Liverpool “Crystal Maze” SSAGO Rally

Last year I was a student living on “less than thirty Altairan Dollars a day” and up for an elected ‘job’, this year I’m going to see my replacement elected just as I’ve started a career. It’s kinda ironic I guess, I’ve been a little uneasy about the whole process as I’ve done a lot for the SSAGO Publicity role and I don’t want it ending up in ruin. I thought the only truly happy outcome would be someone to fill in the voids I purposely didn’t address as it wouldn’t so much be a replacement of my work but a continuing in the direction I left it heading in. Luckily a charming lady got elected, the wonderful Heather Coupe, the sister of a previous PO. I look forward to seeing her exploits over the coming year, hopefully the rest of the exec won’t be a roller-coaster ride.

As for the rest of the rally, if the Crystal Maze has been set in fields and woods with a low low budget I imagine it would be very similar to this, the activities were varied and numerous with a strong focus on teamwork. The costumes in the evening were spectacular, so many home brew Crystal Domes and a plethora of Golden and Silver Tickets everywhere! I think what certainly made the Rally a lot more enjoyable is having more in your pocket than lint, it was a real pleasure to buy a round for the friends I’ve made whilst in SSAGO at the Ceilidh bar.

Additionally this was originally going to have a new Rally Booking system, the intention being to add the booking system onto the blog I hacked onto the SSAGO message board but unfortunately due to a communication error my work was in vain. It was a pleasant learning experience nonetheless and I learnt a few things about the admin area functions of WordPress. Shame though, would be nice to have all the login details in the same place with the ability to create an archive of who did what and when over the years.

So here truly endith my life as a student, all loose threads coming to an end, only thing really left is to handover to my successor. I doubt this will be my last Rally though, I’ve known people to hang on for a few but I don’t think I’ll be doing this too many more times. Thanks.

Sunrises on a New Century

Here it is, the actual 100th Birthday of Scouting, 1st August 1907 to 1st August 2007, some 23 Scouts (everyone forgets that Baden-Powell counts as well) started the movement on Brownsea Island at 8am to the sound of 3 blasts from a Kudu horn. Now a century later, at 28 million members Worldwide, we’re the largest uniformed youth movement.

To mark this special occasion an entire day of the 21st World Scout Jamboree has been moulded to fit a special programme including a 6am wake-up for a 8am ceremony to mark exactly when the first camp started. To dawn in the new century Peter Duncan, the current Chief Scout, blew the Kudu horn. This event was witnessed by hundreds of Scouts at Brownsea Island, by thousands via Satellite link-up at Hylands Park (Jamboree site) and millions across the World through television.

After some moving words Peter Duncan led us with The Promise, a promise at the root of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement, from country to country, from person to person its different but the meaning is the same; to do your Best, to keep your allegiance and to follow the Scout Law.

Keeping politically correct Peter Duncan performed the international promise but most spoke their own version, myself I opted for the UK Version:

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best,
To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
To help other people,
And to keep the Scout Law.

After this moving experience we were treated to a fitting speech from HRH the Duke of Kent, President of the Scout Association UK and a reading of a letter from the Queen of England.

All in all a very impressive event, but something completely unexpected, the Current Lord Baden-Powel, the founder’s Grandson, graced us with a letter written by B-P to be read after his departure.

And to round off the mornings celebration to a selection of musical performances we all tried to get our special Sunrise Neckers signed by everyone around us, preferably from as many nationalities as possible.

‘Summer of Love’ Event

It’s two thousand and seven, the Scouting Organisation is 100 years old and celebrations are happening throughout the entire year to celebrate this amazing achievement. This year also signifies the 40th anniversary of the Student Scout And Guide Organisation. A national group setup alongside the Scout Association and GirlGuiding UK to encourage membership whilst attending Higher Education.

The independence of the organisation limits its capacity, we can not hold a 2 week long Jamboree nor concerts and camps throughout the year, we can put on a slightly more extravagant Rally than we usually do, powered by the 2007 Steering group we descend upon the Lincoln District Campsite

Some of the changes that made the event much more than a regular rally include the opening of attendance to past members of SSAGO, and members of SAGGA. Accompanied by a Firework display, retro activities and memorial video the event highlighted where we had been and where we are going as an organisation, hopefully one that will stand the test of time.

I quite enjoyed the event, I assisted in some of the preparations on and off site but the real thanks belongs to the 2007 Steering Group that having worked towards he events preparations without a solid support mechanism (such as a club) for so long.

Buckinghamshire Centenary Camp

Many moons ago a Buckinghamshire Guide Unit, Hughenden Valley Guides asked for my assistance leading at the Scouting Centenary Camp in Bucks. I quite happily accepted the offer for 2 reasons; the most important being ‘fun’ and the second as a tale for afterdark on a Scout camp in the future.

