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.

Day Six - Grocery Store

I have officially arrived: now the frozen foods person.  The 1000 patrols that come through the store each meal purchase a lot of food.  It takes our group of 20+ all day to keep up.  During the two hours before meals, the store is packed and a queue can be long outside.  That period is just about keeping the food visible and stocked.

Items like bread go quickly and take a lot of time to pack correctly.  My area includes all the meat such as today's preference - salmon.  Yesterday was chopped beef and tomorrow's meal plan suggests Swedish meatballs.  During the two hour break between each meal, the store receives new product and we all restock shelves and sweep up.  There is one Dutch worker who is a store manager back home and he seems to handle the logistics well.  The official store manager is handy but doesn't really manage.

Tomorrow is my day off and I plan to goof around a bit.  We've had three straight days of rain and tomorrow is to be nice.  If so, then I plan to find a nice spot and paint a bit.  With minimal tools, that should be interesting.

As in 2007, there are a good number of IST who don't show up for their work - particularly the less glamorous jobs.  There is a sign on the toilet doors to shame those who are to clean toilets but are absent - "remember you took an oath to do your duty".  Most do their work with a smile.

The most fun group is probably the Brazilians.  They are vocal and use every moment to celebrate.  This is at dinner, in the common tents, and just about anywhere else.  The Americans are again the oldest (with perhaps the exception of the Indians).  In the BSA program, we tend to recruit parents of the youth while in most other Scout countries, they use twenty-somethings.  The average age is about 35 and split evenly between men and women.

I'm sorry that there haven't been images recently to download.  It is something that may have to happen after the event.  The internet folks not only reduced the time per sitting to 20 minutes, they also changed the operating system to something that my camera doesn't like.  What used to take 5 minutes per image to download now doesn't happen.  Hopefully, my words will paint the scene.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day Five - Work Routine Begins

Today was the real start of the three-day schedule - morning, afternoon, then off the third day.  We started at 6:00 AM ahead of the breakfast rush.  Instead of working at the tills, my job was to supervise the frozen foods and keep them stocked.  A simple task yes, but the issue was finding the items to replace in the containers off the loading dock.  The previous team had received a shipment and packed the freezer.  By the end of the day, we had emptied the freezer to make room for the next delivery.

Working the grocery store is a great job for someone who is a bit compulsive about order and design.  I can straighten and organize all day long.

Off work at 1:00 AM gave me time to grab a late lunch, rest, and begin my own time.  The Swedish Cafe is becoming my favorite hangout.  It is close to my tent but also has tables to sit and relax.  Yesterday gave me one of those unique World Jamboree experiences while sitting there drinking a Coke.  A Lebanese duo went to the microphone and started entertaining the group with their renditions of Pink Floyd on guitar.  It would have been more entertaining if they weren't tone-deaf.

Also while there, I finished my dala-horse.  Being particular, I brought my own sable brushes so I could paint smaller lines.  It's looking good and gave me time to have conversations with others.

The Swedes often look at my nametag and begin speaking in Swedish.  I smile and just say English please.  Work tomorrow is in the afternoon and should give me time to go to the World Village about 3/4 mile from my area.  That's where most activities are.

Tomorrow should have less rain so I plan to venture into Kristianstad.  There is bus service on the half hour starting at 8 AM and ending at 4:30 PM.  I was told we had thirteen centimeters of rain yesterday.  Doing the math, that's over 5 inches.  The rest of the week is to be sunny which will allow me to dry out some things.  Very glad I bought that expensive rain jacket.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day Four - First Day of Full Activities

Day Four (for me) was the first real day for most of the participants.  They all should have time to explore the central area which is full of activities.  The scout store is a large tent mostly of clothing items, but includes many pragmatic items as well.

Before the youth arrived, I made my own visit to the store to purchase what I saw was two essential pieces of equipment - better rain-gear and a mat to sit on.  The rain hadn't started yet but was forecast for the next couple days.  This set me back a bit but was just deducted from our event card which I had loaded with 200 dollars.  There is no cash at the Jamboree.  The line of 20 to check out took about an hour.  This was likely due to the newness of items and the computer system.  Language contributed to the slowness.

