The best outdoor experience of my life so far

Oliver 14 and Angus, off on an adventure of a lifetime

I have just returned from the 23rd Australian Jamboree – an event like no other  and it runs every three years in a different location. The tag line was Dream it! Live it! and that is what we did. I personally made sure I got as much as possible out of what was on offer.  Scouts are aged between 11 and 14 years. The jamboree is the pinnacle in scouting and a scout almost always only goes to one, due to age.

The environment was very challenging, it was very hot 35 degrees plus, with 80 percent humidity, very dusty and to keep hydrated each scout required around 8 – 9 liters of water per day. For us leaders, the work was very physical and relentless. Our days began at 5am and concluded with a meeting of our young scout leaders (called a troop council) and leaders which finished at anywhere between 11pm and midnight.

I have been involved in cubs and scouts for 6 years and I have thoroughlly enjoyed the training and all the activities and skills that I have learnt. I put my hand up to go to the jamboree as I had two sons who wanted to go. Both have kidney disease, but the health of my 11 year old is a bit up and down so I felt a responsibility to go.

It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I went as a health and welfare leader of our troop, which consisted of 34 scouts. I had never expected that the experience would be so intense and that I would feel a buzz like never before – a buzz that went on for all ten days of the jamboree.

The jamboree is like a safe city – 12,500 scouts and 2500 leaders.  There is a daily newspaper, a radio station and a hospital and medical centre and 24 hour dental centre staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses. There are onsite activities every day and some offsite ones too. Kids get the freedom to roam within the fenced confines of a 102 hectare site, doing things kids dont get to do anymore. There was badge swapping, mud challenges, climbing activities, abseiling, orienteering, circus skills, woodwork and building, smashing old cars, plumbing, disability challenges – the list goes on. The offsite activities were Splash it! which was a day doing beach based activities, building rafts, zorg balls, swimming and snorkeling and Love it! which was a day at Australia Zoo and the beach, Explore it! which was a find Wally challenge around Maryborough town centre and Endure it! which was a bush challenge in an area of around 1.5 kms by 2km’s where there were 32 bases. Scouts had to trek through the bush to find the bases – there were mud slides, making rockets with baked beans and spaghetti, puzzles etc.

Each night there was some entertainment in the arena – we had Timomatic, Reese Masten, Jessica Mauboy, Justice Crew plus some other local bands. Their was a circus that ran at night allowing the kids to learn circus skills.  Kids had to travel to entertainment onsite in pairs or more and their curfew was 9.45pm. The fire brigade would come around and spray the grounds and anyone who wanted to be sprayed.

What gave me such a buzz was this incredible feeling of community and goodwill and the unbelievable freedom that the kids just revelled in.  Not a electronic gadget in site. Their excited chatter when they came back from activities and wanted to tell their troop mates about it. There was plenty of structure and discipline and each member of our troop actively had to follow the scout law – respecting each other, the environment and doing their best.  The scouts had to wash their own clothes, ensure they had all they needed for activities, they made their own lunches and had to remember to keep hydrated and sun screened. In their patrols which were made up of 5 or 6 scouts they had two days where they were on duty and they had to prepare breakfast and dinner for 40 people. There is no set level in scouts, it has to be each individuals best – the growth in some of the kids over the two weeks was just incredible.

I feel I could become a jamboree junkie, and I have learnt so much over the  last 14 days. My greatest lesson is to ensure that I am always pushing my self into new territories and to keep on learning to keep young.

Hope you too have had a great holiday, holiday program from 21st January, so need to get ready!



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