Way back in the summer the first exchange took place with our friends at 12th Cambridge Scouts in Canada. ASL Jenny Hill tells the story of what was quite an adventure…..
Summer 2013 saw the first exchange trips take place between our group in Cambridge UK, and our namesake in the Canadian province of Ontario. The exchange kicked off with four daring Canadian scouts and three leaders crossing the Atlantic to join our scouts on summer camp at the international jamboree in Kernow (Cornwall). Staying with host families here in Cambridge our Canadian friends were also introduced to some of the highlights of our city with punting down the river of course included.
Severely jet-lagged, the Canadians showed us what they were made of by fearlessly leaping into the chilly water of Jesus Green outdoor pool on their very first afternoon here!
Less than two weeks after our visitors departed came our turn, with two very excited scouts and two sleepy leaders setting out for the airport in the early hours of the morning. On our second day on Canadian soil we climbed aboard the minibus and set off for camp at Haliburton scout reserve, an incredible 5000 acre site of forest and lakes, just south of the famous Algonquin Provincial Park. Our time at Haliburton was truly the wildest camping any of us had experienced for a whole week! Our group’s camping area was accessible only by water, with us all travelling to and from activities, or even to the shop or to collect drinking water, by Canadian canoe
Lake water was boiled on the fire for the washing of dishes and we learnt to cook traditional Canadian camp food on an open fire
Our only wash for the week was a shower in a waterfall halfway along a 10 mile hike – very refreshing! I’m certain each of us had our own favourite bits but among my most memorable experiences were waking up to find that racoons had raided our food stores in the night, and taking a barge into the centre of the lake at night to stargaze – we were lucky enough to be watching at the peak of the Perseids meteor shower, and without light pollution I think we were all taken aback by how many more stars we could see.
Our scouts didn’t hesitate to get stuck in, with William’s skills in Canadian canoeing taking him to represent our group at the gala for all scouts camping on the reserve, and Lucy bringing home the trophy for the highest rifle shooting score at Haliburton all summer.
Back with our host families in the city we all got to enjoy some proper maple syrup and pancakes, try our first ever root beer floats and spend some chilled out time with our Canadian hosts. Sightseeing included a fascinating tour of a traditional Mennonite farm (Mennonites are a subgroup of the Amish Christian church group), a boat trip under the breath-taking Niagara Falls, and yet more incredible views from the CN tower in Toronto!
I’d like to finish here by thanking all those who hosted scouts, both in the UK and in Canada, for making this first exchange an exciting adventure and a great success. Following this successful first exchange we hope that we can continue our links with 12th Cambridge Canada in future years so that friendships made this summer may continue, and many more scouts can get involved in promoting our international links!