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July 28th, Final Blog and Homestays

“Who Are You”

Today’s musical theme is courtesy of the Silly Inspection done this morning in each subcamp. Let’s just say that full uniform had a very different meaning for this inspection. We are fairly certain that few if any of our scouts were wearing clothing they brought with them, or even purchased. Most likely they “exchanged” something temporarily (we hope) with another scout in their camp, often of the opposite sex. See the pictures to more fully understand this. At this point we should remind you that we have no responsibility for their actions once we turned them over to camp 10 days ago.

Today’s main event was the Atholl Antics. The simplest explanation of this is 90 minutes of barely controlled chaos, disguised as games, set to music. There were a total of 42 games stations, and each group got to attempt 30 of them in the 90 minutes allotted. That’s 2 minutes per game, plus one minute to shift, including someone running the score back to the head table. We are pleased to announce that Robertson subcamp, containing Collin’s patrol, came in second. Eamon’s patrol asked us not to report where Stewart subcamp placed. Again, you should see the pictures.

One further update on Timmy’s condition. He was apparently not satisfied with all of the attention he got for appendicitis, and has decided to add one more -itis to his collection. This morning he was diagnosed with tonsillitis also. At least this time it’s just antibiotics, not another journey through the UK medical system. The good news is his homestay was well planned – he is going home with a family with two doctors.

Homestay Info:

Mikayla – going to West Lothian with Emily Lang

Braydon – going to Grangemouth with Gregor Campbell

Ainsley – going to West Lothian with Emily Davis

Tim M. – going to West Lothian with Beth McDermid

Brian – going to West Lothian with Andrew Jackson

Harrison – going to South Lanarkshire with Tor Frame

Collin – going to Larbert with Liam McCallum

Ricjard – going to West Lothian with Mathew Webb

Jack – going to Grangemouth with Gregor Campbell

Eamon – going to Edinburgh with Lauren Kellie

Shane – going to West Lothian with Joshua Howieson

Tim S. – going to West Lothian with Catherine Orpin

You can Google Map to find out exactly where these places are.

The scouts will regroup with us in Bishopton, between 7-8 PM next Wednesday.

This probably the last blog until we regroup. I may update some pictures if I have time and internet access over the next few days.


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 27, Last Day of Activities

“Dancing With Myself”

Today’s musical theme comes from the Keilidh held tonight in the Kastle courtyard. That’s pronounced “Kaylee”, and is a series of set dances in pairs and groups, like line dances, square dances, a Virginia Reel, and even a waltz thrown in. About half of the camp participated, and about half of our contingent as well. Having a great time at the Keilidh were Collin, Tim, Harrison, Eamon, Mikayla, and Ainsley.

That was the final event of a pretty busy day today. It was the last day of activities, and in our group, Richard, Harrison, Jack, Braydon and Tim really needed to spend more money, so they went to Pitlochry in the morning. Collin took a turn at the Atholl Experience, and truly became one with the mud. He emerged happily covered in mud, and seemed ready to go back again. In the afternoon, Collin did Rookie Rangers, a conservation project for the village of Blair Atholl, Braydon did Archery, Richard and Jack took a Nature Walk, and Tim and Harrison went Climbing. This group had their best day at camp today.

Meanwhile, Ainsley and Mikayla spent the day at Bushcraft, Eamon and Tim also went to Pitlochry, followed by Sports Zone, and Shane and Brian started with Sports Zone and ended with Bike Skills. Lots of activity for this group today.

As an addendum to yesterday’s blog, we learned that camp has a very effective lost and found operation. During inspection yesterday, Stewart subcamp lead Raff presented Timmy with a carefully crafted replacement appendix – see the pictures for details.

The other activity on the agenda for today was the Burns Supper. This is as much a ceremony as a meal, honoring Scottish national bard Robert Burns. The ceremony includes the presentation of the haggis, readings of Robert Burns poetry, most notably his “Address Tae a Haggis”, and a meal of haggis, neaps, and tatties. Dress for the event is formal, meaning kilts and white shirts for the Scottish participants, and full uniform for the international guests. Harrison and Brian both wore their kilts for the event. Unfortunately for Harrison, Tim took great interest for a while in figuring out what he was wearing under the kilt, chasing him around camp for several minutes. Most everyone gave high marks for the meal, even the haggis.

Tomorrow is the Atholl Antics, a camp-wide patrol competition, followed by the breakdown of the subcamps in preparation for leaving for homestays on Friday morning. We will provide the homestay information tomorrow.

That’s all for now!

Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 26, Blair Here Again

“It’s My Life”

Today’s musical theme is courtesy of the “Karaoke King”, as he was dubbed by Camp Chief Sharkey this morning. Apparently they let Eamon near the microphone during the Patrol Leaders Supper last night, and he impressed with some Bon Jovi. We learned this when Eamon presented Sharkey with the gift from the Maryland contingent this morning after breakfast. Collin will be arranging another time to thank Sharkey on behalf of his patrol for the Scottish hospitality we have received, as he was tied up with camp inspections at the time.

Activities for today included several scouts on all day activities. Eamon and Timmy went to iBuild to create speakers with Mr. Bourdon, and also found time to create a plaque for their tent. Ainsley and Mikayla went on the Magical Mystery Tour, while Tim, Richard, and Braydon tried their hand at Bushcraft. In the half day category, Brian and Shane did Wheels (reliving their Pinewood Derby days), followed by Martial Arts. Harrison did Cooking, followed by a return to the radio station. Collin and Jack did Gorge Walking in the morning, and we have no idea what they did in the afternoon. We’re not sure they did either.

