Firstly, I must apologise for the rather long gap since my last blog post; unfortunately, the joys of AS level exams have kept me entertained in recent months. However, they are now over and the long and winding ‘road to Japan’ is coming to an end. If you’ll allow me to extend the metaphor, we’re coming up the driveway after one of the longest road-trips I’ve ever had. Looking back to when we set out, to that fateful weekend in October 2013, a disheveled group of scouts and explorers thrown together from across Oxfordshire for their first unit camp. We have come so far; new friendships forged, fundraising targets smashed (and missed - don’t tell anyone!) and a unit well and truly formed.
There have been times, usually at one of our long and exciting fundraising meetings, that my inner 7-year-old has tugged the seatbelt in front and yelled ‘are we nearly there yet?’ But I soon manage to refocus my attention towards the fascinating exchange of views regarding our most recent fundraising idea, most notably a crossdressing fashion show. I would be lying if I said there haven’t been challenges. Most obvious has been the opening of my eyes towards the difficulty Scouting and other charities face in fundraising and how one goes about attempting to raise £120,000. However, it seems very apparent to me, with only 7 days remaining, that it most definitely has been worth it. All the hours of making small talk with customers whilst you fail to pack their shopping in quite the way they wish (colour/weight/smell coordinated) and them giving you money not to pack their shopping, or the repeated (and I hazard to say failed) attempts to explain to someone what precisely a ‘world jamboree’ is, or researching Rick Astley’s top hits (a punishment in itself) for the fundraiser quiz music round and now, finally, here we are. The adventure of a lifetime is around the next corner and we have our foot to the floor (Ok, I’ll stop with the metaphor). There is still a lot I yet have to do: pack, learn some basic Japanese, acquaint myself with chopsticks, master my crane-making technique and learn the lyrics of that Disney-inspired World Jamboree song.
All attempts at humour aside, what’s in store will, I have no doubt, be incredible. Scouting has provided all 33,000 of us with a simply astounding opportunity and we now have to grab it with both hands. No doubt each of us has our personal fears and apprehensions concerning a whole plethora of topics; how exactly to use a Japanese toilet or what if I don’t know the correct etiquette for a particular social occasion. Of course, we will all experience low points whilst we are in Japan. Spending over 2 weeks in the company of the same people with a relentless itinerary and hot, humid temperatures guarantees falling-outs at some point. Fatigue and exhaustion will hit us all at one time or another. However, these challenges will dwarf in comparison to the memories we create, new friendships we forge and the extent to which our horizons widen and eyes open to the world around us. Stepping out of our comfort zones is a necessity for this process. So enjoy the nervousness, the excitement - it shows just how much this opportunity means to you.
See you all in Japan!