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Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 17 – The Last Blog

So today we start bringing the Jamborette to a close. The activity for the day was the Atholantics, and we will be posting pictures of your scouts in action later today on the Facebook page. When all was said and done, Stewart subcamp won the award, so congratulations to Nick and his patrol.

While this was going on, the Scots were busy starting to dismantle the camp. The activity areas were the first to go away, since they were done as of yesterday afternoon. The subcamps were rapidly broken down to just the tents they will sleep in tonight. The interior of the Kastle started to go away by late afternoon. By tomorrow morning, all of the Kastle will come down in the space of an hour or so.

Next up later this evening is the closing campfire. As it has in the past, we expect this to be a celebration of the last 10 days, a reminder of the friendships that were created or renewed, and a chance to say goodbye and Haste Ye Back.

We now have the homestay information for all of our scouts:

Ainsley is staying with Beth in Lothian

Sophia is also staying with Beth in Lothian

Mark is staying with Liam in West Lothian

Caroline is staying with Iona in Glasgow

Joey is staying with William in Lothian

Alistair is staying with Gregor in Lothian

Nick is staying with Chantelle in Elgin

Michael is staying with Alex in Aberdeen

Shane is staying with Joshua in West Lothian

Jackson is staying with Fraser in Aberdeen

Jordan is staying with Dylan in Lauder

All of the scouts have a letter of introduction to their homestay families, the homestay gift that we prepared, travel arrangements as needed to return to Glasgow on August 1, and their passports. They will now have a few days to rest up, get cleaned up, sleep in a real bed, and discover the Scottish hospitality that we always see.

We will all convene in Glasgow at the Bishopton Scout Hut at 8 PM on August 1, and will depart for home in midafternoon on August 2. We will arrive at Dulles International Airport at 7:05 PM Eastern Time, via Icelandair flight 645. Please be there – we’ve had your kids for 24 days by then; it’s time for you to take them back.

This will be the last blog for this trip. If time and connectivity permits, we may send a brief note just before we depart, and will keep Mr. Condon apprised of any changes in our itinerary, so that he can communicate to you. We have enjoyed traveling with your scouts, and we hope that they have learned what an incredible experience the Scottish Jamborette is.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 16 – Burns Supper

Today was the last day of scheduled activities, and our entire adult team reported for duty for the first time this week. Mr. Chiodo got back to Fishing, just in time to catch nothing on the last day. Miss Shannon led a Mountain Skills hike, and learned that it’s been a while since she attempted at 12 mile hike.

On the scout side, Caroline unfortunately remained in quarantine today. Also, none of our remaining scouts attempted the Atholl Experience today, so they will go on homestay without having this badge of honor. If we’re lucky, they’ll fall in a muddy puddle while on homestay, and at least get a part of the experience.

This morning, Jordan, Michael, Shane, Jackson, and Alistair did Climbing, Mark did Ultimate Frisbee, and Nick and Joey did Leatherworking. We have no idea where Sophia and Ainsley were, but wherever it was, they were probably together. The Climbing group faced a little more than they anticipated. It was a simple task to climb a wood and rope ladder. The only problem is that the ladder rungs were a little over five feet apart. It wasn’t a climbing exercise, it was a teamwork exercise. Most effective at this were Jackson and Michael. Having less success was Shane, who determined that he was afraid of heights about halfway up.

In the afternoon, the entire group took a trip to Pitlochry, since they still had some money left to spend. (In fact, we found that they went to Pitlochry to do laundry. It’s nice of them not to dump all of the laundry on their homestay parents.)

That brought us to the evening, and the Burns Supper. This is more than just a meal, it’s an event, honoring Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Highlights include the piping of the haggis, as this delicacy is carried through the crowd before being placed at the head table, with the appropriate bagpipe accompaniment. Then comes the Address Tae a Haggis. This Robert Burns poem is read to the crowd in full Scottish accent. The program for the evening even has the words printed on the back. We still have no idea what was said. Fortunately, an English translation was provided later. Then we had the signature meal of the entire Jamborette, haggis, neeps, and tatties. (That’s haggis, turnips, and potatoes in English.) We hope that all of our scouts at least tried the haggis. The adults all found it delicious.

The evening entertainment was a Ceilidh, a traditional Scottish dance, in the courtyard of the Kastle. We observed just about all of our scouts participating in the Ceilidh, and several of those who purchased kilts were seen wearing them.

Tomorrow is the Atholantics, a subcamp competition featuring a series of games to test the scout’s teamwork and patrol cohesion. Also, a chance to see how many ridiculous poses the staff and adults can catch the scouts in. We will also get the complete list of homestays tomorrow evening, and will distribute the homestay gifts to the contingent. We will report tomorrow on the noteworthy accomplishments in the Atholantics, even if we have to make them up. We will also provide the homestay locations for each of our scouts, so at least you know where they are while they’re spending whatever money they have left.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 15 – The Secret to Finding out about Activities

First up for today, a report from the infirmary. Miss Shannon has been released from quarantine. Well, she released herself from quarantine after the mandatory 24 hours. She elected light duty for today, and did not participate in any hikes. Instead, she spent the afternoon going around to see what our scouts were up to.

Mr. Chiodo’s recovery is going very well, and he is very eager to be released from quarantine tomorrow morning, but for now he’s stuck napping and watching Scottish television. He plans to resume fishing for the day tomorrow.

Mr. Yemc and I have so far avoided this affliction, and let’s hope it stays that way. In searching for a better way to track our scouts’ activities, since asking them doesn’t work, we discovered the activity lists that each subcamp keeps for each day’s activity. Well, rediscovered in my case – I should have remembered that from previous years. It sucks getting old.

So, having visited both Robertson and Stewart subcamps today, here is the complete list of planned activities for today.

Shane, Mark, Michael, Jordan, and Jackson did the Castle Tour this morning, followed by Gaelic in the afternoon.

Nick and Joey did Culture Zone in the morning, Ainsley was in Crafts, Alistair was at Blair Aktor, and Caroline was on the Castle Tour. Sophia went on the 24-hour hike yesterday afternoon, and was due back at lunchtime today.

Alistair was at Archery and Axe in the afternoon, Nick was at Cirque du Blair, Sophia did Go Global, Caroline and Joey were on for Jewelry, and Ainsley had the Ice Cream Hike.

That was the plan. Here’s what really happened:

Shane, Mark, Michael, Jordan, and Jackson did the Castle Tour in the morning, then decided to ignore their schedule for the afternoon. Shane, Mark, and Jordan joined Nick at Cirque Du Blair, while Jackson duped Michael into going to Blair Aktor. Nick and Joey stayed with Culture Zone for the morning, and Joey stayed with Jewelry for the afternoon. Ainsley did Crafts, then the Ice Cream Hike. Alistair did Blair Aktor, then switched over to Mountain Biking. Sophia returned from the 24-hour hike, and then went to Go Global.

Caroline, meanwhile, managed to come down with her own minor illness, and now has her own one-person tent for her 24 hour quarantine. She is eagerly awaiting her return to participation at lunchtime tomorrow.

We will continue to use the subcamp lists to identify activities for tomorrow, but as we’ve seen, that is no guarantee we will actually know what they are doing.

Another note about Michael’s participation in Blair Aktor this afternoon. Those who know him will understand that this is well outside of his comfort zone. Thanks to Miss Shannon standing behind him during one activity, he got volunteered for even more time outside of his comfort zone. Jackson, meanwhile, could not stop laughing.