Ok, it looks like this might be our shortest blog so far – it’s a quiet night, with nothing more to report. Tomorrow is the Burns Supper, so everyone will get their taste of haggis, neaps and tatties. It’s also the last day of regular activities, as we are much too quickly coming to the end of camp on Friday. We will report on homestays on Thursday, in what will likely be the final blog before we reassemble next Wednesday in Glasgow. In case it’s not clear from the blog and pictures, all of your scouts are clearly having an incredibly memorable experience here in Blair Atholl. We have come to expect no less.

Be sure to stop by the picture site – pictures from today are being uploaded now, and all pictures from previous days have been loaded, and most have been captioned appropriately. Check back as more captions will be added as we think of other embarrassing things to say.

That’s all for now!


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 25, We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Today’s musical theme was once again provided by camp, as today is Christmas in July around camp, it being the 25th and all. The celebration came complete with various costumed Santas walking around, decorated trees, lights, cards exchanged, and a general holiday feel. The weather helped – we have had much warmer Christmases in Maryland than today’s weather, which was a slightly cooler version of yesterday’s.

The regular programme of activities resumed today. For our group, the morning meant a dip in the Cultural Zone for Eamon, Timmy, Mikayla and Ainsley, and a dip in the mud of the Atholl Experience for Brian and Shane. Richard, Braydon, Jack, Tim, and Harrison visited the amateur radio station at camp, while Collin went to Pitlochry to spend money.

In the afternoon, Timmy, Mikayla and Ainsley also visited Pitlochry, while Tim, Richard, and Harrison dabbled in yellow journalism with Mr. Ciupek at Kastle Kurrents. Collin was in Crafts, sampling the Scottish delicacy of blue spaghetti (see the pictures). Eamon was at Blair Aktor, and Brian and Shane tried their hand at Lawn Bowling. Jack and Braydon played International Scout Games.

We might have a bit of competition in the subcamp pennant area now. Eamon’s patrol won their subcamp inspection banner today, pulling them within one win of Collin’s patrol. Some of those in Collin’s patrol might not be seeing this as a competition, though (from Tim: “Is there a competition between patrols?”).

Tonight’s event was the International Patrol Leader Supper, and Eamon and Collin attended to represent our contingent. The rest of the contingent relaxed at subcamp campfires – and stopped by the Kafe for Irn Bru and other junk foods, of course.

One more story worth relating. Since Timmy is still on somewhat limited duty, he has been tasked with a function that he not only enjoys, but can do sitting down. He is the patrol cooking fire builder, surprising none of us that know him. Today, his primary accomplishment was building a fire so hot it cracked two of the bricks surrounding the fire pit. He was naturally quite proud of this, even as the subcamp leaders moved all of the water buckets closer to their patrol site.

Finally, the internet gods were kind to Mr. Ciupek today, and as a result he has uploaded all pictures for previous days on our trip, and is currently working on today’s pictures. He expects them to be done in a few hours – look for them tomorrow morning just to be safe.

That’s all for now!


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 24, Scouts Own


Today’s musical theme was provided directly by the camp, requiring no extra mental effort on the part of the adult team, but remaining consistent with our occasional Beatles theme. See below for details.

Today broke cloudy, with temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s, and a very light, almost misty rain on and off throughout the day. In other words, an absolutely normal Scottish summer day.

Today’s main event was the Scout’s Own service, which was held as usual in the forecourt of Blair Castle. The scouts marched up to the castle in subcamp formation, led as usual by bagpipes and drums. The theme for the Scout’s Own was “Imagine”, so I guess it wasn’t entirely surprising that the service was opened by our own John Lennon impersonator, Eamon. He did a great job welcoming everyone. We think it was the sunglasses that sealed his selection.

After each subcamp presented their theme on one of the letters of IMAGINE, the Jamborette chorus presented their rendition of Lennon’s song. Once again, several of our crew participated, including Eamon again, Ainsley, and Mikayla. It was really quite a well done service. We all agreed it was the best we have seen here.

Link to video of song (scroll down to "Final Song of Scouts Own" ):

The rest of the day was mostly for relaxation, for both scouts and staff. The adult team ran our Hillbilly Golf station for the younger satellite campers, with much enthusiasm for the game on the part of the scouts. As is our custom, we donated the game to one of the cub packs participating. One less item to bring home!

We checked in on each of our patrols today, and learned the following:

-           All of our scouts have arranged homestays already, which is quite fast by normal Blair Atholl standards. We will provide information on the location of each homestay after our final coordination meeting Thursday evening.

-           One of our patrols has won the Robertson subcamp pennant twice already this camp. Collin’s patrol decided to mention this to us in passing today. This award is given to the highest scoring patrol in each subcamp during the morning inspection.

Tomorrow we restart the normal daily activity rota, and among the selections tomorrow include more Atholl Experience, Pitlochry visits, and some work on the Kastle Kurrents newspaper with Mr. Ciupek. We have uploaded pictures from Friday (including the mud!), and are working on yesterday’s pictures as this goes to press. Hopefully the WiFi gods will look kindly on us, and increase our speed enough to finish loading the pictures before we arrive home.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 23, The Sound of Silence

A brief note about today’s musical theme – Mikayla has a cough, and finds it difficult to talk. We will eventually help treat this condition, but none of us are in a great hurry to help her get her voice back.

Today is the Country Fayre, and our Deep Fried Oreos proved to be an instant success. Once we got the oil heated and the cookies cooking, we disbursed around 450 deep fried treats in less than 90 minutes. That works out to 5 cookies per minute – confirmation of our success. We even earned a mention in the Jamborette Twitter feed – see here for details.

Both of our patrols took turns staffing the booth. Eamon’s patrol was up first, with Eamon handling the cookie dipping, Brian and Mikayla cooking, Ainsley running cookies from the stove to the sales counter, and Shane and Timmy handling sales. It was interesting to watch people walk up to our table, curious about what we were selling, and then immediately reach for their “Atholls” when they hear Deep Fried Oreos. (Note: Atholls are the currency of the Country Fayre, of great value for exactly two hours, then completely worthless thereafter. Think Monopoly money here.)