English is spoken by nearly everyone, but fluency varies a lot.  I can't complain as I speak only enough German to get in trouble.  Most want to speak English as a way to practice.  It is very hard at times to tell if someone is Swedish or English as the Swedes speak with a Brit accent.

My work schedule was blank for this day so I took time to rest and listen to the rain hit my tent.  The job is hard on my feet and I enjoyed the cool breeze and sound.  After a while, it may get annoying but for now it is great.

The big event of the day is the opening ceremony which was attended by most of the 39,000 scouts at the Jamboree.  The first act was the introduction of the countries with two scouts bringing in each flag.  Bear Grylls called the Jamboree to open as he passed off the International flag held by UK since 2007 to the Swedish representative.  There were two musical acts and a corny skit about Swedish history.

The final act of the show was a group who juggled and did acrobatics with fire~- great visuals for such a large group.  Somehow this two hour show was done without a drop of rain.  I don't know how they pulled that off since that was the only two hour period all day without rain.

In closing for this day, please excuse my typing.  The computer system is different, written in Swedish, and the keyboard has letters in different places.  There are also lots of new letters that I keep typing such as äåö.  We are given only thirty minutes at a time and it shuts off after that.  It's a fair system with so many who want access.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day Two & Three - IST Training and Participant Arrival

The past two days had all International Service Team staff in training.  For me, it was meeting my patrol of three Dutch women and one man from India.  I am the youngest.  They called us the pensioner team.

We went through a series of games and drills to get to know each other and understand our individual customs.  There was a great deal of walking  - to get familiar with the camp.

Yesterday, the participants arrived from all over the world.  It took most of 18 hours to get all in and set up.  There is an enormous pile of cut logs that the kids are toting to their campsite.  My guess is that most are using these to build gateways but some are quite clever and using their pioneering skills to build platforms for their tents and towers to raise their country's flag.

It is good that they came on the 27th as it has rained since that day.  It's a soft rain but ever-present.  Now that the youth arrived, all things seem ready and open.  The opening ceremony takes place on the second night.

Day One - Travel

Arriving in Atlanta allowed me to find a dozen others with uniforms - going to Sweden via Copenhagen.  The 9 1/2 hour flight was made better by having a talkative person from Mississippi who was a historian documenting the Grant memoirs.  He had lived in Copenhagen for three years and was going back to visit friends.  There were a few tips he gave me for the one day we will have there shortly.

Once in Copenhagen, it was a scenic 2-hour bus ride to the Jamboree site.  Arriving at the check-in point brought back memories of England when I was the one checking people in.  After the two hour line, we took another bus to the IST camp where we received our paperwork, tee-shirt and patches.  What I was to do for the next two weeks was on my paperwork but all in code.  One more day would reveal that detail.

The site is relatively flat, open, and sandy and when not used for camping is a site for the military to train.  The weather is such a relief from the 100 degrees and humid weather back home.  At night, a light jacket is fine and not needed in the day.

The first couple days are always confusion as to where to be and what to do.  Most jobs are to be done by IST and until they arrive, most things don't work well.  Day One is to understand where to be on Day Two.

After such a long day of travel and discovery, I had no problem sleeping.  The half-dozen cat-naps on the plane helped a lot and let me get in sync with with the time change.


The trip to Kanderstag went without much drama.  There is always stress going on a long trip overseas, especially by oneself.  On this trip however, you find others wearing the uniform and start a group.

It took a lot less time to arrive than the trip to England in 2007, but the communications and preparation at the site was not great.  The weather and excitement of the event was great however which put all in a good mood.

Most speak English very well, which for Americans is an advantage.  Some conversations require enhanced listening skills.  An Indian friend on my team speaks English, but with a very thick and fast past tongue.

