10. smotra (10th Serbian Jamboree)

I have just recently returned from a 10 day Scout Jamboree in Belgrade, Serbia. This is the 10th Jamboree for them, the 3rd for me and by far one of the most enjoyable I’ve been on.

Phoenix Archer Explorer Unit has been travelling to the Serbian Jamborees since the 7th in 2008(I think). I’ve been to the 8th (2011), 9th (2014) and now 10th (2018). I even have the passport stamps to prove it…

IMG_1825_500x375

One thing that is enjoyable about the Jamborees is that they are in different locations each time. 2011 was Šabac, 2014 was Bela Crkva and 2014 was Ada Ciganlija in Belgrade.

Ada Ciganlija is a gorgeous place. It is a river island that has artificially been turned into a peninsula on the River Sava. A popular recreational area, you can partake in many outdoor activities there – swimming, kayaking/canoeing, high ropes, artificial climbing wall, volleyball, fishing, SUP, bike riding, skating – there’s even an option to bungee jump over the water!

The temperature all week was in the low thirties, around 33 degrees Celsius – so, combining that with the water, cold drinks, tasty food and beautiful views, one couldn’t complain!

Our flight transported the group into Belgrade late into the night, so after an hour’s bus journey we pitched our tents up in the dark and slept.

P1060289_500x281

For those that don’t know or understand about a Scout Jamboree let me explain; Scout Jamborees have been around since the early 1900s (1920 to be precise in the UK, just learnt that!). They are defined as being “a large gathering of Scouts who rally at a national or international level”, usually a camp, but there are “Jamboree Days”, such as Jamboree on the Trail/Air(Internet) where Scouts, internationally, partake in one activity (hiking/amateur radio/web chatting) in their own group/county on a certain date or dates.

They are all good fun. Some countries only run one every few years (such as Serbia) whereas others, such as the UK or US, run several small ones annually around their countries. The idea is that groups from overseas join with that countries group/units and partake in a Scouting programme, usually with a shared purpose/theme, over a week or so together. The theme of the Serbian Jamboree was “Scouting for all“.

IMG_1886

We also had ten Explorer Scouts out on their Explorer Belt Award visiting other towns and villages around Serbia to find out about the local culture and history of the county.

2015as-cs-ebbg.png

They spend 10 days exploring a minimum of 5 towns/villages whilst trying to complete 10 mini projects and a major one. The teams visited Novi Sad, Ruma, Bačka Palanka, Pančevo, Belgrade and Stara Pazova. I’m not convinced they explored Serbia to the best of their ability and they weren’t very forthcoming with information about its culture, nor did it seem like they spoke to many locals, but they are delivering their presentations in September at the district camp so they might have experienced more than they talked about in their debrief. It would be good to think they’ve appreciated this wonderful country and the heard the struggles of the locals, but we shall see!

Not to bore you with a day by day account of the ten days (I couldn’t if I tried, I’m not very good at remembering things), I will talk about the highlights and interesting things I found out though.

Camp life

The Jamboree was poorly attended this year compared to the others. They had planned for approximately 3,000 turning up but due to Serbian Scouting politics, only 800 (including foreigners) showed up. There were various reasons why we were told; Belgrade Scouts have an annual camp so didn’t want to attend this one as well; this Jamboree was too pricey for many; many groups travel across the border to the Macedonian Jamboree etc… The cost of this camp, excluding flights and insurance, was €90(?), which is very cheap for UK Scouts for 10 days (we did contribute more to cover equipment donations to the Serbians etc. £220 in total) but for Serbians it’s costly.

WP_20180803_20_06_22_Pro_500x281.jpg
Entrance to subcamp 3.

But it was worth every penny I thought.

P1060294_500x281.jpg
Scouts queueing for an activity in the city.

I did think it was a shame that more could not attend, for whatever reason, as I felt the programme, layout and information was well planned in comparison to the other Jamborees I’d been on. BRAVO to the organisers for doing such an excellent job!