Collin’s patrol handled the second shift. Braydon handled the cookie dipping, Collin and Richard were cooking, and Tim and Jack handled sales. Harrison was apparently still busy with patrol cleanup. This group had the shorter shift, since word of our treat had spread through camp by then, and other campers were making a beeline for our stand.

One of the reasons that the Country Fayre is held on Saturday is because the Jamborette holds a Satellite Camp for younger scouts from Friday through Sunday. This is a very successful way of introducing the Jamborette concept to the next generation, assuring that they have no shortage of scouts looking to participate in future years. For this year, they had over 700 scouts in the Satellite Camp – their largest attendance yet. The Crafts station, with Mrs. Daelemans, and Kastle Kurrents, with Mr. Ciupek, were part of the program for this massive influx of young scouts. Mr. Ryan and Mr. Bourdon escaped this commitment for today. The younger scouts aren’t using power tools with Mr. Bourdon at iBuild, or turning in money to Mr. Ryan at the bank.

A few other items of note from today:

-           Shane met up with some longtime family friends, who live in Scotland and drove up to Blair Atholl for the day.

-           Spending time with the Scottish scouts is starting to rub off on our contingent. At the booth, Ainsley was overheard saying that she would put the trash in the “bin” – that’s Scottish for garbage can.

As the sun starts to think about setting, here at 9:30 PM local time in northern Scotland, we look forward to a laid back day tomorrow. Breakfast is served late, followed by the Scouts Own service at Blair Castle, then games for the satellite campers, including our hillbilly golf, and ending with the subcamp barbecue. The menu features meat, meat, meat, and more meat – plus a salad for the vegetarians.


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 22 “Another Pleasant Valley Friday”

The musical theme for today stays with our early Beatles theme, to note that today was the first truly “normal” day at Blair Atholl. Everybody was just doing what they were supposed to do – which was really appreciated by the adult team.

Today’s activities included the first of our crew to attempt The Atholl Experience. You really need to see the pictures to understand this activity. Mr. Ciupek assures everyone that he is uploading pictures as fast as our internet connection will allow. I think we’re all the way up to 2 bits per second, so he is asking for your patience. He’s already used up all of his. If you are looking for more information than our pitiful connection can provide, check out the Jamborette website at If you check out the latest edition of the Kastle Kurrents, once it’s posted, you will see an article on one of our scouts.

Activities including Eamon taking the all-day Mystery Tour (apparently close enough to Magical Mystery Tour to interest his Lennonesque alter ego), while Collin did the all-day Martial Arts activity. Brian started the day at Movie Making, Shane was at Ready Steady Cook, and the entire rest of the contingent went to Crafts in the morning to see Mrs. Daelmans. 

In the afternoon, Richard, Jack, Braydon, Shane, and Brian all went off to spend money in Pitlochry, while Timmy stayed at Crafts. That left our Atholl Experience crew – Ainsley, Mikayla, Tim, and Harrison. Their parents should really hope that they don’t try to bring those clothes home.

That pretty much sums up the day today. Tomorrow will be a very different day, with over 6,000 visitors expected for the Country Fayre. We will let you know how our Funnel O’s are received. We expect to sell out quickly, so we have time to enjoy the rest of the booths.


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 20-21 “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”

The musical theme for today celebrates Timmy’s arrival in Blair Atholl this afternoon, along with Mr. Ciupek, so that the contingent is once again complete. It is said that everyone leaves a little of themselves in Scotland when they attend the Jamborette. In Timmy’s case, this has a more literal meaning.

Yesterday both patrols had their first set of activities at camp. Each person has the option to select an activity of interest to them, although the scouts generally pick activities in small groups. In our case, Collin, Richard, Jack and Braydon attended Watersports as an all-day activity. This was a kayaking activity just outside of camp. Since we had a massive downpour in the late morning today, this appeared to be the perfect activity for the day. Meanwhile, Harrison and Tim did There’s no I in Team in the morning, and Mikayla and Ainsley did this in the afternoon. As the name suggests, this is Scottish Scouting’s take on teambuilding. Eamon, Brian and Shane did Radio Blair in the morning, followed by Crafts, where Mrs. Daelemans works. Ainsley and Mikayla ran off to the Circus in the morning, and Harrison and Tim went off to spend more money in the Pitlochry Tour (the small Scottish town near Blair Atholl).

Last night was the patrol dinner, where each of the combined Scottish/International patrols hosted several leaders from camp for dinner. Dinner was potato soup, mince and tatties, and iced buns. The minor translation required for this makes it potato Cup a Soup, ground beef casserole with potatoes, and doughnuts for dessert. Each adult leader brings a gift with them. In our case, like most others with any sense, the gift was Irn Bru and candy.

It’s probably time for a word about Irn Bru. I assume you have heard about this during our planning, but your scouts are now facing the reality of regular access to this apparently addictive beverage, which to most adults tastes like bubble gum. Many, probably most, of the scouts can’t get enough of this beverage while at camp. In fact, Brian faced a major crisis yesterday when he learned that they are not selling 2 liter bottles of Irn Bru this year. Mr. Ryan saw him carrying two 1 liter bottles, while heading toward the Kastle Kafe to purchase more. He is clearly stockpiling for the Blair Apocalypse – the day the Kafe runs out of Irn Bru.

Today’s activities include another all day activity, this time Bushcraft for Harrison and Tim. Collin, Richard, Jack and Braydon have the Castle Tour in the morning, followed by Gorge Walking in the afternoon. Eamon did Cooking this morning, while Shane and Brian are at There’s no I in Team. All three have the Castle Tour on their afternoon agenda. Mikayla and Ainsley have Blair Aktor this morning, followed by Crafts.

