In the Summer of 2013, StinGS went to Norway with our friends in SNoGS (Nottingham) and LUUSAG (Leeds). Here’s the camp report – check the Facebook page for photos.
After many months in the planning, StinGS finally began our venture to the Norwegian Jamboree in Stavanger in the early hours of the 29th of June 2013 – from Birmingham coach station (Mike, Liz, Helena, James and our favourite SNoG Josephine – and most of our mascots) and meeting Rob at Heathrow. After a naturally cake-filled journey, we were met at Stavanger airport by a pair of Norwegian Rovers who promptly took us to a waiting Stavanger 2013-branded VW to whisk us to the site. We were quite impressed.
We were slightly less impressed by our first Norwegian meal, something pretending to be a ham and cheese wrap but in fact a pancake containing the same. The Norwegians were also pretty baffled by it all, so it wasn’t just us. Perched on a kerb eating our lunch in the sun, we could the rudiments of the camp taking shape – the camp tower, already huge; various marquees, soon to contain the cafes and shops; and the magnificent view down to the fjord. We also met Charley of SNoGS, who had already been there for a week. After lunch we began to help with the construction camp, and got our first taste of the incomparable organisation – someone, somewhere, knew exactly what was meant to happen, but he wasn’t going to make it easy and tell us. Soon we were all off doing odd jobs, nailing tables to floors, shifting concrete, and building a dog kennel out of 2×2 (for visitors’ dogs to stay in). Later that day we moved into the Norwegian Naval barracks next to the site along with the rest of SNoGS and LUUSAG who arrived later that day. In short, we were quite impressed.
The following day, more work on the dog kennel followed, after building the flagpoles for the different subcamps (Rope, Team, Water, Fire and Snow). The afternoon was spent doing very little it seemed, as they’d run out of things for us to do. Indeed, they had so little for us to do at this point that the next day we were let loose on Stavanger, where we managed to avoid all the museums and anything remotely cultural, although we did find the Café Sting and the cheapest place to eat pizza (which for the record we then ate. The pizza, not the place.) The day after we dodged the perils of work by signing up on the staff trip to Pulpit Rock, the chief local attraction, a 604m cliff overlooking a very blue fjord. Words cannot really do it justice, so please see the photos. Anyway, we trekked up a steep and narrow path, which apparently the next week was due to take 2000 Scouts a day! The Fog and drizzle made us wonder if we’d see anything once we got there, but on we trudged, occasionally on paths only a few feet wide and edged by a precipitous drop. Once on the rock itself, the visibility improved markedly, although the wind made us quickly decide that it was StinGS hat weather. All around were rendered speechless by how awesome they were. After a pause for lunch and publicity photos for Freshers’ Fair in September, we made our way down and back to the coach, and back to camp. All in all, we were quite impressed.
After a few days of various odd jobs, helping build the stage and fit out the camp shop, we picked up tents from a local Norwegian leader (Alf, better known to us as Tentman) and the real camping began. The next day we had to track down Tentman again because the tents weren’t quite the 12-men tents he’d said they were. This had the curious result that Mike and James slept in three different tents on three different nights. With each other. In some nearby tents, Helena found an admirer in the form of Creepy Norwegian, who on one occasion tried to get into the girls’ tent as he soothed “Santa needs his presents too”. Helena wasn’t too impressed.
The camp was really taking shape by now, and on the 5th first Ingrid and then Gillian and Tom arrived, to help make us feel less outnumbered by SNoGS. Soon we were helping the participants arrive, marshalling and closing roads and unloading vans and coaches whilst sporting blue fluorescent Vert (host) vests. Later Charlotte and more importantly Bertie arrived, meaning that we now had the full complement of Mascots (and StinGS). I should note that by this point some members of SNoGS were beginning to think we were a little obsessed by the idea of mascots. In fact, some were even starting to think we were a bit silly -a ludicrous thought. Josephine and Catherine were made honorary members of StinGS, because they didn’t seem to mind hanging out with us.
By now the opening ceremony was upon us, and we all trooped down in uniform to the main stage, to get almost front-row seats and to wait an hour and quarter before anything happened. Yet when it began it was all that one could want (apart from the Norwegian version of Graham Norton and “Yolo Yolo Yolo! Nai nai nai!”) We were then warmed up by the rap duo Envy and then by the writer of the camp song, Hanne Sorvaag. I’m reliably informed that my dancing was dreadful.
As Rovers, we had to do 4 hours of work each day, and after a truly chaotic session in the jobshop most of StinGS elected to help build the “Finale”, sold to us as doing lots of massive pioneering. On Sunday, however, they didn’t have anything for us to do, so we explored the camp, swapped many of our unit badges, and made new friends. The day after we began “work” on building the carousels that would be part of the fairground of the Finale, all made from pioneering poles and only bolted where absolutely necessary. After a day of vigorously chopping with axes and digging holes and then putting Helena in them, the next day we embarked on our overnight hike.
This proved to be a saga in itself, a Viking (Wiking?) epic featuring snow, magnificent scenery, Swedes and a conspicuous lack of soup.