Even though the weather was in the low thirties all week (which is HOT for UK people) there was some occasional rain… when it rains in Serbia IT RAINS. The thunderstorms are loud and unpredictable, but as soon as they arrive they are gone and it’s back to the hot weather again. I recorded a video to show what the rain is like (the video starts off with thunder!). I love it when it rains in Serbia; reminds me of the normal UK weather.

Once it had cleared, I was able to get back to the hammock to relax and read the research papers I was sent as prior reading for my course at uni in September…

IMG_1824_500x375.jpg
Smartphones are wonderful for reading documents!

Some animals did wander on site. I thought I would include them as Serbians have an interesting relationship with stray dogs – it is illegal to harm or kill them under the Serbian Animal Welfare Law 2009/Serbian Criminal Law, Article 269 but it is horrific what some will do to them (graphic content on webpage) if they know they can get away with it – I saw a dog who was missing part of his tail, yet the bone was still sticking out, it didn’t look like the animal had it done professionally. Nearly every dog that came near us shied away from being touched, it was clear to see they haven’t had a friendly pat on their head often! Organised dogfights are commonplace and, sadly, the police turn a blind eye to it – the punishment of 6 months is not enough IMO.

Yet, on the other hand, I saw many Serbians with tea-cup sized dogs (Yorkies, Chihuahua, Maltese and other small dogs) dressed in dog clothing and being carried around by their owners. Many stary dogs looked well fed and Serbians seemed to ignore their presence without hostility. Conflicting.

This beautiful dog wandered on to our site, he didn’t stay long but reminded me of Bailey. I wish I could have taken him home. At night, many dogs – especially puppies, roamed the Ada area seeking food under the concealment of night time when fewer people were about…

P1060372_500x333

Serbian Food

I’m a girl who’s not afraid to say she loves her food! Maybe I love it a bit too much at times! Haha. One of our hopes for this Jamboree was substantial meals; the Serbians have always been gracious hosts but they do like their cabbage! The food on the first Jamboree I visited in 2008 wasn’t much – it was my first introduction to a large hot lunch in the early afternoon and a very small dinner as the Serbians prefer to eat well during the daytime (when it’s hot!!), whereas us Brits do love a large hot dinner in early evening… anyway, the following Jamboree saw the money for the food go missing from a corrupt company so the organisers had to bring in another company at the last minute… the saving grace on that Jamboree were the burger bars around a lake nearby. I think on this Jamboree they wanted to make sure the foreigners (especially the fussy eaters) had access to alternative food if they didn’t like what the Serbians were providing so probably chose this location, especially for that reason!

So, with apparently nearly 70 outlets around the Lake, there were a lot of choices – burgers (Gurmanska pljeskavica – in the picture), kebabs, chips and my favourite – Palačinke! A crepe pancake with a filling, such as Nutella or Eurocrem, wrapped in a triangle shape. As the conversion rate was so low one of these would cost about 80p! A burger would cost around £1.60 depending on where you went – bargain!

I loved the food at this camp as each meal was different! Of course, some items, such as the yoghurt drink, was repeated but the whole meal wasn’t the same as the last; so we got to experience a lot of different meals and snacks the Serbians would also enjoy. If the organisers had intentionally planned this then BRAVO again – our young people enjoyed the anticipation of finding out what their next meal would consist of and several did want to try some of the ‘snacks’ again (they enjoyed the pizza margarita snack.

Many meals did contain a lot of bread…

We also visited a couple of restaurants whilst exploring Belgrade. At one such restaurant, the Mala Gostionica, we wanted the Explorer Scouts to experience a traditional Serbian meal. So, out came the bread and salad (cabbage!!) followed by the plate of various meats for them to enjoy! This was followed by a type of doughnut cake with a walnut inside which was delicious – the name escapes me and I haven’t been able to find it online since sadly.

