For the last eighteen months. the Jamboree unit have been preparing for their trip to the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Yamaguchi, Japan this summer. They will be flying to Tokyo for three days of seeing the sites and taking part in traditional cultural activities before travelling by Bullet Train to camp amongst 30,000 Scouts from across the World at the Jamboree site. Before heading home they will be hosted by families in Akita and Aoouri in Northern Japan, experiencing the Japanese way of life first hand.
Most poignant this summer is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. As part of the Peace Programme at the Jamboree, the unit will be visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to reflect on the events of 1945. In preparation for this event in under 2 months time, the participants were taken on a surprise trip from Gilwell Park last weekend to the continent to take a look into their countries rich history and visit Meningate, Tyne Cote and Langemark cemeteries in Flanders Fields.
Caitlin Riley from Cromwell District said, "I wanted to pay my respects to all the people who died for us. The sheer volume of names on Meningate was astounding, and I felt it was really important to remember all those who were never found"
to which Laura Fagg from Cromwell District added, "It has been such a memorable and moving experience, and it was really useful to understand the connections between what happened in Belgium and Hiroshima during the war"
The links between events in Belgium and Japan is greater than just the devastating loss with Ypres experiencing the first use of chemical warfare 100 years ago and Hiroshima and the devastation of the first atomic bomb. The shocking events in both cities promoted a campaign for peace, making them both turning points in the history of the first and second World Wars. In looking at the loss in Flanders Fields, the unit are not only reflecting on what these events mean to them, but also imagining how this experience will compare to their visit in Hiroshima.
Charlie Wayne from Cambridge District said, "It was so sad to see boys my age who had fought for their country in the First World War and made the ultimate sacrifice. It has stood me in good stead for visiting Hiroshima in understanding the length that people go to in order to bring about peace"
Sam Spencer from Fenland District celebrated his birthday on the day we went, and talks of how it affected him, "Being half German and half British, it was really interesting for me to visit Landemarke and Tyne Cote and see how both sides of my family suffered in the war. The number of boys my age that died must have been awful for their families"
The trip gives the young people an opportunity to make links between our own history and that of Japan. They will experience similar chances to build their own links on the Jamboree with other young people to build a more peaceful united future for all.
Mark Royle, Unit Leader, summarised, "Scouting has played a huge part in bringing about world peace. Scouts have given their lives in war for peace, and so it is important that the young people reflect on how lucky they are to live in a peaceful society today."