We received our job assignments and mine is to work in one of the participant grocery stores.  This should be a good one as it's indoors but will require me to stand for much of the 8 hour shift.  Each of the three participant sections has a large grocery store where the 1000 patrols must buy their food each meal.  It is cashless but they are given a voucher card and must prepare a meal plan and ration their food so they have enough at the end.  If they use it all up on expensive meats at the beginning, they won't have any at the end.  It's a good lesson to learn.

All for now - I'll probably back up to day One on the next entry.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Leaving Tomorrow

Clothes for two weeks and everything else I may need is packed and ready to go.  My paperwork is checked and organized so I can find it quickly.  I have my boarding passes to Atlanta - and for the flight from Atlanta to Copenhagen.

The very nice duffle the BSA gave me for my stuff is not quite full and weighs right at 40 pounds.  It will be checked all the way and I'll carry a full backpack weighing 14 pounds that includes my sleeping bag, two changes of clothes, a rain poncho, and my fleece jacket - the essentials that are necessary if my duffle doesn't keep up with me.  It was tempting to put the jacket in the duffle, but it will be no higher than 65 degrees when I arrive on Monday morning.  It will also be nice to have it on the plane.

Monday will be a day to check in and set up my tent.  On Tuesday there will be IST training and we'll meet our work teams.  Our work should begin on Wednesday when the youth contingents arrive.

There was a note about the Norwegian terror attack on the Jamboree website.  It pointed out that this was a targeted attack on Norway with no connection to our event.  The Swedish police are consulting with the Jamboree staff for security.   Knowing that "I" was part of the front-line security team last Jamboree makes me curious about the nature of security at this very visible global event.

My next post may not be for a few days but will be from Sweden.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Packing and Planning

In just 8 days (July 24), I'll be leaving Richmond for a three-week adventure.  This will be my second trip to a World Jamboree as an International Staff Team (IST) member.  Four years ago I traveled to England with four other Richmond Scout leaders for a 20-day assignment to work at the event.  This time, I'll be at the camp for the required two weeks then meet Carrie and Ashley in Copenhagen for a week of touring.  We'll spend two days around Copenhagen, travel by train to Stockholm, then take an overnight ferry to Helsinki for the final two days.

The experience of the 21st World Jamboree in England was everything I had hoped.  Being the 100th anniversary of Scouting made it very special.  Having 40,000 young people and leaders join together from nearly every country on Earth for two weeks is matched only by the Olympics.  It is uplifting, reassuring, challenging, and humbling.  When I heard that the 22nd WJ would be in Sweden, the land of my father's family, I knew I'd attend once again.

It's my understanding that I'll be the only IST worker from Heart of Virginia Council going this time.  The Scoutmaster for Virginia's youth contingent is also from Richmond but we'll have completely different experiences and schedules.  I will seek out the contingent at some point during the event.  We'll be put into adult patrols for our work assignments and will be encouraged to do the activities together.

The weather in southern Sweden will likely average about 20 degrees cooler than Richmond - quite a welcome relief.  Despite the short Scandinavian night, the temperature may dip into the 40's.  I'll need to get two seasons of clothes into that large duffle I received.  Planning is all about "layers".

My tent will be provided by the BSA when I arrive.  It's a 3-person tent that I'll have to myself.  While I could keep it, the US volunteers are asked to leave their tents behind - for one of the less-affluent Scout contingents to take home.  My compact sleeping bag and a small air mattress should be adequate to sleep on the ground for two weeks.

There are several documents I must bring: passport, medical form, "Safe from Harm" training certificate, and the travel voucher to get on the 90-minute shuttle from the Copenhagen airport to the camp at Kristianstad. The event planners are promoting cashless transactions, so there's a bit of research I still need to do to  insure my credit cards will work properly.

Lastly, my plan is to make time to draw and paint.  I've assembled a notebook and some fine-line pens, watercolors, paper, and pencils.  A small camera will go with to record people and special places, but there's nothing like sitting down to sketch.  It helps you see things in a completely different way.