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Newtown Scouts Globe Trotting For Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette



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The Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette in Scotland took place July 19 to 29 to the delight of Scouts BSA members in Newtown and worldwide. The last time it took place was 2018 and had to be postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scouts BSA, formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America, had seven youth and three adults from Newtown helping represent the United States; along with contingents from Florida, Maryland, New York, and Texas.

Newtown Scouts were Alyssa Jones, Gabriella Arguello, and Caroline Kordik from Troop 870 out of Newtown Hook & Ladder; Jackson Baimel and Spencer Jorgenson from Troop 770 out of St Rose of Lima Church; and Brian Sibley and Stephen Sibley from Troop 370 out of Newtown United Methodist Church.

Newtown adult leaders were Troop 870 Assistant Scoutmasters Barbara Sibley and Judy Hammel, as well as Hammel’s husband Steve Agnew.

Among Agnew’s many Scout-related titles, he is the Connecticut Yankee Council’s vice president of District Operations and the Committee Chair for Troop 370. He also has a Scottish background and was selected by the Connecticut Yankee Council to attend the 2018 Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette as an assistant leader.

The Newtown group was joined by Peter Orloff, assistant scoutmaster from New Fairfield. Jonathan Glassman, district director with Connecticut Yankee Council, was scheduled to go with them but not able to travel due to a surgery.

In order to be invited to attend the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette, individuals must submit an application. Scouts must be around 15 years old and mature enough to travel internationally. There is then an interview process to review the candidates. A total of 18 Scouts and adult leaders were selected from across Connecticut.

76-Year Tradition

Agnew explained that the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette started back in 1946 and has been happening every two years since, except for 2020. Representatives from the Connecticut Yankee Council have been going since 1998.

“It was designed to bring the youth together through Scouting as a way to heal our world following the events of World War II,” Agnew said. “Scouts from Japan, Germany, and all over the world were brought together on to the grounds of Blair Castle, also called Blair Atholl Estates.”

He continued, “That was a difficult thing for them to coordinate in 1946, because there wasn’t too much food. There are stories of people up and down the UK and in Scotland providing some of their food rations to help support the kids … to think about the travel from these countries and how arduous it would have been to get there; it is a phenomenal thing.”

It differs from the Scouts’ jamborees, because it is seen as smaller and focuses on patrol level unification.

“Many world jamborees, and even the national jamboree in the United States, are at a troop-to-troop level. The troop camps as a unit and does activities together next to another troop. The Jamborette is designed to integrate Scouts right from the get-go,” Agnew said.

Three to six Scouts from a country are combined with three to six Scouts from Scotland to form a patrol of six to 12 individuals. The integrated group would then be together for the ten-day jamboree.

“Once you finish the ten days, Scouts would be hosted by one of the Scouts in their patrol, back to their house for three to four days,” Agnew said. “They would leave the Jamborette grounds and go to their house to really understand their world, where they live, meet their parents, make that more visceral connection, and make more of an impact on the youth about both cultures.”

This year, however, going to Scouts’ homes was not an option due to COVID-19.

‘Fantastic Time’

Even without the host family component, Agnew said that the Jamborette was filled with countless moments of excitement, starting from the moment they woke up.

“We were literally on the grounds across from Blair Castle. I’d wake up in the morning, come out of my tent, and there’s the castle. We were in the highlands of Scotland, so we’d have the hills all around us. It was a fantastic time,” he recalled.

When Scouts would emerge from their tents, they would go through inspection and cook their meals over a fire.

The days would then be filled with activities — categorized as adventure, basic, creative, and sports —that the Scouts selected. Each gave them opportunities to learn new skills and build bonds with the other Scouts.

Agnew said some highlights of the activities Newtown Scouts participated in were gorge walking, kayaking, Bushcraft, dancing, archery, overnight camping in the highlands, and Kastle Kurrents. The latter was led by Barbara Sibley and had Scouts becoming daily reporters equipped with their own press hat and badge.

“They would interview people for a story for that day to get published in the newsletter the next day. It was cool,” Agnew said.

In the evenings, there would be more festivities, including a huge neon dance party with a DJ and campfire activities.

Agnew noted, “We were on the grounds and camping with campfires, but we had modern conveniences: trailers with showers and bathrooms. Then, closer to where the adults camped, we had WiFi and electricity.”

Traveling Adventures

The group of Newtown Scouts and adults got to also experience the joy of traveling in Europe.

Five days before the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette, the group flew to Ireland and landed in Dublin. From there, they took a tour bus around the southwest of Ireland.

“We saw the Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, we went along the Dingle Peninsula, and visited a whole bunch of fantastic towns. The kids had an absolute blast with that,” Agnew said.

When the tour bus dropped them back off in Dublin, they took a shuttle to Scotland to attend the Jamborette.

“Then we finished the Jamborette, but we weren’t done yet. We spent another week in Scotland touring around. The total trip was three and a half weeks,” Agnew said.

They ventured to Dunnottar Castle, St Andrews golf course, the castle where Monty Python was filmed, and did the Elie Chain Walk.

“When it is low tide, you can walk around the coastline and also climb the cliffs and hang on chains as you are going up and over. That was a great experience for a lot of Scouts,” Agnew said.

While visiting Aberdeen, Stirling, Edinburgh, and Glasgow the group was joined by local Scouts from the area that they had met at the Jamborette.

“They made so many friends that it continued on afterwards,” Agnew said. “I think the greatest part is the joy I had seeing these kids make those connections that are going to last a lifetime for them.”

He continued, “Also, seeing the transformation of our Scouts from the time they got there to the time that they left and the maturity they had. The realization that the world is bigger than what they thought. Making friends through Scouting really opened up their eyes. What made me happy is that they got exactly what Scouting can provide.”

Future Opportunities

Agnew said that overall prepping for the 2022 Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette trip took a year.

“We did the interviews, then we spent a year having meetings, doing fundraisers, going out to camp outs … and making sure everyone was comfortable making friends with people from other countries,” he said.

Applications for the 2024 Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette are anticipated to go out in April of 2023.

Those interested in learning more about the interview process can reach out to Agnew by e-mail at steve.agnew.ct@gmail.com.

“Scouting is so much more for our youth than what people think it is,” Agnew said.

There are many more opportunities for camping locally, nationally, and internationally, including the next World Jamboree in South Korea in 2023.

To learn more about the Connecticut Yankee Council and get involved locally, visit ctyankee.org.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

Seven Scouts and three adult leaders from Newtown attended the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette in Scotland, which took place July 19 to 29. —photos courtesy Steve Agnew
Newtown Scouts and adult leaders, along with other Connecticut contingents, stand in front of Blarney Castle in Ireland.
Scouts from Connecticut stand on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland prior to the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette in Scotland.
Jackson Baimel from Troop 770, out of St Rose of Lima Church, climbs the Elie Chainwalk in Scotland.
Brian and Stephen Sibley, from Troop 370 out of the Newtown United Methodist Church, stand with Troop 870 Assistant Scoutmaster Barbara Sibley at the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette.
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