We also learned today that Joey was interviewed for STV, which stands for Scottish Television. They were looking for scouts with different accents, and asked Joey to say “Howdy from America!” Apparently to STV, all Americans are from Texas. We have searched for this interview, and haven’t found it yet. If any of you search for a story on STV on Blair Atholl or the Jamborette, let us know if you find him.

Errata: We have identified a single inaccuracy in our blog reporting this trip. In Sunday’s blog, we erroneously reported that the E in DREAMS was for Equality. In reality, it stood for Enthusiasm. The blog regrets the error. (And we swear that everything else is absolutely true!)

Tomorrow is the last day of morning and afternoon activities, as we roll on toward the end of our time at Blair. We still have several scouts who have not attempted the Atholl Experience. Tomorrow is their last opportunity for this. Skipping the Atholl Experience here would be like going to the shore and not visiting the beach. We will dutifully report all that fail to accept this challenge.

All of the scouts now have homestays planned, as we confirmed today. We will have information on the homestays for the blog on Thursday.

More tomorrow.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 14 – Attack of the Bug!

So today was the restart of activities for the scouts. As we noted in the last blog, that means that Shane, Mark, Michael, Jordan and Jackson tackled the Atholl Experience today. Mr. Yemc snapped the Before picture as they were entering the course. As he prepared to snap the After picture, they executed an about face and made a not very clean getaway. We will post the best available picture of their muddy backs shortly.

Of course, now that I’ve bragged about the lack of rain, we had a fairly steady rain for most of the day today. It wasn’t enough to cause any major problems, just kind of slowed the pace of activity a little.

Other activities today included Caroline in Kayaking and Heart Start, Joey visiting Pitlochry, and Nick doing High Ropes in the morning. That’s about all we got today, as we were pretty thin in our support on the ground.

See, there’s this bug making the rounds of camp. It’s pretty much confined to the adults, as we understand it originated with one of the cooks in the mess. Last night, the bug claimed Mr. Chiodo, and Miss Shannon succumbed this morning. The camp solution to this problem is quarantine. This isn’t as drastic as it sounds; it means they are confined to our reasonably well-appointed lodge for 48 and 24 hours, respectively. This also means that Mr. Yemc and I are continually at risk of infection. This could be a big problem, since I am now the bank manager and Mr. Yemc is the assistant manager. The Scottish bank manager is also in her own quarantine.

Today was also the International Patrol Leaders supper. Shane and Nick attended, and took the opportunity to present Camp Chief Sharkey with a gift on behalf of the Maryland contingent. Sharkey was reported to be delighted with our gift, which included shoulder patches from both the Baltimore Area and Del-Mar-Va councils, a Scoutmaster minute book, and a plaque featuring the Scout Oath and a picture of a scout showing the scout sign. The event was planned to be outdoors, so it was a bit dampened by the day of rain.

That’s all we have for now. We’ll see if we can get our adult leaders well, so we will have more to report in the next few days.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 13 – Sunday is a Day of Rest

Sunday at Blair is definitely a day to rest and recover. Everything starts even later than usual – breakfast is at 9 AM, lunch at 1, etc. The adults decided to take a break from the mess hall for breakfast, and went to the Watermill at Blair Atholl for breakfast. This is a wonderful bakery in town, and was an absolute step up from our usual fare.

The primary activity for today was the Scout’s Own service, in the courtyard of Blair Castle. This is always an impressive event, with the entire camp marching up the road to the castle, led by the camp pipe band. The scouts from each subcamp plan and put on the service. This year’s theme was Dreams, and each subcamp took a letter and expounded on it. One of our scouts participated for this from Stewart. Joey helped Stewart explain the letter E, which stood for Equality.

Following this, our contingent hosted Hillbilly Golf for the Satellite campers. Jackson once again led this activity, and did a great job of leading the game, explaining the rules to each group as they arrived, then coordinating the rest of the contingent as they helped out. Mr. Chiodo and Miss Shannon essentially just sat in the shade and watched. All of our scouts really enjoyed helping out with this event. Caroline, Nick and Jordan took the first shift, followed by Mark, Michael, and Shane. One of the highlights of the event was when Caroline became annoyed by a mysterious whistling sound. It took a while to trace the source of her annoyance to Mr. Chiodo, who was using a blade of grass between his thumbs to make the sound. Once he recognized the trouble he was causing, he taught Michael how to do this also. A great time was had by all – except Caroline maybe.

I mentioned the shade earlier. I should note that we still have had only one rainstorm, and in fact it’s been partly cloudy with highs in the 70s most of our time so far. Nothing like the record-breaking rain we hear you are enjoying back home.

Tonight’s dinner was the subcamp barbecue. All of the adults helped prepare dinner in the subcamp, which included burgers, sausage, and sandwich steaks. There may have been some veggies involved also, but I’m not sure anyone noticed.

Tomorrow the daily activity program resumes. We understand that all of Shane’s patrol will be tackling the Atholl Experience tomorrow, so be prepared for some Muddy Muddy Muddy pictures tomorrow.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 12 – Visitor’s Day

Today is Saturday, which means Visitor’s Day at Blair Atholl. Rumor had it that as many as 6000 people would be in camp today, and that was easy to believe at the height of the afternoon’s festivities. The additional people included over 600 additional Scottish scouts in the satellite camp that runs Friday through Monday. These are generally younger scouts getting their first taste of Blair, ensuring that they will want to return when they are eligible.

Our patrols did not have any activities today, except for helping to entertain satellite campers in their subcamps, and setting up and running our Country Fayre station. In the entertainment area, Jackson was observed leading a skit for a group of satellite campers. Keeping in mind that Robertson’s theme is Under the Sea, the skit featured Jackson playing the role of a sea cow devouring underwater grasses. His patrol mates got to play the underwater grasses. Don’t ask me where they get these ideas.

We also had flag duty today. Nick’s patrol had flag up in the morning, and Shane’s patrol had flag down in the evening. Both performed their duty flawlessly, which is an improvement from recent previous Jamborettes.

Next up was the Country Fayre, with Jackson again front and center as the leader of this activity. Almost the entire contingent was there to help get things set up. The phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” absolutely came to mind. After mixing the funnel cake mix and dipping the Oreos, they decided to turn the heat on for the oil. Lesson learned – oil takes time to heat up. It doesn’t help when you need an extra 10 minutes to find a lighter. Eventually they got things cooking. Second lesson learned – when you put a dipped Oreo in cold oil, you get an undipped Oreo soaking in oil, not a Funnel-O.

By this time word was out that we were cooking Funnel Os again, and the line began to grow and grow. After a brief debate on the merits of capitalism, they agreed not to charge 10 Atholls for each Funnel-O. (Atholls are the currency of the Country Fayre, and are worth exactly as much as Monopoly money as of 4 PM today.) Eventually they worked out the cooking process, and very quickly worked through the funnel cake mix, the Oreos, and the line. We had competition this year – the Coastal Carolina contingent also made Deep Fried Oreos. However, thanks to Jackson’s planning, we had all of our ingredients ready, while our competition was scrambling to make batter from scratch.

Several of our scouts had visitors today. This started with a blast from the past, a visit from Chase to see his sister Ainsley (and to get some Funnel-Os). Alastair’s family also traveled up from Glasgow to see him today, as did Shane’s family friends from Scotland. Alastair’s family has now learned how to endear themselves to our contingent – they brought a case of Irn-Bru with them.

Other scouts in our group met their homestay parents today. This included Mark, who is going to homestay with the younger brother of Brian’s homestay from the last Jamborette. Ainsley and Sophia also met their homestay family.

