Iceland 2017, by Charlotte

Where do i start? It may be October but I’m still definitely on top of the world after coming home from Iceland over 8 weeks ago, it may sound a cliche but it certainly was a trip of a lifetime and has definitely had a big effect on my life.

I started out my Moot by flying out from Heathrow with over 300 other Scouts and Guides from the region, and after a short(ish) flight we arrived at Reykjavik where we met with up with all the other Scouts and Guides flying in from Glasgow and Manchester. It was surreal sight, there were Scouts and Guides from all around the world and I think we broke the airport!

It was late by the time we arrived at our accommodation for the night, a school in the heart of Reykjavik, but that didn’t stop us venturing into the city. For a capital city it really was small, we walked the entire city in a hour but despite this there was so much to see and do, never mind how beautiful it was. My highlight was seeing the sun set from a viewing platform above the city!

The following morning, all 4000 participants converged on Laugardalsvollur where the opening ceremony was going to be held, I’m not going to lie, it was certainly a squeeze trying to get us all in but it only added to the atmosphere. It was also at this point we met our patrol members for the first time. After a lot of dancing and singing followed by an address from the head of the World Scout Organisation we were on our way to our expo centres.

My expo site was Hafnarfjordur, just South of Reykjavik and a beautiful port town. Our first night I remember well, my patrol member Ricardo had brought his guitar so we sat down and belted out Coldplay for the evening. It was by this point also that I was starting to realise I may have underestimated the weather, I had a packed endless amounts of thermals, even brought a new coat especially and well… it was 22 degrees.  The next day we went canoeing out in a beautiful lake surrounded by forests for the afternoon after completing our community service – helping rebuild footpaths in the local forest. Even after only two days together our patrol was so close and we got on so well, it was incredible.

The following days at the site we had lots to do including sailing in a Fjord, hiking through lava fields, kayaking in the sea and exploring the local town. We eventually discovered a petite ice cream shop 10 minutes from camp and it became over run by us Scouts! On our final night in Hafnarfjordur we held a big bonfire, and sung songs from all around the world, my favourite song I learnt that night was in Arabic. It really showed the true essence of the Moot, as over 500 of us from all around the world, different cultures, different races, different people all came together and we were a family.

The following morning we dismantled our camp that the IST had worked so hard to set up and headed off to Iceland’s national Scout Centre. After the opening ceremony (again lots of dancing and singing) we set up camp once again, but this time we had the most beautiful view ever. I set up my tent so that when I opened the door in the morning, I would wake up to a view of the mountains and lakes, it was surreal.

The days that followed were filled with endless activities, the centre was split into zones to explore from Giant, which consisted off lots of physical activities such as bouncy castles and tug of war to the Faith zone, where you could leave a message on the faith tree or learn to tie a turban. My favourite area was the creative area where I got to make a necklace out of lava rocks and make my own smoothie by powering a push bike. I also got to meet so many new people by trading badges in our pop up shop, as this was my first international event I was keen to have something to remember it by!

Whilst at the main camp an international day was held where all 96 countries took part, the UK decided to put on games of Quidditch for everyone to play followed by Jam and scones, that day I discovered that I’m no Harry Potter and should probably stick to football.

Speaking of sport, my favourite part of international day was the Rugby match between the Australian Contingent and United Kingdom, I was one of three girls on the team and our Coach took it very seriously, we even had a training session at our briefing weekend at Gillwell! So of course when we turned up in a matching kit, we had the Australians worried. By the end of the match we had beaten the Aussies, and had retained the Moot Trophy!

But of course, all good things must come to an end, our final day of Moot was a sad one, we dismantled our camp that had become home to us, and put on our very creased uniforms for the closing ceremony. The Icelandic Camp Chief recapped our time in Iceland and then she handed over the Moot to Ireland who will host in 2021.

The worst part was saying goodbye to my patrol, we had grown so close despite knowing each other a short time.

After leaving camp, The UK headed back to Reykjavik where a party was held with the Australians to celebrate our Moot Experience at the Opera house. It was the best ending I could have hoped for! The night ended early for me as I had to be up at 3am for my flight, to head back home to London.

As I reflect on Moot, it has given me so many opportunities and allowed me to grow in so many ways, I never thought it would impact me this much – but it has.

I can’t wait for Ireland 2021 to do it all again!

If you would like to  see more about Iceland 2017, please follow the link below! (I tried fitting 10 amazing days into 4 1/2 minutes!)