Many memories, experiences, friends part of the jamboree experience

A community half the size of Sylvan Lake sprang up almost overnight last week just west of town.

A community half the size of Sylvan Lake sprang up almost overnight last week just west of town.

Planning has been underway for several years and preparations have taken many, many man hours.

But the people didn’t arrive slowly. They came quickly, mainly in buses, but also in private vehicles and other forms of transportation, from across Canada and six countries around the world.

When we visited Saturday evening, and observed opening ceremonies of Canadian Jamboree 2013 (CJ ‘13) we were impressed with the energy and excitement of about 6,500 people who are camping on our doorstep for a week, at Camp Woods, exploring the oasis beside our lake, participating in outdoor activities and touring some of the highlights of Alberta.

Scouts, leaders and volunteers at the opening ceremonies were certainly primed for the beginning of their adventure by speakers such as Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Ethell, emcees Gwyneth Faulker and Matt Treble, and CJ Camp Chairman Bernie Lutz.

Then they were treated to the songs and lyrics of the Arrogant Worms, a Canadian musical comedy trio.

That was just the beginning though.

It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience for many of the thousands gathered in our part of Alberta. They will make lifelong friends and experience the camaraderie that comes only from a close-knit group with a common goal.

As we departed the actual campsite, the field south of Camp Woods was prepared for things like wall climbing, zip lining and archery. Water sports will be another highlight enjoyed by Scouts. But they won’t be limited to camp. Their travels will carry them into town and to other tourist hotspots such as Calgary Stampede, Drumheller’s Royal Tyrrel Museum and West Edmonton Mall.

When you meet them on the streets of Sylvan Lake, be sure to provide your best welcoming smiles and ask these young people where they’re from.

The response, as Lutz suggested to Scouts during the opening, is likely to be “we are, the mighty, mighty Scouts, from CJ 13”.

Joining Canadians at the camp are Scouts from Uganda, Mongolia, Taiwan, United States, Hong Kong and Mexico.

The group gathered on the shores of our beautiful lake this week represent a shift in organization of Scout jamborees which will benefit our community now and in the future.

During briefings last year, we learned that Scout jamborees had previously been held in places like Kananaskis where everything prepared to make the stay of guests comfortable had to be removed from the park afterwards.

Realizing the tremendous costs involved, the Scout organization is holding future jamborees on land they own, alternating east and west. Thus the thousands of dollars invested in infrastructure can remain and be reused time and time again. This began with the 11th jamboree in Tamaracouta Scout Reserve, Quebec in 2007. This year’s event is the second under the plan. The next Canadian Scout Jamboree will be held in 2016 at Camp Nedooae in Nova Scotia.

Not just will Camp Woods benefit from the investment made into the camp and its infrastructure, but it’s also available for use by other likeminded groups. We understand Girl Guides are considering the location for a big event in a year or two.

This is just one more good story for Sylvan Lake and environs. It’s also the beginning of what we see for Scouts as a lifelong journey filled with happy memories which will likely bring many of them back in the future to other events as leaders and volunteers.

One of the comments during the opening was about the connection those involved form with Scouting. There was reference to a 1970s jamboree neckerchief worn by one of the leaders who spotted the same on a Scout. Asking, did the young man’s father attend the same jamboree, he learned it was a grandfather who attended the 1970s event. Multi-generations of youngsters have built their own memories through Scouting experiences and will continue their involvement giving of their time and experience while increasing their memory bank of experiences.

There are so many ways to volunteer and make a difference in our communities. This is one which provides the opportunity to make friends and share experiences not available in other realms.