Flashback to yesterday – (stuff I forgot to tell you) – during dinner last night, Michael was cooking, and asked how much butter to put in the pan. Shane (who swears this was sarcastic) said to put the whole tub in the pan. Michael of course heeded his patrol leader’s direction, and dumped the entire tub of butter in the pan. Either Shane can’t do sarcasm, or Michael doesn’t get sarcasm.

After all of the festivities, the adults hopped on over to Pitlochry for a nice dinner away from it all. As we were settling in for dinner, our plans were ruined by the appearance of two of our scouts at the same restaurant. Sophia and Ainsley arrived with their homestay, Bethany. Fortunately, they went inside to eat, so that we could continue to eat in peace. (Truth be told, you should have seen the look on Sophia’s face when she saw us sitting there!)

The final act for a long day today was the Saturday campfire. This is always a fairly raucous event, with lots of cheering, dancing, shouting, and general mayhem. We believe it’s to ensure that the scouts go to bed quickly tonight.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow is the Scouts Own service at Blair Castle. Check Facebook for pictures from that event later tomorrow.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 11 – Rain, Finally

So it rained today, for the first time this Jamborette. It really wasn’t that much rain, just a steady drizzle that started overnight and continued through breakfast. It didn’t even create much mud in camp. This weather is decidedly non-Scottish so far – not that we’re complaining, mind you.

Our four explorers returned unscathed late this morning from their trek. It turns out that they didn’t sleep in a cabin, they slept in a large tent. And, they didn’t have pizza, they had burgers and steak. They were really roughing it. In the afternoon, they did the Cultural Zone.

Jordan did High Ropes this morning, then Go Global in the afternoon. He also did not have to freeze while sleeping – the Scottish scouts invited him to sleep in their tent for the night. Much to his dismay, it was the boys who invited him, not the girls.

Sophia and Ainsley did Rescue Rafting this morning, followed by Blair Aktor. Caroline did Cultural Zone, then visited Pitlochry. Nick did Pitlochry in the morning, and climbing in the afternoon. Alistair did High Ropes and Cultural Zone. Alistair has also assumed responsibility for building and maintaining the cooking fires. In other words, he is the chief firebug.

That brings us to Joey, who was the first of our group to accept the Atholl Experience challenge. Since it rained this morning, the course was extra muddy. Mr. Yemc got the “before” picture as Joey entered the course, but was called to emergency pot wash duty and did not get the “after” picture. All we can tell you is that he appeared to be clean by the evening. We can’t tell you if his clothes were tossed or will return in a muddy pile in the bottom of his duffel.

Tonight appears to be the night for our crew to spend money in the scout shop. So far, we have seen Shane, Mark, Michael, Jackson, Jordan, Joey, Caroline and Sophia in or near the scout shop in the Kastle.

Tomorrow is the Country Fayre at Blair, where long lines of visitors will wait to try our deep-fried Oreos. It is also the day that our contingent has flag duty, Nick’s patrol in the morning and Shane’s in the evening. More on these events in tomorrow’s blog.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 10 – More Adventures

Today the patrols split up some more in their activities. Jordan tried his hand at BushCraft, an all-day activity. The rest of his patrol (Shane, Mark, Michael, Jackson) continue to stick together, though. Their first activity today was Go Global, an opportunity to experience life from other parts of the world. For the afternoon, they chose the Explorer Trek, which is a 24-hour overnight hike and camping outing. They will return at lunch tomorrow – presumably. Our initial expectation is that they will have some challenges for this activity. For example, Mr. Chiodo was very happy to hear that it might rain overnight. Jordan isn’t thrilled to be the only one in his tent tonight – apparently the warmth of multiple sleepers in a tent is useful in the chilly Scottish night. He’s planning to wear all of his clothes to bed tonight.

Update – we’ve learned more about the Explorer Trek, and it’s apparently closer to glamping than Philmont. We’re talking cabin camping and a pizza party. We still hope it rains on them, however.

Second update – we have located Jackson’s clothes and towel from Wednesday. He doesn’t know this yet, so we may keep them hostage a little longer. Plus, we hear there’s swimming on the Explorer Trek.

Nick’s patrol was more split up today. Alistair went on the Ice Cream Hike in the morning. No, this isn’t just a trip to the local ice cream shop, it’s a hike to the local ice cream shop. Local meaning 6 miles away, uphill. Apparently, the best part of this activity (for the leaders) is having the scouts believe they need to walk the 6 miles back to camp after the ice cream – just before the minibus shows up to get them.

Joey did Ready Steady Cook in the morning. This is an Iron Chef style cooking competition, and was the source of our troop Iron Chef competition when it began 10 years ago. Joey’s afternoon was spent with the British Army at their station. I’m sure John and Kelly don’t need to worry about all his questions about enlisting.

Nick did Sports in the morning, followed by the Slip & Slide in the afternoon. That’s exactly what it sounds like – sliding down the hill at camp on a big, wet plastic tarp. Sophia did River Rescue in the morning, reminiscent of our Iceland adventure. Ainsley did Archery and Axe Throwing. Based on her performance, her brothers should avoid her with a bow and arrow, but have nothing to fear if she’s holding an axe. Caroline did Curling and Rafting all day today. She apparently returned with her towel and swimsuit. Sophia and Ainsley visited the village of Pitlochry for their afternoon activity. We have no record on how much was spent on this expedition, but expect that it was substantial.

Tonight’s evening activity is the Kastle Karnival. Several of our scouts were sighted at the Karnival, and they all continue to enjoy their time in camp. We understand that at least one of our patrols has confirmed their homestay families, and we expect that all will have homestays confirmed by Saturday.

Rumor has it that we will have our first Atholl Experience competitor tomorrow. Stay tuned to see who gets to throw out their muddy clothes first.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 9 –First day of Activities

Today was the first day of camp activities, and both of our patrols chose to go as a group, in an all-day activity. Shane’s patrol chose Curling and Rafting. Yes, curling, the bocce ball on ice sport you only see in the Winter Olympics. They went offsite via bus, and did not return until dinner.

Nick’s patrol chose to stay on site, and did BushCraft. This involved a number of activities reminiscent of Baden Powell’s time in Africa. They got to try some cooking, paracord making, woggle making, and other wilderness skills.

Other noteworthy news from the day – Shane’s patrol won the inspection award for Robertson today, on the first day of competition! Later in the afternoon, Jackson managed to leave his swimsuit and towel on the bus when he returned for the day. At least he got in the rafting while he still had both.

This evening the patrols all hosted adult leaders for dinner. This meant that cooking and cleanup took longer than expected, and as a result the disco planned for tonight also started much later than usual. Mr. Ryan and Mr. Yemc observed the disco from their post in the Bank, and noted several sightings of contingent members. Everyone appears to be off to a great start, and some have already found homestay families.

We will continue to give you an overview of their days throughout the Jamborette, but it is proving to be difficult to get pictures of their activities, given the demands of our leader positions. We will certainly take pictures of anyone who stops by the bank. We may need to rely on the pictures that the scouts are surely taking, whenever they have time to upload them.

That’s all for now.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 7&8 –Edinburgh, then Blair Atholl

We have arrived at Blair Atholl. The scouts have settled in with their Scottish patrol mates, and the adults have settled into our wood and metal “tent”. The opening ceremony and campfire have just ended, and Day 1 of the Jamborette is complete.

Let me go back a day and update you on our trip to Edinburgh. We started the day with a relatively leisurely cereal breakfast, and headed out for the bus at around 9:30 AM. The scouts were told the correct bus stop by the Scottish driver, Andy, who drove us from the Edinburgh rail station to the scout hut. They still managed to go to the wrong stop, and took several minutes to find the sign that said it was closed. Once on the bus, they kept an eye out for the right stop to get them close to Edinburgh castle. Maybe keeping two eyes out would have been better, because they got off much too late, and had a long walk to the castle gates.

