I’ve been asked to share the speech I made at today’s opening ceremony for the Heads of Contingent Meeting, preparing for the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Yamaguchi, Japan.
So, here it is…
Deputy Governor of the Prefecture of Yamaguchi, president of the Scouts of Japan, brother and sister Scouts,
This weekend marks an important point in an extraordinary journey. Actually, not one journey, but maybe as many as 30,000 different, unique journeys. 30,000 different, unique journeys which will come together for ten days in Kiarahama – in a spirit of unity – and share in the creation of an extraordinary experience. And then, from that extraordinary experience, those 30,000 different, unique journeys, will continue. Each with their own story. Each with their own challenges, joys and heartbreaks. They are the life journeys of 30,000 different people – and, if we get it right, the 23rd World Scout Jamboree will be an event which will transform the outcomes of those journeys and help those 30,000 people to create a better world.
On life’s journey, we all need to develop the qualities of perseverance, grit, curiosity, optimism and self-control. Economists might describe these qualities as non-cognitive. Psychologists might call them ‘personality traits’. To Scouts, they’re just known as ‘character’ and the development of character is the business of Scouting and the business of the World Scout Jamboree.
This weekend marks an important point. Because we are coming together for the first time. We, as Jamboree managers, planners and heads of contingent, have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to make an extraordinary Jamboree. The task does not just fall to our Japanese hosts. They are working hard, as you will hear over the weekend, to make the right preparations. But it is all of us who will provide the leadership that will work to mobilise and excite the International Service team of amazing volunteers, the Troop Leaders and, yes, the young participants. It will be us who will provide the leadership to weave those 30,000 journeys together.
A World Scout Jamboree is a precious thing. To be successful it must be tended and nurtured rather than consumed.. Our individual journeys have brought us together this weekend, just as they will again in less than 500 days more. Let’s use this weekend to tender and nurture. Let’s use this weekend to help create the spirit of unity we will create again in 2015.