Back from the Haarlem Jamborette 2011

Wednesday night, late, I got back from one of the best, if not absolutely the best, Scout camps I have ever been to.

The Haarlem Jamborette is held every four years on the outskirts of the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands in a nature area called Sparnewoode. It sounds like a nice place, but it is right under the approach into 18C at Schipol Airport, so it can get a bit loud at times :-).

Ten Scouts, plus six Explorer Scouts and three Leaders made up the contingent. The Explorers were all ex-5th Letchworth and went to the Haarlem Jamborette in 2007. The three leaders were on their third visit; having also been in 1999.

This years’ Jamborette was the 11th and gets better every time. There were 2100 scouts and 400 on the service team; making 2500 people, split up into four sub-camps named Haarlem, Halfweg, Zwanenburg and Sparndam after the local communities.

Each Jamborette has a them and this year’s theme was “Energy Unlimited”. The objective was to “create” 80,000 Jambo-Joules or energy by taking part in the activities to the best of ones abilities.

During the ten days of the Jamborette we:

  • went to the Walibi Theme Park;
  • took part in Sailing, Kyaking and a boat trip;
  • went on a day trip to Amsterdam and Haarlem;
  • went on a day hike;
  • took part in a day of creative activities;
  • had a day off to rest and recuperate (!);
  • competed in a number of sports; and
  • did some old-school Scouting activities.

Oh, and there was an Open Day on the middle Sunday; during which the local public were invited in to see what was going on. We took the opportunity to promote Letchworth Garden City.

Quite a lot I think you’ll agree.  Throughout the whole expedition, our scouts behaved impeccably: well, almost.

On the way out we travelled by minibus to Harwich; then ferry to Hook of Holland and coach to Haarlem.  I drove a van with all the kit, plus a couple of Scouts. Each of the sub-camps had to model themselves on an ancient civilisation: Romans, Chinese, Incas or Egyptians.  Our campsite was in the Haarlem sub-camp and we were told to be Romans. That meant dressing up in tunics and togas and bearing swords and spears at the opening ceremony. We also built a Colosseum.

To begin with, the weather was hot and dry. The day we spent at Walibi World was particularly hot. Sadly, the weather deteriorated and we got very wet and muddy at times. You will see pictures on our Facebook page though not many are up there yet.

The leaders were also well catered for. There were two leaders’ bars: one quiet (The Mokkie) and one extremely noisy (Club Recharge). Beer was sold in return for the camp currency – Jambos. There were several excellent bands playing in Club Recharge, plus DJs on the other nights. All in all an excellent way to wind-down at the end of a busy day.

What will I remember the most about the Haarlem Jamborette 2011? I think the sight of our Scouts dancing in Club Recharge. They were amazing. But I will also remember with great fondness the warm reception we were given by those crazy Dutch!

I’m already looking forward to 2015: even tough I will be 62 by then!