I found the prices very reasonable (conversion was great); as with any city the closer you are to attractions and the city centre the prices do increase but the food quality was always great…

Of course, no trip to Serbia would be complete without trying the Rakija (pronounced RA KEE YA)- a fruit brandy that’s popular in the Balkans. This is the national drink of Serbia and is generally homebrewed with an alcoholic content of about 50% (can be as high as 65%!) and comes in many flavours (i.e. what’s available to the Serbians to make it out of) – plum (Slivovica), grapes, apple, peach, fig, cherry…

WP_20180803_20_20_11_Pro_500x889.jpg

As the households homebrew the stuff you’ll expect to be offered some – more so if you’re an adult male – at your meals. There is a joke that a Serbian breakfast is “Rakija, coffee and a cigarette”.  Serbians are well known for their hospitality and will keep giving you Rakija if you empty your glass… so to let them know you’re done just leaving some in the glass shows you’ve finished or they’ll keep magically producing bottles until their entire stores are finished with!

(They also have a “drink” called “Concrete“. It’s where you drink Rakija, then a pint of larger and repeat. Why is it called “Concrete” though? It’ll be where you’ll end up after a few of these…face first!)

Trips out and attractions

One thing I do enjoy about visiting other countries, and this may be very geeky of me, is using the public transport. I like to learn how another country runs theirs and I think it’s a good lesson for anyone to learn; this time we got to experience the trains and the buses (no trams, went on them last time). Since the last four years, the bus passes have gone contactless! Previously before you purchased a ticket at the kiosk on the corner (still do) and it’s ‘punched’ by a machine on the platform or on the bus… by now, you can buy either a day pass (290 dinars) and load it with a day’s unlimited travel (90 dinars approx 70p) for use around Belgrade; purchase a 90 minute journey pass from the driver (150 dinar approx £1.15) which, if you asked the driver for he’d always say “no ticket” and let you on without one; OR the last option was to buy a plastic card for 300 dinar (approx £2.30), which lasts 3 years and you can preload it with cash and use on the contactless machines on the bus. Simples.

At the start of the week, we couldn’t figure any of this out. When we spoke to Serbians they kept saying “no ticket”, Kiosk ladies and bus drivers shook their heads at us so we didn’t bother… we even got told by a Serbian waiter not to bother buying tickets after 7pm as the inspectors all clock off and go home then…! Terry lived in fear of getting caught, I scoffed at him until one of our Explorer Belt teams called up to say they’d been given a ticket for 2,000 dinars (approx £16) each… which turned out they’d been fined for not having a proper one (karma for not attempting to find out how to buy tickets in the first instance!)! So he made sure we all had enough and what happened on the way to the airport? We got asked to see our tickets! *Phew*

IMG_1861_500x375.jpg
Reusable Belgrade bus pass.

The Serbian trains aren’t so complicated. They expected you to purchase a ticket before you board and you will definitely be checked whilst on the train! We planned to visit the Explorer Belt groups in Novi Sad and could have taken the bus but I wanted to show Kelvin, our district commissioner, the joys of the Serbian railways…

It all started easy enough from Beograd Centra station, the tickets were easy to purchase, the station air conditions and we got seats on the train… however, what Kelvin didn’t know was that there is what is called “Serbian time”. This differs from regular time, it’s where the Serbs will leave when they want! The train stopped on the tracks, the driver and train staff stepped out of the vehicle and decided to have a 15-minute smoking break on the train whilst the passengers sweated onboard. Once done, the train then moved closer towards its destination.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the way back… the train decided to turn up 45 minutes late, in fact, it arrived the same time as the other train, due 2 hours earlier at the station, came in! The Serbians didn’t seem to mind, some even decided to sit on the edge of the platform and eat their dinner and take selfies… why rush?

WP_20180730_18_55_10_Pro_500x281

Our return journey from Novi Sad, which was meant to be 2 hours, ended up being more like 3 (train driver smoking breaks); by hey-ho, with the errors in finding our way back on the buses, we eventually got back to camp 5 hours later! Haha.