We were bussed to some nearby mountains along with 20 or so other patrols of Rovers, given a map and told we’d be met at the other end at 12 the next day. We were also told that Carlos would be coming round to our campsites later with food –in the meanwhile, all we were given in the way of nutrition was two loaves of bread and a lot of cheese. Undeterred, we set off and swiftly pulled ahead of most of the other groups, as we passed through fabulously beautiful terrain under a blazing sun, mascots strapped to the top of our rucksacks, smiles on our faces. After discovering some extremely unseasonal drifts of snow, by about 6 o’clock we stopped to go for a swim in the nearby lake, and decided to camp there for the night.
Before long we were joined by a patrol of Austrians and then some Swedes, and later by some uncommunicative Norwegians. We set up our tarpaulin to sleep under and got a fire going, and sat down to wait for Carlos with the food.
Four hours later we were still waiting, so we broke out what little food we had and essentially had cheese on toast for dinner. We also had to share our food with the others as the Austrians appeared only to have brought with them ludicrous amounts of butter. Nonetheless, we had an excellent campfire. We’d also discovered the StinGS paddle amongst the piles of firewood we gathered. Next morning we were up and off very quickly, tackling the much tougher and rockier terrain of the second day. But after about a mile, what did we espy, hanging from a tree? Only a dry bag and a note reading “Soup and chocolate for the Scouts – Carlos” Thus infuriated (but armed with soup) we determined to finish early and cook the soup then. So on we ploughed, past enormous waterfalls and fluffy sheep. We were only the fourth or fifth team to arrive at the end, so we began to warm up our long awaited soup. Only the stove fell over, spilling it everywhere. So we tried again, and the stove promptly fell over once again, and the soup jumped out and spread itself all across the ground. Me, I blame LUUSAG’s billies. We weren’t very impressed.
We were back to normal camp life after this, including work on the Finale, discovering Mjolnir, the Norse troll-hammer, a pizza trip to Stavanger with the Swedes, having goes on the zipwire and abseiling tower, and swimming in the fjord. To our amusement, the camp leaflet instructed leaders to “wash your Scouts in the sea” which was at least warmer than the showers. The StinGs who hadn’t already been to Pulpit Rock visited it with SNoGS. Amongst all these we made wooden swords and had sword fights, James dug a fire pit which manifestly didn’t work at all, we met Trondheim SSAGO, climbed the tower, played on swings, finally found a swap for Helena’s uniform with Tentman’s daughter, and of course tested the carousels before running the base for it for hordes of small children. We were quite impressed.
Before we knew it, a week had passed and the Closing Ceremony was upon us. This was much inferior to the Opening Ceremony, as it was sad because it was the end of the Jamboree, it was raining, we were sat at the back, and because the music was provided by some fellow called Lido Lido (or Leedo Leedo as he preferred to say it). Fleeing from the rain and the music, but mostly from the music, we quickly sought better ways to spend our evening.
As the take-down camp began, we bid emotional farewells to Tom and Gillian and Ingrid, and most of SNoGS. Before Tom’s departure, he, James, Mike and Liz served what can only be described as the greatest breakfast ever in the history of morning mealtimes. In the staff canteen we were far too loud for the time of morning, locked each other in fridges, and advertised the food on offer variously as “tinned child” and “sexy bread”. Charley may have concluded we’d finally flipped. In fairness, lack of sleep and sugar had made us rather silly, and after an afternoon spent discussing whether canning was a viable way to dispose of a dead body (don’t ask) we concluded we needed some Eeeeee numbers. Like E numbers, but more Yorkshire.
Now, the organisers had not expected so many people to be on the take-down camp, and hadn’t catered accordingly. Consequently many of us were farmed out to local groups as free labour. Helena disappeared to a campsite near Pulpit Rock on Sunday morning, and in the afternoon Charlotte had arranged for us to see a local GSL to keep the rest of us busy. Without asking very many questions, we jumped into this stranger’s car and were soon on our way to a Scout Hut in Bryne, about 20 miles away.
On arrival we were fed cake, and promptly won over. After dumping our belongings in an immaculate Scout hut where we were to stay, we were whisked off to a local supermarket and told we could buy what we liked! We quickly made ourselves at home, and two steaming great lasagnes were brought for or dinner, cooked by the parents of the local scouts. We were quite impressed.
So began our time in the cabin in the woods, chiefly marked by insanity; we removed a fence, painted benches and doors, dug up some trees, managed to be on tea breaks whenever the leaders came round to check on the progress of the hut, had more wooden sword fights, climbed trees, had sword fights in those trees, got lost, went on a hike, discovered that Mike is extremely suggestible (and therefore even more prone to giving himself electric shocks than previously thought) devised a zombie defence computer game(Hugth! Bwainth!), had showers in a cinema (no joke) and with a pressure washer (even less of a joke) had far too much fun in a kids’ and an adults’ playground, and rounded it off with an EGM, the lunacy of which I doubt will ever be surpassed in the annals of SSAGO.
We were then returned to the campsite and the rest of Greater Yorkshire SSAGO for one last night. Helena returned, having spent the last few days painting things with some Danes. Then, all was over, as we departed from Stavanger and went our separate ways.