Have I told you before that I love my job?? I mean, seriously, how many jobs send you to England to sightsee in London and go camping for 11 days?!
With 8 high school girls and 2 other adults, we started our adventure in London. We went nonstop visiting Abbey Road, the Tower of London, the London Eye, and Buckingham Palace, as well as a hop on/hop off bus tour seeing many of the other sites.
A mere 46 hours after landing at Heathrow, we took public transport to Windsor where we were meeting 8,000 – yes, that’s right, eight thousand people from 40 countries for a camping expedition called WINGS 2014! There were about 1,000 volunteer staff members, 1,500 leaders and 5,000 scouts. In the UK, Scouting is a coed organization, so there were both males and females camping at Great Windsor Park – a massive park down the street from Windsor Castle, home of the Queen. Both Scouts (the coed version, which partakes in many activities like Boy Scouts of America) and Girl Guides/Scouts could be found at WINGS.
We were hooked up with a UK host group – a scouting group from Reading (near London) with about 25 boys, 1 girl, and 5 leaders. Our host group was amazing! They provided tents for us, as well as all of the cooking gear and our very own camp chef, Patrick, who cooked all of our meals for us. Our eight girls were spread amongst two tents, using their own sleeping bags/pads. The three of us leaders had two tents which meant sleeping on the ground for 7 nights. I thought I’d hate it, but I slept better at camp than I have since I’ve been back in my own bed – shocking!!
Questions people have had include where did we use the toilet and how did we shower…both very good questions! There were hundreds of porta-potties that were cleaned three times a day. Sometimes toilet paper was an issue, but we all had tissues just in case. Surprisingly, it didn’t reek thanks to the constant emptying of the toilets. Oh, and the porta-potties were flushing – thank goodness! Showers were basically individual pods about 4’x4’. There were immense canvas portals full of clean water and dirty water. They arrived massively full of clean water and when people took showers, their dirty water emptied into the dirty water portal. Showers ran for 20 seconds at a time which was just enough time to get your hair wet, rinse the conditioner, or shave your armpits. Everyone showered about once every two days.
Another question I’ve been asked was in relation to the girls…all I can say is that we leaders were the luckiest people ever! We could not have asked for more polite, happy, and enjoyable girls than we had. They wanted to partake in the activities, they got up with a smile on their face each morning, they offered to help clean the pots and pans…I mean the list could go on. Such wonderful girls!
Every day we took part in tons of fun activities – trampolining, canoeing, bell boating, rock climbing, service projects, team building, performing, cupcake decorating, laser quests, etc. It was awesome! It totally made me wish I’d done something so amazing when I was a kid. I can’t wait to spread the word about how great international travel as a Scout can be!
I really loved nearly every moment of this trip and feel incredibly lucky to not only have a job where I can spread my love of travel, but get to go on adventures that I might never get to do otherwise. Go GS!
P.S. Sorry for no pics! Can’t post those cherubs’ faces on my social media!