Tom's report of his 'Explorer Belt' experience
This by courtesy of the INGLEBORO' INFO monthly newsletter: "We are delighted to share an interesting report from Youth Commissioner, Tom Haigh."
“This year’s international adventure had a slightly different twist … I had to help organise it! In January I saw an application for a small group of Network members to travel around Europe meeting other Scouts from various countries on the way, whilst completing an Explorer Belt 10-day expedition. I thought why not and put my name down!
This led to a hot Tuesday morning in June when I finally met my travel buddies at Manchester Airport ready to board a flight to Vienna! We stayed at a Scout hut in Vienna and met some of our friends from the Moot who gave us a tour of the city. We did the touristy stuff like visit the Palace and the Cathedral, but we also swam in the Danube, went up a hill and went to a theme park in the middle of the river! All in all, a very nice trip! Next was the longest train journey of our lives as we boarded the train to Zurich, a mere 8-hour journey through the Alps.
Finally, arriving in Zurich after stunning views of mountains and lakes, we met up with Desiree who we were to be staying with! That night she took us to her Scout Hut where we met with her Rover group and watched the Switzerland vs. Serbia match. As a converted Swiss fan, it was great to see them win! Part of the Explorer Belt involves completing 10 mini challenges on your trip. One of ours was to take a panoramic shot of a city from the highest point. So at 4 am we set off walking up a small hill (900 metres) to watch the sun rise over Zurich and the Swiss Alps! Beautiful! Another challenge was to speak in a foreign language to a local, which was much less successful … attempting to say good night to Desiree’s triplet sister, Nathalie, I got the pronunciation wrong and said she was good naked … least I tried!
After embarrassing myself in Zurich, we left quickly for Cologne in Germany where for the only time we were not staying with Scouts. We soon discovered that the day we had chosen to be in Cologne was a mistake … for some unknown reason everything in Germany is closed on a Monday!! We did climb the 500 odd steps to the top of the Cathedral though, which was tiring but almost worth it for the view!
Amsterdam would be our final destination, or the small city of Alkmaar, where we would be staying with a local Water Scout. We went sailing on the lakes and canals of Holland on the Scout’s boat whilst watching the sunset which was spectacular! We also met up with some more Swiss Scouts from Geneva who were cycling round Holland. In addition, we went for a bike ride to the beach which unusually meant going uphill to the sea! For the final time, we had an emotional goodbye to our hosts before boarding our plane back to Manchester. A great trip meeting some great people, drinking and eating some great stuff! What more could you want in life!”
What an amazing international Scouting experience – let’s hope it inspires other Network members to take a step out of their comfort zone, too!