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.

About Lauren Anderson

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