Scouting is a movement filled to the brim with life skills and opportunities for young people like myself, and one such opportunity is the International World Scout Jamboree. Last held in Japan four years ago, the World Scout Jamboree unites around 40,000 scouts and leaders, hence creating a magnificent event that thrives with almost all cultures and personalities. From the snowy summits of Alaska and the sandy shores of Australia to the soaking streets of Surrey, scouts will gather at the 24th World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia in the summer of 2019 – all the countries seen below in purple will be represented.

However, only a select few lucky individuals from every country have the chance to attend, as they must first endure the vigorous selection process.

Tom Branney, Sonny Cruikshank and I (with Ilan Kotik as 1st reserve) were the ones eventually selected to go to North America – but only after we filled in a detailed application. After writing the perfect final paragraph on why we were ‘the best scouts ever’, we continued onto a long interview, held in front of a board of around six leaders and people in high scouting positions, where we were grilled (like sausages on the sizzle) with tough questions such as, “Why do you want to go…?” (Come on, nobody knows the answer to that!)

We finally emerged from the building, our cheeks sore from smiling and backs aching from maintaining perfect posture; clutching in our hand a sheet of paper… that informed us of a two day selection camp. I thought the interview was bad enough.

Esher District Selection Camp October 2017
Hinchley Wood team on the far Left
At the camp, tension filled the air as we all suddenly became ‘perfect’ scouts, asking if we could help, displaying fabulous leadership and being really, really nice. All the while in silent competition with our peers, and constantly under the eye of the leaders, evaluating how nice and how bossy we were. Over the course of two whole days we did a range of activities from team building exercises and pioneering to presentations.

We were each of us awarded a place out of a total of nine given to the Esher Scout district. Hinchley Wood took up a third of all places because we are obviously the ‘best scout troop ever’. A few of our fellow scouts were unsuccessful and this is a great disappointment as every person who applied truly deserved a spot and it is a great shame that there weren’t more spaces. But in one way they are the lucky ones, because they don’t have to fundraise thousands of pounds to pay for their places! Although we do have our units and our scout groups to help us fundraise by holding events, packing shopping bags in local shopping centres and doing group jobs like car washing, most will be done alone to raise funds with small acts such as gardening, sponsored activities and selling cakes and donuts. So if you see us please be generous!

After we got the news that we had been chosen we were then given our unit numbers, my unit is #64. Units are mixed groups of 32 Scouts, Ajax Sea Scouts and boys and girls from other scout divisions from all across Surrey, ensuring we are forming new friendships within the group and meeting new people from the wider area. With our different units, we will attend lots of ‘training camps’ teaching us essential knowledge about the Jamboree, to allow us to bond and to practice skills like putting up tents with millimetre precision.

The World Scout Jamboree offers a brand new experience for every person that is there, and opens their eyes to a myriad of different cultures and people from countless countries from six different continents. An opportunity like this is literally once-in-a-life-time. Everyone who got chosen is, I’m sure, hugely grateful and excited; and the work and commitment that goes into getting there will be well worth it.

“The 24th World Scout Jamboree” – here we come!

by Will Cruddas