As this is going to press, the camp is hunkering down for another rainstorm, with hopefully not as much rain as Wednesday’s near-flood. We are looking forward to another day of activities tomorrow, followed by the Country Fayre and our soon-to-be-famous Funnel O’s on Saturday. We are working on uploading some pictures of the first few days at camp now, so look for them later today or tomorrow. 

More on all of this coming soon!


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 18, Rome to Edinburgh to Blair

“Scotland the Brave”

The musical theme fits for a number of reasons, chiefly because we have now arrived at our primary destination – Scotland. The other reason this theme fits has to do with the scout who spent the night in the hospital last night. If you are just hearing about this, don’t worry, it’s not your scout. His parents have been aware from the beginning. More on this later.

Our departure from Rome went much more smoothly than our arrival. Meaning, we had a real live bus, as in motorcoach, this time. Plenty of room for baggage, scouts, and adults. No surprises at the airport, and our flight to Stockholm (Norway? Sweden? Finland?) was uneventful. No good time lasts forever, however. Once we arrived at the gate for our flight to Edinburgh, we made the mistake of letting the scouts take a quick bathroom break. (From now on they’ll just have to hold it.) Several of our scouts, who shall remain nameless (not really – Colin, Tim, Richard, Braydon, and Jack) decided they had plenty of time for a snack, although boarding was less than 15 minutes away. After the final boarding call, and an increasingly urgent search by the adults, they were sighted casually making their way back to the gate, apparently without a care in the world. We seriously contemplated just leaving them, but none of you have yet given us permission to abandon your kids. At least the gate crew was entertained by the lecture.

The best part about arriving in Edinburgh was that we beat the Gibraltar scouts to the scout hut. That meant we had some peace and quiet to set up our sleeping areas. We were assured that they were not arriving until the next day, meaning a peaceful night was looming. Dinner, based on a suggestion from Scotland Scout leader Colin and his daughter Kristy, was from a local chippie (that’s a fish and chip shop for the uninitiated). Most of the scouts chose cheeseburgers, although a few fish and chips and sausage orders were noted. Ask them about the cheeseburgers – not what you get at McDonalds. Later that night, our hopes for a peaceful night were shattered by loud banging on the door. The Gibraltar scouts had arrived, at 2 AM! There was apparently a communications mix-up regarding their arrival, so we all woke up for a while. They don’t do anything quietly.

The next morning, we were off to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. The kids toured the castle, seeing the crown jewels of Scotland, the War Memorial, and other attractions. After that, they were on their own (following the buddy system, of course) for the Royal Mile, a series of shops and attractions flowing down from Edinburgh Castle. Many purchases were made – some might even be souvenirs, or even gifts for friends and family. Dinner was at Frankenstein’s pub, and enjoyed by all.

We returned home planning a quiet night packing for the trip to Blair Atholl in the morning. At that point we became aware of a scout not feeling well. Long story short, his appendix was removed this morning, he is doing well, and he and Mr. Ciupek are expected at camp tomorrow afternoon. As it turns out, Mr. Bourdon and Mr. Ryan picking up the adult rental vehicle in the morning was very helpful in getting the scout to the hospital.

That brings us to today – Blair Atholl Arrival Day! The scouts were up and ready early, the bus was a little early, and once again we were one of the first foreign scout contingents to arrive at Blair Atholl. The scouts were warmly welcomed into their subcamps, paired with their Scottish patrols, and began the 10-day adventure at the heart of this trip. We have just finished the opening ceremony, and each subcamp is having an opening campfire. Tomorrow they begin their activities, and we will be on hand to take pictures throughout the week. Subcamps are as follows:

Stewart – Eamon, Timmy, Brian, Shane, Mikayla, and Ainsley

Robertson – Colin, Tim, Harrison, Richard, Braydon, and Jack

That’s all for now. Stay tuned tomorrow for more notes and pictures!

Ray, Jim and the adult team

July 16, Colosseo, Palatine and Forum

Theme from “Gladiator”

The musical theme was obvious due to our agenda for today – visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. 

But first, as we were waiting for the doors to open in the hostel cafeteria for breakfast, merely one floor down from our rooms, the elevator dinged open, and who should walk out, clearly incapable of walking down even one floor? Not any of us old folk, made lame after day after day of endless walking. No, the poor cripple who could apparently barely move was none other than Brian. The best part was the “busted” look on his face when observed exiting the elevator.

After breakfast, we once again ventured into the second level of hell – I mean the Rome Metro, which was unfortunately clearly the quickest way to get where we were going. We were more fortunate today, since it’s Saturday, and the commuters were not clogging up the trains. Some of us (yes, the old folks) even got seats.

We exited the Metro right across the street from the Colosseum, and right in front of the Group Tickets sign. Plus, it was only about 65 degrees out and breezy. This was looking good! After we got through security, picked up our tickets and entered, we decided to do a self-guided tour today. Eamon and Timmy volunteered to be our guides. Apparently Eamon’s couple years of Latin qualifies him as an expert. What followed was certainly the most unique tour of the Colosseum that anyone experienced that day, or any other for that matter. Here are a few samples of the knowledge they offered:

-           The Colosseum grew from the earth like a flower

-           It was eventually destroyed by the meteor that got the dinosaurs

-           The reason one side is higher than the others is because it got more sun (I guess related to the flower-style growth)

-           (After an announcement on the PA system) – that was an original Roman recording

-           Maps, maps, maps, maps, maps

-           We’ve seen the rocks on this side, let’s go to the other side

As their (misplaced) confidence grew, they began to offer advice and comment beyond the Roman ruins, including:

-           Don’t give Brian pasta

-           John Lennon isn’t really dead (see pictures for evidence)

After leaving the Colosseum, we headed over to the Forum and Palatine Hills. Once again, Eamon and Timmy served as tour guides. This time, with less obvious history to maim, they settled for wandering throughout the site, often at a pace resembling a track meet. We sent them ahead to find a route to the top of the Palatine Hill, mostly so they could spend the time and energy getting lost without dragging the rest of us along. We had background music for this part of the tour – The Boss was doing a sound check down the hill in preparation for his concert. Still can’t get tickets, so the sound check was the best we could do. As a result of our tour guides, and the enthusiastic participation of the rest of the contingent, we finished our tour of all three sites before noon. That left plenty of time for the next activity on our schedule – doing absolutely nothing.

