Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Blair Atholl International Jamborette

Blair Atholl is an International Jamborette which welcomes over 1,000 scouts and leaders from all over the world to Perthshire, Scotland for a 10 day camp. It takes place every 2 years and allows scouts from all different backgrounds to make new friends, learn about different cultures and take part in different activities and challenges.

In 2008, I was one of the lucky scouts who was selected to attend the International Jamborette. I had heard so much about Blair Atholl from a few of the older scouts who had been before, so I was very excited to experience it for myself.

Upon arriving at the camp, all the Scottish scouts were shown to their sub camps where they would be staying for the next 10 days. There was 6 sub camps- MacLean, Robertson, Stewart, MacDonald, Murray and Morrison. Each sub camp had an ‘Uncle’ or an ‘Aunt’, who had the role of camp chief along with several assistant aunts and uncles who would all act as leaders and friends for the participants during their time at Blair Atholl. The sub camp my patrol and I were in was MacLean (The best!) with Aunt Eva. We had to build our own little camp site within MacLean camp, preparing for the arrival of our overseas patrol the next morning. 

MacLean Sub Camp
(The little orange tent you can see, was mine and Linzi's)

We were paired up with a patrol of boys from Maryland, America. It was great to be able to share the experience with them as it allowed us to learn about their own scouting experiences and how it was different from ours. We had a lot of fun sharing our Scottish culture, food and drinks with them. One of the boys enjoyed Irn-Bru a little bit too much- he would drink a 2 litre bottle every day which was evidenced by the permanent orange lip he had for the duration of the camp.

The Jamborrette was just like a home from home. It had everything you could have wanted (apart from a bed of course). The ‘Kastle’ was a large marquee which was the central hub of the camp. It was home to the Kastle Kafe; Kastle Kurrency- the onsite bank; Kastle Kashbash- the camp shop; and even a theatre. It was just like a little village.
Each night there was always exciting things happening at the Kastle, whether it was a disco, a ceilidh or a talent show, there was always something going on to bring all the participants together. My favourite night was definitely the night of the ceilidh. I have hilarious memories of being swung around the marquee dancing the Gay Gordons.
My friend Linzi and I were encouraged to perform highland dancing at the talent show- and when I say encouraged, I mean forced into it (I was not overly enthusiastic about getting up on that stage and dancing in front of hundreds of people). But looking back, I am glad I did it. It was one of those terrifying albeit fun moments that I will always remember. In case you are wondering, we didn't win the talent show. We really weren't that great, but hey, everyone loves a trier.  

Highland Dancing
(As you can see, I look very embarrassed and was just praying I didn't fall)

There was a wide range of activities for the scouts to take part in including gorge walking, mountain biking, go-karting, swimming, ready-steady-cook, and all terrain boarding. I remember taking part in the all-terrain boarding activity very clearly, purely because I was terrible at it. I spent most of that day falling on my bum. Although some of the activities were really fun and exciting, the best part of the whole experience for me, was during our free time when we were able to wander about the camp and meet lots of new people. It was great to learn about different cultures and make new friends from all around the world. I met people from America, Canada, Gibraltar and Japan and it was great to have shared my experience with them.

On the last night, all of the scouts gathered together in one big group for one last time. The most memorable part of that night for me was the fact that the whole Jamborette sat together and sang some typical scout songs. One of the songs I vividly remember singing just because it was so catchy and fun was called- Start wearing purple. Even as I am typing this, I am singing the song out loud: “Start wearing purple, wearing purple na na na na na, start wearing purple, be a scout”. Yes, that will be stuck in my head for hours now. The other song that I clearly remember was called ‘The Blair Atholl Song’. For me, this was a more emotional song as it allowed me to think about my time at Blair Atholl.

Whilst writing this post, I have surprised myself with how much I remember so vividly about my experience at Blair Atholl considering it was 8 years ago, however, I will cherish these memories as it was a fantastic experience that I am lucky to have took part in.

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Thursday, 3 March 2016

Camping Memories

As a Scout, camping was one of my favourite things to do. It never really mattered where it was or how long for, just getting outdoors, setting up the tents and embarking on all the usual camping activities was always so exciting. Even though sleeping in the tents was usually always freezing thanks to our lovely Scottish weather, I always had a great time. Now don’t get me wrong, the camps were we stayed in a lovely warm lodge with a bed was great too, and sometimes we could even shower. A shower was always a bonus in the world of camping. 

