Sunday, 11 August 2013

16th Nippon Jamboree / 30th APR Jamboree - Kirara-hama, Yamaguchi, Japan

DAY 1 - 31 July 2013
After months of preparation and bonding, this is it.  Today we arrived at the Jamboree Site and were quick to begin setting up the shelters, tents and kitchen shed.  Each patrol was assigned to pitch at least 2 tents.  In our group, there were people who already knew each other.  They were from the same troop.  I, on the other hand, was the only Scout from Soaring Eagles Scout Group.  Ironically the 2 Scouts in my patrol who kept arguing with each other were from the same troop.  That, along with the constant chatter with other patrol members really slowed down our work.  But things could have been worse had we not gone through the months of preparation and bonding.. they would have argued more!
Once the shelters were completed, we started on the boundary fences, gateway and flagpole.  By now, most of us were cooperative and things were moving along faster.  Dinner was cooked by Patrol 3.  We had soup, spaghetti and fried fish.  Not that I'm complaining, but the soup was too salty and the sauce was too sweet while the fried fish saved the day!  This shows that knowing how to cook is an important skill.  It will ensure that we will have proper nutritious meals that actually taste good.  Washing up was equally important.  We had to ensure that the dishes were clean so that there is no residue food to make us sick.

I am lucky that my leaders in SE have taught me that in everything I do, I need to "Do it fast, do it once, do it right"!  This is extremely useful as I reflect on the events of the day.. many things could have been done better if we all had gone about whatever we did with that mindset.

The day ended with a simple Japanese lesson.  We learnt a few simple words, got to know my patrol members better and made a few new friends.  Its been good thus far.

DAY 2 - 1 August 2013
It was a free and easy morning today, so I set up a booth at the front of our campsite for passersby to trade badges with me.  Several other Scouts did so too.  I was glad to have been able to made a few trades.

The day became more sunny and hot and the summer weather began to set in.  Still, we had to go on.  It was time for the opening ceremony.  We listened to the speeches and the Scouts representing the different countries marched up on stage with their flag.  It was indeed a proud moment when I saw our flag go up, and the sight of all the different flags made me feel happy to be a part of the worldwide brotherhood of Scouts.  I cannot imagine what it would be like in 2 years when the World Jamboree takes place here!  The crowd would be much bigger!
To avoid the long queue, Patrols 2 and 3 went for their shower while Patrol 1 cooked dinner.  After dinner, we were all psyched for our culture exchange party at the Tokyo 1 contingent.  We got lost looking for their campsite and was late.. thankfully a helpful Scout saw us in our plight and led us to the right place.  This is putting the Scout Promise in action.  Helping others in need is so important.  As we were rather late, we chatted for a while but soon had to leave.

DAY 3 - 2 August 2013
Today is my patrol's turn to cook.  I am so pleased with the food we cooked, but the patrol could have been more cooperative.  Instead of chatting at the side without contributing, they could have helped with seasoning the fish or frying the eggs using the other stove.  My GSL would have given us a lecture about everyone having to pull their weight.  If one person slacks, his part of the job has to be shared out among the other people.. and that may either bring the morale down or cause others to stop contributing as they would see it as unfair.
After breakfast, we went to the Global Development Village (GDV) Programme.  We constructed a bamboo panpipe and played a trading game.

The trading game involved six teams, each given a certain amount of play money and some tools.  Each team had different tools to make different products to be sold to different markets.

We then had to decide how we would use our money.  We could trade or buy products from other teams.  Using a ruler, pen and paper, we made rectangles which were sold at $200 each.  With the money earned, we could buy other useful tools such as protractors and more paper.  Different coloured papers had to be made into different shapes that could be sold at different prices.  The team with the highest amount of money at the end of the game wins.

This game taught me to have a business mindset, and that we had to be patient.  Buying and selling of products should be done at the right time, while controlling the rate of production.
We then proceeded to the Culture Programme where we played with a Japanese toy as well as Japanese drums.

At the Messengers of Peace booth, we played a game where each of us had to hole on to a rope that was attached to a ring.  A ball was balanced on the ring and as a team, we had to bring it from one point to another.  It taught us the importance of everyone pulling their weight or else the ring would tip and the ball would fall over.  We also learnt the importance of communicating clearly so that we could all work together towards a common objective.  Finally we wrote about something we did recently that contributed to peace.

We finished the day with a visit to the Japan Contingent campsite.  There they gave us some Japanese titbits and taught us origami while we chatted.  In return, we gave them Hari Raya goodies!  It was a fantastic day.

