Volunteer Voice: Following our Canadian Path to Pj19

As a young Cub Scout in the mid-’80s, I had two recurring dreams that I have kept alive in the back of my mind ever since: (i) attend a national Jamboree, and; (ii) drive across our beautiful country, Canada. 35 years later, Pacific Jamboree 2019 (PJ19) turned those dreams into reality!

It’s the Destination And the Journey

At first, it was not clear whether my son and I would be able to attend PJ19 at all. Our 1stHull Scout Troop (based in Gatineau, QC) is only in its fourth year of existence, and resources remain a challenge. But when there is a will, there’s a way! My sister Nadia is a Troop Scouter with 85th Lakeview in Calgary; the Troop was sending a contingent and graciously invited us to tag along.

So last February, I told my son: “Justin, we’re going to PJ19 on Vancouver Island with your aunt and cousin’s Scout Troop!”

Justin excitingly replied: “Yeah! That’s awesome. But how are we going to get there?”

I showed him a map of Canada on my iPad and said: “We are DRIVING!”

Using the Plan-Do-Review method, 12-year-old Justin started planning which cities and attractions he wanted to see on the way, such as the Terry Fox monument in Thunder Bay, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and the world’s biggest teepee in Medicine Hat. We were also really looking forward to driving across the prairies and through the Rocky Mountains. For the return, a stop at the Calgary Stampede was on the to-do list, and so was a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. Part of the planning exercise was also to leave some room for spontaneous creativity during the 10,000 km road trip from our home in Gatineau to the Pacific coast and back through the United States. It allowed for additional unplanned stops, including visits to the Mall of America in Minneapolis and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. We really tried to maximize our quest to encounter as many amazing things as possible and create memories for a lifetime, while respecting a limited budget.

Beautiful British Columbia

The highlight of our epic road trip adventure was undeniably PJ19. What a dream come true! Meeting remarkable Scouts and Scouters from across Canada and far-away parts of the world (our sub-camp superintendents were from Sweden and the UK), pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone to truly feel alive (like backpacking the Juan de Fuca trail overnight) and doing stimulating activities (obstacle course, geocaching, ham radio and so much more) while building confidence and leadership skills in a Jamboree setting made for an experience that would be hard to top.

As a Scouter, my most memorable moments really spoke to our time in British Columbia:

  • Having a meaningful chat with former Scout and B.C. Premier, John Horgan
  • Hugging a giant sequoia tree
  • Witnessing a family of majestic orcas swimming beside the ferry on our way to Vancouver Island – I never even dreamed of experiencing such a breathtaking scene in my lifetime.

PJ19, Thanks for the Memories!

I am grateful for the experiences Justin and I were able to live because of PJ19. I want to thank all the organizers, volunteers and Scouts Canada for the mind-blowing event. During our review exercise, I asked Justin (my co-pilot) what his thoughts were about the entire PJ19 experience.

He said, “Can we do it all over again? Like, next month?”

I think that nicely sums it up!

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