South Korea 2023 (WSJ)

The 23rd Bromley were delighted to have three Explorers selected to be part of the Greater London South East (GLSE) Scouts contingent to the 25th World Scout Jamboree in South Korea. Well done to George Miles, Callum Hall and Alyssa Ranasinghe.

Below are the reflections of Callum after he returned from his Jamboree adventure:

“The Greater London South East Unit 34 comprised of 36 scouts and explorers aged between 14-17 years of age. We were called the Oh Deers!  And I was luckily enough to be one of them. We were spilt into four smaller groups. I was a Patrol Leader of Red Unit comprising of 12 scouts.  We travelled, ate and sightseed together.

I am sure you would have heard in the media of our extraordinary adventure.  To say it wasn’t quite what we as Scouts and Explorers expected and had trained for but none the less it was a once in a lifetime adventure for so many reasons.  And an adventure I will never ever forget.

We initially took a 3.5 hour flight to Warsaw in Poland then transferred to a 13 hour flight to South Korea. This was where we were to spend our first week exploring the Capital Seoul. This was an amazing start, helped by the fact that we were staying in a five-star hotel. It certainly helped with the jet lag!

We joined 50,000 guides and scouts from over 150 countries and territories, from all over the world. After checking into our hotel and freshening up, we began our adventure exploring the Capital Seoul in the evening. We visited the Banpo Grand Bridge in downtown Seoul.  It is famous for being a double decker traffic bridge.  It sits on top of the Jamsu Bridge. At night its 380-jet water fountain is illuminated. It shoots out 190 tonnes of water in a minute. The fountain is called the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain.  It was truly magnificent.

After a good night’s sleep, we continued, the next day exploring Seoul.  We used hop-on, hop off buses to do so.  In the evening we visited the N-Seoul Tower.  We climbed the 480 meters above sea level to the top of the tower by cable car.  The tower is built upon a giant mountain in the heart of Seoul.  The views from it where incredible and apparently on a clear day you can see North Korea.

The following day we visited Lotte World Theme Park, and in the evening, we wandered around Seoul’s night market. The different aromas from the food stalls made your mouth water.  I tried the markets signature street foods Cheesy Lobster Tails followed by Hoddock which are pancakes filled with cinnamon sugar. Delicious!  The second helpings were even better! 

The next day we visited the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) on the South and North Korea border.  This was one of my personal favourites of my time spent in South Korea.  The history and politics of why the border is there, is absolutely fascinating and really quite sad, for those families separated by the border during the Korean war.  Now a days families can reunite at Mount Kumgang, a resort close to the shared border.  The border is the world’s most heavily fortified border and attracts over 1.2 million visitors each year.  We saw the 38th Parallel which is the line dividing North and South Korea, crossed The Bridge of Freedom and walked through the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel.

Following on from our exhausting previous day at the DMZ we today took it easy.  We were allowed free time in the city, to explore.  In the evening we attended a baseball game at Jamsil stadium.

Our last day in Seoul we competed in teams playing Seoul Searching. We had to complete challenges and work out clues to reach landmarks and collect various items from them.  This was great fun.  This was followed by an early night as the excitement grew.  We were off to the Jamboree in the morning!

An early start was made, and we packed and boarded our coaches heading to the Jamboree site in SaeManGeum.  A loud roar could be heard as we finally drove through the gates of the site.  We had finally arrived!

After disembarking from our coaches our first activity was to find where to pitch our tents.  This was to be home for the next two weeks.  We were neighbours with the Scandinavian scouting contingency comprising of scouts from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.

We pitched our tents upon plastic pallets.  This was because of the extreme unseasonal rain fall which had flooded the camp, prior to our arrival. It was extremely muddy and boggy.  Whilst we helped each other pitch, our leaders made dinner.  This was very welcome as we were all very hungry and tired.  It wasn’t long before we all had a relatively early night.  Exploring the jamboree site would have to wait till the morning.

Our first fall day in camp was filled with exploring and making friends with scouts from other countries.  As the day progressed the heat got hotter and hotter and HOTTER!  Unfortunately, all daytime activities were suspended because of the risk to scouts of severe dehydration.  We were told repeatedly to drink more water and refrain from physically activity.  Instead, we sought shade.  Along with everyone else.  These areas were packed with scouts.

The next day was very much the same as the day before. HOT!

The following day we were gathered together by our leaders to be told that we were being evacuated, due to health and safety concerns surrounding the camp and the medical welfare of us, the scouts. We were returning to Seoul.

The next ten days were spent completing trials, walking for miles, shopping, and sightseeing.  The Korean people kept coming up to us and apologising for the Jamboree misfortune.  They even paid for our meals whilst we were eating in restaurants.  They could not have been any more accommodating and apologetic.

Our last night was spent attending the closing ceremony which included a pop concert, with some of the biggest K-pop acts including New Jeans, NCT Dream, Itzy and Ive to name but a few. It also included the handing over of the scouting flag to Poland, the next World Scouting Jamboree hosts, to be held in 2027.

To summarize my Jamboree adventure.  The Jamboree has taught me that things don’t always go according to plan!  But with hard work, reliance, and teamwork we created a different kind of Jamboree.  One which will never be forgotten.

So, I will conclude my Jamboree Adventures as I started by thanking you most sincerely for your support and your kind donation enabling me to attend the World Scouting Jamboree 2023.

Kind Regards

Callum Hall – 23rd Bromley Explorer and Young Leader of Greater London South East, Oh Deers contingent.”

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