By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
With students returning to class now, many will be sharing the fun times they had over the summer break. Some may share tales of a local summer camp, while others may have gone to the cottage with their family, and others got to enjoy sleeping in and playing outside.
However, a few Oshawa students will be able to tell the tale of going to one of the largest gatherings of Scouts in the world.
A group of Oshawa Scouts spent part of their summer in Finland to attend the Roihu Finnjamboree, an annual gathering of more than 15,000 Scouts from around the world.
Learning that members of the 21st Oshawa troupe had the opportunity to head across the Atlantic was exciting news for the young Scouts.
“I was so excited I didn’t sleep that night,” says Michael Field, a Scout who “can’t remember not being in Scouting.”
“I couldn’t sleep for like a month. Then I had to get myself unexcited about the trip because I wasn’t sleeping.”
“I was ecstatic. It really sounded like a great opportunity and I got really hyped,” adds Ben Lines.
Ahead of the jamboree, the Scouts got the chance to explore Northern Europe, hopping on board a cruise ship to see the sights in Finland, as well as other countries such as Russia and Estonia.
“We had Scouts from those countries come and give us a tour,” says Madeline O’Neil, who got into Scouts after growing disinterested with Girl Guides.
“We got to stop in some shops and eat in different places in the country. That was fun.”
At the camp, the Scouts were no slouches – they were kept busy.
“I had to do some volunteer work,” says Alex Pham, who is a Venturer Scout, a program for Scouts between 14 and 17 years old that teaches more advanced skills for both outdoor adventures and their futures as adults.
“I helped run the activities for the younger Scouts and also I had a 24-hour hike off the camp site with other international Scouts, so that was great.”
“For us regular Scouts, we did a few team-building activities at the camp. We did a bunch of different things,” adds Lines.
“We built things, we put together stuff. Some of the activities were really neat and we got to experience the culture.”
Other activities at the camp included obstacle courses, visiting a petting zoo, boating and more.
Now back in Canada and back to school, the Scouts agreed that they learned a lot on the trip – and it was more than just scouting skills.
“The news only shows the bad things that happen in other countries, but you get the wrong impression,” Lines says.
“When you go to these countries, you get to interact with them and see that they’re not all what they’re cut out to be. A lot of these people are very nice, funny and kind. They’re all of these different things.”