Kitted out in jumpers and jackets, Bryony and I arrived at Boyton Cross in Chelmsford for the Essex International Jamboree. With typical English weather pessimism, we weren’t counting on the stunning sunshine and promptly traded in our macs and brollies for t-shirts and sun cream!
From our first touch-down at the Jamboree, the buzz about camp was contagious and the community vibe was immediately apparent. EIJ’s mascot, Noa, did a great job this week, representing the international unity of thousands of Scouts and Guides, their leaders and volunteer staff. We were delighted to be a part of this fantastic celebration of all things Scouting and Guiding and after being warmly welcomed by the friendly EIJ staff, we set about exploring camp (including scouting out the coffee van!).
As a voluntary-led event, everyone taking part in EIJ (all 2,000 of them!) were running on dedication and passion for the cause which was, in itself, enough to set a warm and friendly tone. It was lovely to be amongst such a sociable bunch of people and it was particularly warming to hear people speak with such pride of their many years involved in Scouting and Guiding.
It was great to see the kids enjoying their independence, wandering around camp and dipping into tuck-shops before trying out the next activity on their list. From zorbing to high ropes, we were in the midst of kid paradise and the smiles on faces said it all! It was also great to see so many young Scouts and Guides express their enthusiasm for travel and adventure, with exclamations of ‘Oooo Iceland!’ as they approached our Iceland-themed stand. Many of the young attendees told us of their travels so far and what places are still on their travel tick list – it was fantastic to see the travel bug alive in all these youngsters. After all, the greatest lessons start with the greatest adventures!
The camping way of life is a grounding one, where life’s staples are good company, adventure and the great outdoors and where life’s luxuries are as modest as a strong brew and a flapjack (not forgetting toasted marshmallows, of course). Essex Jamboree is a place where high spirits defy sleepless nights, toasty fires prevail over soggy socks and eggy bread makes up for shower rations. Essex Jammers – you were roughin’ it in style and that’s what we like to see!
We couldn’t have been happier with the response we received from everyone there: it was great to chat to those who had travelled with us before, those who were keen to know more and those who were just interested in what we were up to!
EIJ 2016, it’s been a pleasure – we hope to see you for the next one!