1800 scouts descend on Huntingdon for CamJam

THREE years of planning and an army of 500 volunteers came together last week for an event which has all the spirit of the London Olympics but a fraction of the budget - CamJam 2011.

A population of scouts and explorer scouts totalling the size of a Alconbury descended on Huntingdon Racecourse for the highlight of Cambridgeshire’s scouting calendar - it’s four yearly jamboree.

Postponed one year to avoid clashing with another event, CamJam saw 1800 scouts from across the county and the world take part in a week-long series of activities, including go-karting, land yachting, rafting, high ropes, fishing, windsurfing and ten pin bowling.

Cambridgeshire Scouts’ communications manager Chris Ward said: “CamJam gives young people a new dimension. It brings them together in a new environment to develop their friendships meet people from other cultures.

“Everybody came for the whole week. We all arrived on Saturday and left on Saturday and there was a full programme of activities.

“CamJam has been running for 21 years and it has been running on a four-year cycle. It coincided with another big event, so we skipped a year, but it will be back to a four year cycle.”

Youngsters aged 10 to 18 years lived side-by-side throughout the week supervised and supported by adult volunteers.

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Up to 80 activities were on offer on site, with one-day devoted to visiting local tourist attractions such as Huntstanton and the National Space Museum.

An on-site radio station CamJam Radio kept camp residents up-to-date on the latest activities and there were cinema screens and a stage providing evening entertainment in the form of CamJam’s Got Talent.

Mr Ward said: “We had to go to the racecourse a week before to set up water, electricity and toilets - everything you would expect in a town or village.

“It is tiring but you feel very proud of what you have done and it is good to know the younger ones that have been there have had a fantastic time.”

Phil Garret, chairman of the CamJam organising team said “Preparing for CamJam 2011 has been a lot of hard work. I’ve done some pretty fantastic things with Scouts since I became a leader but seeing an event of this scale come together simply tops the lot.”

At the same time a group of 36 explorer scouts were in Sweden for the Scout World Jamboree. The group set off a week before CamJam, which finished on Saturday, and will be returning later this week.

The group flew to Copenhagen to meet 4,000 other UK scouts taking part in the week-long jamboree which attracted 34,000 scouts from across the world.

Among the contingent is 15-year-old Sawtry explorer Freddie Osborn. Before heading out for the trip, Freddie, who lives in Holme said: “I can’t wait to try all the activities they have got planned. I’m most looking forward to meeting new friends from across the world.

“I’ve never met anyone from outside Europe before, I’m going to try and make 100 new friends, because if not at the World Scout Jamboree, then when?”