Local Scouts attend World Scout Jamboree in Sweden

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Aug. 16, 2011
Aaron Stirling (bottom left) and other members of his patrol pose on the lash gateway they built to their campsite at the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden. Contributed photo. - Contributed Photo

When more than 40,000 Scouts from all corners of the world convened this summer in Sweden for the World Scout Jamboree, Griswold wasn’t left out.

First Class Scout Aaron Stirling, 15, along with David and Jonathan Scannell, both of whom are Eagle Scouts and assistant Scoutmasters, made the trip to Rinkaby, in southern Sweden, for the 22nd annual international gathering of Scouts, titled “Simply Scouting.” The 13-day event, which began July 27, gave young people from all over the globe and their leaders a chance to work, eat, and play together and share Scouting lore.

The three local Scouts traveled to Sweden with a contingent of 36 boys and four leaders from Connecticut and New York. It was the Scannells’ second Jamboree trip. Last time, in England in 2007, they had been youth participants; this year, since they’re both over 18, they served on the International Service Team as adult leaders.

It was all new for Stirling, who had only been out of the country once before on a family vacation. He came home with an assortment of patches from dozens of participating countries, collected in trade with other Scouts.

Stirling said that meeting new people was the best part of the Jamboree for him. Communication wasn’t a problem, he said, even though he doesn’t speak a foreign language himself. “Most people spoke English or French,” he said.

They even caught a glimpse of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf. “He was in Scouting himself, and I heard he was very interested in the events at the Jamboree,” said David Scannell. The king toured the camps, ate at the dining hall, climbed the Jamboree tower, and reportedly even slept in a tent overnight.

Both male and female Scouts attended the event, said Peg Stirling, Aaron’s mother. She and other parents were able to follow the Jamboree events via a website and online blogs.

As a participant, Stirling took part in activity modules including team-building, environmental education, and mazes. These activities were run by IST members like the Scannells, working in patrols with Scouts from other countries.

In true Scout tradition, camping was in tents and primitive, but ingenious. Photos from the event blogs show plenty of lash constructions (structures built of rough wood saplings lashed together), including one that appears to be a small, but workable Ferris wheel. A huge pile of wood was made available for the Scouts’ building use.

“Participants not only had to make their food, but during this Jamboree, they had to decide what their patrol was eating, and purchase their food at an onsite grocery store,” said David Scannell. “There was a dining tent for ISTs, since we spend a lot of the time working.”

Stirling said one of the high points was a cultural and food festival. “Everyone made food from their own culture, and people walked around and tasted the food,” he said. Some Scouts also dressed in national garb for the occasion, he said. Stirling said his patrol made and served doughnuts.

While it was a working trip for David and Jon Scannell, “they did have some activities meant for ISTs to do during their time off,” David said. “I did some of those, including a class on speaking some Swedish words.”

The Jamboree was capped by a closing show attended by 40,000 participants and staff. David said the show “featured some Swedish bands, including Europe, which is the only one I knew of, and that anyone is likely to have heard of.

“The show also included fireworks, and was fun despite the on-and-off rain,” he said.

Jon said that he’s now Facebook friends with the five other members of his patrol, which included representatives from France, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and Italy.

Jamboree is held every four years, and the next one is planned for 2015, in Japan. Peg Stirling said that she hopes Aaron will be able to attend that one, too, since his grandmother lives in Japan. By that time, he’ll be 18 and in the ranks of the IST.

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