After a two-hour visit to the castle, which included highlights such as viewing the Scottish crown jewels for those willing to wait in the line for an hour, and the Scottish War Museum and Prisoner of War exhibit.

After the castle visit, Shane led us (correctly this time) to Frankenstein Pub for lunch. Here we had our surprise planned. Yesterday was Alistair’s 16th birthday, and his uncle, aunt, and cousin from Glasgow came over to join us at the pub and help celebrate Alistair’s birthday. If you are following our Facebook page (and it appears that most of you are), you’ve already seen us embarrass Alistair with our rendition of Happy Birthday. Not surprisingly, the most popular menu selection at Frankenstein was the hamburger.

Following lunch, it was off for kilt shopping, for many of the crew. Kilt purchasers this time included Joey, Caroline, Mark, Shane, Jackson, and Miss Shannon. We clearly overwhelmed the single kilt salesman in the shop we visited in the Royal Mile. After about an hour of measurements and selections, we left him to assemble the kilt packages while we continued our visit to the Royal Mile. Some of the best parts of the visit were the street performers. These included magicians, bagpipers, and a very entertaining juggler.

We collected the kilts, then assembled again at 7:40 (don’t let them tell you I said 7:30, especially Ainsley. It was 7:40 all along, we swear!), and headed back to the scout hut to prepare for today.

This morning, our entire contingent was up and ready well before our planned 8:45 pickup time. This was driven by Shane, who was clearly ready for his return to Blair. The bus arrived at Blair Atholl at about 11 AM, and check-in progressed without incident.

Tomorrow is the first day of activities for the camp. Mr. Ryan and Mr. Yemc are both working in the bank, so we expect to have plenty of free time to look into the activities of our contingent members. We will update you through the blog and the Facebook site with words and pictures – if we can figure out how to get Mr. Yemc’s pictures into Facebook. Maybe he can use Mrs. Yemc’s account. Mr. Chiodo and Miss Shannon are part of the activities team, doing fishing and hiking/mountaineering respectively. In other words, doing something they fully enjoy all day for the next 8 days.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates throughout the week.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 6 – The Road to Edinburgh

Short blog today – we don’t have WiFi in the scout hut in Edinburgh, and I’m only willing to burn so much of my data plan getting this out. We left the hostel in Reykjavik at 4:15 AM, as planned, and everyone was ready to go without issue. It probably helped that, due to the lack of sunsets, it seemed like 9 AM out. Keflavik airport could probably use a reorganization, though. Apparently, everyone in Iceland decided to go to the airport today. The line at the Icelandair counter was ridiculous, to start with. Luckily, we found the self-check in kiosks, which worked well for 13 of our 15 members. Shane and Miss Shannon got back in the line to finish up. The rest of us walked the length of the airport to check in our bags, then Caroline, Joey, and Alistair had to walk back the length of the airport, because the automated bag system decided their bags were oversize.

After all of the walking through the airport, we got on our flight and went on uneventfully to Glasgow. We even got through passport control without issue. Sophia got through fastest with her EU passport – the others were bidding to go through as her brothers or sisters. Our next mode of transportation was another bus, this time from the airport to the vicinity of the train station. A two-block walk with full bags in tow got us to the train station, and we began to experience Scottish hospitality with getting our tickets, getting on the platform, and getting on the train. This took us to Edinburgh, where a scout bus picked us up in two shifts. After all of this, we arrived at Millar Hall, our usual home base in Edinburgh, by a little after 3 PM. Our travel day was accomplished with three buses, one plane, one train, and more walking than we expected.

At this time, we are settled in at the scout hut, and have been joined as expected by our friends from Gibraltar. We have also been joined by a patrol of scouts from Quebec, so it’s a full house. We had authentic fish and chips for dinner, which everyone enjoyed, and we are now wondering if any of the scouts will ever quiet down enough to go to sleep.

Tomorrow is our day of touring Edinburgh, starting with the castle and ending on the Royal Mile. With no WiFi, I’m not planning a blog tomorrow, so we will update you on Tuesday with any interesting notes from tomorrow.

That’s all for now. Next post on Tuesday will be following our long-anticipated arrival at Blair Atholl.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 5 -Battle on the Hvita!

We started early today, as noted yesterday, although not as early as we thought. We were told to be ready to leave by 8 AM, and discovered that this meant to be ready for pick-up at 8, but not necessarily to be picked up until 8:30. No matter, we still made it to the harbor for our 9 AM departure on the Andrea for a morning of whale watching. We headed out into the North Atlantic to see if we could find some whales. After about a half hour outbound, we slowed in the area where whales are known to feed. We could tell that this was a good area due to the abundance of birds also feeding on the sea life in the area. Our first sighting was a series of puffins among the birds. These were cute, but apparently averse to pictures. They had a habit of diving whenever any of us trained our cameras in their direction.

Not long after we arrived, we had our first whale sighting, a minke whale off our port bow, but at a fair distance. Soon after we sighted another minke whale, and another, and another. Altogether we had about a dozen minke whale sightings over the course of about 90 minutes. It was probably only 3 or 4 whales, but we counted each one anyway.

At this point it was time to head back. We turned for the harbor, and promptly sighted a pod of white-beaked dolphins around the boat. They were clearly enjoying the attention, so the captain stopped and circled a while more. The dolphins then put on a show worthy of Sea World, jumping in singles, pairs, and triples on all sides of the boat. After a half hour of this, we were now ready to head back – late. Along the way, the driver for our next activity called to ask where we were. We arrived there a half hour late, which probably didn’t sit well with the other rafting participants.

After another 90 minute drive, we arrived at the rafting headquarters, and were directed to change into wetsuits and associated gear, including helmets. We were transported by school bus to the raft input on the Hvita River, and were on our way. There were four rafts in our party, two of them containing our patrols. Shane’s patrol was in one raft with Mr. Chiodo and Mr. Yemc, and Nick’s patrol was in the other raft with Miss Shannon and me. We started down the river with a guide in each boat.

The river was relatively smooth, with a few rapids that did not really challenge the crew. Along the way, we of course exchanged words, followed by splashing when we got within range of each other. About a half hour into the trip, the guide from Nick’s raft reached across, grabbed Shane in the other raft, and pulled him into the river. Thus began the Battle on the Hvita!

As usual in the fog of war, the exact sequence of events, and victorious parties, is open to debate. Most accounts note that the guide in Shane’s raft, which was named The Flying Dutchman, flew across the gap between rafts and pulled the guide from Nick’s raft into the water. Shane was retrieved by Nick’s raft, leading to the first prisoner of war in this battle. In a show of sportsmanship, Nick’s raft attempted to repatriate Shane to his patrol. This was unfortunately attempted too close to the canyon wall, and the resulting collision left Shannon in the water, Shane still in Nick’s boat without a paddle, and ultimately Shannon picked up by Shane’s now leaderless boat. The patrols then executed a successful prisoner exchange, as both Shane and Shannon were returned to their rafts.

What followed was a general melee. Some details include:

  • Mark attempting to pull Shannon in the water again, and left swimming himself as she executed a perfect duck and roll defense
  • Alistair deciding to expand the conflict by leaping across to a heretofore uninvolved raft, pulling one person into the water and nearly getting a second one before he was repelled.
  • Both guides pulling members of the other raft into the water. Jordan, Joey, Jackson and Mark, Nick, Ainsley, Caroline, and Sophia all went in this way.

