Halfway to the moon

Halfway BLOG

Lucy Budge, a 17-year-old Explorer Scout from Bognor Regis, talks about how Scouting enabled her to go abroad this year for the very first time.

My family stays in the UK for holidays. The furthest we’ve been is Wales – we tend to do a lot of camping and stuff like that, which was actually what got me into Scouting in the first place. It can be quite costly to go abroad.

I decided to make Roverway in the Netherlands my first trip abroad for a few reasons. The fact that I’d be going with my friends was a big plus: most people tend to go abroad for the first time with their families, which is nice, but going away with the Scouts gives you more freedom. Roverway is also much cheaper than other trips like the World Scout Jamboree, because it’s EU only, rather than global.

I was able to fundraise for the trip with my Group, so it hasn’t cost us a lot of money. We worked really hard, writing applications for the Twinning Society, Lions Club, the Rotary Club – all kinds of places – as well as for District. It’s really accessible: as long as you write a good application, there are places where you can find funding to help you do things like this. We made crafts and sold them at fairs, which raised quite a bit too. That’s one of the good things about the Scouts. I’d never have been able to afford two weeks abroad without doing it through a charity like ours. Scouts gives really good opportunities to young people.

A couple of years ago, I would’ve said the main challenge of going on a trip abroad would be meeting new people. I was very shy, hated talking to people I didn’t know and didn’t have much confidence. But being part of a Scout Group pushes you in the deep end sometimes. There are new people every term and getting to know them is part of the fun – camping with other groups forces you to make friends. Eventually you realise you’re doing it without thinking, and the confidence that you had to fake originally has become natural. It’s the kind of progress you’ll rarely find from anything else.

I’d never even been through an airport, let alone visited a different country, so I was really excited about that. The main thing that surprised me wasn’t the security or the expensive food (though I’ve never paid so much for a bottle of water in my life). It was the sheer amount of people passing through every minute. Whichever window you looked out of, multiple planes were taking off and landing, with hundreds of bags being ferried to other countries. I didn’t think so many people travelled.

The thrill of taking off was incredible. One of my favourite songs is ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ by Frank Sinatra. And I was halfway there.

Once at Roverway, it was like someone put their hand in a lottery and picked 50 random people from around the world, shoving them all onto one campsite for six days. Except it was more like winning that lottery, because those people became my family. My teachers. My closest confidants. In six days, I learned that the Swiss do actually carry Swiss army knives, and that the Spanish are very good at flirting, but that none of these cultural stereotypes defined them.

One experience on my trip stood out the most. After five days of intense heat, one shower between fifty, and only lukewarm water to drink, there was a storm. Before it even hit, my new friends – who, by now, were sharing bites from the same apple – were making murmurs of excitement, hastily checking their tents and putting on waterproofs. We all walked to the edge of a lake, and watched as the rain pelted down and lightning flashed in the distance.

If you didn’t bother with the fundraising and networking and all of the hard work as a group beforehand, and just paid the full amount for a trip like that, I don’t think you’d get the same experience. So I’m glad, really.

Words: As told to Jade Slaughter | Illustration: Tallulah Fontaine

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