Jono Darlington from 1st Formby Scouts travelled to KISC with his group of Scouts. Here we discover more about why he now firmly believes that every Scout should take part in an international camp and what it took for him to make the trip a success!

Was this your groups first time on an overseas trip?

This was the first trip abroad for our group for over 20 years.

Who initiated the thought of travelling – leaders or Scouts?

This is something that I personally had wanted to do for a number of years. I had been looking at the KISC website for a while, and had spoken to the other leaders and some of the Explorers about the possibility of going abroad, and everything snowballed from there. One of my Explorers had also been on the last Jamboree, so her stories of international scouting also helped build up the desire to go abroad.

How did you select a tour operator for your trip? Did you receive any guidance from Scouting Headquarters?

I started to gather prices from KISC, looking into travel options, read through the information from HQ and started to feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of things to consider, organising what needed doing and things that needed to be decided. None of our leaders had any experience of organising a camp abroad, so I started to use websites such as escouts for advice and guidance. I then saw the Venture Abroad advert in Scouting magazine, and had seen the name mentioned in HQ factsheets. I took a look at the website and got in touch. From that first contact I knew that using Venture Abroad would be the right thing to do to make sure the trip would be successful, easier to plan and to make sure the leaders and scouts had an amazing time.

How many travelled in your group?

We travelled as a group of 24, 17 Scouts and Explorers, and 7 leaders.

How many were unable to travel?

From the initial parents meeting we held, 100% of the scouts/explorers that attended came on the trip. We also had a few extras tag on throughout the planning months. Nobody was unable to travel because of money.

What kind of response did you receive from parents?

We had great response from the parents throughout the planning of the trip. They took on the fundraising element, arranging bag packs at supermarkets, running car boot sales and doing change collections. We held a number of parents evenings so we could keep them updated on what was being planned, and gave them an opportunity to ask questions. They were reassured that whilst abroad we still keep to UK scouting POR, and have all of the same processes in place for them getting in touch, or us contacting them in case of emergencies. Whilst we were on the trip, we had signed up to Twitter so we could post the odd photo, and help to keep parents up to date with the things we had been doing. The feedback from this was brilliant, so highly recommended.

Did you have to fundraise, and if so how did you go about this?

We did some fundraising to help offset the cost of the trip for the group. We applied for some grants but our main fundraising came from bag packing at local supermarkets and a car boot sale. We asked the parents to organise these events which helped take the burden off the leaders, and it helped raise a good amount of money.

What tips would you offer other leaders considering travelling with their group?

I would suggest plan in advance. We started planning about 18 months before travel and I felt that was just about the right amount of time.

Also, don’t try to fill the day with too many activities. You will find the kids are more than happy to go off, mixing with other groups and playing football, volleyball or other ad hoc activities around the site. Each night of the trip we had scouts being invited to camp fires hosted by other scouts, or to try some of their food for dinner.

Try to use twitter or blogs to keep the rest of the group up to date with what you are up to. The parents loved this.

Go for it! Although it seems like a lot of planning, it is worth it. After being abroad, I think that every scout should have the opportunity to be part of an international camp at least once in their scouting life.

What made you select KISC as your base?

The main reason I started looking at KISC as the base was because that is the one I had heard about. The thought of the site being described as a Jamboree every year was also a large pull. 12,000 scouts from 40 different countries each year can’t be wrong! Then when I saw the number and range of activities on offer, the opportunity to meet scouts from all around the world that travel to KISC, and the facilities of the site, I knew KISC was for us.

What effect did the journey have on your group?

The journey was an experience in itself. As we travelled through the night, stopping at service stations for fuel and to swap drivers, it was strange not knowing which country you were in! The group seemed to gel together on the coach. The excitement was bouncing off each other, and when we picked up the other group that was sharing the coach with us, it was good for the leaders to talk about what plans they had for the trip, and for the scouts to get to know each other. Some of our scouts still speak to the other group that we shared the coach with.

How adventurous were the activities you got involved in?

We took part in a very varied program, from swimming in the local swimming pool, to the high ropes course to an overnight hike. The group split to over 14 and under 14. The over 14’s set off on their hike bright and early, climbing up the back wall of the valley, and started the mammoth climb up to 2700 meters, crossing some wobbly bridges, some snow, a glacier and passing some magnificent scenery. We then slept in our mountain hut before the descent the next day. It was a very tiring day but well worth all of the effort. The under 14’s started off in the afternoon with a trip up in a cable car before a hike up to their mountain hut – where they had some cows with cow bells outside their bedroom window all night!

This was an experience we would not get in the UK, and something that is very unforgettable.

Where do you think you will to travel to next and why?

We are currently unsure of where to go next – the opportunities are endless. I like the look of the trip to Norway and Belgium, however I will never forget the experience at KISC.

In a few sentences sum up the rewards for you as leader, and of course the Scouts…

This trip was amazing. The leaders and scouts had a brilliant time, with constant smiles all week long.

but the bit that is permanently written in my mind is the events on Swiss National Day – to see the scouts from all around the world being patriotic, waving their flags, shouting their chants, singing their anthems (we had a go at ours!) but most of all, it was having 1500 people from 36 different countries, all together getting on, no fighting, no arguing, all smiling and enjoying taking part in activities together.

The scouts eyes still light up when they talk about the trip, or show people the photos that are up around our scout hut. The memories will be with them forever, a truly unforgettable experience.

I think an international camp is something that all Scouts should have the opportunity of doing at least once during their time in scouting. There is something magical about the experience, watching them mix with scouts of different age, race and interests, but doing the same activity and most importantly, having fun.