October 14 to 16 2016 was my first camp, JOTA/JOTI 2016, as a Scout Leader. I had no uniform, no training and no clue. Since then I have had some crazy adventures, lots of training and plenty of lessons learnt. This year, 21 and 22 October was the 60th Jamboree of the Air (JOTA) and 21st Jamboree of the Internet, and my first time organising and running the event for the Central Coast Region (Central) Scouts and Guides at Seeonee Park.
This post will be a compare and contrast between how I saw the event last year as a fresh eyed Scout Leader and this year after having a Scout Section for the entirety of this year as a Solo Leader, following all of my formal training as a section leader, and after meeting and collaborating with the other leaders in the Region.
I arrived on the Friday of JOTA/JOTI in 2016 to a flurry of Scouts, Parents and Girl Guides. There where children in and out of uniform running through the campsite with screams of laughter and joy. I also saw leaders running around with clipboards and paperwork, smiling and trying to rein in their respective Scouts and Guides. I saw parents who where happily dropping off their children and leaving with an autograph, a small conversation and almost hurried footsteps from the campground.
The activities where laid out into stations, the leader all discussed what they would be doing, how and when. There was laughter, coffees, and oh so much food. It was an orchestra of chaos and control.
The Friday was mainly set up, parade, dinner and a movie. This low key entry was a deceptive introduction to the fun of the following day. My first lesson of being a Scout Leader is, though being comfortable is important, having a quick set up sleeping arrangement is more important. A 8 person tent, which I have set up by myself previously, though comfortable, is completely impractical to set up at 2300 when the Scouts are asleep. So solution to that, buy a swag.
The Saturday began with my son coming into my tent at oh my gosh its early and letting me know he spewed in his tent. So with an early wake up, a change of clothes and a quick message to the wife, we packed him up, sent him home and avoided a Gastro outbreak. Crisis averted, lesson learnt regarding the health of the Scouts and not dismissing the early symptoms of stomach bugs, virus’s and anxiety.
After a cup of coffee, or six, the day began. The kitchen crew cooked up an absolute storm of various porcine products, eggs, toast, cereal and leftover dinner from the night previously. The activities started in full swing rolling after a brief wash up of dishes and breaking the numbers into smaller groups.
I was helping my Scout Leader, Curlew, with a Navigation activity as it was something I was reasonably comfortable with given my time in the Navy. The day seemed to flow seamlessly, the groups rotate, some Scouts and Guides got the activities really easily, others needed a little more guidance, but generally they had fun. The thing that struck me was the things the Scouts and Guides would attempt to get away with, and how often a leader would need to stop the activity to correct behaviour. Lesson leant, no matter the age apparently you WILL need to tell them to not lick that, don’t touch that and don’t EAT that.
Saturday night was my first real insight into the social side of being a Scout leader, it generally involves sitting around in a circle, occasionally sending a Scout back to bed or comforting one who is missing their parents, and talking about the day, our pasts, or general smack which causes a roll of laughter and red faces. Scouting at its best.
This year was a complete contrast, I was no longer a fresh eyed Scout Leader simply attending and helping out, but the Activity Leader running JOTA/JOTI for 2017. I was no longer shocked by the behaviour of the Scouts. I knew what to expect during the weekend, I knew the activities, I knew most of the leaders, and everything was planned out, the only thing out of my control was the weather, and that wasn’t too bad. Just a spot of rain.
The Scouts and Guides were responsive to my leadership, they generally followed the directions given to them, the leaders knew what was expected of them and information was filtering through so decisions could be made about schedule changes, activity changes and child behaviour.
The weekend, considering everything, went really well, the adjustments made to the schedule made the day flow easier, the activity changes made the stations more useful and entertaining given the weather constraints and I walked away with a bucket load or dos and don’ts for next year.
All in all it was a great learning experience for myself, a great social catchup with the leaders from the region, a fantastic opportunity to achieve some site work at Seeonee Park, and a great activity weekend for the Scouts and Guides.
Its been a long year, there have been 14 Activities or camps I have organised for my Scout Section, with 4 of them being a region level event, I have crammed all my training into the year, nearing completion of my Diploma and there is still so much to do, and what I want to do.
I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months has install for me, my Scout Section and the Region in which I belong. I can’t wait to see the growth, the changes, the improvements in all of it. Thank you Scouts Australia for giving me the opportunity to Serve our youth and Warripari for accepting me into the family.
Maintain the Rage