Thomas travels to the the Jamboree

Simon, Matthew, Natasha and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 24th World Scout Jamboree in the USA. I would like to share my journey with you.

My journey started 18 months before with applications and interviews and then the anticipation. As Dr. Frank N. Furter said, “I can see you shiver with anticipation”.  With many exchanges between Simon and myself along the lines of “I just realised the Jamboree is in a weeks time!” Next: arrive at the Airport. Going to the airport is really stressful, you go over and over in your head, have I got everything: my documents, the uniforms?  Then it’s hand in the documents, wait, say your last goodbyes and then play follow the leader and get really excited that you are in an airport and are going off to the Jamboree…. JAMBOREE! Onto the plane for the flight to Dubai and then from Dubai to JFK airport.  You think you are going to sleep on the plane…… well, that idea is futile, I had one full half hour sleep in roughly 18 hours of flying. I had the longest time experienced in daylight, spending roughly 20 hours in sunlight. Off plane, through security, collect luggage, wait, on to bus and drive to the campsite.

Arriving in Camp Alpine definitely made us realise that we were in the US as everywhere you turned there was a US flag. With the sun setting as late as nine we all had the opportunity to clean up, relax and sleep. The shakedown camp is where you can meet the members in your patrol and decide on your APL and PL while doing leadership activities.  The day ended with a hamburger and a refreshing swim after a day of 30 degree weather. Six Flags was an adventure with the multiple rides and attractions, and I would say that everyone enjoyed the park. Getting back at 11 was tiring, and I am pretty sure most people slept soundly that night. We toured Manhattan for two days going to and from the multiple museums ending off in Times Square. My favourite museum would have to be the 9/11 museum, it was just so spectacular the way that they set it up, and quite shocking in terms of they displayed – I will definitely return someday.  The subway system was absolutely amazing and the efficiency of traveling between two places and skipping the traffic was something I had never experienced before. One thing that amazed me was how hot it gets within the stations. We ate packed lunches and every night we would meet up in Times Square and then walk to a restaurant and then go back to the camp. On the sixth day of being in camp we went back into Manhattan and took a cruise around the island which was a fitting way to say goodbye to New York. Next we headed to Washington D.C.

Washington and New York were completely different, with Washington looking older and more elegant, while New York is high rise buildings where ever you turn.  We stayed in Hotel Harrington which was a nice place to wind down, clean up and wash clothes properly. We had one day to look around Washington, and we went to two Smithsonians, the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum.  We also walked around several monuments and memorials within the National Mall. The next day we toured the US Capitol building and then jumped on a bus headed for the Jamboree!

Arriving at the Jamboree was cold and wet as we arrived at 10 in the evening and it was pouring, and luckily the Americans next to our campsite had pitched all of our tents.  The following day we completed setting up camp and orientated ourselves to the layout, as well as practising for the opening ceremony that we were involved in.  The opening ceremony was a blast with most of the South African contingent on the stage.

The Jamboree had many activities that you could go to, being outdoors or indoors, whatever you wanted to do you could do it as long as you had a buddy. My troop went to the Scout’s Own whereby we broke two world records and we were given a scarf. By day five I had nominated myself as the troop’s cook, and apparently I was very good at it. The thing is all the food that you ̈bought ̈ for the day would come pre-cooked and frozen and the meat that you had to stay away from was the bacon as if you were to heat it up for too long the strip would turn black and melt into this mass that would move around your pan and was extremely difficult to clean out.  Another food that we stayed away from were these cookies that had a marshmallow filling: they were made out of a sandwich of three cookies with two layers of filling and weighed in at around 140g with a sugar content of 41g and a calorie count of 240. Stay away!  

The closing ceremony, I think, was the highlight of the whole tour with Pentatonix performing, with Light Ballance coming after and then the cherry on top was a full pyrotechnic display!  Earlier that day we struck down most of our camp site, all that remained was the gazebos and a few tables that needed to be packed away. This was due to the fact that our bus arriving at half past six in the morning.  Many people did not sleep until the bus came to pick us up. The breakfast was pop tarts, and needless to say that was not a good idea. We got onto the bus and left for Washington. We spent half a day in Washington, staying again at Hotel Harrington.  The last night that we were in the USA we went to UNOs to eat pizza or pasta, after which we were given free reign to walk back to the hotel by ourselves. After one wrong turn my group bumped into a Tesla dealership, so we went in and looked around. We woke up at 5:30 the next day to get ready, eat and get to the airport on time. This said, a few people were late.  However we did experience a few delays with the baggage carousel being broken down in the airport, and all in all our flight was delayed by an hour.  

Thankfully we arrived home safe and sound and were welcomed by a huge welcoming party which was amazing.  That concludes my story with many more to tell.

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