The first step in doing nothing was finding lunch. We started the search at the end of the tour. While walking back to the area of the Metro stop, Ainsley was overheard saying “is that the Colosseum?”, to which Mikayla replied “yes, we’ve only been walking past it for the past 5 minutes”. She really isn’t helping improve the image of blondes here.

We found the lunch spots near the Colosseum to be full, so we headed back toward the hostel, and found another nice pizza place, this time with seating. After lunch, it was a quick trip to the laundromat for several contingent members, while the rest mostly took naps.

Dinner tonight was at the hostel, featuring another 3-course meal, with pasta, an excellent chicken dish with fresh tomatoes, and pastries for dessert. During dinner the crew discovered our picture site, and a number of them went through pictures commenting on some of the best (and worst) of themselves and their fellow contingent members. One question we heard frequently was the meaning of the 71 at the end of the site password. After a number of guesses, they correctly figured out that it stood for Mr. Ciupek’s age, which explained a lot to them.

All we have left at this point in our time in Rome is final packing, breakfast, and the bus trip to the airport. Tomorrow is a travel day, so we don’t expect a lot of blog material, unless one or more of our crew decides to do something embarrassingly noteworthy. The next significant post will likely be after our Edinburgh tour on Monday.


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 15, Pompeii

Gilligan's Island theme

Today's musical theme is appropriate for two reasons. First we took a 3-hour tour of Pompeii today, and while there, the weather started getting rough! We had two guides today, so the Roman tourist industry must have gotten the word that we need lots of help. Our first tour guide was Elizabeth, on the tour bus to Pompeii. Of all places she could be from, Elizabeth is from Scotland! She turned us over to Federica for the tour of the ruins. A light, steady rain started just as we arrived at Pompeii, and continued through our tour and until we finished lunch. Once we were done with being outside, the weather turned beautiful.

After lunch, we let the group go souvenir shopping for a while, resulting in our first authentic gladiator! See the pictures if you're wondering if your scout made this purchase.

So, after a 3 hour bus trip, 3 hour tour, and 3 hour trip back to the hostel, what should we do next? Of course, a 3 hour dinner! We returned to the restaurant from 2 nights ago, and once again experienced the very unhurried pace of an Italian dinner. Our waiter was once again the incomparable Filipo, who takes personal attention to a whole new level. When Mrs. Daelemans, Richard, and Jack ordered fish, he helped them hand select the fish from their display. He also took time to explain all of the specials on the menu, including some of the history of each dish and how his mother used to make it. Brian provided the true highlight of the evening, though – to everyone but Brian. As the waiter was handing him his pasta dish, Brian went to put it down, and promptly spilled the entire dinner in his lap! (I’m not making this up.) I believe we will have pictures of this event, despite Brian’s desperate attempts to prevent the cameras from filming the disaster.

Long day today, so short blog tonight. We should have more from our Colosseum trip tomorrow.

Jim, Ray and the Adult Team

July 14, Vatican City

Imperial March

The Star Wars musical theme is well suited to our tour of the Vatican today, also known as the Vatican Death March. They channel over 32,000 people through the tours every day, and the only way to do that is to push as many through at one time as possible. Imagine being right in the middle of the mass of people leaving a sold out football game, for over 2 hours. That’s a reasonable model for our tour. The only saving grace was our tour guide, Cindy (clearly an Americanized version of her real name). She provided radios and earpieces for everyone, so that we could hear her in the crowd without having to gather around each time. (They have clearly been through this drill once or twice.) She also had an “attack” approach to navigating the tour, encouraging us to push through the crowd with all the subtlety of Sherman’s march to the sea.

Before we get more into the Vatican visit, we also remembered something left out from yesterday’s tour of Rome. Maria, our guide, was telling us how they now schedule concerts in the Circus Maximus, and that the upcoming concert this weekend was an American singer – Bruce Springsteen. She asked if any of us had heard of him. A few adults might have heard of him in passing, we said. (And just like here, no chance of snagging tickets at the last minute. We checked.) 

We had a few minor issues on the way to the Vatican this morning, too. First, Eamon and Timmy, who have been navigating us very well through the streets of Rome, had their first mistake trying to get tour Metro stop. They are claiming they asked Mr. Ryan if this was right, and he agreed, but he has no recollection of this conversation, so they must just be covering for their mistake.

The best that can be said about our Metro ride is that we took the correct trains and arrived at our destination. Rome subways have a lot in common with Japan subways, except for the people to push you on the train. You have to do that yourself. After one aborted attempt, we finally succeeded by taking a linebacker approach to boarding the train. I think even sardines have more room than we had.

As we prepared to board the Metro, we stressed repeatedly the importance of holding on to your ticket, so that we could both board and exit the train. So of course, as we are leaving the train, Shane (aka “Bebe”) almost immediately drops his ticket on the platform. Fortunately, another contingent member was right behind him to point it out.

So, once we were marched through the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, we had some more time (and space) as we toured the Vatican crypt, where most of the previous popes are buried, and St. Peter’s Basilica, where St. John Paul II is buried. See the pictures from today to do justice to this tour. We did have Collin wander away from the group a few times, often in search of pictures of the artwork in the museum and basilica. At one point, we did follow up to make sure he didn’t wander away to enlist in the Swiss Guards – or the priesthood.

