Written by Megan Evans, SA Global Ambassador 24WSJ
I hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream and my cardigan. Ok, maybe not quite- we landed at JFK and I had a little bit (14kg) more than just my cardigan, but it felt like a dream. I was in the United States, after 25 hours of traveling.
Since I was very young, my dad Gerard Evans has been involved in leading multiple South African contingents to multiple World Scout Jamborees. One year, upon arriving back from one, my sister and I were each promised that when we were of age, we would go to our very own Jamboree.
My sister went to the Japanese Jamboree in 2015, but I was unfortunately 16 days too young! So, I waited –impatiently- for my turn to come, and as I stand in JFK airport, next to over 100 other South African Scouts, it hits me- I am actually going to the Jamboree! Something I have been waiting for, for a very very long time.
The South African Contingent had a “Shakedown Camp” in New Jersey, where we got to know our Patrol, Troop and contingent. Some of us only met for the first time at the airport, and let me just say that flying across the world with a bunch of strangers was nerve wrecking, but also kind of thrilling.
Over the next couple days we toured New York and Washington DC, visiting Times Square, the White House, 6 Flags, and many, many more exciting places. The culture, landscapes, buildings, people and even the food in America is very different to back home. I found it interesting to simply observe, and to be immersed in it was exciting.
When we arrived at the Jamboree it was pouring with rain, but even with the unfortunate weather, I could sense the high spirits and excitement. When we arrived at our campsite, our neighbours had put up our tents for us as they knew that we would be arriving late and in the rain. That’s when we all knew that this was going to be 12 days of friendship and unity.
The arrangement was 2 Scouts in a tent, each with a stretcher “cot”. Each Scouter got their own tent, which was white. The Scouts’ tents were coloured to match their basecamp’s colours. South Africa had 3 Troops, the red Troop in the red basecamp, the orange Troop in the orange basecamp, and the green Troop in the green basecamp. We were given 2 large gazebos, table and bench sets, ample cooking equipment and 2 wagons to carry water and food when fetching them. There were plenty ablutions, however there were no doors, just shower curtains, which wasn’t such a great combination when it was windy. The only thing worse than the toilet curtains were the cold showers. I’m not a fan of cold showers…
At the Jamboree I did the ‘Big Zip’ which was a 950m zip line and a “Water Reality” course, which is definitely harder than it looks! I also went rock climbing and stand-up paddle boarding. I enjoyed the GLOBE leadership escape room and took a lot of photos that I will treasure for a very long time.
My favourite ceremony would definitely be the closing ceremony. Seeing Pentatonix live, watching those talented dancers and fireworks really just ended off such an amazing event on a high note! The unity in that arena was definitely felt by every Scout, and this event is not going to be forgotten by anyone.
On arriving home, experiencing solitude and quietness was odd, almost uncomfortable. After being so busy, and surrounded by so many people for 3 weeks, it felt unnatural to just sit on my bed in a completely different time zone. My World Scout Jamboree experience is something that I’m going to hold near and dear to me for the rest of my life. I’ve already overwhelmed my friends with all my stories! And my teachers overwhelmed me with all the work I missed when I was away! I will treasure my new friends and new experiences, and I appreciate all the people that worked many, many hours to put this together.
Thank you to the South African Contingent organizers, to the Jamboree organizers, to my Troop Scouters on the Jamboree and back home, to my Troop and the other South African Troops, to my family and to everybody who supported me- thank you. Also, a very special thank you to the Global Ambassador team– this is an opportunity that I am so grateful for. Thank you for giving it to me!
Yours in Scouting,
Global Ambassador, South African Contingent
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