The decision to run an international Jamboree in the Alps in 2022 was a brave one. Covid restrictions had barely been lifted when we first started promoting the event in early 2021, but unwavering commitment and optimism from the event leadership team led to impressive sign-ups and demand.
The event offered just the tonic to months of prolonged pandemic and as the event drew closer, the excitement was palpable. The logistical feat to get there was a challenge in itself, preparing for the arrival of 200 Explorer Scouts, Scout Network members and adult leaders.
Each Unit chose their own way to travel to the Jamboree, taking place at St. Crepin in the French Hautes-Alpes. From places, trains and automobiles, the options were varied and allowed the travelling Units to tailor the experience to their own preferences and interests. Those going by coach used the chance to stop off at Paris and Lyon to take in the sights en route.
Meanwhile, the Jamboree team transported seven tonnes of kit by articulated lorry and created an impressive temporary village in the Alps for the event. Once on site, the Jamboree in the Mountains offered an incredible programme of activities, both adventurous and cultural. It was a full-on programme that included climbing, hillwalking, white water rafting, canyoning, via ferrata, white water canoeing, mountain biking, paddle boarding, tobogganing, ski lifts and aqua parks.
Participants also spent valuable time exploring the region, learning about the local culture, and completing local community projects. Among those was building 20 new picnic benches and refurbishing a tennis court for the local campsite. In true Jamboree style, there was also plenty of time to make new friends and soak up the atmosphere.
Explorer Scout Aaron said of his experience: “The event will have a lasting impact on my life. Activities such as canyoning and via ferrata have pushed me to try things massively outside my comfort zone and sometimes you just have to “take the leap”.
Meanwhile, one of the Unit leaders showed just what a positive influence volunteering with Scouting can have on adults. “I loved it! I have never done anything like this before. I made new adult friends, learnt a lot about myself and loved seeing the young people loving the experience.”
For most of the participants (and many of the of the adult leaders), this was their first experience of an international scouting event, and we hope they will now have been inspired to do many more in the future.
Returning home after their adventure, the change in the participants was also noted by their families. Speaking about their daughter’s experience, one parent commented, “the whole experience has been brilliant. She raised all the money through completely a sponsored walk and cleaning jobs. She really learnt the importance of being organised and perseverance even though she hated the cleaning jobs! She got a real sense of achievement and learnt that sometimes you have to put in time and effort and the result is worth it. She also really developed the ability to be independent and work in big groups. A fantastic trip.”
Others reflected on the social wellbeing benefits of the Jamboree experience.
“This event has really helped social confidence. The activities were all amazing and great fun, but I think the main takeaway was meeting new people and making friends which is a struggle for some teens.”
“The opportunities they had and how much more confident my son is superb. He made friends with others which is hard for him to do, so I would recommend any child doing the same if they have the chance.”
Finally, a comment that really summarises everything that Alps22 – and in fact any Jamboree or international experience offers: “I think every teenager should have an experience like this. To push themselves out of their comfort zone, supporting others to overcome fears, having the expectations of working for the benefit of the community they are staying in and towards the group as a whole give them a great sense of self-worth.”
Well done to the amazing volunteer team for managing though the Covid, Brexit and other challenges that arose during the planning of this event. Their persistence ensured that our Explorer Scouts, Scout Network, and adult leaders had the opportunity to take part in an adventure they will never forget!
You can see more pictures of the Alps22 adventure on our website
Have you got tales from the summer months that you’d like to share with Berkshire Scouts?
Drop us a line: [email protected]