After the tour was complete, we took the recommendation of our tour guide and stopped at a restaurant near the Vatican for lunch. This was another nice place, which made room for us in the back (air conditioned) room of their place. We encouraged the scouts to explore new tastes, so Richard ordered octopus and Jack ordered fried cod. Braydon tried a hamburger, which in Europe can be considered another form of adventure.

We then returned to the Vatican for some free time for souvenir shopping and any other areas of interest they wanted to see. Eamon and Timmy immediately walked off, muttering something about Angels and Demons and looking for a body. Shortly thereafter, several cars of the Carabinieri (Italian police) sped by with lights and sirens on. To our relief, neither Eamon nor Timmy was in the cars when they drove back out.

As we prepared to leave, deciding to return on the bus instead of the oversized sardine can, Mrs. Daeleman’s intense focus on shopping for the past hour came back to haunt her. She was so interested in visiting as many shops as possible, that she realized she had put down her journal and didn’t have it anymore. Pointing out that it’s just words on paper for some reason did not make her feel any better. The only recourse was to wait for her to run back to all of the shops she visited to see if she could find where she left it. It’s funny how it took almost another hour to supposedly drop in to each shop to ask about the journal. She did find it, and swears she was not continuing to shop for the rest of the hour.

Very strange noises coming from the common room at the hostel tonight. Tim is humming America the Beautiful, Ainsley is making a strange grunting noise, and Brian is making even harder to define noises. It appears to be an effort to out-annoy one another, and they are all winning. Harrison and Ainsley are playing a game of chess, with Mikayla providing color commentary (defined as near-constant chatter). Ainsley is determined to beat Harrison, and is not above suggesting he throw the game in the name of chivalry or something.

Tomorrow is our tour of Pompeii, featuring a three-hour bus drive to Pompeii, three hours touring, and another three hours back to Rome (can you say nap?). Watch this space for news from that tour tomorrow.


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team


July 13, Half Day Tour and Castle San Angelo

Hot Time in the City

Yesterday’s musical theme was very fitting for a hot, long, adventurous, hot, exciting day touring the Eternal City. Did I mention it was hot? We started the day with a bus tour of the city, courtesy of our lovely guide Maria. Maria did an excellent job describing her city as we visited some of the many, many noteworthy sites of Rome. The first stop was the Trevi fountain, followed by the Pantheon, Catacombs of San Sebastian and the Capuchin Crypt. Words cannot do this tour justice, so please visit the blog site to get to the pictures (or check for another email on this). Some of the interesting tidbits during the tour included a story about why it was better for young Roman men to go to the Circus Maximus instead of the Flavian Amphitheater (now known as the Colosseum). Ask your scout about this story – including why the dusty atmosphere of the Circus is important.

Heard in the contingent: “It’s all about the suction”, “Can we have wine with dinner”, “How many Vaticans are there?” For various reasons, we’re not attributing any of these to specific scouts.

 After the tour, we stopped back at the Roma Scout Sauna (I mean Center – the air conditioning is not working, and in another “Welcome to Italy” moment, no one seems to have a timeframe to fix it, or particularly care). On the advice of the center staff, we set out for a “cute” pizza and gelato place. We did not specify that we were looking for a sit down restaurant, preferably with air conditioning, so what we found was a couple of storefront takeout places, a pizzeria and gelateria. As a side benefit, they were cash only businesses. After a quick reconnaissance, we realized that this was about the best we would do for lunch, so we all got pizza and gelato. It was great food, especially the gelato. Cantaloupe flavored is incredible, according to Mr. Ryan and Mr. Ciupek. Mrs. Daelemans had similar high praise for dark chocolate flavor.

After lunch, the entire group, including the scouts, agreed that it was time for a siesta. The long travel day and long, hot morning tour had caught up with all of us. Later in the afternoon, we tested the Roma public transit system, taking a bus to the Castel San Angelo (Robert Langdon not included). Worth noting, Rome buses do not have many seats, but lots of standup space, so that’s what we did. The bus became quite crowded, but fortunately our stop was the end of the line, so we didn’t have to push our way out like many of the passengers. We also continued our streak of not losing any contingent members in transit – probably our most significant accomplishment so far.

Castel San Angelo was another great stop on our tour. After entry, and climbing down a set of stairs, we started up. And up. And up some more, with some wonderfully ornate rooms in the former papal apartments in the Castel. Just when we thought the climbing torture would have no end, we came out on the top floor of the Castel, with an incredible 360 degree view of Rome. See the pictures (later today).

To finish up the day, after another trek through the bus system, we stopped at a local restaurant for dinner. This was a real sit down place, with air conditioning even. Plus, the food was fantastic, our waiter was energetic and entertaining, and the price was very reasonable. We will be returning there on Friday. I’m pretty sure we have pictures of this on the site also.

All in all, yesterday was an exhausting, but incredibly fulfilling day. I think we caught all of the scouts with smiles at one point during the day – even Jack and Harrison.

Today is our tour of the Vatican (the only one, despite rumors to the contrary). More on that later.


Jim, Ray and the Adult Team


Don't blame me...Ray deleted me from the email list

July 12, Long and Winding Road or A Hard Day's night

Take your pick – both of these Beatles titles adequately describe the past 24 hours, including us spending about 18 hours in the international air travel system. We do not recommend this approach for future travelers.

Our adventure started, of course, at Dulles, pretty much right after we left you all and headed through security. Our fearless leader, Mr. Ciupek, was of course selected for extra review by the TSA, caused him to temporarily “lose” his boarding pass. After a few moments of intense panic, he found it stuck to the bottom of the screening bin. Those of us already through screening (the entire rest of the contingent) found this much funnier than he did.

Next up for our entertainment was Young Tim, who found out that passports should be signed before presenting them. He also expressed the most interest in the details of the trip, asking where Stockholm was. Many answers were presented to his question, but curiously, Sweden was not one of the suggested answers.

