ON day five of the Salvation Army World Centenary Jamboree, a contingent of representatives from International Headquarters (IHQ) visited the 520 scouts, guides and leaders staying at Gilwell Park to see first hand their Centenary programme entitled Ignite 2013 and to experience something of the joy and excitement of the international delegates. Gilwell Park, the home of UK scouting, is a 108-acre venue located in Chingford on the London-Essex border about 25 minutes from central London by train.
The Salvation Army site is well organized and consists of three campsites: camps William Booth, Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Baden-Powell. A colourful display of tents in varying shapes and sizes dot the campsites and each delegation proudly displays their national flag. The delegates spend their days orienteering, zip lining and celebrating all things arts in the Craft Zone. The really adventurous ones participate in games of skill and strength in ‘inflatable world’, while others ply their skills on unicycles and pogo sticks in the circus tricks area.
Norway has the largest delegation at the Jamboree and other countries represented are Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Norway and The Netherlands. Elise, a 16 year-old Norwegian delegate and a nine year veteran of the scouting movement said that the Jamboree ‘is a very great experience, it is especially great getting to know people from other countries.’ Ethan, an 11-year-old scout from France, who was sipping his mid-morning hot chocolate in the Quiet Zone, offered that the ‘inflatable world and music’ were his favourites.
Major Denise Cooper, the Jamboree Coordinator and the Territorial Children’s Ministries Officer in the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland Territory, is delighted with the response and believes that scouting and guiding are activities that The Salvation Army should continually invest in, ‘it helps break down barriers, builds character and develops leadership in young people … and many of the kids that we connect with do not have a church home.’ As she toured the IHQ delegation around Gilwell Park, Major Cooper engaged scouters and guides all the while demonstrating her passion for youth.
While the delegates participated in myriad activities throughout the day, Commissioners Deise Eliasen and Nu-i (Zonal Secretaries for Women’s Ministries in the Americas & Caribbean and South Asia Zones respectively) were keen to share in the excitement riding the gyro-chair, zip-lining and alpine grass toboggans along with the campers, ‘it’s about rolling up your sleeves and getting involved, connecting with the kids and investing in their lives,’ said Commissioner Eliasen. Similarly, Major Cooper stated, ‘the hallmark of the Jamboree is the spiritual component. The kids love the worship and the music and that’s the reason why The Salvation Army is involved in scouting and guiding; it’s about connecting young people with God, and the Centenary Jamboree has offered another wonderful opportunity to minister to young people.’
The time, effort and energy invested in the lives of the 520 delegates of the 2013 Jamboree will reap rewards for years to come. The Salvation Army is grateful to those who give of their time in leadership and who are role models to scouters and guides around the world. No doubt delegates will return home with wonderful memories, new friendships and a great appreciation for the global scouting and guiding movement of The Salvation Army, as well as a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ.
Report and photos by Major John Murray
Communications Secretary, International Headquarters