After meeting with the Explorer Belt teams in Novi Sad and ensuring they are ok and still on track to achieve we visited the Petrovaradin Fortress (translated as “the town on the rock-firm as faith”) on the right bank of the Danube.
What is interesting and will make you look twice is that the minute and hour hand on the clock tower are reversed, with the small hand showing minutes, and the big hand showing hours! This was created this way so that fishermen on the river can see the time from a long distance but for others, it’s just confusing!

P1060327_500x140.jpg

Novi Sad was a favourite place for the teams to visit and, due to the meetings, we didn’t get to spend much time here but have vowed to do so on our next visit.

Throughout the week we visited Belgrade for various sights as part of the Jamboree programme. The fortress and Kalemegdan park on the hill overseeing the Danube and Sava rivers, the botanical gardens, the souvenir markets outside the fortress, the modern shopping centres, the old streets with unique art for selling and various museums.

One of the museums we visited was the Nikola Tesla museum. I’m kicking myself as I had a video of me holding a fluorescent tube near the Tesla coil but somehow have managed to delete it (It was pretty cool)! Here’s a video of the coil in action (and surprisingly the same guide is still working there 3 years later!). Anyway, I would recommend people visit, I found it to be interesting… even, strangely, seeing his urn with his ashes in displayed in the museum; recently the activist group “Leave Tesla Alone” were trying to stop them being moved to the Church of St Sava, the resting place of many of Serbia’s national heroes (even more interesting article about “Satanic rituals” happening at his resting place!).

I have so much more I could write about Serbia. This just skims the information and experiences I’ve had whilst being in such a beautiful hospitable country.

It’s now been several days since the Jamboree and I do miss the easy life that I had whilst there; no worries or anything to do really! Now I’m back I’ve had many things to sort out for the upcoming couple of months and it’s been pretty hectic but the countdown has begun to the 11th Serbian Jamboree now… roll on 2021! Let’s see where life is at then!

Just Joanne

Camping…

… or something like that…

So I had planned on spending Friday night in my hammock in the woods but I was feeling so exhausted and sick from work this week that I didn’t have the energy/mental strength to sort my kit and myself out.

So, after I’d journeyed to Youlbury woods and recounted my difficult week to friends I took myself off to our car and set my sleeping kit up in the back of it (I wouldn’t be able to sleep in my Suzuki, so the Madza had to do!)

By 8pm I was in a deep deep sleep and slept through the night until 8am. This isn’t the first time I’ve slept in the car, each time I’ve been so warm and Friday night was extra toasty with my deer hide on top.

Camping in the woods is one of my favourite things to do- being around the campfire is very relaxing and cosy. This weekend’s camp was with Phoenix Archer Explorer Unit. The set up is generally the same – parachute over the main fire, Bell tent as a store tents and Explorers either camping in tents or building their own bivouacs using natural materials.

Breakfast is a traditional fry up of sausages, bacon and eggs; no beans this time as we forgot the billy can!

Bacon is a staple breakfast item as any Scouter should know! Hmm bacon… 🥓

So, feeling better from a good nights sleep I devoured a lot of bacon and bread then set to work on building the fire and wood pile with the Explorers to keep us warm.

Brunch was interesting- one of the other leaders, James, had found a video on how to make deep fried Baby Bells so… tah dah!.

The recipe involved unwrapping the baby bell, dipping it in egg, flour mixture, egg and break crumbs before deep frying – gooey and delicious! Definately a camp favourite now.

Lunch was a mince tortilla cheese mix. As the name suggests- brown the mince in a Dutch oven, add peppers, onions and chilli mix, cook for a while til veg has soften, add tortillas on top and cheese on top of that and cook on embers until cheese has melted (a lot of cheese on this camp!)

Even got to put my MOOT lunch box from Iceland to some much needed use…

As entertainment we decided to make a Swedish Log fire.

The Swedish log fire consists of splitting a lot into quarters (or in this case finding 4/5 reasonable sized pieces to fit together) and inserting tinder and small kindling in the middle and lighting.

It creates a nice hot flame in the middle that is fed by the surrounding logs. Good enough to fit a kettle on top.

