Camp Woods preparing to host national jamboree

The logistics of setting up a town of 6,000 people and providing everything from water and food to activities was described

The logistics of setting up a town of 6,000 people and providing everything from water and food to activities was described during a community barbecue at Camp Woods, Aug. 25.

The Scout camp, on the west shore of Sylvan Lake, is hosting a national jamboree next July with more than 5,000 Scouts (aged 11-14) and 1,000 leaders and support staff attending. An estimated 200-300 of the staff will be Venturers who are 14-17 year olds.

“This is probably the most ready campsite I’ve seen in my jamboree career,” said Bernie Lutes, chairperson of Canadian Scout Jamboree 2013 (CJ’13).

That’s a credit to Wayne Stade, Camp Woods Warden, John Witham who’s in charge of site services, and their teams.

Lutes and other jamboree organizers hosted residents from the surrounding area, including Half Moon Bay to outline plans for the event.

Organization of a national jamboree takes about three years and we’re in the final ten months, he said.

Eight subcamps will be set up where youth and leaders will be self-contained and cook their meals. Another area will feed approximately 1,000 support people.

Programming for the youngsters will take place in two places — on the water where there will be a number of activities and in a field southwest of the camp which will be used for both programming and parking. A new trail has been created at the east end of the camp property.

A small hospital will be set up with doctors and nurses and more than likely a dentist. They’ll also have access to an on-site ambulance and will be in contact with local emergency personnel.

Lutes said approximately 2,000 people are expected to arrive by plane and will be picked up in school buses and brought to the camp. The majority of traffic to the camp will occur on Saturday, July 6 when people are arriving and again on Saturday, July 13 when they’re leaving.

The circular route used will be north from Highway 11 on Range Road 21 and through Half Moon Bay to the old wooden entrance on the west end of the camp which will be a new wooden entrance by the time of their arrival. Traffic will leave travelling south on Range Road 22 (or if it’s under construction on Range Road 23). The route has been designed for safety so passengers are always boarding or leaving buses on the grassed area on the north side of the road instead of on the road itself.

Lutes said about 1,000 people will be leaving the camp for day trips each day which equates to about 25 bus loads.

John Witham, in charge of site services, said among the things needed to sustain the population of a small town are food, potable water, sewer and garbage systems.

“Just one of the little tasks” has been construction of 650 picnic tables, he said. Some of those will be available for sale after the jamboree.

He added, there will be some changes to the camp but it will be similar to its current state as a wooded camp. They’ve opened up an area in the centre for opening and closing services and will accommodate 5,000 to 6,000 people. It will become a nice grassed area. Otherwise they’re working on making some areas more open and taking out underbrush.

Stating they’re trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible, Witham said they’ll need 10,000 gallons of water a day for shower facilities. All sewage will be trucked out. There will be regular garbage pickup and a recycling program.

A set of stairs will be installed down to the lake closer to the jamboree opening and then removed after it’s over as will temporary floating docks.

“We’re trying to stay away from environmentally sensitive areas along the waterfront. We will not go into those areas.”

Lutes said two jamborees ago, Scouts Canada decided it would only hold jamborees on Scout property.

That way expenditures for improving infrastructure remain as an investment in Scouting.

The budget for site services and improvements for this jamboree is $500,000-$600,000. While that also includes porta potty rental, a good chunk of the investment is going to stay here. Things like water lines, clearing in the camp, picnic tables, a whole myriad of things will benefit the camp.

Linda Maki, who’s in charge of the subcamps, said it’s like creating eight little cities. A unit size includes two adults and eight youth. They get a picnic table on their site but are otherwise self-contained, bringing their own tents and gear. Food is provided.

Their site will be about 10 metres square or if they’re in the trees 15 metres square. A number of units then form a subcamp.

The units will be cooking their meals in the subcamps using propane or gas stoves and the Scouts will be closely supervised during meal preparation. No open fires will be permitted in the subcamp areas. She suggested most Scouts will have a pre-jamboree camp to learn more about jamboree life.

Leaders accompanying the youngsters are all fully trained and screened, she said. Each subcamp will have fire suppression equipment, there will be medical people on site and all will be familiar with the emergency plan for the jamboree.

The subcamp chiefs will each recruit 24 people as part of their team to assist in providing service to youth and leaders. Each subcamp will also have a couple of Care Corps people to look after the needs of Scouts. There will be around-the-clock security in each subcamp, particularly at night.

Maki assured the community that quiet time will begin at 2200 hours.

Dick Riewe has the job of feeding the thousands. There will be two deliveries of food per day to each of the subcamps for Scouts and then a special kitchen and dining area will be set up where meals will be cooked for leaders and volunteers. Menus have been professionally verified by nutritionists, he said.

Lutes said they’re going to work on a goal of wasting no food. “We’re not going to throw it in the garbage.” Area food banks will benefit from surplus food, he said indicating a significant quantity of food was donated after the last jamboree.

A trading post in Paley Hall will contain “everything imaginable that youth would want, including stuffed replicas of the jamboree mascot, Albertasaurus.

The design for Albertasaurus was created by Scouter Sofia Guest of the local Northern Lights Council. It was selected from several entries received in response to a contest announced in Scouting Life.

Lutes said Governor General His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston is being invited to attend the camp as is Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

Answering questions, Jamboree Manager Ian Mitchell said security on site will be well maintained and there should be no reason for kids to be wandering off the site. All visitors will be required to sign in and out with security personnel.

Everyone except the jamboree manager is a volunteer, explained Lutes noting there are still opportunities for more volunteers.

More details on the jamboree or information on volunteering are available at