Collin was next up, beginning what appears to be a habit of losing things. First up was his grocery bag, which he left on the terminal shuttle. Fortunately, Eamon and Tim found it, so we did not have to endure a full airport “suspicious package” shutdown. Later in the day, he also left his contingent hat in the plane to Stockholm, requiring him to fight through departing passengers to retrieve the hat. We are considering duct taping his possessions to him. Mrs. Daeleman’s purple duct tape might be just the thing.

The first really interesting event of the day was when Mr. Ryan led a breakout of contingent members out of the back of the plane after it landed late in Iceland, to try and get to the Stockholm plane on time. His group didn’t get far, met with a group of border guards and what appeared to be a patrol of Icelandic Special Forces. Well, at least one really annoyed gate attendant. At least she was annoyed at the well-meaning but misinformed flight attendant who told Mr. Ryan to go this way, and not at our contingent.

As we arrived in Stockholm, ready to board the SAS plane to Rome and finished with Icelandic Air for now, we became aware that Older Tim had “borrowed” one of the complimentary blankets provided for our first two flights. In his “defense”, he insists that he is “borrowing” the blanket, and will “return” it on our way home.

Finally, after the flight to Rome, our long ordeal was nearing its end. All that was left was to collect our bags and find our van driver for the trip to the Rome Scout Center and a late dinner. Baggage collection went remarkably well – no lost bags, despite the quick changeover in Iceland. After clearing customs (almost comically simple), we found the guy holding up a sign with Mr. Ciupek’s name on it. He took us to our transportation – two small vans. Yes, two vans to hold 16 people and all of our slightly larger than normal baggage. What followed can best be described as “you’re in Italy now”. Much lively conversation between the van drivers, who really didn’t speak English, Mr. Ciupek, who doesn’t speak Italian, and the transportation coordinator on the phone, who yelled equally well in both English and Italian. Oh, and the entire conversation was accompanied by much gesturing. You could almost see the gestures from the guy on the phone, even. Finally, it was our Scouts who solved the problem, figuring out how to get most of the luggage in the back of the vans, with only one duffel carried on the laps of several scouts.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow brings our first tour of Rome, and I’m sure many more adventures. Stay tuned!


Ray and the Adult Team

July 11, Departure Day


By the time you read this we’re most likely somewhere between Iceland and Rome (unless you’re an email junkie and see this before we leave).

 First off, the adults and I want to thank you for trusting us enough to take your scouts on this adventure. We promise to take good care of them and bring them home safely – unless of course you bribe us enough and we can find them some Scottish glen to settle down in .

Seriously, we look forward to a great time visiting Rome, Pompeii, and Edinburgh. Then having a fantastic time at the Jamborette and enjoying homestay.

I think back to when my son went on this trip and how interesting it was when his school buddies asked him “What did you do this summer?.” His reply – “Oh, we just toured Europe with the Scouts, nothing special.” Sure isn’t Ocean City Toto……….

Remember to keep up with us via the emails, blog site, and photo site.

Especially check out the Official Jamborette website as they have their own daily photo galleries, and traditionally post photos of every patrol checking in on the first day.

See you in August. The adventure begins…………

Ray and the Adult Team

Countdown begins:

1 week to go

Shakedown #1

So the 2016 Scottish Jamborette contingent is off on our first collective adventure – but not too far from home. First things first – don’t let them tell you how tough it was camping this weekend. Our lodge at Camp Whippoorwill has a nice set of sofas in the main room, knotty pine paneling throughout, a full kitchen, and bunk beds with mattresses. Plus, tonight was movie night!

After everyone arrived (finally, Brian!), we started with a simple game to demonstrate basic teamwork, minor athletic ability, and coordination. Yes, it was doomed from the start. The game was balloon toss, with each group of four keeping a balloon in the air. Then, another balloon in the air. And another. And another. You get the drift. The best performance was about 9 or 10 balloons in the air at one time, before one team (Harrison, Colin, Tim, and Braydon) managed to keep 25 balloons in the air at once. It helped that they put them in a trash bag and batted the trash bag around. We finished that activity with an increasingly competitive game of, I don’t know, let’s call it two man balloon hide and seek. One key takeaway from this game is that we have two scouts named Tim (yes, it took this long to figure this out). Our solution is that the scout from Troop 853 is Tim, and the scout from Troop 422 is Timmy. There were other solutions proposed, but let’s just leave it at that.

Next up was movie night, and tonight’s feature was Angels and Demons, starring Tom Hanks. It took them much longer than it should have for the contingent to figure out that we were watching this because it was set in Rome. The idea was to give them some suggestions for sightseeing in Rome, but they mostly wanted to know if all that stuff about the Illuminati was true.

Snacks tonight were provided by patrol 1 – Brian, Timmy, Eamon, and Shane. Thanks to the microwave, we had hot queso to go with the chips and salsa. We also had crackers and cheese with salami, so not a bad effort for the first “meal”.

So after a decent night’s sleep (we even had heat!), we woke bright and early at around 8 AM, and patrol 1 got to work on breakfast. We went with a traditional Scottish breakfast today – eggs, bacon (American style, for this item), beans, and tomatoes. We skipped the blood pudding though – don’t want to scare them off too soon. Heard during prep for breakfast, as they were opening the cans of beans: “We have a situation here – a big piece of meat just dropped out of this can!” Apparently they had never heard of the concept of pork and beans. Breakfast was quite good, and pretty much worth the 2 hour wait.

After breakfast we had our first game of the day, a simple matter of putting a stick on the ground. It only took each group about 15 minutes to figure it out. The candy available as a reward definitely upped the competitive ante. After that, they started planning the itinerary for our free day in Rome. Somewhat surprisingly, there was a good bit of interest in various places in Rome. Not surprisingly, most of the interest was visiting the locations from Angels and Demons to learn more about these Illuminati people. Some of the questions that were asked include “What city are we staying in while we visit Rome?” and “Can we ride the gondolas?” We have a lot to learn, I’m afraid.

