Saturday, August 13, 2011

Last Day

The last couple days mirror the first.  The arrival of 8000 IST must be a challenge.  It is us who will run the Jamboree, but until we are assigned jobs the adult side of the camp doesn't function well.  I compare the beginning and end of camp to Third-World conditions.  Things deteriorate quickly without adequate service and attention.

The last day of the youth is actually the day prior to their leaving - many in the middle of the night.  While I worked to take down the store about 2500 youth left each hour from midnight till late afternoon.  That part of camp is so much different without all the tents and wood constructions. 

The closing ceremony was great but started raining half-way through.  Since most of the show was a concert, I decided to keep myself dry and well.  While there, I did see the King of Sweden start the wave.  He's a huge Scout promotor and a good sport.  Even though it started raining hard, he refused to put up an umbrella and block the view of the stage for the people behind him.  Wow.

Though my experience and interaction with the Swedes was fantastic, the BSA national representatives at the Jamboree will get many letters from IST.  There was little communication and much abandonment from them.  I have some ideas how to improve things in the future and will share them to those I know.
As I said earlier, the adult side stops working properly at some point.  At least here, they kept the main food tent working and toilets mostly operational.  Part of the very large food tent became a hangout for many who dropped their tents on the night before departure - not wanting to fold up their tent in the dark or being wet from the morning dew.  I chose to keep my tent up and try to get some sleep - not an easy task when the music was blaring all night and activity was buzzing all around.  The few hours' sleep does help and I packed my tent and took it at 5 AM to my Dutch friend.  It is a cold-weather tent and he'll find good use for it.

My hope was to get on an early bus -despite my alledged 9 AM bus assignment.  Since my assigned bus spot was empty, I went and got some breakfast then figured out through conversations that the buses were loading at a different spot at this hour.  Lugging my stuff the 1/4 mile, I found a loaded bus and asked the driver if he was headed to the Copenhagen airport.  Saying yes and finding a spot for my bags, I hopped on board and 90 minutes later was at my destination.  Five minutes to get Danish Kroners and a 10 mintue taxi ride to the Raddison Blu hotel and I was with Carrie and Ashley.  Not bad.

These two had a bad start to the vacation as Carrie was pick-pocketed within hours of arrival.  She had already cancelled credit cards and was concerned that I had no way to get money at the airport to catch a cab.  They were glad to see me and she had figured out with her mom's help and a friend from Wachovia how to cancel her bank card but not mine.  All that manuevering worked out.

If you haven't figured out by now, I'm writing this nearly a week later in Helsinki.  The Jambo was great and I'll clean up the journal and include photos and the later travels when I get home.  The vaction part in Scandinavia is going very well and we're all having a great time.  See you all soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Nearing the Jamboree's End

The past day was quite fun.  After work a group of us went to the Holland House for a coffee (Coke in my case) and a Dutch snack.  One of our team is a hard-working Dutch man who owns 5 shoe stores back home, he suggested this snack.  Since the cafe closed at 10 pm - not long after our shift ended and our arrival there, we moved the gathering to the Dutch tent area where there we joined 10 others from Holland, Sweden, and Finland.

Our Dutch host served us coffee which I politely drank and salmon that had been smoked that afternoon.  The salmon was quite good.  They also had two treats in bags - one called double salty which was completely inedible, and black liquorice which is very popular in Sweden.  After an initial taste of each, they were discreetly put in my pants pocket.  In any case it was good to be part of the group and to hear Swedish and Dutch humor. 

Since today was my last day off and the sky was clear, I decided to get an early start and walk the two miles into Rinkeby.  This little village may have 200 people in it but would give me some local flavor and architecture.

After getting a mile into my journey down the gravel road, a car stopped and I noticed that my co-worker Anna and her husband were inside and offered me a lift.  He is in charge of the entire IST food service (30,000 meals each day).  They were going to the planning staff showers which are much nicer than what is found in camp.

Saying that I wanted to walk to Rinkeby, they instead suggested a small detour to Ă„hus which is on the coast about 7 KM away.  This was unexpected and eagerly said yes.  They dropped me off for an 1.5 hours while they went back and took showers.  I was able to walk around and see this small town which has a Danish feel.

In meeting them back at the town square, they suggested we go to a cafe and get some food.  I thought a pastry and coke would be nice, but what they have for breakfast is a sub sandwich.   They treated me to a meatball sandwich had a raspberry sauce and veggies inside.

After arriving back at camp, Anna's husband gave me a tour of the kitchen operation.  They were making 4000 sandwiches for tomorrow's lunch.  All food prep is done 24 hours in advance.  They were also making a butter sauce, steaming potatoes, and making more of the nasty cold cabbage salad.  That's at least what I call it.

