On Wedneday, January 4 we all had the MOST amazing opportunity to visit a Scout and Guide Jamboree just outside of Pune. The Bharat Scouts and Guides is the national organization here in India and the Maharashtra state puts on a massive rally every four years -- there were over 10,000 Scouts and Guides from around the state camping at this event. The fact that it was happening during our own program at Sangam is amazing.
So, mid-morning 17 of us piled in a bus and drove for just over an hour up into the hills outside of Pune. We knew we had reached our destination when we saw the rows and rows of canvas tents with uniformed children roaming about.
Knots, just like home -- except for the Marati writing, of course.
This began our day's adventure.... We met our tour Guider and it was soon announced over the loud speaker that "foreigners are visiting the rally today." We certainly felt like celebrities with all these people following us around. If we stood in one place for more than 10seconds, we were swarmed! "Picture please, Madam!" "What's your name, Madam?" "Madam, where you from?"
While this aspect was certainly overwhelming, I felt extremely fortunate to be able to witness this giant event. Everyone we met was extremely friendly and seemed like they really wanted to get to know us and hear about our own Guiding experiences back home, as well as what we do when we are not "Guiding". The director of the camp came and spoke with us and shared a bit about how such an event is organized. It reminded me a lot of SOAR -- just on a much bigger scale. Aside from meeting all the Guides and Scouts, the best part of the day was when all of us were presented (in an impromptu ceremony of sorts) with the official necker and woggle of the event.
It's opportunities like this that make me really proud to be a Guide.
The crowds following us -- everywhere!!