By Emily Gartner, Scouts Canada Youth Spokesperson
From the first day of planning to the night before we left, my entire Scout Group was thrilled to have the opportunity to go to Canadian Jamboree 2013. It was a challenge to prepare, as well as to schedule everything we wanted and had to do outside of the camp, but each participating youth worked to contribute to the process, affording us the best possible experience.
Our journey began with a very long road trip; the ride from Winnipeg to Sylvan Lake is a total of 16 hours, which we split between two days of driving. Arriving at camp was thrilling as hundreds of people buzzed around the camp, preparing campsites and activities before processing to opening ceremonies. When we paraded down the main pathway towards the central field, surrounded by the vast crowd, it felt like the air was charged with a kind of happy electricity. The field was packed with other Scouts from all across Canada, cheering and smiling, ready to meet new friends and have some amazing adventures. This was what welcomed us to CJ 2013, foreshadowing the awesome week to come.
The field was packed with other Scouts from all across Canada, cheering and smiling, ready to meet new friends and have some amazing adventures.
Our Scout troop, the 67th Winnipeg, was split into three Patrols based on age and experience; I was part of the senior Patrol, made up of those of us in our last year before Venturers. From the first day of the jamboree, our schedule was filled with fun and cool activities, most of which became highlights of the camp. One of our activities included putting together a catapult and firing it at targets across a field. Another had us army-crawling through a mud pit then going in dunk tanks to rinse off. There were multiple obstacle courses, all of which kept us active and entertained.
The water activities were likely our favourite planned events, pulling us out onto and into the picturesque lake. We did a lot of paddling, just not in conventional watercraft; we used small, open kayaks, wooden and cardboard boxes, and giant rafts. The giant rafts were particularly fun, as they all had a pump mounted between two canoes, with the goal of sinking the other rafts before ours went down. Opportunities to swim were numerous, a blessing when the temperature rose mid-week. We snorkeled, played on aquatic bouncers, and were even tasked with using pipes and compressed air to raise a heavy box from to the water’s surface.
The biggest activity was a trip to the West Edmonton Mall, where we spent the afternoon swimming and touring around. I found it neat to visit a new city, enjoying the few hours we got there.
All of these programs were quite incredible, but my favourite parts of CJ had to be the communal areas. My friends and I explored the area, trading badges, visiting campsites and meeting new people. Around the trading post were booths educating about the Scouting program, as well as services, including a badge museum, silk screening tent, and an ice cream truck. The HAM radio station provided us with non-stop tunes to cook and play games to on our site, even playing one of our requests so my Group could sing along. There were also dozens of youth on the edges of the path, with their badge collections laid out for us to peruse as we walked past in our free time. This little community really made me reflect on how fantastic the comradery of Scouting is; there were literally thousands of strangers around me every day, and yet we were all connected by the bond Scouts.
There were literally thousands of strangers around me every day, and yet we were all connected by the bond Scouts.
Canadian Jamboree ended in the same sunny field where it kicked off. As we prepared to depart, I felt genuinely sad that it was over, knowing I would miss my new friends and campsite I had called home for a week. Nothing is quite like going to a jamboree; that kind of energy and excitement is hard to find anywhere else. So if CJ 2017 is at all like its predecessors, those who attend will be some of the luckiest people in the world.
Interested in attending the Canadian Jamboree 2017? Check out the CJ’17 website for more information on how you can experience the adventure of a lifetime: Scouts.ca/cj17.