As expected, the American leadership is completely uncommunicative.  We are now told that the email we received yesterday should be ignored.  Rumor has it that we are just to show up for a bus 6 hours before our flight.  Luckily, I don't have one but would like to get to Copenhagen as early as possible rather that be here at an empty and deteriorating camp.  That's all part of the experience of a Jamboree.  It is not for the fragile or anxious.  You just have to be patient, find humor in what seems dumb, and have the confidence that you'll figure out a solution to obstacles that fall in front of you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday AM - Day 12

Working in the grocery store has become routine now.  I am the frozen food "manager" which means I get to restock and clean the freezers throughout the day.  It is good that I have 37" arms as I can reach all the way to the bottom of these deep coolers.  We have chopped beef, sliced beef, chicken breast, two types of fish, and 6 varieties of Korv (sausage).  There are many others types of meet in the specialty area in the back.

When the freezers in the store are fully stocked, I help remove and flatten boxes, stack produce, sweep, or unload trailers which bring new shipments in twice each shift.  Apparently, the orders for food were placed well before the jamboree and there was little adjustment for what the youth would actually purchase.  As a result, we have mountains of bread rolls, have thrown away a dumpster of lettuce, and given away 2 freezers of Falukorv.  What we don't have are some basics: sugar, eggs, bacon, orange juice, and a variety of fruit.  An adjustment in an order takes 48 hours.  There will be a lot of waste at the end.

Here's a stock tip for you: find out who makes Nutella and invest.  We sell out of it within minutes of it arriving.  The youth from all over started buying it by armfuls.  We got a large shipment in last night but the store managers said they are to return it - not wanting the youth to eat so much of that sort of thing.  Instead we have a large supply of leeks, parsnips, cabbage, and sausage.  Doesn't that make your mouth water?

An interesting story about Falukorv.  Falu is a city in central Sweden known for its copper mine.  The deep reddish-colored mineral is used in house paint throughout Sweden.  Over the years, they used oxen in the deep mine and when one would grow old and tired, they would lift it out and butcher it - making sausage.  Thus Falukorv was born.

In my last shift, I had a visitor come by the store.  The leader of the Scots (Criag) who stayed at our house in Richmond last summer heard where I was working and visited for a few minutes.  He is here as a medical officer - going out in the field if someone can't make it to the medical tent.

This will be my last night shift.  The final one I'm scheduled for is on Sunday, when all the youth are leaving.  My suspicion is that this will be a hard day as we will be moving some product back to the store and tossing what they won't take back.

I received my departure group assignment today which is a relief.  Not having a flight to report made me concerned that I would be overlooked and one of the last out of camp.  I don't know when I leave but hope it is early on Monday morning when I requested so I can meet up with Carrie and Ashley before the day is too long gone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Trip into Kristianstad and IST Reception

Today (Wednesday) was a day off of work so I ventured into the small town nearby.  It's a 10 minute busride, about 10 km from the camp.  There are free buses every half hour so the wait is not bad.

It's a nice small town that is one of the UNESCO sites where sustainability is being tried on a large scale.  Everywhere you go there are signs that illustrate how energy is being captured and the environment is being protected.  The first stop today was a lucky stab - having seen a small map of the town, I went west to what I thought would be the river.  It is actually a marsh much like what you would find in South Carolina - except with fresh water.  They recently built a nature center in the middle of it on piles, elevated above to avoid disturbing the habitat below.

Inside are exhibits and a cafe, outside is an interestingly designed ampitheatre for talks.  Of course I felt obligated to purchase one of their desserts and a Coke.  This park area also has a large rose bed with other native flowers and plants.  Before venturing on, I rested my sore feet under a tree and found myself waking up 20 minutes later.  The cool breeze here is quite refreshing.

Next was to enter a very old church nearby and heard a singer rehearsing.  She was of course singing in Swedish and was amazing, filling up the large space with sound.  After walking around the outside, I headed for the commercial area.

My real goal was to eat something very familiar and comforting.  I've had my fill of Swedish food for a long while so a Quarter-pounder and fries from McDonalds was just about right.  On the way there, I made sure to pass their market square to buy a pint of raspberries.

Last night was the "alleged" reception for Bob Mazzucca at 6 PM as published in the IST area.  Not so.  There was a reception at 5 and a few words at 6 PM from the WOSM head.  I stayed long enough to get some Apple cider and to have my photo taken with Tico Perez - the National Commissioner.  I wanted to ask him how his tent was suiting him.  (I'm sure they all stay in hotels off site.)