Tea made, it was time for chillaxing and thinking about dinner time.

Dinner was another firm favourite- chicken and chorizo jambalaya. It’s just a simple BBC Good Food recipe that is adapted to be cooked outdoors on an open fire. Absolutely lovely.

The remainder of the evening was chatting and questionable (read: rude) campfire songs before retiring. I went back to the car, having spent a cosy night there the night before I thought I’d have another one!

Woke up to a lovely sunrise and on the way back to camp started noticing the fresh new shoots growing up- a sign spring will soon be here!

I didn’t stay for the remainder of the camp. Whilst the majority of equipment (and other half) is away I can start on cleaning and organising the house. I’m on a course this week so won’t be able to stretch the chores out over this half term as usual…

This camp was very refreshing though! A lovely reminder of the simple things in life are all you need!

Just Joanne

Scouting Reflections

Scouting. I’m a Scouter. I’ve been a Scouter since 2007. I’m enjoy Scouting.

I started Scouting as part of my Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award volunteering section with 1st Chelmsford Scout group on the recommendation of a friend.

My introduction was… chaotic – that is to say, I don’t recall any introduction! I was just thrown into the mix of a rowdy group of youngsters who played games all night; I don’t recall much ‘Scouting’ going on then. Needless to say, I wasn’t there for long; my university course was finishing and I was planning a trip aboard so I have very little memory of the group, the leaders and the young people. When uni was completed I spent the summer at Trefoil Ranch in Provo, Utah where I volunteered as a Camp Counsellor with the Girl Scouts of Utah.

I LOVED my time with the Girl Scouts. It taught me a lot of Scouting values and was a fantastic experience in a beautiful canyon. The weather was kind during my three months there. Every night I was sleeping in a fixed patrol tent in the woodland where you could hear the critters outside… I got to ride horses, teach outdoors skills, go white water rafting, archery, interact with Americans and even the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park (a dream of mind at the time!). If I could relive the experience again I would without hesitation! So many wonderful memories…

207462_4292962845_6524_n
206270_4292972845_7810_n
207406_4292917845_872_n
221999_5041802845_8175_n

Upon returning I wanted to continue Scouting for my DofE so  I contacted groups within Swindon to see if they needed a volunteer and was contacted back by Kelvin, the Group Scout Leader for 7th Swindon Scouts. I recall the Scout section (10 1/2 – 14 years old) met every Monday night at a local community centre at the time, where 12 Scouts and 3 leaders were crammed into a small room to run the programme (as the Beaver and Cub section were larger in numbers so used the hall); still, it was good fun. The Scouts seemed to enjoy themselves and numbers were growing.

4747_99743612845_8353715_n.jpg

Evening activities and camps with 7th were fun – we had a good bunch of kids. Whilst there I achieved my Queen Scout Award in 2009: “The Queen’s Scout Award is the highest youth award achievable in the Scouting movement in the Commonwealth realms, including the United Kingdom, Canada (Queen’s Venturer Award), Australia, and New Zealand, where Scouts operate under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth II.Wiki.

img_0266.jpg

I was presented with my certificate several times, met Wayne Bulpitt, Chief Commissioner of UK Scouting, attended a Queen Scout Reception in the Science Museum in London and shook hands with Bear Grylls at the Queen Scout Parade in Windsor Castle. After turning 25 and having to leave Network I continue to support the section by being the County Administrator.

Shortly after I begun dating Terry and, as 7th has grown considerably with more leaders in the Section, I moved across to 1st Stratton Scouts. It was a huge change to go from a community centre to a Scout hut (with storage and fields!).

The necker colour changed from blue and yellow to ‘gold’ and red, yet there were still a lot of camps and activities with the young people…

Some very old photos… I miss my fluffy Russian hat.

14125_384877747772_511112772_4033367_2640691_n.jpg

Me, Adam, Mike, Toni, Terry, Rosie, Ross, Jamie and Dave.

