Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hockey Boy in Ireland, part III.

Hockey Boy's scout leader sent another fabulous report yesterday detailing their activities at the Scouting Ireland Jamboree.  I thought I would include it here so that you could get an idea of life at the Jamboree.  For all of you who've wished we Girl Scouts had been availed of such an opportunity, I should note that Scouting overseas includes girls and boys.  I'll have to find out if there's an age limit!


We slept in a bit late this morning as the activities didn't start until 10:30 am. It appears that we've all adjusted to the local time zone. It's still a bit difficult to adjust to the long daylight hours (sun up at 5:30, down at 10:30). At 9:00 pm we [the adults] start getting tired thinking that we're jet lagged, but in reality were just being tricked by the sun.

In the afternoon, the Scouts went to various the "Zones" for activities. Two "lashing" rains during the afternoon disrupted the programs for about half an hour, thereafter all was back to normal. The locals all wear "Wellies", or Wellingtons, which are rubber barn boots. This must be normal Irish attire, as most are brightly designed & colored. The only ones that I've seen in Texas are black. We don't believe that this is going to be a fashion trend back home. We hear rumors that you all are still in triple digits; sad to report that Punchestown is in the low 60's.

The neckers are hot trading items. Word has gotten out and he have lots of kids stopping by to trade, though the Irish neckers are only colors without any stitching.

In the evening the Jamboree Village was transformed into an outdoor disco with a live band and DJ. The Jamboree has Scouts of all ages (10 through 18), with about an equal number of girls and boys. Note that at our camp (94th Walkinstown) it's guys only, though there is a steady stream of girls coming by our front gate to meet "those American boys". We have yet to hear any complaints from the Troop 70 guys about the attention!

During the disco evening, the adults waited in line for activity tickets for the next day. The queue was long, so we team tagged for several hours, but in the end the wait was worth it - we got tickets to the activity of our first choice.

Lights out at camp is extremely flexible The only rules are to be quiet after 11:30 and back in camp by midnight. Most of the Scouts hang out at the gateways and chat with other Scouts until sometime later. David & I don't stay awake to find out when the last person leaves.


Woke up early (7:00 am) this morning to get on a bus to take us to the Wicklow Mountains for a day hike. Breakfast was rashers and French toast. Rashers is thickly sliced bacon. We were supposed to have scrambled eggs, but the supply depot gives us much more food than we can reasonably eat in a day. With the excess bread & milk from yesterday's lunch, we opted for French toast.

Prior to boarding the bus, we were assigned two non-Scout guides who are members of a local mountaineering club. Martin & Pat checked to make sure that we had proper footwear/clothing and then gave us an overview of our hike. They also supplied us with trail maps, water, and sandwiches for lunch. We wore long pants and brought our rain gear ... just in case the weather changed along the way. So far, the rain had held off, but the skies were cloudy.

The 10 km hike was in Glenlough Park, Ireland's national park. It is located in the Wicklow Mountains and a very popular tourist destination. Over a million visitors come to the park each year. It is nested in a valley and has two finger lakes. The mountains on either side of the lakes are only 3000 feet high, but are sheer cliffs on the western edge. Of course it is all very, very green.

We took the Spinks trail north from the drop off point. The trail was well developed. It starts out as a paved path and continues up the mountain using old railroad ties, or "sleepers" as they call them. Two ties are set parallel and form the foot-wide walkway with thousands of steps up the mountain. This walkway goes on for at least 3 miles. This was really nice since the trail crossed several bogs along the way. We ate lunch in a field of purple heather on top of one of the cliffs overlooking the upper lake. At the farthest point on the trail, we crossed a wooden footbridge across the stream to the eastern side of the lakes. The trail then changes from railroad ties to stones. On this side, it becomes the Miner's trail since there is an abandoned lead mine, last used in the 50's.

Hiking through fields of Heather
Hiking through fields of heather

Lunch on Spinks trail
Lunch on the Spinks Trail

Bridge over the stream
Bridge over the stream (Hockey Boy is third from the right)

***Note from Eloise: My mom emailed me to say that she and my dad hiked this exact same trail on their trip to Ireland in June!***

By around 4:30 pm we made it back to the bus and returned to camp just in time for Chicken Fajita dinner. Most of the Scouts took a shower after dinner in prep for another evening of mingling with the locals. The showers are hot, but have limited times to accommodate the youth & adults.

The evening activity was around the pirate theme. There were a lot of Scouts & Troops who took the pirate theme to a new level - face painting, gateways and the steady stream of "arrrrgh"s.

Did I mention that we didn't have a drop of rain all day? The "luck of the Irish", with help from the Blarney Stone was on our side. It actually was dry (well, rain-free) the entire day.

I was able to convince one of the people in the admin office to let me use his computer and send yesterday's message & photos. Hopefully we'll still be welcomed in the coming days. I still have a handful of Troop 70 neckers to help solidify our friendship!


Our luck for good weather ended sometime during the middle of the night. We awoke with a steady drizzle, and as I write it has stopped and is overcast.

The theme for today is "Fire", which means that the program is shifted to the afternoon and evening (2 to midnight). Fires in the daylight aren't that spectacular. Due to this and a good wearing out from yesterday's hike, everyone is sleeping in late. By 11 am, the Troop 70 Scouts are awake, with the Irish Scouts still asleep in their tent.

Breakfast was croissants and lunch was hoagie sandwiches. Again, there is never a shortage for food. We always have a bin of apples and tangerines for the taking.

More later ...


Anonymous said...

Breathtaking photos. Sounds like they're having an amazing time! One question: can you give me the definitions of "neckers" and "gateways" ???

Ramona said...

Yes...your photos are beautiful. Such a fun trip. Your blog is beautiful and I will visit again and again. Thank you for visiting my house tour and leaving such a kind comment.

Smiles ~ Ramona

Eloise said...

I know that "neckers" is short for "neckerchiefs," which are basically bandanas that are designed by each troop. At the national Jamboree in the US, patches are hot trading items, but overseas they evidently prefer to trade these neckerchiefs or entire shirts.

I'm not sure about the meaning of "gateways." Hockey Boy returns Sunday night, so I'll try to remember to ask him and report back. The more specific questions I ask him, the better! Otherwise I will get very little information about his trip (he's a boy of very few words - especially to his mother).

cotedetexas said...

Gosh, he is so handsome, I just had to say that! Dots is adorable too! first time on your blog and loving it.