I attended the World Scout Jamboree (in Japan) with some of my Scouts and I have to say, it was an awesome adventure. It was by no means a holiday or relaxing vacation but I expected that going in.
It challenged me in so many different ways, testing both my physical limitations and how I thought and saw the world.
Let me begin with the physical limitations, since those are the easiest ones to articulate. I had several preconceived notions of what I was capable of withstanding. Most/all of those were wiped out by this sometimes grueling trip. Let me list them:
- Heat – I come from a climate north of the 49th parallel. I don’t particularly like excessive heat. In fact, I had convinced myself I couldn’t sleep in anything warmer than about 18C (64F). 30C (86F) was something I considered quite hot. So, when we started seeing daytime highs of 43C (109F) with humidity of 50% and humidex of 53C (127F) I was certain I would die. Since I am posting this now, clearly I haven’t perished and now find 30C to be quite pleasant. Our nights were even cooler, occasionally going down to 26C (79F).
- Sleep – I like to sleep. I used to think I couldn’t get by with less than 8 hours per night. That hasn’t been the case for a while (usually average slightly above 6 hours) but I wasn’t expecting the complete lack of sleep during the trip. A good night saw about 5 hours and twice I went a full day without any (24 hours going there and 40 hours one period getting everything setup). Average sleeping time was probably 4.5 hours.
- Walking – I like to walk. I average about 12 – 15 Km (7.5 – 9 miles) per day. 15 Km was about where I felt my comfortable maximum was. Yeah, I averaged more than 26 Km (16 miles) every day with a couple days we were well over 30 Km (18.5 miles) of walking.
- Food – I wasn’t particularly worried about this one. There are foods I don’t care for that I knew I would have to eat while I was there. I wasn’t wrong about that and did very well. The amount of water I drank was amazing, but with the heat, not surprising.
- Sleeping on the ground – I camp in tents with my Scouts all the time. I sleep on the ground all the time. I often wake up stiff and sore. I was concerned 10+ days of this would be an issue. It wasn’t. Nuff said. 🙂
That’s a quick list of the physical preconceived notions that didn’t survive the trip. I came out of it knowing I can do more than I thought possible. It gave me a new respect for those people who regularly have to face such challenges (like our military, for example).
As obvious (to me) as these challenges were, they certainly weren’t the most life altering for me. I will talk about how the way I think and see the world change in coming posts.