World Scout Jamboree – Awesome Adventure Pt. 3

I wanted to finish this little series of posts by talking about what I learned while away at the 2015 World Scout Jamboree in Japan. This could be the toughest one to properly talk about because they say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Granted I am neither particularly old nor a dog, but there were days, let me tell you.

To better understand some of the learnings, let me break down the actual trip into its major component parts:

  • Days 1 – 4       Travel and a pre-camp in Hong Kong
  • Day 5              Travel from Hong Kong to Fukuoka Japan (and jamboree site)
  • Days 6 – 16     World Scout Jamboree
  • Days 17 – 19   Home stay with local Tokyo family and travel home

So, here are some of my learnings:

People are all basically the same

This may be a “well duh” comment but, until I had the chance to see different cultures in their native environments it wasn’t something I could speak to with any certainty.

Essentially, everyone wants the same things: a safe place to live, food to eat, a job to work and people to care about (and be cared about). At the end of the day it really is that simple. Where they live and what they eat are inconsequential. The job worked is a reason for being (regardless of what it is). Loving and being loved underscore our existence.

This underscores why I feel Scouting is so important. Not everyone has access to these things. Scouting is a movement that brings many different cultures together to help others achieve these end-goals.

Culture, Race, Creed Should Be Irrelevant to Achieving the Above

I didn’t see or experience any culture at the jamboree that would lead me to believe that the previously mentioned goals are not all important. I did witness an incredible outpouring of energy and commitment from every single participant to pursue Scouting ideals all of which promote those very goals.

There were 143 countries represented at the jamboree. 34,000 youth and 8,400 service personnel from all over the planet. Each and every one of those people bought into the mission that is Scouting and making this world a better place. It simply didn’t matter where those people were from, their cultures, religions or race. We all were united to a single cause under a single banner.

One Person can Change the World

Lord Baden-Powell is credited as the father of Scouting. Granted, he built on what came before and had people work with him to make the dream a reality, but he is the focal point for the movement. There are current over 3,000,000 Scouts world-wide. Lord Baden-Powell started it only 107 years ago in Gilwell Park, England. He has left an amazing legacy that, I hope, will continue to grow.

The World Really isn’t that big a Place

I’ve heard it said many times that our Earth is just a tiny blue planet in the infinite void of space. That may be true, but the claims that our planet is small and getting smaller didn’t really resonate.

At least, not until the jamboree.

That’s when I realized that it isn’t really about size at all. It’s more about communications and the ability to reach our fellow humans. I can email friends in Japan in the blink of an eye. We can hold a conversation a world apart without any discernible lag in time.

That is what makes our planet small. That is what makes our planet vulnerable and ultimately, that is what will make our planet great. We, as a fellowship of humanity, need to understand that what we do has consequences for everyone. When we truly understand that we can be great. Let’s all try to reach that understanding.

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So you see, I had a few things learned. Nothing that was new but everything that was solidified. It was the difference between knowing and understanding. The understanding (and I am still working on it) enriches my life every day. It helps me to know myself and my own community better. It teaches me that I have a bigger role to fill in the world.

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World Scout Jamboree – Awesome Adventure Pt. 2

As you may have noted in my previous post, the physical demands of the World Scout Jamboree were somewhat extreme (at least to me). But I did prevail.

That leads me to talking about how the way I think changed due to the jamboree (what I learned will come after although it is related to this post).

So, how my thinking changed.

First of all, I’ve never been in an environment quite so multi-cultural before. Granted, Calgary is an international city (I may have mentioned before how on any given day I hear more than a dozen different languages spoken by residents) but it isn’t quite so international as the jamboree.

There were something like 143 countries and territories attending the jamboree in the forms of youth, leaders and International Service Team (the people who kept the jamboree running). Every continent on the planet (with the possible exception of Antarctica and I’m not entirely convinced about that one; may have seen a penguin or two roaming around) was represented on the site.

I know, going in, I was curious to see what kind of dynamic that would present. I thought for sure there would be some clash of cultures where one group would be at odds with another.

I was wrong. At least, I didn’t see or hear any evidence of it.

My youth spent time with many different nations. We, as a camp, hosted people from Norway, Poland, UK, and elsewhere for dinner. During our culture day we had people come by from more countries than I could count.

The closest we came to any kind of clash (and it wasn’t close at all) was when my youth wanted to do some badge trading with some of the Saudi Arabia contingent. It was after dark and the Saudi youth were not being allowed to leave their encampment.

So, my youth went to the Saudi camp and asked the Saudi leaders for permission to trade at their camp. They received it and the problem was solved. A difference of culture solved with a little understanding and work. At the end of the day, it wasn’t really a problem at all. And my youth learned something about how the Saudis live.

I think my own way of viewing the international community really changed the evening we had a rally of all the Scouts. Imagine 34,000 youth and 8,400 Internal Service Team members in one place. We heard from several dignitaries including the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi who spoke about the importance of the global Scout Movement to the UN, and the role of youth as global citizens.

Before he was finished speaking the energy was almost overwhelming. I realized then that this truly was a place to bring global harmony to the front of mind. These youth, from every corner of the planet, were united to a common purpose.

How very exciting. How very motivating. How inspirational.

And I was part of it.

It got me thinking more about things I could personally do to improve the state of the world. Thinking I will continue and will act upon.

He was followed by the Chief Scout of the World who talked a little about Scouting’s original a mere 107 years ago. How far the movement has come. Over 3,000,000 Scouts worldwide.  What kind of a difference can we make?

We also heard from Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with JAXA who has been part of the International Space Station crew. He talked about how his life as a Scout lead up to his becoming an astronaut and how one day the movement will spread throughout the solar system. Again, truly inspirational (interesting fact: 11 of the 12 astronauts to step on the moon were Scouts).

I come home feeling like I am part of something much bigger than myself and that makes me proud. I also realize that the issues we face are not insurmountable. We need a common base to deal with each other and perhaps, Scouting is that common ground.

I also have come to better understand that our planet, for all it awesome grandeur really isn’t that big a place. What we do, wherever we are, affects everything and everyone. We have to be aware of that and act accordingly.

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World Scout Jamboree – Awesome Adventure Pt. 1

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.

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