We played one more game before lunch, or at least that was the plan. The game involved finding a way to get a bucket full of balls (toxic waste, or antimatter in this case) out of a circle and into another bucket. In some ways these guys are coming together almost too quickly, as this planned 45 minute game was done in about 10 minutes. At that point we started to improvise – that’s what we’re calling it when we turned throwing plastic balls at each other into a structured game. Shane gave us the idea, and we killed time (I mean continued our structured teambuilding activities) until lunch time.

Lunch was the last opportunity for patrol 1 to impress everyone with their meal planning and execution. The goal was to continue to provide a good meal, and to cut down on the prep time. I guess they succeeded on both counts. The meal was certainly delicious – toasted subs with ham, turkey, and salami, plus a selection of cheeses with all the condiments, and fresh cantaloupe for dessert. And, it only took 90 minutes to make, so technically it was less time than breakfast. Yes, you read that right – 90 minutes to make subs. Jimmy John’s has nothing to fear from this group.

After lunch we worked with Ranger Jeff on a service project at the camp, clearing ivy and brush from around the camp’s boathouse. After that, the scouts helped trim a bush in front of our lodge. The ranger was quite impressed, as he is usually working with Brownies and younger Girl Scouts, who don’t get as much done as our crew. 

Our next contingent activity was working on the design of our patches and neckies. We had high hopes for this, since a number of the scouts had demonstrated some creativity throughout the weekend. They certainly seemed interested as Linda was describing some of the previous designs, and some options for this year. We left them to their designs, and they promptly sat back and watched Eamon sketch several neckerchief designs. Colin and Timmy also “contributed” to the effort, although their efforts rather quickly found the trash can. At least we have some possibilities to explore, thanks to Eamon.

Next we moved into what proved to be the most challenging game of the weekend – a simple process of guiding a marble into a bucket. This was another test of teamwork and coordination, with frequently disastrous results. It was (eventually) easy enough to guide the marble in a straight line, but when we asked them to guide the marble around a curve, something close to a Three Stooges routine ensued. We accomplished the goal of entertaining the adult leaders, and only time will tell if we made any progress on the teamwork and coordination goal.

Next on the agenda for the weekend was our CPR training, which would have been great if we had our CPR trainer. She was running about 45 minutes late. Not to worry, just a quick adjustment to the schedule. Dinner first, then the training. We had patrol 2 up for dinner, and they would certainly be faster than patrol 1, right? Wrong! Dinner was in fact delicious, bobcat burgers with tater tots and broccoli. No, they weren’t made from bobcat meat – these are hamburgers stuffed with cheese and spices. I think dinner was even more delicious due to the hunger we all had after an approximately 2 hour wait for dinner. We have definitely decided not to open a restaurant with this group. And we’re not talking about who spilled milk all over the table.

Finally, we gathered for our CPR training. Our trainer was a certified AA County EMT, who gave a comprehensive overview of current CPR guidelines, potential coming changes to CPR guidelines, the difference between CPR performed by amatuers and EMTs/Paramedics, and how CPR is different on a real person, from her own experience. She clearly likes to talk about this topic. Some of the key takeaways for the group are distinguishing between training instructions and real CPR actions. For example, “rip their lungs out” only applies to the plastic bags used in training on the CPR dummies, and should not be used in real life.

Next up, since it had been so long since dinner, was snack time, specifically Funnel O’s time. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Funnel O’s are deep-fried Oreos, and they will be our contribution to the Country Faire on our Saturday at Blair Atholl. We gave each of the scouts a chance to cook these treats, so that they have some experience when we get to Scotland. One of our crew (an adult leader, but she will remain unnamed) got a little carried away, and deep fried Snickers, York Peppermint Patties, and even some pickles! I agree, that’s really weird. We will be watching her carefully from now on.

Our movie for tonight was Pompeii, to give the scouts an idea of the background for our planned visit there. This movie was more like “Gladiator Meets the Volcano”, but at least they got the idea – whole town wiped out by cataclysmic volcano, only the horse survived, Roman senators are corrupt, etc. At least we got everything on our agenda done before Saturday turned into Sunday, but just barely.

Sunday started with breakfast, of course, one last chance to prove that a meal can be prepared in less than an hour. Since the menu was cereal with bananas and apples, patrol 2 was able to accomplish this goal, and only took 20 minutes to find the cereal and milk.

After breakfast, the entire group focused on packing and cleaning up from our weekend, and here we started to demonstrate the teamwork and coordination that was our goal for the weekend. Either that, or allowing 90 minutes for a 30 minute task was a bit much. Whatever, we finished the cleanup in good time, and moved on to a brief Scout’s Own service, courtesy of our Chaplain’s Aides for the weekend, Colin and Brian, and a round of thorns and roses for everyone. Key takeaways from the thorns and roses are that everyone enjoyed the chance to get to know each other better, they are all looking forward to the next shakedown, something about “sissy camping”, followed by a promise to find a nice swampy campground next time to make up for said “sissy camping”.

Last, but certainly not least, we noted some changes to our contingent, and introduced the two newest members of the contingent, Ainsley and Alexandra. At the start of the weekend, we learned that Vanessa would not be continuing with the contingent, and with that opening, plus an extra bed due to our lodging arrangements in Rome, we brought in Eamon’s sister and her friend. Our contingent now stands at 13 scouts and 4 adults, which will be fine in both Rome and Scotland. 

We also confirmed with the parents when they arrived for pickup that the next shakedown will be the weekend of April 22-24, 2016, at a location that we are currently trying to confirm. Look for more information on this shortly.

That’s all for now – I hope that’s enough, my fingers are tired from typing. Look for more updates at Shakedown #2, and of course throughout the trip next summer – time and WiFi permitting.

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