World Scout Jamboree 2015

23rd World Scout Jamboree
Kirara-hama, Japan
28 July – 8 August 2015

Kirara-hama, Japan

Kirara-hama, Japan

map of japan









An Account by Aaron Freemantle – ex 3rd Winchester

The World Scout Jamboree takes place every four years for Scouts and Guides aged between 14 and 18 and this summer the 23rd WSJ was in Kirara-hama in Yamaguchi, on the Western side of Kyoto. 35,000 young people from 147 countries around the world came together for two weeks to learn about each other’s cultures, global issues and the importance of respect, peace and harmony. The UK sent 4,000 participants (including 1,000 adult leaders and organisers) all of whom had been through a rigorous selection process to obtain places. Three of those selected were from Kings Worthy – Christine Cook, Scout Leader at the 3rd Winchester (The Worthies) Scout Group, Jonathan Cook and Aaron Freemantle both Excalibur Explorer Scouts from the 3rd Winchester group. I asked Aaron about his preparation for the Jamboree and what he thought of the whole experience.

At first, I couldn’t believe I had been lucky enough to be selected and I knew this would be the biggest adventure of my life – so far. We then had about 18 months to prepare for the trip and raise the £3,500 that it would cost each of us. Altogether there were 100 participants from Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Guernsey and we were divided into 3 Units. Johnny and I were in Unit 10 known as Scouts of the Round Table and our Unit leader was Chris Floyd. Christine was leading Unit 11 (Tea and Biscuits) which included 9 scouts from Guernsey. We had several weekend camps with our units so we could really get to know each other and learn to work as a team and use our own initiative. When you are travelling, sleeping, relaxing, cooking and working together in very hot and humid conditions for just over 2 weeks you have to get on with each other and pitch in.

Our unit leaders were also trying to teach us some phrases in Japanese but it was very difficult. We had more success learning to eat with chopsticks and making origami Peace Cranes. We also learned how we should behave to show respect for Japanese and other nationalities’ customs.
We were so busy that the time went quickly and then at the start of the school holidays it began to sink in – I was leaving in 3 days! I think it was the excitement which helped me get through 16 hours of flying and 10 hours of coach trips before arriving at our first night’s stay. The organisation was brilliant when you think how many people were travelling and all the transport that had to be arranged. Amazingly we didn’t lose anyone – just the odd passport and boarding pass and even those were recovered safely. [455]

How did we cope with the climate? We were given important advice on how to look after ourselves with temperatures around 34 – 40 degrees C during the day and over 25 degrees at night with humidity of 80-90%. We drank plenty of water and a special rehydrating drink every day. We had to shower 3 times a day – and we really needed to! We even showered with our clothes on to get rid of the salt deposits which would otherwise have hardened like starch. The wet clothes helped to keep cool as did soaking our feet in a shallow paddling pool with ice.

My highlights:

  • Staying with a Japanese family who were wonderful hosts and took us to see the local Buddhist temples. This is called HoHo (home hospitality). We tried Ikebana – Japanese flower arranging and took part in a traditional tea ceremony.
  • The opening WSJ ceremony with traditional Japanese drummers was just like the Olympics.
  • Cooking all our own food on site for our patrol of 10 – good team work!
  • There were 16 different recycling bins including one for bamboo.
  • Building a castle gate as our entrance to Scouts of the Round Table camp.
  • On Culture day, putting on a jousting tournament and offering as our traditional food the bacon buttie and bananas in custard. We couldn’t do Spam fritters as we weren’t allowed to import the Spam.
  • International exchange of neckers, badges, tee shirts, uniform or whatever known also as swoppsies. I came away with a Mexican sombrero, a Happy Coat and loads of badges and tee shirts.
  • Visits to the camp by The United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, a Saudi Prince and the Prince of Japan.
  • Water activities such as sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling, rafting and fishing.
  • Dancing in the Hub each night and looking for parties in other camps.
  • Always back by 11pm and up by 6am.
  • Closing ceremony and all of us sleeping out in the open for the last night.
  • Bullet train from Yamagutchi to spend 3 days in Tokyo. Even with a top speed of 200 mph it still took 5 hours.
  • Surviving an earthquake in Tokyo albeit a simulation at the Earthquake centre.
  • Tokyo Sky tree. Second tallest building in the world. We went up to 350m at the viewing deck and had a great panoramic view of the city.
  • Joypolis theme park – rides including real cars to race and simulators.
  • Shibuya crossing at night – the world’s busiest zebra crossing. The traffic lights all turn red at the same time in every direction. Traffic stops completely and pedestrians surge into the intersection from all sides. You can observe this moment of organized chaos from inside Starbucks which is what the leaders did. We crossed over all 5 zebras before the lights changed. Google it!




The most moving experience was our visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and museum to mark the 70th anniversary of the city’s atomic bombing (6 Aug, 1945). The Children’s Peace Monument is located at the centre of the Park in memory of Sadako Sasaki who was two years old at the time of the bombing and contracted leukaemia. According to an ancient Japanese legend, folding 1000 paper cranes or Senbazuru entitles one to a special wish that would be granted by a crane. Sadako wished to live and set about making 1000 origami paper cranes but she only completed 644 before passing away. Her school friends completed the rest. Children from all over the world still send paper cranes to be placed beneath Sadako’s statue on the Peace Monument. In doing so, they make the same wish which is engraved at the base of the statue:   This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world



The Jamboree participants had made thousands of colourful Senbazuru to place at the memorial when they visited. We were all hoping for peace in the world. 35,000 young people came together in the Spirit of Unity, accepting and respecting each other’s differences and hoping to encourage others to do the same. The following is a quote from one of the jamboree participants because I couldn’t put it better.

Everyone has unique qualities and when you work together, these qualities surface – you make yourself useful to others, and in so doing, feel better about yourself. Teamwork not only teaches you to help others, but also how to get help from friends and understand that we can’t do everything by ourselves. Growing as a person and as a Scout means accepting our strengths and even our weaknesses as they are part of us.

Did you know?
• Japan has more than 50,000 people who are over 100 years old
• Japanese Trains are among the world’s most punctual: their average delay is just 18 seconds.
• Square Watermelons are grown by japanese farmers for easier stacking and storeage.
• In Japan there are more pets than children.