30042_431351627845_512432845_5619609_1369992_n.jpeg

1st Stratton Scout leaders liked to run ‘back to basics’ camp – that is to say, they preferred ‘bushcraft’ style camps (build shelters, carve wood, cook over open fires, make own activities) to activity camps (pay for activities, food provided). I’m very supportive of this way of camping within Scouting, not only is it traditional in a sense, it’s fundamental to Scouting ethos of developing young people to becoming independent young adults. They learn to be self-reliant, organised and work within a team (a patrol) whereas I find activity camps rather boring as you move from activity to activity… plus you don’t get to take cool evening shot photos such as this parachute one…

IMG_6791.JPG

At Stratton, Terry and I ran a district expedition competition called the Spartan Hike for the Scout section which I have very fond memories of. At the time, there was an Expedition Challenge Badge for the Scout section but it wasn’t a requirement for the Scouts to gain the top award for their section, the Chief Scout Gold Award, so we ran this so encourage Scouts to partake in this fun endeavour…

sparton_2012.jpg

58924_119690318085016_721657_n.jpg

L to R: Tom, Stuart, Terry, Sam, Matthew, me and Sam.

I was with Stratton for about 3/4 years I think? I gained my 5-year service badge whilst there…

IMG_20120830_095543.jpg

At the same time, I also helped Terry with Phoenix Archer Explorer Scout Unit (still do occasionally), which meet on Tuesday nights in Highworth. Explorers are 14 – 18 years old and run a lot more “lax” programme that Scouts, that is to say, no patrols and more relaxed ceremonies. Being a lot older and more independent the camping certainly is easier and conversation a lot more… interesting!

IMG_6700.JPG

IMG_3239.JPG

I even got myself into Scouting magazine one year. As I recall they wanted to hear from Scouters who had met their partner whilst volunteering.

So far, I’ve been on a couple of international trips with Scouting – Serbia (2011, 2014, 2018), Iceland (2017), Switzerland (2015) Hungary (2013) and Ireland (2016) – mainly with Explorers and Network.

Our Explorer Belt to Hungary was the first Belt we ran. We helped seven Explorer Scouts plan for their 10 days exploration and things went well (just one group ‘fall out’!) – I was joyed to hear that the experience gave the young people (and their parents) confidence enough to plan their own independent travel afterwards – maybe us dropping them off at the bus station in Hungary and letting them sort themselves out helped? (tee hee).

2013-04-19 16.15.53.jpg

Next was a joint DofE Gold Expedition and Explorer Belt with Ireland – sixteen Explorers/Network members took part in the Belt and eighteen in the DofE expedition. That was a big event for us. We stayed at Larch Hill, the national campsite of Irish Scouting, whilst they travelled around. I am envious of their experiences as the presentations showed they all had a great time.

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 18.22.52.png

I’ve been to two Serbian Jamborees now – Šabac (2011) and Bela Crkva (2014) and currently planning Belgrade (2018) – including Explorer Belt for 10 Explorers. The Serbian Jamborees are not like the UK based ones nor the World Scout Jamboree – they are small, intimate and back to basics – in 2014 we turned up to a site where the Serbians had to ‘create’ it via removal of trees, stumps etc: they just got on with it without a fuss. Serbian Scouting doesn’t have the ‘gloss’ and marking like UK scouting – they have very little money (often sharing uniforms or using old army clothing) but they have a lot of kindness and pride for their Scouting and their country. I would highly recommend people to attend.

IMG_5856.JPG

After Stratton, I was asked to become the Scout Section Leader at 1st Blunsdon. The necker colour changed again from ‘gold’ and red to black and red…

It was daunting going from assistant to section leader – so much more responsibility on you to plan, organise, keep track of things etc… I really enjoy all of it though! I had a good leadership team, great parental support, a strong group within a lovely community and best of all inquisitive and energetic Scouts – we started with 9 and when I left it was around 30 young people. We went caving, climbing, exploring, sailing, hiking, dodge balling, camping, expedition(ing) and much much much more! I took so much away from this experience that I would love to be a Scout section leader again when the time is right.

