Wa to go! Scouts scoff sushi as they vie for Japanese Jamboree slots at selection weekend

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Nearly 40 scouts battled for just five places at a selection weekend to decide who will fly the flag for Hemel Hempstead at the next scouting World Jamboree in Japan.

World Jamborees are only held every four years, and the next will be hosted by Yamaguchi City in 2015.

Sushi scouts

Sushi scouts

The theme of the 2015 event is Wa, meaning harmony, peace and balance in Japanese.

There will be 30,000 people heading there from 150 countries, and Hemel Hempstead hopefuls were put to the test during an origami workshop, a sushi preparation session and a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, among other activities.

They also learned tips on Japanese etiquette – how to greet, bow, sit, eat, drink and depart, and how to introduce themselves in Japanese.

Later, the scouts heard from a leader who attended the 2003 Jamboree in Thailand.

Then they were interviewed – many for the first time ever – by a member of the selection team, and were asked to present a two minute speech which was filmed, to explain what they feel they would gain from the experience and why they should be selected.

While cooking dinner, each group had to plan a song or sketch to perform around the campfire, with many young people plucking up the courage to take the lead for the first time.

During the weekend, candidates were observed while they took part in various activities, starting with a series of cultural tasks: an origami workshop, sushi master class and a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Overnight the scouts slept in ‘bivouac’ shelters they had built in the woods and they woke up to glorious sunshine on Sunday morning.

They were challenged in teams to erect the tallest flagpole, and when their parents arrived they had to teach them how to make the origami bird they had learned the previous day.

James Maddern, 14, who has just moved up into the Explorer Scout section for those aged 14 to 18, said “This was a fantastic weekend and a great opportunity to learn about Japanese culture.

“Whether or not I am selected I have learned so much, laughed a lot and made new friends, so whoever gets through we’ll all fundraise to help get the team to Japan”

Each of the scouts will be nervously waiting this week for the letter which tells them whether they will be able to start planning for the trip of a lifetime.

Five lucky Scouts will be selected to go to Japan in 21 months time, with others offered the opportunity of an alternative experience at the Haarlem Jamborette, which runs concurrently in the Netherlands.

Closing the weekend, District Commissioner Russ Dyble said “each and every one of the Scouts who put themselves forward deserves the opportunity to go to a Jamboree.

“These are life-changing cultural experiences and because so few places are available for Japan we are delighted to offer an alternative to those who are not selected this time. All Hemel scouts will be offered the chance to come to Haarlem in 2015”.

To join the adventure of scouting in Hemel Hempstead contact Russ on 07790 296378 or email join@hemel-scouts.co.uk