The Commonwealth comes to Gilwell

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Gilwell Park, the home of Scouting, was buzzing with activity for the 2012 Commonwealth Scout Forum (CSF), part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Aged between 18 and 25, more than 30 CSF representatives came from as far afield as Anguilla, Belize, and Uganda to participate in a series of events focused on improving relationships between Commonwealth Scout organisations. A total of 20 of the 54 Commonwealth nations were represented.

An action-packed weekend

The theme for the event was ‘Developing Scout Partnerships in the Commonwealth’, and Friday’s activities were based around this topic. Young people engaged in discussions on how Scout organisations could work together to develop their programmes and enhance international experiences. A day of plenary sessions, presentations and discussion groups took place, examining subjects such as ‘Connecting Cultures’, ‘Scouting in your Community’, ‘International Scouting Programmes’, and ‘Facilitating Local Exchanges’.

The Scouts departed from Gilwell Park on Saturday morning on a trip to explore London. This included a ride on the London Eye, a London bus tour, a Thames river cruise, games in Green Park and Trafalgar Square and a reception with the Commonwealth Secretary General.

On Sunday the Commonwealth Scouts were guests at the 2012 National Scout Service and Parade, which took place at Windsor Castle. They lined up alongside a crop of this year’s Queen’s Scouts and 50 other Scouts honoured for gallantry to meet HM The Queen and Chief Scout Bear Grylls.

A home from home

Home hospitality had been organised for the duration of the Commonwealth Scouts’ stay, with many of them staying with UK Scouting volunteers. Helen Sinclair, an Explorer Scout Leader from 8th Holborn Scouts, looked after Scouts from Grenada, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Lucia. She helped to organise independent excursions to some of London’s top sights, including the British Museum and the Olympic Park at Stratford to add to the official programme of events. Helen said:

‘The first Scout to arrive was Jerron from Grenada. One of our Scouts, Andrew, showed him some of London’s sights and helped him get used to the British weather.’

Memorable experiences

The majority of the Commonwealth Scouts departed on the Monday, in good spirits despite the prospect of the lengthy journey home, while others will leave later this week, to return to their respective countries with new ideas on Scouting and some great memories too. They certainly seem to have enjoyed themselves, judging from recent Tweets:

Caitlyn Piton, Canada: 'Well this was the experience of a lifetime. I can’t wait to come home and tell everyone what I’ve learned about the Commonwealth!' #csf2012

Jean-Marc Bonello, Malta: 'back home after an unforgettable weekend at #csf2012 #amazing thanks all @ukintscouts'

Thank you to the Commonwealth Scouts who made it all the way to the UK, and to the volunteers who did so much for our visitors, including organising home hospitality.

About Gilwell Park

Welcoming guests from all backgrounds, Gilwell Park is a superb venue for meetings, training, team building and other corporate events. Scouting at Gilwell Park began in 1919, as a gift from a Scottish businessman who was moved to help Scouting after seeing Scouts operating in streets and on waste ground in the East End of London.

Still helping young people from all backgrounds today, Gilwell has grown into a multi-purpose training, recreational and accommodation centre covering 108 acres. It provides visitors locally, nationally and internationally with opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities from a morning on the climbing wall to an intensive week-long leadership course.

Further links

Gilwell Park Activity Centre

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