Another alleged rumor yesterday didn't occur.  The King of Sweden was to make a walk-through of our store.  The Swedish manager showed us a photo to make sure we recognized him in a scout uniform.  He apparently is a regular guy and camps outside.  Since Sweden only has 9M people, there's not the mystique of the British royal family.

Tonight is a party for all three food service teams.  "Rumor has it" that we will be taken in buses off-site for liquid refreshment.  I take nothing here as fact until it happens.  Hope it won't be too late as I work at 6 AM tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day Nine Morning

All you need to do to have a good conversation is to sit down in a public area, look someone in the eyes and say hi.  That happened last night when in the Swedish Cafe (big white tent) having a Coke and chocolate bar.  A man in a wheelchair rolled by and for the next 1.5 hours we discussed Scouting in each country, politics, and many other things.  The Swedes love to talk and I've learned not to interrupt them until they pause for at least 5 seconds.

Americans (at least this one) tends to finish each other's sentences as a way to affirm they are understanding each other.  At times, we tend to talk at the same time.  In multiple conversations with Swedes, I've learned they don't like interruptions and want to tell the entire stream of consciousness before letting you add anything.  This have gone on for 5 minutes more than once.

The man was about 40 and in a wheelchair because of a bad car accident which broke his legs and crushed his ribcage.  His wife is on the planning team so his two young daughters were with him.  There are many children here but only allowed by Swedes on the organizing team.  He is also IST like me and volunteered to work in the kitchen after a plea went out in Sweden for this sort of help.

This morning I ate early and was sitting at a picnic table making woggles and an American who let me borrow a power adapter earlier came and talked about her job - working in the Earth area with kids.  They teach environmentalism with hands-on models and discussion.  This is very compatible with what Scouting has always taught but would generate some dissent from anti-green folks back home.

Day Eight

Today was an early morning work session but a lighter one that in the past.  My job today was to greet and regulate the youth queue to enter the store.  The store opens at 7 AM and the store is filled until 9 AM.

10,000 participants each day for the next three will venture away from Kristianstad to "camp-in-camp".  They go to some smaller camp area in southern Sweden to experience a more natural setting.  The Swedes take a hike in a different location.  This means that 25% of the population is away now which makes the place much less crowded.

This afternoon, I ventured back to the World Village area where each country has a tent to display their scouting culture.  This is very interesting but geared for the youth.  The US tent is a frisbee game that promotes the Bechtel camp that will host the World Jamboree in 2019.  This will not be a mere US hosting but will involve Canada and Mexico as well.  That is good news as it will have the order that Americans insist upon, with the casual feeling that is special to a World Jamboree.

Even the Swedes I've spoken with are grumbling at the lack of organization that I've come to expect at a WSJ.  The main issue is that many IST who come but don't do their jobs; not very Scouting of them. The Americans are all hard-working regardless of their assigned duties.  I've heard that the dining hall that serves 10,000 meals to adults three times a day is short 260 people.  That makes it harder on those who are conscientious.  Even a "cushy" job like mine has a 15% absentee rate - those who've never come.

Tomorrow, I will leave work for an hour or so to attend a reception with the chief US scout professional, Bob Mazzuca.  Last Jamboree, the National Commissioner was in attendance.  They treat you real nice and thank you for being there.  A nice commemorative gift is typically given.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day Seven - Free Day

It's now Sunday and I had a free day to do what I wish.  This morning and afternoon I found a spot under a tree and leaned against a rock to draw and paint.  From where I was you could hear sounds from the main village about 1/2 mile away and the occasional group of young people walking by.  At this point, it's not too hard to pick out which language is being spoken.

Two hours this morning, I did my best to do a landscape in a more realistic manner but realized that I don't have the tools to pull that off.  In the afternoon, I took a more realistic approach and almost finished a more abstract landscape. 

The weather finally turned nice and is now in the mid-70's, breezy, and completely sunny.  That is good as I needed to wash my shirt for work.  We have a tan-colored shirt to identify us in the store and mine was getting a bit ripe.  Despite a wind, the weather was so humid that nothing would dry before today.

Being almost 54, I can tell that things don't work as they used to.  Taking a short break last night at work, I laid on a bench to flatten my back and I had to get another old guy working with me to help me up.  Mornings are tough but after a shower, I feel good.

The food is OK but not to my preference.  There is a Swedish current, but I long for spicy and sweet things.  Lunch was a variation on Mexican and was a great diversion from white fish and oatmeal.  A coke at the end of the day will apparently have to be my food connection to home for now.