Whether or not you are involved in Scouting, you would have been hard-pressed to miss the news of the 25th World Scout Jamboree held in Korea this summer which hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
A contingent of Bath Leaders arrived on site five days before the Scouts themselves to help with preparations for the event. Managing a support team of 30, they were there to help organise events, run logistics and food distribution, and provide the support required for a sub-camp of some 2,000 young people and their Leaders.
But first, they found themselves having to re-site numerous tents threatened by flooding, in the face of a severe heatwave. “I do NOT recommend wellie boots in temperatures of 35 degrees plus!” said one.
The site’s facilities soon struggled to cope once some 40,000 odd Scouts had arrived from all over the world. Scouting UK very quickly made the decision to move its young people back to Seoul. Our three Bath Scouts (part of a contingent of 36 from Bath and Bristol) had spent only two days on site before they swapped their tents for hotel rooms, basements and ballrooms – wherever appropriate accommodation could be secured. Aircon and showers proved very popular after days in the 35 degree heat and no shade! They enjoyed a range activities in Seoul, many specially arranged by the Koreans, to make up for the difficulties at the campsite.
Meanwhile, a contingent of 47 UK leaders volunteered to stay on, to help with the thousands of Scouts, from hundreds of countries, who were still on site. “Four of those 47 were from Bath,” said Bath District Leader Laura. “They really stepped upand showed Scouting at its best.”
Just two days later the entire Jamboree site was evacuated after a typhoon was forecast to engulf the area.
Koreans went out of their way to make up for the difficulties faced at the Jamboree site with several members of the public apologising directly to Bath Scouts on the street. Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-Soo also apologised on behalf of his country. Meanwhile, many Korean museums and businesses offered reduced or free entry to Scouts and put on cultural events especially for the young people, including a K-pop concert to close the Jamboree.
It was not the Jamboree that everyone had looked forward to. But you can’t keepa Scout down for long!
Bath Scout Otis summed it up: “Despite all the challenges we faced throughout the trip we made the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity, making friends and memories that will last forever.”