Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Closing up camp

Today is the day most youth are dropping camp - many are leaving tonight or early morning after the closing ceremony from 9-11 PM tonight.  It should be a big production with fireworks at the end.  The camp is starting to look bare as everything is being taken down in the youth and program areas.  The adult hub will start disappearing tomorrow. 
Tomorrow afternoon is our steward party then we'll camp out at the bus area till our 2 or 5 AM bus to Heathrow.  We're way early but thought it best to get there since we'll be up all night anyway.
I put a few more photos on the side panel and suspect our internet access may be turned off at the end of the day.  Everything here is run by volunteers and as they disappear, things tend to close up.  I seriously wonder if they'll be able to open the adult restaurant tomorrow with as little volunteer turnout as they've had.  We'll see.
When we get home, I imagine our group will add some final comments and pictures.  I hope all who read the blog enjoyed it.  If you want to send any comments or get more info about the next Jamboree, you can email me at uklars@comcast.net with a subject line "jambo".
Cherrio old blokes.  Mark

Monday, August 6, 2007

The end is near

Everyone seems to be thinking about the end and the logistics of getting out of here.  It's been a great experience but 3 weeks is a long time to be away and sleeping in a tent.  It will take my feet a while to recover.  I did a quick calculation and determined that most days required 10+ miles of walking due to the nature of our steward jobs.  The walk to our start point is about a mile before the real work begins.  Over the 20 days, we would have walked well over 200 miles.  Maybe we can get (4) 50-miler patches?  :-) 
The youth are doing very well and are kept very busy.  Last night I had the "pleasure" of being security detail for an outdoor disco for 500+ youth at one of the hubs.  Fortunately I did not have to be in the pit where ear plugs were required of our stewards - their job was to pull people in distress over the fence.  I was on the perimeter to check for ID's at a choke point and send youth away when they didn't have their tags or a neckerchief.
After that fun, we moved to the adult hub where about 1000 twenty-somethings had been consuming adult beverages.  Thirty of us stewards were to close down the area, "asking" people to move along.  That was certainly a joy.  It took about 45 minutes to herd them into the appropriate area.  We have all been doing real work and are very tired at the end of the day/night.
We'll be leaving on buses early morning Thursday to catch our noon flight.  Our tents will come down Wednesday afternoon at 3 PM.  I've found a Zimbawbe group who could really use my tent in their country so I'll give it to them when it's down.  I don't need a tent and am not crazy about this one.
See you soon.  Mark

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Friends from many countries; carding BP's grandson

Time is flying by here at the Jambo! Mark and |I just finished our double whammy of 11 pm to 8 am shift  followed 7 hours later by the 3 pm to 12 midnight shift. After a good night's sleep we have a short "spare" day of several hours followed tomorrow by our day off.
Have made friends with folks from many countries. I have had rotating partners from Brazil, Mexico, Ireland and Scotland. Last night I was paired with Owen Smith from Scotland. It was fascinating talking with him about politics, the Royal Family, etc. As a Cub Scout, he attended the last World Jamboree hosted by the UK, the 1957 World Scout Jamboree which celebrated 50 years of Scouting. He wears his traditional Scottish kilt as his uniform regardless of the weather. Last night we had two 2 hour stints as security guards checking nametags to make sure that everyone is an official Jamboree participant and keeping anyone under 18 out of the adult camping area. As fate would have it, we carded Mr. and Mrs. Mark Baden Powell. He is the younger grandson of Scouting's founder, BP. Naturally, I made sure to get a photo with Mark BP. His older brother, the Lord Robert Baden Powell, spoke at the Sunrise Ceremony on 8/1. Mark moved to Australia decades ago and is camping with that country's contingent in the adult area.
While I look forward to returning to the USA in a few days, I must confess that I will miss hearing folks speaking multiple languages (other than English and Spanish ) simultaneously.
My knowledge of the world has definitely broadened these few weeks. Mike and I watched a group doing prayers in the Muslim area. We also sampled foods from multiple countries in the international foods tent. Mike especially liked the cod liver oil pills from Iceland! I have enjoyed catching Scouts from different countries do their talent demonstrations. I watched a groups of oriental Scouts to a marvelous drum routine only to discover that they were all from Brazil rather than the far east. My Mexican partner explained to me that Brazil has a large oriental population. That same day, I watched Scouts from the Netherlands and Belgium do their presentations. They frequently have bands from different countries playing around the Jamboree.
Last night a groups of three young ladies from India came to our check point for the adult area. We had to stop two of them from entering the adult area because they were under 18. They sat while their adult friend went to her tent to retrieve something. I chatted with them briefly. They are in the same subcamp as Troop 220, the Jamboree troop in which Mike's son Michael and my son John are members. I asked what foods they cooked for the international food festival. They explained the exotic Indian dishes that their camp prepared. I explained that our Scouts handed out VA peanuts. I asked whether they visited the peanut site. They replied that they did not as they only visited camps to which they had been specifically invited. Just goes to show you how formal some cultures are about things.
Last night, we had to be stewards at the Elements activity area. At 10 pm, 10 lucky Scouts had the opportunity to speak with the crew of the international space station via a direct hookup. A large number Scouts and adults watched this exciting opportunity.
Good day, mate!
Chip Delano

See what you're getting into…before you go there See it!