IMG_0212.JPG

File_001.jpeg

Whilst at Blunsdon, a couple of Scouting friends decided to join the 15th World Scout MOOT in Iceland in 2017. Having never been nor experienced what an International Service Team member does I thought I would give it a go. At the start of the event, we travelled to Akureyri, “The Capital of the North” as the Icelandic describe it, where we spent several days camping, exploring the hillsides, running activities and generally having a wonderful time. After this, we were stationed at Úlfljótsvatn Scout Centre, just outside Reykjavík.
Akureyri was the highlight for me. Being the furthest expedition centre we had to travel the longest but we got to see a lot of Iceland whilst doing so. The IST team, both UK and Icelandic, were brilliant and there was a real strong community feel to it. I’d happily go back to Akureyri any day.

IMG_6144.JPG

IMG_7693.JPG

The UK contingent mascot was the puffin. All 600 IST was given a pin to say ‘Thank you’ (TAKK!) for their support.

So, as have probably read I’ve had many roles in Scouting. From leadership to an administrator, an adviser to an assistant, instructor to manager level… there are certainly lots of choices to volunteer for.

IMG_5451.JPG

My current primary role is County Local Training Manager for Swindon North. I took this role on in 2015 because the vacancy arose and I decided I wanted to help adults and put my administration skills to good use. The district at the time needed structure and organisation with it’s adult training. Without a centralised system of recording it was hard to see just how much training (or lack of) adults had done within their groups. Now, if you speak to any Scouter they will groan at the word Compass… in the initial inception it wasn’t the best database due to lots of missing or corrupt data, however, it allowed for an overview and to manage training by directing the right support where it was needed.

I listened to feedback from leaders and commissioners as to what they felt the district needed in terms of training and this has lead to an online diary of training, an easy online booking system, stronger communication and local collaborated training of selected modules with the neighbouring Scouting district. We also took on board an experienced First Response trainer who has become one of our most important assets in the district to support adults. Things have improved for the district.

File_001.jpeg

At our district conference, I was able to proudly say that adult training within the district was getting stronger, woodbadges were being awarded and people felt more positively about it. I’m not a public speaker so this was a very nerve-racking experience for me.

13043722_800178753420777_8754229855306934399_n

My fondest and most prized Scouting possession is my camp blanket. On it, I have Scout scarfs (commonly known as ‘neckers’) from trips, events and activities I’ve been involved in as well as badges for events, badges for location and badges for interests and achievements (like Geocaching). This would certainly be the first thing I could save if my home was on fire (after the dog of course…).

IMG_7639.JPG

So, I’ve come to the end of these 10 years. I have lots more I could write about – there are just so many memories I would happily share (best shared over a pint)… So what’s next? I am taking a step back to concentrate on my education next year however, I will still be involved as much as possible with DofE advising, Phoenix Archer ESU and various other bits – just nothing as committed or time-consuming as Training Manager. I hope to get involved in Scouting when in Wales – I feel having access to mountains, caves and rivers will add a completely different element of fun and adventure.

20160325_165853.jpg

So upon reflection, I ask myself – what has Scouting given me? What have I gotten from these past 10 years? To know me 10 years ago you would have found a shy individual who was just finding themselves. I had some experience of the bigger world but was very naive – I didn’t know how to manage or what to do with myself or my life – I’d quit university once, attended another course that I hadn’t really thought about and ended up in a town I didn’t want to be in. At one point I was made redundant, homeless and at risk of losing my car when a Scouter (in fact, two) offered me a place to stay – if it wasn’t for the Scouting community who knows what would have happened at that point?

Since then, I’ve been given experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, been places I’ve never thought of going, enjoyed working with a variety of volunteers (and paid staff) from a variety of backgrounds, met some wonderful young people and most of all, I’m going to be able to change career with professional status.

Yes, Scouting is a community that opens itself to those willing to help others. I owe a lot of Scouting; it doesn’t just develop the young people and above all, it’s been fun.

Just Joanne