Cumbrian Scouts have just wrapped up on an ‘amazing’ adventure in South Korea, where all tenets of scouting including resilience, tenacity and survival were put to the test.

18 Cumbrian Scouts, along with nine from the Isle of Man and 9 nine Girlguides from the Northwest, supported by four leaders, formed Unit 48 and were part of the UK’s contingent of 4,500 people at the 35th World Scout Jamboree at Saemangeum.

The UK Scouts joined 40,000 other Scouts from over 150 countries attending.

With temperatures hitting 35C where the event was being held, conditions were tough, but the patrol were well prepared and adapted to a somewhat revised programme, while trying to find some shade.

However, after only a few days, the UK contingent were increasingly concerned about the conditions on site and they along with the USA and Singapore decided to withdraw from the site.

Erin, aged 16 from Hensingham Explorer Scouts in West Cumbria, said, “While it’s not been the Jamboree we expected, I think I can say it’s not a Jamboree any of us will ever forget.

“The time we had on the Jamboree site was amazing despite it being cut short.

“I think my favourite part of it was probably just getting to meet so many people from around the world.”

As well as the young people and their leaders, five more adults from Cumbria, Angus Beechey and Luca Jones from Eden, Liam Buck and Euan Gilfillan from Southwest Lakes and Bela Jones from Kentdale formed part of the massive International Service Team (IST) supporting the event.

They were on site before the young people arrived, so were in the thick of the challenges preparing the site along volunteers from across the world.

Euan, aged 21, from Barrow-in-Furness, was part of the infrastructure team, and said: “We were setting up reporting systems to make sure the resources we had were being used where they were needed most.

News and Star: Euan (left) with Global International Service Team friendsEuan (left) with Global International Service Team friends (Image: Cumbria Scouts)

“It was tough wors and at times we were called to help the cleaning team with the toilets, which was challenging.

“I was working in a team with people from truly all around the world, and I made great friends with some Swiss IST who I’m planning on visiting later in the year.

“Everyone had such a positive attitude to everything, and we made some really fun memories.

“I spent my last night at the Jamboree at a beach party with my Swiss friends, walking in the sea, watching fireworks and listening to the music.

“Through the whole experience - dealing with the difficult conditions, working on the Jamboree campsite and building the jamboree experience in Seoul, it was incredible to work in the IST - the lengths people went to, to deliver for the participants, people’s willingness to help each other out and everyone’s positivity showed the global scouting spirit when it was really needed.”

Following the decision to withdraw from the site, all young people and adult volunteers from the UK were relocated to hotel accommodation in Seoul where their Jamboree experience continued.

The UK Embassy and the Mayor of Seoul supported the UK team to develop programme activities so the young people could still get the most from the rest of the Jamboree.

This included cultural events with other Scouts from around the world, visits to palaces, temples, cultural centres, and tourist sites Seoul had to offer.

With an incoming typhoon adding to the challenges on the site, all participants were moved off the Jamboree site.

With their children 5,500 miles from home, parents were comforted by the preparation that had gone into the trip.

The mother of Murin Birks, 15, said: “In terms of expectations, we were told it would be an experience of a lifetime, and that's exactly what our young people have had.

“They have made friends, learned about different cultures and traditions, developed independence and accountability for each other.”

Ben Ashton’s mum from the same district added: “The Jamboree experience hasn’t only been three weeks in South Korea - it’s been 18 months of fundraising, training, and team building.

“The preparation weekends organised by Unit 48’s fantastic leaders meant that the young people were prepared to manage any situation thrown at them.

“They have had an amazing experience, showing how adaptable and resilient they are.”

The mother of Ben Webster, 15, from Hoosiders Explorer Scouts in Penrith, added: “When he was selected, I would flippantly say ‘it will be so good for him’ but I had no idea how good.

News and Star: Unit 48 Scouts at the Gangnam Style monument, dedicated to the iconic dance and song, one of Korea's greatest artistic exports in the 21st centuryUnit 48 Scouts at the Gangnam Style monument, dedicated to the iconic dance and song, one of Korea's greatest artistic exports in the 21st century (Image: Cumbria Scouts)

“The skills they have learnt from this experience will be skills for life.

“They’ve shown compassion, respect, team building, patience, resilience, resourcefulness, problem solving and communication skills.

“They’ve learnt to communicate across language barriers, to change plans, to adapt and overcome, to support others, to be supported, to cook, to critically assess media reports, cultural difference, independence, and so much more.

“Ben will come back from this trip forever changed, in so many positive ways.”

A cultural day was held in Seoul which saw UK Scouts get together with Scouts from around the world to find out more about their cultures.

Young people from the UK got to share experiences with Scouts from Germany, Pakistan, Mauritius, Chile, India, Japan, Togo, Canada, Singapore, Sweden and others.

Jenny, 17 from 1st Silverdale Ranger Guides in Lunesdale, said: “Despite many challenges surrounding the Jamboree, there is no denying just how unforgettable and life-changing this experience is.

“The diversity of people and culture united together within scouting is incomparable and something I will bring forward with me and never forget.

“Moreover, within my unit, we have created such strong bonds, through shared challenges and joy, learning from each other and our leaders to become more independent and mature young people.”

After a closing ceremony, a trip was planned to the demilitarised zone (DMZ) where North and South Korea form the most heavily fortified border on the planet.

News and Star: Unit 48 Scouts looking into North Korea at the DMZUnit 48 Scouts looking into North Korea at the DMZ (Image: Cumbria Scouts)

Leader Ellie Rudding said: “We firstly went into a North Korean military tunnel that was discovered by South Korea in the 1970s as a means to invade the South.

“Now sealed, we were able to get as close to North Korea as 200m.

“Next we went to the Dora Observatory where we were able to look over the DMZ in to North Korea and see the border line.

“This provoked some really good insights from our young people.

“Finally, we went to Paju and tied a peace ribbon to the fence.

“Unit 48 sent messages of peace to 10 million people and families separated by the divide.”

Eddie Ward, Cumbria Scouts’ lead volunteer, conluded: “Our Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, often refers to never give up spirit and they had it in bounds.

“We are proud that scouting gives young people skills for life and wow did they use them.”