It’s been a busy summer for a lot of us, including our county Commissioner Shirley Brooks who went to Roverway in the Netherlands, read her full story below:
“At the end of July I set off for Birmingham Airport ready to join the UK Scout Contingent to Roverway in The Netherlands. I was one of 50 International Service Team (IST) members joining over 200 participants from across the country. The two participants from Solihull had left on an earlier flight, so I really didn’t know anyone. However there’s nothing like a baggage drop queue with lots of people in uniform to help you quickly make new friends! We arrived in Amsterdam and were met by members of the Contingent Management Team and directed to the hostel where we would all be staying for the next two nights.
We had trips into the centre of Amsterdam and other activities to help us get to know each other, including a scavenger hunt and escape room style game. We were then transported to the beach at The Hague for the official start of Roverway. It was an amazing sight to see 4,500 Rovers (Scouts and Guides, 16 to 23 years old) and adults from 52 different countries come together to camp on the beach and enjoy the festival atmosphere of the opening ceremony. Apologies to everyone that had to put up with me complaining about the prospect of sleeping on the beach – I really don’t do sand! In the end I didn’t even put up my tent and I slept under the stars in my bivvy bag.
The next day the participants left to have 4 days on their paths – groups of seventy to eighty participants from various countries accompanied by a team of IST visiting different parts of The Netherlands (and some into Belgium) undertaking a variety of activities. The rest of us in the IST travelled to the main site at Scouting Netherlands’ main campsite at Zeewolde. Our mission for the next few days was to build the site up. This included erecting staging, marquees, large pioneering structures and many more tasks. We were assigned into multi-national work teams according to our skills, experience and interests. My first day was spent painting large tulip leaves which were then used at wayfinding points around the site. From then on my assigned task was to help run a Finnish sauna for the IST and participants – not what I expected to find on camp, but it turned out to be a really popular and busy activity, even in the height of 35 plus degree heat!
Once the participants arrived the atmosphere on site really buzzed with activity as they enjoyed everything that we had built up and prepared. They undertook a wide variety of activities both on land and on the water, visited the Swiss, German and Polish food houses, the Rainbow Cafe, the chill-out zone and the sauna(!). The next few days passed very quickly and before we knew it, it was time for the closing ceremony and to travel back home tired but fulfilled.
I will readily admit that I was really anxious about going to Roverway. I was outside of my comfort zone, I didn’t know what to expect, I wasn’t looking forward to the beach, and I didn’t know anyone there apart from our two participants. However, I quickly made friends, I managed to bivvy on the sand and I really enjoyed my assigned tasks. I believe that’s the same for my fellow IST members, some of whom were first-timers like me but many were veteran IST from national and international Jamborees, Moots and Roverways. There’s something curiously addictive about spending precious annual leave working hard to facilitate young people gaining skills for life – but I know that I’m preaching to the converted!”
The next major international opportunity is Eurojam 2020 in Gdansk, Poland, and we have been asked to nominate up to 4 unit leaders and 5 IST to represent Solihull. If this is something you might be interested in, please fill in the form found HERE and we’ll be in touch.