An Experience of a Lifetime - Eurojam in Normandy France!

Eurojam – Proof of a true brotherhood and sisterhood

Once every 10 years or so our larger home movement known as the FSE calls together Explorer Troops from all 21 member countries to come as a family for a once in lifetime experience called Eurojam.  Euro means European and jam means jamboree… a term made popular by the founder of our program method Lord Robert Baden-Powell. 

The organization required along with the extra ordinary efforts of an all-volunteer support team was absolutely stunning and a marvel to see and appreciate as many Wayfarer Explorers and adult leaders helped make Eurojam possible for all 12,500 participants.

To help one better appreciate the magnitude and scope of this great adventure here are a few stats to help boggle our minds…

·         6,000 vehicles passed through the camp over the span of 10 days

·         Some 880 buses moved in and out of Eurojam to deliver Explorers to Eurojam and for a Pilgrimage to Lesieux

·         20 volunteer doctors and 30 nurses staffed the field hospital.  Over the 10 days some 1,800 people visited the field hospital with no life-threatening or extra serious injuries (thanks be to God!) reported

·         On average 25 of an available 60 hospital beds where occupied at a time

·         Some 400 hand held radio’s supported overall communications throughout Eurojam

·         Complete tent cities where quickly established to house all on site

·         We used 1.5 million litres of drinking water that was transported through 10 km of above ground pipes to supply various sub camps with drinking water 

·         We consumed 40 tons of bread and 301 tons of dry and fresh food products

·         The effort by our volunteers throughout the 10 days of Eurojam equated to 60 years of effort by the volunteers

Eurojam brought the best of our Explorer method and program together… whereas we lived in the woods, needed to construct our own furniture such as tables and benches, cook our own food over an open wood fire and lived in tents.  Was it challenging… you bet it was!  Normandy France while we were there suffered one of the wettest and coolest summer in more than two decades… just in time for Eurojam.  One day it rained without stopping for more than 30consecutive hours!

The Explorer law includes… An Explorer smiles and whistles under all difficulties.  So in spite of the rain and excessive mud everywhere we all lived that law without complaint.  We did not allow the rain to dampen our spirits or unduly impact the delivery of a fantastic program.

 

From the moment that we disembarked from or double decker coach liner right behind our Swiss brothers the Explorers immediately felt at home and part of a larger family.  Our Explorers marvelled how we all wear the same uniform, hold fast to the same Explorer Promise and Law, we stand proudly under and fly our International flag the Baussant and share in the underlying fabric that knits together our movement and reason for being our Catholic faith.  Language never became an issue… the Explorers found ways to make themselves effectively understood.

 

It did not take long for individual Explorers to develop a deep one on one friendship with their brother Explorers especially those whom we shared camp with… the Slovakians, Romanians and two patrols of Polish Explorers….. a friendship that will carry on long after Eurojam came to a close.

There are so many many stories and adventures to tell… but due to space we will share but just a few of the highlights.  The opening ceremony was a massive one with all 12,500 of our brother and sister Explorers coming together.  Massive balloons where raised, riders on horseback enacted the horrors of war followed by youth leading others to a peaceful shared humanity to Explorers proudly carrying out the flags of all participating countries that where later raised by their respective county General Commissioner.  The singing of the official Eurojam song http://www.eurojam.eu/official-anthem/celebrating such a special and unique brother and sisterhood was truly remarkable and heartwarming.

 

A beautiful opening Mass with many Priests, 3 Bishops and 1 Archbishop (Archbishop Cyril who lives at the Vatican who is also an Explorer Troop leader as his time permits in Rome) who celebrated the Mass for all of use.  We had our own choir and full size band who provided stunning music and singing not only throughout Holy Mass but also for the opening and closing ceremonies.

So what did our Explorers think of their Eurojam experience…

My Eurojam experience by Patrol Chief Mingu Kang

So my expectations of Eurojam during departure was that it would simply be a boring camp with a lot more people.  However when we arrived, we were welcomed by countless amounts of Explorers, both male and female.  This moment completely changed my mentality and attitude towards Eurojam.  I realized that even though we were all from different countries, speaking different languages, and complete strangers to each other, we would be camping, living with these people.  The camp itself was an amazing experience, but the parts that stuck with me throughout the whole trip was the opening and closing ceremonies.  He opening was very exciting because it was breath-taking to see so many people were involved and taking part at this camp.  Even though we didn’t know anyone, I felt a sense of connection between basically everyone I encountered.  And the closing ceremony felt special to me because it made me realize that 2 weeks of camp was more than enough to become almost like family with the other explorers from so many different countries.  And to this day, I still keep in contact with the boys that I met during Eurojam.  This trip was the most fun I’ve had and definitely the most valuable.  Opposite from the beginning, on my way home from France, I noticed that my expectations were completely wrong, and I would love to be able to have this experience again!

My Eurojam experience by Explorer Eric Chong – age 12

Eurojam was an unforgettable experience that not many people can do but as an FNE Explorer I and some other Explorers got a chance to go.  In the beginning when we first arrived in France we were really excited that we could meet our brothers form other countries.  One morning at 5.45 a.m. we walked across the ocean floor to Mount St. Michael.  It was really hard because it was cold and we were tired. This was for us to prepare for Eurojam.  The first night at Eurojam was not very easy because we had to sleep outside in the wild.  The most amazing part of the camping was when everyone got together as one big family ad celebrated Mass.

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