After a cautiously arranged truce, we continued down the river, with the guides suggesting some “teambuilding” activities. The first of these had Alistair and Joey standing on the bow and stern while the rest of the patrol spun the raft in a circle. Alistair did not last long in this one, but it was clear that Joey has been on a boat before. The next challenge was a game of trust, where two people hooked their oars together, and leaned back over the edge of the boat while standing. The goal was to trust the other person, and everyone failed. Alistair and Nick when in this way, followed by Jordan and Shane. Ainsley and Sophia failed next, followed by Mark and Jackson. Finally, Shannon and Joey competed, also failed, but somehow only Joey ended up in the water.

Through all of this, only four people emerged unscathed, including yours truly. Those with long experience in the troop (Ray) may be surprised by this, considering my previous foray into rafting. The others who stayed dry included Mr. Yemc and Mr. Chiodo, and somehow Michael. It turns out that he was using his father as a human shield.

After we put out of the river, we headed back to change and clean up, and enjoyed a lamb barbecue. This was grilled lamb steaks served with potato salad, a green salad that the scouts were apparently allergic to, and a tzatziki sauce on the side. This was truly delicious, and a great end to a great day.

Everyone is turning in early tonight, since we will be waking up and heading to the airport at 4:15 AM tomorrow. Yes, when you night owls are just going to sleep, we will be waking up for our travel day to Scotland.

Check out the Facebook page for some pictures from the whale watching today, plus maybe a picture or two of the battle. You can find it at

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 4 – Thorsmark Nature Preserve

Today was a day for adventures, both planned and unplanned. We got off to a slightly earlier start – 8:30 AM instead of 9:00. We had a lot to do, and didn’t want to run out of time. We had a new driver today, Artur, but still had Asdis as our guide. We also had a new, quite different bus. The tires on this bus were about 4 feet in diameter, and the bus floor sat a good 5 feet above the road. The reason for the new bus would quickly become apparent.

We were joined today by two additional scouts – Asdis’ daughter Freyja and her friend Sarah. It turns out that they are both part of the Iceland contingent that will be joining us in Blair Atholl next week, so they joined us today to get acquainted and help navigate the day.

Our first unplanned adventure of the day was the PA system in the bus not working. Both Asdis and Artur worked on this for a while. In an admirable show of restraint, Mr. Chiodo and Mr. Yemc did not jump up to offer assistance.

Our goal today was hiking in Thorsmark Nature Preserve, which is just below the Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull glaciers, on the other side of the glaciers from our tour yesterday. We started with a 90-minute drive to what is rapidly becoming “our” rest stop. After a few additional drinks and snacks, we drove to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall (#3 on our waterfall list), turned inland past the waterfall, and almost immediately entered a gravel monstrosity that I don’t think could legally be called a road back home. This road bounced us up and down like a trampoline, then swung us back and forth like rag dolls. As we entered this road, we saw that the nature preserve was 30 km away (that’s about 18 miles, if you don’t want to do the math yourself). We were in for a long ride – literally.

As we traveled along this bone-jarring road, we had to cross quite a few streams, due to the glacial melt and rocks running down the mountain. When I say cross some streams, you might think of a bridge or maybe a pipe running under the road. Not this time – the bus drove into, through, and then out of each stream. Now the large tires and high clearance made a lot of sense.

We also encountered a scene familiar from driving in Scotland – sheep near and in the road. This is prevalent throughout Iceland, also. They really don’t seem to be in any hurry to move along here, either.

Our first stop was a branch of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier (I just spell them – you have to try to pronounce them). This is also the name of the volcano that sits under the glacier, and that erupted in 2010, disrupting travel across Europe with its ash cloud. The site we visited was dramatically altered by the eruption. Not from ash or lava, but from the water released when parts of the glacier were melted by the eruption. We hiked across a rock field that was previously a lagoon, which was filled in by the rush of melting water and rocks from the glacier. The planned adventure for this hike was to go up and touch the glacier where it reaches down the mountain. The unplanned adventure, thanks to Nick and Jordan, was to climb the glacier. Yes, they did some impromptu ice climbing. They were joined by Alistair, Shane, Mark, Michael, Joey, and Jackson. The roster of Darwin award candidates continues to grow.

We next entered the Thorsmark nature preserve. Asdis explained that this translates as Thor’s Place, which make sense given the Norse background of Iceland. The boys immediately entered into a fruitless search for Thor’s Hammer. The girls meanwhile conducted an equally frustrating search for Chris Hemsworth.

After lunch in the campsite at the preserve, we next hiked up the hill next to camp. This was a climb roughly equivalent to the 527 steps from yesterday’s waterfall. On the way back down, Nick led the boys down the riverbed to complete the hike. The girls and adults, meanwhile, followed Asdis down the trail next to the riverbed. 200 yards later, the boys realized their error, and had to turn around and follow directions.

Next, we ran into some more Icelandic scouts, who were finishing a 4-day trek between the glaciers. We also saw some park rangers clearing out a patch of Alaskan lupine. Roots and all, just like we try to deal with bamboo.

Our final hike of the day was into a canyon below the glacier. This was the most level hike of the day, but across a completely rock-strewn landscape. Again, the planned adventure was to hike to the end of the canyon. The unplanned adventure, again thanks to Nick and Jordan, was to climb up a canyon wall. They were again joined by the same group. Nick is now beginning to pull away from the pack of Darwin candidates.

On the way out of the canyon, many of the scouts (see list above) decided that the long and shallow stream crossings that we had taken on the way into the canyon were not the best approach. They went for the short and deep crossings. A number of wet legs later, they returned to the original crossing point.

All that was left was to drive back out, the same way we came in, using the same bone-jarring road and the same stream crossings. Simple, right? Our next unplanned adventure was getting the bus stuck in one of the deeper stream crossings. Just before we were going to order the scouts out to push, another bus came along and hauled us back, so that we could take the longer, shallower approach. Showing her versatility, Asdis jumped out of the bus to hook up the tow cable.

After we reached a real road, some 2 hours later, we made our final stop at “our” rest stop, this time for dinner. Dinner was once again Icelandic hot dogs, and fries. 90 minutes later, around 9 PM, we arrived back to soggy Reykjavik and the hostel, 12.5 hours later. We were very fortunate today to have mostly cloudy, but relatively dry weather, for our longest stint outdoors.

Tomorrow we have whale watching and rafting, which has promise as our best day yet – weather permitting. Stayed tuned for tomorrow’s update, and keep following our our Facebook page at

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 3 – The South Coast

Today’s touring was the south coast of Iceland. We are getting used to the routine now – the scouts were up, had breakfast, and were ready to go by 8:45. Now it was time to tell them we really start at 9 AM. We set off east from Reykjavik for the 90-minute drive to our first attraction. The weather today was better – still cloudy, but not raining or very windy.

The first attraction turned out to be a gas station/convenience store, for a bathroom stop and break. Everyone got out and looked for something good to eat or drink. Naturally, that meant coffee for me and Mr. Chiodo. We also found Maryland cookies here in Iceland. Was not expecting them until Scotland. The most interesting purchase at the rest stop was the beer that Joey got. I’m not kidding, he got a beverage labeled Malt Extract. We’re checking on the drinking age here, just to be sure.

