceland, this year, many people will ask me "what on earth is a 'Jamboree'?".  It is to those unfamiliar with it a rather odd word. It comes from the 19th century term for a 'boisterous gathering'. This definition for me doesn't truly capture what a Jamboree is. It is very difficult to define it and the definition usually given by scouts is 'you just have to go to one to understand', which does convey the extraordinary nature of the event but doesn't help in defining a jamboree to the wider public. For me, a jamboree sums up all that is amazing and outstanding about Scouting. The genuine friendliness of young people; the ability to communicate, share and exchange ideas on an international platform and to have fun: It's simple. A jamboree captures the capability of young people from opposite corners of the globe to put aside differences and come together to celebrate life and their scouting. A great example of this is the creation of 'coexistence circles' by Israeli Scouts to break down the barriers between the Jewish and Muslim communities within Israel. If there's one video that I would want everyone to see that sums up Scouting for me it's this: Israel Scouts - Coexistence circles. This is why scouting is so much more than an 'after-school club'.

If you have read previous posts you would be familiar with my scout friend Andres from Colombia. We met through the annual JOTI (Jamboree On The Internet) event. Andres has been very kind and sent me some lovely Colombian gifts which are pictured to the side. I'm sporting a Colombian Football shirt as I write this post. Thanks Andres!

Also, Unit member Peter has been bugging me for months for me to give him a 'mention' on here in what I can only imagine is some desperate attempt to boost his ego: I'm complimented he thinks so highly of the blog. Peter, consider yourself 'mentioned'!

If you're going to Japan (or Iceland) then feel free to comment below or contact me via Google+.