5.45am on a Saturday morning and our bleary-eyed Scouts and leaders assembled at Liverpool Street Station for the early train to Harwich and the start of a 12-day adventure.
We thought our journey – with a delayed ferry sailing and rough seas – was eventful enough but we had it easy compared to many Scout and Guide units travelling to the Haarlem Jamborette in the face of the worst summer storms in the Netherlands in more than a century.
4,000 Scouts from as far afield as Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Canada made their way to Spaarnwoude – half way between Haarlem and Amsterdam – to share a summer adventure.
This was the 12th Haarlem Jamborette and the third which 8th Holborn has joined, after our previous visits in 1999 and 2011. Since the last Jamborette a new railway station has opened just a few hundred yards from the site, so it was easy for us to get there by train and ferry.
We were very pleased to reach the Jamborette late on Saturday evening and find our campsite in Yellowlands subcamp under the capable leadership of Jan Bram and his team.
On Sunday we had time to build our yellow totem pole and mail box, before playing games to get to know our Yellowlands neighbours.
This year’s overall theme was ‘Cartoon Your Camp – Create, Colour, Compete’.
The opening ceremony introduced us to a bewildering storyline involving eggs, avatars and trotters, but the rain didn’t spoil the atmosphere too much.
The next day was our first excursion – with the rest of Yellowlands – to the Walibi theme park where despite torrential rain we explored the rollercoasters, log flumes, haunted houses, dodgems and of course the teacup ride.
Tuesday was our ‘day off’ from the Jamborette programme so we made our way to Amsterdam and dodged the rain in the Nemo science centre, before joining the long queue to visit the Anne Frank House which was a thought-provoking and worthwhile experience.
Wednesday was our first ‘proper’ Jamborette activity day and we took part in a range of sports and wide games including Knights & Peasants, as well as ‘mountain biking’ (not that you will find many mountains in Holland).
In the evening Violet and Poppy represented us by performing at the Yellowlands campfire which was extremely ably led by a 16-year-old Scout from the Woudloper troop from Belgium.
Arts & crafts day on Thursday included activities such as upcycling, ebru painting (marbling) and cold forging.
Friday was Aqua day when we travelled to Haarlemermeerse Bos and played team-building games, and enjoyed the inflatable assault course, as well as building rafts and taking part in archery.
We celebrated Rose’s birthday with cake, and she also received a limited edition Yellowlands mug from the subcamp team.
For hike day on Saturday the group divided in two, with four travelling to Utrecht for the city hike, following some fiendish navigation puzzles around the city centre.
The other four Scouts walked 25 km on the Dunes Hike, starting in the sand dunes at Zandvoort am Zee and hiking back to the jamboree site through the city of Haarlem, with a stop for fresh bread, cheese and ice cream in the city centre.
On Sunday morning the whole Jamborette came together for a ‘reflection’, featuring a memorable performance by sand artist and Dutch TV personality Gert van der Vijver.
In the afternoon the Jamborette site was opened up to visitors and our trademark tube map game (devised during our trip to Poland in 2008) once again proved a great talking point with our guests.
Rose and Jessica were interviewed live on Jambo Radio, and we were awarded lots of DQ (development quotient) coins by Mellow Yellow, the Yellowlands ‘trotter’, after we plied her with cups of English tea.
On Monday morning 8th Holborn stepped in at the last moment to raise the flags at the Yellowlands opening ceremony, before Edward, Ruby and Violet made their Scout promises in front of the whole subcamp.
This was the hottest day of the Jamborette and we enjoyed a leisurely day on the beach at Zandvoort am Zee.
Tuesday was our trail day with pioneering, zip wires and ‘Mad Max’ activities among the programme.
Tuesday night’s closing ceremony confirmed what we already knew – that Yellowlands was the best sub camp – and concluded the story of the eggs and the avatars.
It was great to see 8th Holborn appear twice in the highlights video on the big screens at the closing ceremony.
A fireworks display above the lake rounded off a memorable evening.
Our journey home on Wednesday included a brief stopover in Schiedam to find a supermarket to stock up on those all-important supplies of vla, chocolate sprinkles and stroopwaffles.