DAY 4 - 3 August 2013
My patrol woke up at 0330 hrs to collect food rations for the day.  It was a good thing that we were able to wake up and ready on time.  We did not have to cook today.  After breakfast we were off to Hiroshima Peace Memorial for the Peace Programme.  On display in the museum were many items recovered after the bomb blast.  While we had all learnt in school that this bombing was a significant milestone in our history.. the one that caused the Japanese surrender and Singapore's return to British rule, I had no idea what the after-effects of the war was.  
This museum visit was an eye-opener.  I learnt that Albert Einstein was involved in the design of the atomic bomb, the treachery and betrayal that led to the bombing.  As I read the horrific stories of the survivors, I learnt about how the many innocent people suffered not just at the time of the bombing, but also the radioactive aftereffects.  
The result of the bombing was not a Japanese reaction with anger, but one of peace.  Since then, the Japanese had been fighting a different war.  A war with the world leaders, pleading with them to stop stocking and researching atomic bomb construction.  The idea is that if any nation tried to be supreme by developing a powerful nuclear weapon, other nations will try to outdo them.  The result is a stockpile of very deadly weapons of mass destruction.  However if no one had any nuclear weapons, then no nation would see a need to develop any.  This is a fight for peace.
This first step taken by the Japanese is accompanied with action to build trust.  When there is trust, there will be fewer conflicts which is a move towards peace.  So far, it has been a long and slow battle, but many parts of the world have signed on to be declared nuclear-free zones.
As the visit to Hiroshima drew to a close, I received a surprise from my Scout Leader, Serpent, and Patrol Leader and good buddy, Yi Hong.  They appeared at Hiroshima.  Serpent reminded me of the day I left Singapore, I had said "It would be more fun if you were going as well." and so there he was!  He had so much difficulty trying to keep it a surprise and not tell me.  I was so shocked, I was dumbfounded!  We chatted a while before I had to return to the campsite, while they moved on to Miyajima.

On reflecting about the peace message today, I know now how important it was for a small country like Singapore to maintain good trusting relationships with our neighbouring countries.  Likewise in a Jamboree setting, it is also my duty to build peaceful relations with Scouts from different countries.  We invited Scouts from the neighbouring campsites over for a chat and offered them Hari Raya goodies while telling them about our Singaporean culture.  I am glad to be a Scout and to have been given the opportunity to be at this Jamboree.

DAY 5 - 4 August 2013
We had a free morning to ourselves, so I set up my booth for badge trading yet again.  However at about 1345 hrs, a sudden heavy downpour struck.  It was accompanied with very very strong wind.  We scrambled around trying to hold everything down - our shelters, tents and everything loose.  Our flagpole and gateway collapsed, and one of our fly sheets was nearly taken away by the wind.  We managed to catch it in the nick of time and had everything pegged down.  By the time we placed the poles in a safe position, we were all drenched.

The Osaka Campsite was having some trouble as they did not have enough manpower to hold everything down.  Some of us went over to lend a hand in pegging down their shelters and tents.  Before we knew it, the rain stopped, as suddenly as it had started.

We set out to fix our campsite.  This time round, we made sure everything was securely fastened.  We even used bamboo to reinforce the tiny pegs.  This reminds me of the lesson I had constantly been nagged about back in SE.  To do everything well and to the best of our ability.  To not do things well, it will fail and our efforts in the first place would have been wasted and we would have to spend more time fixing it.

Once that was all done, we changed into our uniforms and headed to the Arena for a ceremony which was attended by the Crown Prince of Japan, the Prime Minister as well as the Minister of Education.  There was a grand concert and we cheered the performers on.  And for the first time, I found out the name of the Jamboree Theme Song:  9 Days Jumping.

After shower and dinner, it was time to wash up.  This was really slow because not many people were willing to do the "dirty work".  As always, if someone slacks, others would have to do the work on their behalf.  When a few people slack, then the few people left to do the work would have to suffer more.  I was really unhappy.. but I thought of the people who would have it worse.. like the Scouts from Sri Lanka, whose entire campsite was filled with mud.  I was thankful and did the job gratefully.

DAY 6 - 5 August 2013
Today we travelled to Nagato City Community Centre where we watched a Guzheng performance and a dance before meeting the Mayor of Nagato City.  He gave us each a tin cup as a welcome token.
We did a Community Project by cleaning up the beach.  It was a nice opportunity to do something in return to the gracious people who had welcomed us.  This was followed by a visit to Fukawa Junior High School.  They met and greeted us warmly and we felt so much at home.  We listened to the band play refreshing pieces before getting to know the students by folding origami with them.  The activity made the language barrier easier to cross.