Our first real attraction today was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Yes, this was our third waterfall in two days, and we weren’t done yet. In this case, we were able to walk behind the waterfall. This made for some great photos – see the Facebook page. Apparently some of our scouts missed the rain from the previous days. There is one branch of the waterfall that can be reached via the rock path. Jordan got completely soaked, on purpose. Joey and Nick were tempted, but managed to stay a little drier. At this same stop, the scouts had the opportunity to walk further down the trail to the Gljufrabui gorge. Here, they could walk through a narrow gap in the cliff, and see the gorge, with its own waterfall, of course, open up in front of them. Again, pictures tell more of this that I can.

After Seljalandsfoss, it was time for lunch at the Hotel Skogar restaurant. I’ll just provide the menu for your consideration:

   Menu: Bruschetta (toasted garlic bread with tomatoes and basil)

              Arctic Char topped with Chardonnay sauce with roasted potatoes and salad


The Philmont veterans generally agreed that this was a slight improvement over their typical trail food. If you’re not familiar, Artic Char is a milder version of salmon, and it’s delicious.

Following lunch, we went to our next waterfall, Skogafoss. You would think that there’s only so many times that one can watch water fall over a cliff, but each of these waterfalls had its own unique characteristics. This one had a set of steps so that you could climb to the top and view the waterfall from above. According to the scouts, there are from 387 to 425 steps to the top. According to the sign at the site, there are 527 steps to the top. Either they didn’t go all the way up or they can’t count.

Skogafoss also offered the chance to go right up to the bottom of the falls. Naturally, several in our crew could not resist this, including Miss Shannon. Drying out soaked clothing took longer than everyone thought. This escapade introduced discussion of the Darwin award for some in our contingent. Early odds for the award were clearly Jordan and Joey, as you may have guessed from the blog so far. Others entering the race here included Alistair, Nick, and of course Miss Shannon.

We next traveled to the fishing village of Vik. Along the way, we realized that we were easily following the conversations among the scouts in the back of the bus. Every time Joey contributed to the conversation, his voice carried easily to us in the front. At Vik, the big attraction for the contingent was an outlet mall. Here, as Asdis told us, souvenirs could be had for merely high prices, instead of the outlandish prices found elsewhere. Did I mention that everything in Iceland is expensive? Being an island, much of what they need is imported. In fact, this is another way that Iceland is similar to Hawaii. The other way is that both are essentially volcanoes. Asdis pointed this out to us, and observed that the difference is that “Hawaii is tropical and we’re not”. We had already noticed that difference.

Following a surprisingly modest spending spree on the part of the contingent, we next went to the black sand beaches near Vik. This was another Game of Thrones filming site – this time the approach to Dragonstone castle, for those familiar. It was also another opportunity for more competitors for the Darwin award, since the beach is next to a series of basalt columns formed from an earlier volcano. These are like big steps up the cliff, and naturally irresistible for our crew. This time, Jackson and Mark were added to the Darwin competition, while Nick, Alistair, Jordan and Joey continued to make their case for the award.

We then headed back for the 2-hour drive back to Reykjavik and the hostel. Along the way, we stopped again at the rest stop from this morning. This time we had a more specific goal – getting the ingredients for dinner from the grocery store across the street. The hostel has a guest kitchen, so we decided to make spaghetti for dinner. This was enthusiastically supported by Mr. Yemc, who is working very hard to keep us within budget for the trip. You should be sure to thank him when we return. With help from Asdis, we acquired all of the ingredients for spaghetti with meat sauce. In this case, the meat was ground lamb. As a result of a prior coin flip, Nick’s patrol was responsible for cooking, with Shane’s patrol on cleanup duty. Our plan was to serve the leftover pizza as a bruschetta-like appetizer, while the dinner is being cooked.

So we arrive at the hostel, and Nick’s patrol heads off to start cooking. Problem #1 surfaces – there are already a number of people cooking in the kitchen. Our crew waits a little for them to clear out, and finds Problem #2 – someone ate all of our leftover pizza. The lesson here is not to have leftover pizza in a shared accommodation. After some discussion of the best recipe to use, the patrol made the wise decision to make the sauce with the ingredients we provided, instead of wishing for something that wasn’t there. Dinner was finally finished at around 9 PM. We will call this the European approach to dinner, instead of just an impossibly long time to wait for dinner.

Tomorrow we are planning a day of hiking through one of Iceland’s best nature preserves. We are packing bag lunches for this day, so we expect something of a letdown from today’s lunch. Stayed tuned for tomorrow’s update, and keep following our our Facebook page at

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 2 – The Golden Circle

Update from yesterday – as expected, we did not venture to the pool last night. Sleep was much more important. Most of the group got a good night’s sleep, because they closed their windows and the blackout curtains in their room. The (male) adults chose to keep the window open for the breeze, and left the blackout curtain open a bit also. We learned two things this way – first, that people come and go from the gravel parking lot outside our room at all hours of the night, and second, that we are now in the Land of the Midnight Sun. We are far enough north that the sun does not set this time of year.

We met for breakfast at 8 AM today, so that we were ready for our 8:45 departure. Well, the adults and a couple of the scouts were there at 8. The rest trickled in from around 8:15 until 8:44 and 59 seconds. Everybody at least has some of the vegetables, fruit, toast, and yogurt for breakfast. This healthy eating stuff might just catch on.

Our planned tour for today is The Golden Circle, which includes a number of geographically and/or historically significant sites just outside Reykjavik. First up was Thingvellir, which is the site where the Icelandic assembly (parliament) met for about 800 years, until the late 1800s. It’s also where the Great Rift Valley starts, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are very, very, very slowly being pulled apart. So at this location we’re basically walking on some filled in dirt over top of the Earth’s mantle. The name of this place doesn’t really start with Th, it starts with an Icelandic character that has never been on any keyboard I’ve used. Something like a P with a ponytail. They let us Americans call it Thingvellir. It was also a film site for Game of Thrones – the entrance to the Eyrie was filmed here, for those familiar with the series.

Thingvellir was very interesting and educational. It was also very cold, rainy, and windy. The wind has surprised us. We’re on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic. Who would have expected wind? The scouts were also enthralled by the helicopter hovering nearby. Our guide (Asdis again) suggested that possibly a celebrity was diving in a nearby lake. The truth was simpler – the helicopter was bringing in equipment to build a stage to celebrate Iceland’s century of independence. It made for a nice diversion, although it’s possible the helicopter was blowing the rain down harder on us. At least it felt that way. Michael, of course, chose this day to wear shorts, and insisted all day (through chattering teeth) that he wasn’t cold.

Our next stop was a change in our original agenda. We were scheduled to visit a cathedral, because that’s what you do when you go to Europe – castles and cathedrals. Asdis suggested that we switch this out for a visit to a boiling hot spring and some Icelandic horses. We didn’t even bother to ask the scouts if they approved of the switch, we knew the answer already. The hot spring was next to a lake that, not surprisingly, was rather warm. The scouts had the chance to dig down a little in the sand by the lake, to see how warm it gets in less than half an inch. There was a small pool of bubbling water nearby also, and Asdis felt compelled to remind the scouts not to put their hands in the boiling water. She clearly has experience with this age group. The entire area smelled distinctly of sulphur. Ainsley must have never had experience with rotten eggs, because she was mystified by the smell.

Next up was the Gullfoss waterfall. This is the second largest waterfall in Iceland, and was quite impressive, with water cascading over several levels. We walked all the way to the rocky outcrop just above the waterfall. At this point, it was hard to tell what was rain and what was spray. Either way, we stayed wet. We took a photo of the group at the top of the falls. Ed and Marie, don’t worry, Jackson is still with us, he was just fascinated by the waterfall and missed the photo. If you check out the video on Facebook, you can see when he realizes what we’re doing. The walk back up (and up and up) to the upper parking lot reminded some of their Philmont days. I was fortunate to not need medical attention by the time I reached the parking lot.

We stopped by to see the Icelandic horses next. These are smaller than the horses we are used to seeing, and they stand right next to the fence, making them easy to pet. The reason they stand there was then obvious – a stand selling “horse candy” was right next to the gate. Asdis bought some so that everyone could take a turn feeding the horses. Joey, still having some money in his pocket, got more to feed them. Getting horsehair on their hands just before lunch was not anticipated by the crew.

Next we went over to Geysir. Yes, this is the regular waterspout that gave its name to these geological features, like Old Faithful in Yellowstone. The original geyser here is now dormant, but another one has “sprouted”. It goes off every 6 to 10 minutes, but you have to be there (up the hill I wasn’t climbing) to see it. It’s only about 5 feet tall. Nick took a video, so I can still say I saw Geysir. There was some confusion over the pronunciation of the name. Most thought it was pronounced Guy-sir. Some thought it was Gee-sir, but they may have been referring to the older gentleman they met on the trek up the hill.

During this exploration, we found the first violation of our buddy system. Alistair was wandering around on his own, although not at all disturbed by this. We took the opportunity to remind the scouts that the penalty for violating the buddy system is to spend the day with the adults. We feel that this threat will be enough to prevent a recurrence.

We had lunch at the hotel at Geysir. This was a quite good buffet lunch, including both hot and cold food lines, plus a soup line that was initially hidden from Mr. Chiodo. It also featured Geysirbread, which is bread made by cooking it for 24 hours in the underground hot water pools. It was quite good, slightly sweet and very dense. And not at all smelling of sulfur.

Along the way today, we learned about some of Iceland’s efforts to combat erosion, which is common on an island that’s basically 150+ volcanoes. One of their more successful endeavors is importing Alaskan lupine plants, which are quite beautiful purple flowering plants. See the Facebook page for a picture of these growing by the side of the road. They also spread very quickly and overwhelm native plants, creating a new nuisance for Iceland. It’s like the bamboo at home, only pretty.

Next up was another waterfall, called Faxi, which is horse’s mane in Icelandic. The falls kind of look like a horse’s mane, if you squint really hard. We had a great view of the waterfall from a deck just below the parking lot, so naturally the crew had to walk all the way down to the falls, since they hadn’t gotten wet enough yet today. We did learn that Iceland attempted to count their waterfalls once, and stopped after they reached over 20,000.

Our final stop of the day was Hveragerdi, a village formed around available geothermal pools early last century. (This is another case of Americanized spelling. The d in this name is really another unfindable Icelandic letter.) This village features a number of greenhouses for growing produce. It also features a small mall, including a bakery, library, supermarket, and an exhibit on the earthquake in the area in 2008. The most frightening aspect of the earthquake was the security video from the liquor store. It was a terrible tragedy to see all of those wonderful bottles of liquor come crashing down on the floor. At the bakery, Caroline bought a couple of the local specialty cinnamon rolls, and shared them with the scouts and adults. She’s our new favorite member of the crew, by the way. Joey went to the supermarket, and bought several cans of beans (I’m not making this up), and then ate one can in the bus before we headed back out. His roommates at the hostel are now negotiating with the other scouts for a change in sleeping arrangements.

When we returned to the hostel (and available Wi-fi), we learned that the Jamborette has (finally) sent out the emails requesting parents to update medical information for their scouts. Please check the primary email address that you provided for your scout for this email, and complete this promptly. We are aware (thanks to Mr. Chiodo’s cursing) that this is a lot of information you’ve already provided on the medical form, but they are looking for this information electronically before we arrive with the forms. Like we told Mr. Chiodo, just do what they asked.

Let me explain before I tell you about dinner tonight. We were told by several people to get this while in Iceland, as it’s simply better than what is available in the US, due to the use of cheese from Iceland. That is what led to us ordering six pizzas from Dominos tonight. We had cheese, pepperoni, and pepperoni/bacon/green pepper. It was bacon instead of sausage, which they don’t offer here. We are inclined to agree that this is much better pizza than we get at home. The offer also came with breadsticks and Nutella sticks, which went fast. Mark and Shane had to fight back feelings of shame from their treasonous behavior, but there are no Papa John’s franchises in Iceland. Maybe they can convince Ray to branch out internationally. Sophia and Jackson took it upon themselves to clean up the dishes after pizza, which allowed the adults to focus on what’s really important – writing this blog.

With dinner behind us, it was time to head out for the geothermal pool next door. There will be no doubt where we’re from – both Joey and Jordan have American flag swim trunks. The water was a toasty 38 degrees – Celsius. This was also a new experience in the European style of bathing for the scouts. That’s all we’re saying on this matter – ask your scout when they return. On our way back to the hostel, Joey found a hot dog stand and, still having a few Icelandic krona left, had to get a hot dog. This was despite the leaders pointing out that we had almost 2 full pizzas left over from dinner.

Tomorrow’s plan is a tour of the southern shore of Scotland, again with Asdis as our guide and Sola as our driver. We are continuing to update our Facebook page at with photos from our trip. Feel free to share with your friends – Miss Shannon is very excited to see us “going viral”.

Scottish Jamborette 2018 – Travel Blog Day 1 – Dulles to Reykjavik

So after all of the months of planning, the big day finally arrived. Arrival at Dulles International Airport at 5:30 PM Monday night. The good news is that everyone arrived no more than 10 minutes after the scheduled time. Surprising absolutely no one, Jordan was the last to arrive. Many of you were there to witness the departure. We appreciate the lack of crying and clinging to your scout as they planned to depart on this one in a lifetime (or maybe twice in some cases) adventure.

After getting our tickets, and working around the massive group of youth soccer players from Roanoke that were also on our flight, we headed down through security. After a temporary delay while the crack TSA team searched Mr. Ryan’s and Miss Shannon’s bags for contraband snacks, we were ready to head to the gate. Shane promptly reported that all 10 scouts were accounted for. We pointed out that there were 11 scouts on this trip. Seeing the look of confusion on his face, we asked him if he counted himself. Problem solved – all 11 scouts accounted for.

The waiting time at the gate and the flight to Iceland passed uneventfully. Unless you count the almost complete lack of sleep from any of the contingent members as we flew through the night across four time zones. As you can guess, this will become an issue later. Passport control, baggage claim, and customs passed quickly also. As we completed customs, we met our tour guide for the week, Asdis, and her driver, Sola. She first took us to a combination Viking museum and breakfast buffet, where we were treated to breakfast under a boat. Before you wonder what kind of weird scuba adventure we fell into, I should point out that the boat in question was suspended from the ceiling of the museum. Not long after we wondered who would be the first to hit their head on the bottom of the boat, Nick provided the answer. Mr. Chiodo was a close second, despite watching Nick connect wood with bone.

Breakfast was a remarkably fresh array of fruits, vegetables, breads, and Skyr, an Icelandic yogurt that was very tasty. We then toured the museum, learning about the boat, which was a replica of a Viking knarr that was built and sailed from Iceland to North America back in 2000, to prove the truth of the saga of Leifur Ericsson. Needless to say, the Icelanders are not impressed with Christopher Columbus’ adventures.

The scouts completed the museum tour very quickly. That’s what happens when you don’t bother to read any of the information. We found them engrossed in a game of chess between Ainsley and Nick. The game ended in a draw – we had to leave before they finished.