Interesting night work

It's been a long period of continuous duty so I thought the page needed an update.  Mike has been working like a diplomat for a few contingents and has had some interesting times.  I'll leave it for him to fill in the details about their beverages - but he was able to meet Lech Welesa from Poland.  He's very good with others and they seem to pull him in easily.  Perhaps a job at the UN is next on his resume.
As for the rest of us, we're coming off of 18 hours of security duty out of 25 and are mostly like zombies.  Chip and I work short duty this evening.  I and 20 other stewards are to help push the thousand partiers out of the adult area at 10:30 PM.  Being a british location, there is a pub for the adults and it can get difficult when they shut off the tap and push folks to other places.  This is unlike any scouting event in the US.  The Swedes who host the next one in 2011 have said there will be no bar - good idea.
The American IST were given a reception by the "yellow bars" (regional and national leaders) from the US contingent.  It was quite nice and being a District Commissioner, I shamelessly had my photo taken with the National Commissioner.  They gave us each a very nice commerative coin for our work.
While on duty, we usually have a radio to hear what's going on so we can help.  Yesterday was more eventful as on our shift there was a gas stove fire that required the Essex fire department, a neck injury from a youth who was horsing around, a shop lifter, and 11 local youths who climbed the perimeter fence to join the party or cause trouble.  As always, we just call things in and let the professionals deal with the difficult issues.  Our job is to call things in, give them space and clear the path for emergency vehicles.
Our steward group has the highest percentage of showing up for work - 95%.  Other areas that are dominated by 3rd world contingents in southern asia have not been showing up.  The worst is the food service at 25%.  This puts a strain on the folks who show up.  It's too bad as the developed countries greatly subsidize their trip here.  They could turn them away at the food line where we are scanned, but they don't enforce it.
We have secured a voucher for our bus ride to Heathrow on Thursday AM.  I think we're all ready to come home and sleep in a bed, eat normal food, and take a long hot shower.  Cheerio old chaps!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Yeah, I figured out how to send images

Check out the new images on the side panel and the large image of the sunrise ceremony at the bottom of the blog.

Chatting in the evenings

Most evenings are the time when folks get together.  The American group we collected along the way has pretty much stuck together but we make an effort to sit next to someone new at dinner and strike up a conversation.  Most folks here are quite chatty and will have a long conversation with you. 
Last night after dinner, I tried to find Mike at his tent to communicate return travel plans.  He wasn't there but a 19 year old who we met up with at Heathrow was in his adjacent tent.  Phillip has been pretty detached and not interacting with others his age so I suggested he hang with me and wait for the others to gather at the table area where we spend most evenings.  Having received a deck of cards from the Las Vegas contingent, we started playing a game called speed.  Shortly, a Finnish young lady came by a wanted to learn how to play this game and any other American game.  After a short while, other young people had gathered and I slipped to the side - my mission accomplished.  There were about (5) 20-something Americans with 6 Finns in their blue and white skull caps when I left at 10:00 PM.
At dinner last night, our adjacent person happened to be an American from Virginia Beach who is working the Protestant tent at the Faith and Belief zone.  He is a methodist and very involved with promoting scouting with the Methodist Church.  We had some common friends and he knew the HQ for the Va Methodists that I did on Staples Mill.  As with most here, we exchanged cards afterwards.
I broke down and bought a "hot dog" today which was actually an English sausage on a bun.  Quite good to me as the food is starting to become a bore.  Now off to catch a nap before the double shift that starts at midnight.  Hope the weather holds out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Getting Into a Routine

The four of us are all on different cycles now but see each other for at least one meal and evening chill out.  Work is mostly walking around but you occasionally do a tough shift at a gate where people without credentials get unhappy when being turned away. 
Today there were 3 buses of Americans who came to my gate without going to the checkin at the North Weald airport 20 minutes from here.  Unlike the US Jamboree at AP Hill, there is no parking on site and the ticket is 20 pounds.  You must access the site via shuttle bus unless you're the ambassador to one of the contingents or drive a truck to haul out the sewage.  There is just no room for cars. 
There was a good bit of frustration as whoever was in charge of their tour didn't do their homework.  I heard a good bit of American entitlement from their leaders when they found out they just couldn't show up and walk off the bus.  It's for everyone's security as we smile and treat everyone the same. 
Tomorrow will start my night and evening grind so I'll be fairly incoherent for the next two days. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sunrise Celebration at the Jamboree

This morning the 40,000 scouts and leaders here were linked via closed circuit to the groups camping at Brown Sea Island where the kudu horn was blown 3 times to signal the 100 year mark of scouting. The same occasion is to be marked by scouts around the world today. It is my understanding that back in Virginia there is a slightly smaller celebration at Brady Saunders.

The scouts here at the jamboree were animated all wearing yellow scarves given to us for this occasion. Several times they started twirling them in the air which made for a cool sight. At one point, all scouts stood up and stated in unison their own country's scout oath. Near the end, the founder's grandson (who is perhaps 80) read a statement from BP about scouting and mentioned how he would be excited by this event and how scouting has continued. The event was way cool.

There are special events around the camp today and the normal programs are suspended for this day. I suppose we'll catch what we can.