The weekend started of a little breezy but calmed down on the Saturday morning. A first point of order was to erect an entrance gate, I was to supervise the Guides performing this activity. What I didn’t expect was to have to teach the Guides how to tie knots! Apparently this troop had performed all sorts of outdoor pursuits like climbing and kayaking but were never taught basic knot tying. Despite this they put to use lashings and clove hitches quite well to construct a sturdy pyramid gate which they later decorated in multicolour camouflage netting they’d made prior to the event.

There was a small multi-ethnic concert in the evening along with a gigantic necker presumably constructed from all the neckers in a particular local, I couldn’t really hear :(. But it looked good non-the-less.

Sunday turned out to be one heck of a day, the weather just went from bad to worse. Tents that had been put up sufficiently started leaning over and had to be strictly re-pegged to stop from flying away. Other campers were not so lucky as we saw more than 1 hike tent make like a tumble-weed in the gale force winds.

At some point it became obvious that we couldn’t last out the storm and started making preparations to send the girls home. There would be no quick escapes and we eventually hid out in the miniature fiesta tent we dined in.

With the onsite activities quickly packing up, or in some cases closing down boredom and unhappiness became infectious so entertainment had to be jury rigged in a limited environment with little apparatus. Combining a beach ball weighted down in the corner with a wall made of the girl’s camp ‘buckets’ dividing the tent in two I improvised a volley ball tournament. This kept everyone occupied for a lot longer than I expected and next moved onto verbal games and then some right out of the Guiding handbook.

As the afternoon pressed on the rain started to breach the tent and any pen and paper games quickly went out the window, actually it was through the walls but that doesn’t really matter. Majority of the girls had been picked up by this point so the remaining girls and I moved to a smaller tent to wait. With the area too small to move I grabbed my book (you should always have playing cards and a book on camp) to read to the girls. Usually I’d have the Douglas Adams classic, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with me but with the highly acclaimed Order of the Phoenix AND the final book; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows due out this summer I was re-reading my way through all the books and was upto Chamber of Secrets.

We each took turns reading a chapter, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read aloud with it being so long since I’ve had to read anything in public, although saying that I had done a lot of speaking in public since they which has obviously helped as I read through Chapter 1 without any major trips.

As we read through the book the winds continued to gush and the rain to blanket down, the numbers remaining dropped and soon it was just the leaders to pack up the remaining 3 tents and leave for a hot drink at Mary’s Cottage, the troops intrepid Leader home.

Despite the hardship I certainly enjoyed the weekend, I grew as a person as I better understand the Guiding dynamic and the inherent pitfalls of hands-on leading. So I say a big thank you to Hughenden Valley Guides and I hope we can do it again something similar in the future.

Delivery Day

To cleverly order the exact amount of kit for the World Scout Jamboree attenders orders were taken from every Unit and person for what they wanted from a catalogue of items, anything from cufflinks to neck-ties was available to order. The orders were taken a whooping 6 months earlier and today we finally get the first of our kit with the World Scout Jamboree Brand on.

For International Service Team Members like myself its just for the Jamboree management to save some pounds on delivery which means that the money saved can be spent on something much more worth while like improved food services or a few extra types of brew in the IST bar tent.

For Unit Leaders its an entire different kettle of fish, they have they have to collect not only their own kit but all the kit of the participants in their Unit! They each get (sleeping tents, Uniform, badges, scarf, woggle, ruc-sac and holdall more…) so there is an awful lot to take.

As well as the kit collection a few presentations have been scheduled to lift the veil on information pertaining to arrival and a few other unknown aspects.

And possibly the most important event to all the members of the the Go Jamboree website; a chance to meet each other!

What started as a simple circle around a rather flimsy mess shelter turned into a small village of Go Jamboree members, past present and future! It was marvellous to meet some people who until now were either had their posts associated to their profile through a username or nondescript avatar.

Having put so much time into creating the website, forum and paraphernalia getting thanks and congratulations in person it was very heart-warming to know that people are appreciative.

Hopefully I’ll get to meet all of our members at the world Scout Jamboree!

100 Days till 100 Years

Many members of Go Jamboree have been counting down from 718 days (EuroJam till WSJ) so with this being the last day of a 3 digit countdown the excitement will grow that little bit more than usual.

What is it we’re counting down to?

The 21st World Scout Jamboree is a once in every 4 year opportunity, similar to the Olympics, except that this event is extra special, we are also celebrating the 100 Year anniversary of the first camp at Brownsea Island held by Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell in 1907 with 22 boys. Now a century later there are members in practically every Country and territory across the globe with memberships numbering near 29 million!

The only requisite for attendance is age. To attend WorldJam you need only be 14-17 years of age at time of the event. So its possible that if you have a Birthday on the cusp of the start and finish dates then you might not be able to go as a participant.

Don’t fret, you can go when you are over the age of 18 but you will be part of the Jamboree Organising Team, most likely was one of the ~8000 International Service Team (IST) or if you’re lucky enough as Jamboree Development Team (Leader to many IST).

Still there are other ways, Unit Leaders will have to go look after their participants, and someone has to organise the Units (Contingent Managers) so aslong as you are willing to do a little work there will be something for you to do.