The next part of our day was a bus tour of Reykjavik. At this point I should describe the weather – it was in the mid 50s, with a misty rain and steadily blowing wind. Think November in Maryland. We stopped several times to see the sights of the city, including the house where Reagan and Gorbachev met in 1986, which the Icelanders are proud to call the beginning of the end of the Cold War. We also stopped at a modern sculpture by the bay, and at the impressive Reykjavik opera house, Harpa. At each stop, more and more of the scouts donned jackets to stay warm in the brisk weather, until Shane and Jordan were the only remaining blue-tinged scouts claiming they weren’t cold. Eventually even they found their jackets.

We next visited a church in downtown Reykjavik (I can spell this without checking now), that featured an impressive pipe organ, which was being played while we were there. This was the start of our walking tour of downtown Reykjavik. We traveled down the hill through the main shopping district of town, headed for City Hall, on the Pond. This very large pond-looking body of water in the center of town actually has no name other than the Pond. Absolutely no one expressed any interest in stopping to shop, which was our first clue that fatigue was finally creeping in. When we found Joey slumped in a chair in City Hall, we knew it was time for a break. So we headed over for our lunch – hot dogs! Before you think that the fatigue is affecting the thinking of the adult leaders, we were told by several people that the hot dogs in Iceland are the best in Europe. According to our guide, none other than noted gourmand Bill Clinton has stated this, so of course we went to the hot dog stand that drew this praise. Icelandic hot dogs feature ketchup, a sweet mustard, both raw and grilled onions, and a mayo-based remoulade sauce. Not everyone went for the full traditional dog, but we accomplished lunch and a much-needed rest.

The next 90 minutes were our own time to explore downtown Reykjavik. The adults ditched the scouts (I mean gave them time to explore on their own) and headed to a local coffee shop for coffee and tea. The scouts did their own exploring, and everyone met back on time to board the bus for the hostel.

We arrived at the hostel just before 2 PM local time, or 10 AM Eastern time with no sleep for going on 26 hours. The next 15 minutes was check-in, room assignment, and then naps for everyone. Three hours later, we convened for dinner at the hostel, which was a traditional Icelandic meat soup with salad and bread. It was filling and, most importantly for today, warm.

The scouts have now wandered back to their rooms, and the adults are sitting in the common room watching the World Cup match between France and Belgium, pretending we understand soccer while surrounded by rabid European fans. Our hostel is right next to the largest geothermal pool in Reykjavik, and it’s possible we will venture over there later this evening. It’s also possible that we will all just go back to sleep.

More on our adventures tomorrow. Be sure to check our Facebook page at for photos from our trip.

Countdown begins:

1 week to go

Shakedown #1

So the first overnight gathering of the Scotland Contingent is off and running. The group listened very well to Mr. Ciupek?s request to not show up before 5 PM. The first scout showed up around 5:30, the next couple around 6, and most of the group was finally there by 7:15 or so. Next time Mr. Ciupek will also give an end time, like ?between 5 and 6?.

The next challenge was figuring out if we would have any food this weekend. When 11 of the 12 scouts had arrived, and no one had brought food, we knew at least one person missed their job as grubmaster. Fortunately scout #12 did have food, so we won?t go hungry all weekend. (Personally, this was starting to worry me.) The real lesson learned here, which applies to both patrols, is to not assign grubmaster duties to the scout who isn?t at the planning meeting!

Once all the scouts arrived (well, actually a little before everyone got there), we started the games. The first games were a series of balloon-passing games, requiring teamwork and coordination. Naturally, everyone failed out of the gate. When we switched to a game requiring passing the balloon down the patrol line, the patrol with 5 scouts so far did much better than the patrol with 6 scouts. It took the full patrol about 15 minutes to figure out why they were consistently losing. We have room to improve in powers of observation, too.

Our Friday night movie this week was a nod to the people who discovered Iceland, our first destination on our trip. Yes, we watched that historically accurate homage to Viking mythology, ?Thor?. At least the scouts enjoyed it, even if they still don?t know what it has to do with our trip.

Saturday we all got up and moving by 7 AM! Not exactly. A few got up and moving by 7:15, and the rest were up by 7:30 or so for breakfast. We moved activities outside for most of the day, starting with a quick game of ?You?re doing it wrong!?. The real name of the game is Helium Stick, where each patrol has to simply lower the stick to the ground while everyone is touching it. The name of the game comes from the tendency for the stick to go up, not down. Our name for the game is what we heard most frequently while the game was in progress.

We then had some discussions about the trip, followed by a double game series of Toxic Waste and Line Up. Each patrol did well at a different game here, which demonstrated that our teamwork and collaboration is quickly improving across the contingent. We really only have some minor annoyances in this group (and they know who they are).

After lunch, we did our service project for the weekend, clearing branches and vines from around the cabins at one of the campsites here. We switched around the patrols some for this event, to see how the teamwork changed, and were happy to see that the cooperation continued.

Following the service project, it was back to the lodge for the rest of the afternoon. A couple of adults had gone out during the service project to get food for the rest of the weekend, including a few more bags of candy. The candy proved very popular following the work of the project ? a 5 lb bag of candy basically disappeared in about 30 seconds. This was also the second time that the scouts took a break in the Gaga pit here next to the lodge. Several brisk games of Gaga seemed to energize them. We on the adult team would, of course, be looking for oxygen if we did that.

The next activity was plotting our Iceland tour on a foldout map. The plotting was the easy part ? pronouncing the names of the places we?re visiting was, well, not the was a true Icelander would say it. Sometimes it was just ?that place there?, instead of even trying.

We next did a version of The Telephone Game, which as always proved that communication is hard. In our version, thanks to Mr. Chiodo?s messages, everyone missed the train to Edinburgh, got stranded on Eagle Peak, and were hungry on their day hike.

At this point we moved inside, for the Pipes and Marbles game. This was another simple matter of moving a marble through a series of PVC pipes into a bucket at the other end of the room. Patrol 2 got this game quickly, on the third try. Patrol 1 took a few more tries, somewhere between 10 and 20. The adults were entertained by both groups, especially with the near misses and the not so near misses.

Dinner on Saturday was our first cooked meal of the weekend, and turned out to be very tasty, after a very long wait. Cooking for 17 people is very different from cooking for a patrol of 6 or so, especially when you are determined to ignore much of the well-meaning advice from the adult team.

Following dinner we moved on to dessert, which was our deep-fried Oreos, aka Funnel-O?s. This was in part training for the contingent for our contribution to the Jamborette?s Country Faire, and part another chance to enjoy deep-fried Oreos. We started with the traditional Oreos, then moved on to Apple Pie Oreos that Mr. Ciupek found. Not content with that, and recognizing that as Americans it is our duty to deep fry as many things as possible, we moved on to two flavors of shortbread cookies, some chocolate truffles, and finally some cheese snack crackers. All of the Oreos were popular, the truffles were excellent, and the shortbread cookies also went. We did learn that you can draw the line at deep frying cheese snack crackers.

The movie for Saturday was Journey to the Center of the Earth, a Jules Verne story made into a movie in the 60?s. We chose it because their journey starts in a volcano in Iceland. We were pleasantly surprised to be reminded that the movie starts in Edinburgh, and features a Scottish-led expedition team. This time the link to our trip was a little more obvious for the contingent. It probably helped that we also made root beer floats for the movie.

Sunday was just for getting up (after a welcome extra hour of sleep), getting breakfast, and getting out. Most of you joined us for the brief contingent meeting, so no need to cover that in detail. One reminder for everyone is to please verify whether the weekend of April 13-15 or 20-22 will work for your scout for our second shakedown. Please get back to me and Mr. C. with that information, so that we can select a date and reserve a campsite.

That?s all for now. Look for Edition #2 after the spring shakedown, followed by daily publications beginning in July.

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