My local Scout Campsite is called Everton and is in a little village just outside of Greenock called Inverkip. It is a relatively large campsite with a great range of outdoor activities including a low ropes course, crate climbing and a zorb ball. The one activity I loved doing at Everton was the slippery slide. It was freezing if it wasn’t a relatively warm day but it was always great. It is surprising how much fun a bit of plastic covered in soapy water can be.  

As a young scout, much to my Scout leader’s dismay, my best friend Linzi and I would always attempt the classic ‘all-nighter’. Armed with a bag full of munchies and lots of pointless conversation, the all-nighter would commence. We would always totally regret this the next day when we were literally falling asleep standing up (Yes that did actually happen). But we never seemed to learn our lesson. It was almost like our camping tradition. Now as a leader, staying up all night sounds like my worst nightmare. I am far too grumpy when I am tired, so the Explorer scouts and the other leaders would definitely not thank me for tackling the legendary all-nighter. 

One thing I always find really funny about camping outside in tents is that when you are inside with the door zipped up, a lot of people forget that they are only surrounded by a thin piece of fabric which means that everything you say can be heard by everyone nearby. This may seem very obvious but the walls of the tent are very deceiving, you seem to forget that they are not even slightly sound proof- well my friends and I did anyway.

When I think back, my favourite parts of camping with scouts was the fun games and of course the camp fire songs. One of my favourite games was the late night wide games were we would just run about the campsite mad, equipped with our glow sticks, chasing after the people in the opposite team. After we completely tired ourselves out, we would gather round the camp fire and sing all the classic songs including Ging Gang Goo, Singing in the Rain (always very appropriate for Scotland), the Pirate Song and one of my personal favourites- the Beaver Song. Yes that song is for the Beaver Scouts, but it’s just so catchy, I love it. 

I have also been very lucky to experience camping on a larger scale by participating in the Blair Atholl Jamborette in 2008 and the 22nd World Scout Jamboree which was held in Sweden in 2011. Both of these camps welcome thousands of scouts from all over the world, allowing each participant to make new friends, learn about different cultures and take part in various activities. Both of these experiences were exceptional and the memories of them will stay with me forever. But, you will need to keep reading my blog to hear all about them in more detail.

Below is a slightly embarrassing picture of me heading off to my very first scout camp. I had a great time and of course, the lovely blue jacket was not so lovely and clean when I returned. 

First Camp

I have so many great memories of camping with the Scouts and I still enjoy it as much as I did when I was younger. Although I always had a fantastic time at camp, one thing I always remember is how much I appreciated my bed when I got home. After a weekend in a tent, my bed always felt 100 times comfier when I would climb in after camp.  
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Welcome to my Blog!

Hello! Welcome to my blog where I will be talking about all things Scout related, particularly my own scouting adventures. Contrary to popular belief (well my friends beliefs anyway), Scouts do a lot more than wear uniforms, march in parades and tie knots. Yes, we do that stuff too and as a Scottish Scout, trust me when I say, the kilt socks are itchy. So itchy! But we also do a lot more adventurous and exciting things to. I have been very lucky throughout my 11 years in Scouts as I have been given several unique opportunities, made life-long friends, travelled to many different countries, and accomplished numerous goals which I will share with you throughout my blog. 

Let me introduce myself. My name is Lauren and I am a 21 year old Marketing student from Scotland. When I am not working or doing (or at least pretending to do) uni work I am massively involved in scouting as an Assistant Explorer Scout Leader. Scouts has been a big part of my life since I joined when I was 10 years old. When I first joined, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was just looking for fun and adventure, which I most definitely attained. Not only did I participate in dynamic activities such as kayaking, climbing and abseiling, I gained valuable life skills which have helped me in my personal and professional life. When I turned 18, I was not ready to give up on my Scouting adventures and wanted to give something back. So, I hiked, climbed, sailed and camped my way to become a leader and still love every minute of it. 

Hopefully through reading my blog, you will gain an insight into the adventures of a Scout who started off as a young girl, excited to go camping and take part in activities who became a leader and a Queen Scout. For those of you who are not in Scouts, the Queen Scout Award is the highest award you can achieve in Scouting (Ye, it’s a pretty big deal!). 

Be prepared!.... Reading my blog may make you very jealous and encourage you to join the Scouting movement and start your very own adventure if you haven’t already. Trust me, it’s fun.  

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