We also played a memory game with them before leaving.  It was tough to move away from them when we were having so much fun.  They presented us each with a self-made bookmark as a gift.

When we got back to the campsite, we found that our tents had flooded with mud and rain water.  Patrol 3 helped us with the cooking duties as we struck the tents and pitched new and dry ones.  It is important that when we buy tents, they are suited for the weather conditions of camping.

After dinner, we prepared ourselves to receive visitors from 3 other contingents.  We greeted them as warmly as we could as they arrived.  We sang songs together, danced and exchanged titbits.  Taiwanese must love to eat sweet stuff, because everything was sweet!  I made many friends tonight but all good things must come to an end.   

DAY 7 - 6 August 2013
After breakfast, we headed out for Science Module Part 1 where we did Sky Water.  It was an isotonic drink that can keep us hydrated well.  We also learnt how filtering of water is done.
We went up on stage this morning to perform for a large crowd as well.  We did our One Direction Jamboree Song and were rewarded JPY 10,000 for the performance.  Following that, I set up my badge trading booth again.
After dinner, another Taiwan contingent came by to do culture exchange.  However the Sri Lankan Scouts had invited us to their campsite.  So our contingent split up.  I went to the Sri Lankan campsite and met some other visitors they had invited as well.  We sang, danced and ate tasty Sri Lankan snacks.  We offered them hair Raya goodies in return.  We even had one box specially for their leader.  Of course in due time, we had to say our goodbyes and leave.

Today I realised that the Japanese are actually very environmentally conscious people.  They take pride in recycling, reducing and reusing.  The filtering of dirty water into clean water was just one example of recycling.. where dirty water is made clean and safe to drink again.  Unlike in Singapore, they take the effort to separate their rubbish into respective recoiling bins.  You wouldn't find trash in the wrong bins.  Those that cannot be recycled are classified into combustibles and non combustibles so as to optimise landfills and reduce pollution from incineration.

We have a lot to learn.  Singaporeans have to do their part and take recycling seriously, before we run out of space for our trash.

DAY 8 - 7 August 2013
Before we slept last night, our patrol did our usual ritual of playing Monopoly Deal together. As we played, I told them that our days had gone by so quickly and today was one of the last few days we had to spend with each other in Japan.  I convinced them to enjoy these last few days by working more closely together and avoid squabbling.
That was exactly what we did today.  The spirit of cooperation and happy friendship meant that everything was done faster than usual.  Everyone pulled their weight, no one was slacking.  No petty squabbles.  We cleared the fences, flagpole, gateway, shelters, etc.. everything except our tents.  We did it so quickly I had free time to set up a booth to trade badges yet again.

The closing ceremony followed.  We watched the flag march, listened to speeches and watched performances till almost 2200 hrs.  We got back to the campsite, showered and went to sleep.  I was so proud of my patrol.  For the first time, we had not argued at all.

I would like to thank my leader for nominating me, and the Singapore Scout Association and the Singapore Scout Foundation for making my participation in this Jamboree possible. I had learnt so much and had the best experience of Scouting ever.  I am truly grateful for this fun and amazing Jamboree.

Thank you. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Hair For Hope 2013

On the 27 July 2013, we started off our day at Endeavour Primary School as usual.  We had our leadership training session until about 1100 hrs, when we took our "before" shot before we headed to Vivo City for the Hair for Hope main event.  There was more people than we had expected.  Long lines of people were queuing up in line for their turn to register, and there was also another long queue of people in line for their turn to shave.  We gathered to take a group "before" photo, so that we can see how different we would look in our "after" photo.

As we had registered online, we only had to queue once.  It was a very long and boring wait, but we had each other to liven up the atmosphere.  Once we were up to the first few in the line, we got quite nervous, as we had never shaved our heads bald before.  But knowing that this was for a good cause and that this small act of kindness would go a long way, we pressed on.  After all of us had shaved our heads, we met up and took our "after" photos.
Before and after shot
We were rewarded with free Starbucks coffee, feasted on wonderful brownies baked by Aunty Cecilia (Marcus' mum).  We were on our way home soon after sipping on our favourite drink from Starbucks :)

Here's the before and after photos of us! Please do support our endeavour by pledging donations as soon as possible at the HfH Website.  We have raised $2,000 so far, but far more will be needed!
Written by: Dayton Leem

For more photos on this event, please do check out our Scout Group page on Facebook: