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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Iceland Jamboree - Landsmót Skáta

From the 18th July to 27th July, 67 Scouts & Leaders from Oxfordshire visited Iceland to attend 'Landsmót skáta 2014' - the International Iceland Jamboree that takes place every 2 years. It was a brilliant experience! Iceland is a beautiful country; a geographer's dream! Glacial erosion has sculpted dramatic valleys which made the long drive from Reykjavik to the jamboree site at Akureyri, in the North, a very enjoyable experience indeed. However, the return journey through the highlands of Iceland proved somewhat less enjoyable thanks to the ridiculously bumpy roads which meant all of us clinging to our bags in the overhead lockers to prevent any serious injury. The Jamboree itself lasted a week: Sunday to Sunday. The atmosphere was indescribable. It felt like I had just bumped into 3000 long-lost friends. Before we had even fully erected our tents some lovely Swedish Scouts had joined us and wanted to know all about the UK. From the moment we arrived to when we had to sadly leave, everyone was so friendly.

It was at the Jamboree that I had my first experience of the dark side of Scouting. An ugly side which has been covered up for too long. I witnessed Scouts (myself included) become addicted to the buzz of exchanging one's badge for another's. What's known to the outside world as badge swapping. I thought I'd been overenthusiastic by bringing about 100 badges to swap. I couldn't have been more wrong! Michael from Texas had brought a rucksack full of badges and neckers that he had mass-produced especially for the jamboree. It's a dog-eat-dog world. The Hong Kongers were becoming desperate in their hunt for a UK Contingent necker, even resorting to attempting to swap a young Scout (after some serious thought I decided their offer). I now know that I'm going to have to seriously buck up my ideas if I'm going to stand a chance in Japan, next year!

I can't begin to capture our adventure in a single blogpost. There were countless highlights: watching Will perform oasis in the talent contest, raving hard into the early hours in the rover tent, singing 'wonderwall' over and over again, taking countless selfies with leader Claire or introducing the Danes to the complex sport of cricket!  The memories we made will last the rest of our lives. Here are some photos to try and give you just an idea of our adventure:

Sunset over the jamboree site (well not quite, as it's 24hr daylight in the Summer!) 

Participants enjoying some quality Icelandic music.

One of the most impressive Jamboree gateways.

A look down onto the Jamboree site.

William and I dine with Michael from Texas. The Americans introduced us to "S'Mores" - I highly recommend them!

A truly international campfire.

The Unit went out humpback whale watching. The whales loved us!

Hilmar from Iceland receives a box of Yorkshire Tea. He was over the moon; as you can see!

Tea break!


Whether it was trying some delightful Haggis with the Scottish Guides, dancing to Icelandic pop songs with local Icelanders or dining with the Americans, it was this genuine friendliness that made the biggest impact on me. In times when there is so much suffering, intolerance and division in the world to see young people from around the planet sharing stories of their countries and having fun together reinforced to me how important Scouting is in creating peace and spreading tolerance at an international level. 3000 Scouts return inspired by one another and the beauty of Iceland!