In July 2012, Woking Explorers went on an expedition to 'Landsmot Skata,' the National Jamboree of Iceland. Below is an account of the trip by Martian Explorer Scout Jamie McMurtrie.

On a bright and sunny morning at the beginning of the summer holidays, twenty Explorer Scouts and Leaders from Woking District met at Guildford station, ready to set off on a once in a lifetime adventure to the National Jamboree in Iceland. We flew from Gatwick Airport, the first flight for several of our young people, and when we touched down in Reykjavik, we were greeted with driving rain and ferocious winds. We took a coach from the airport, across what seemed like miles of barren, rocky, uninhabited landscape, until after a couple of hours we got our first glimpse of where we would be spending the next week of our lives.

Úlfljótsvatn Scout Center lies on the side of a vast lake of blue glacial water. Normally a tranquil site, for this one week in July, it housed scouts and guides from twenty different countries, in tents of various shapes and sizes, all of them there in the spirit of scouting.

We battled the elements to pitch our tents and giant marquee, all of which we borrowed from the organisers; and while we kept working to secure our site from the billowing winds, we failed to notice the hour hands of our watches creeping ever closer to midnight. For Iceland in summer time doesn’t really know darkness. Instead, days are bookended by three hour periods of twilight, during which you can see the sun drop to the horizon, and bounce off it to signal the start of a new day.

Our first full day in Iceland included the eagerly awaited opening ceremony featuring a blessing from the Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and an eagerly awaited performance by Eurovision sensation Páll Óskar. We sat patiently in the now monotonous rain, and celebrated with the thousands of other scouts who had joined us. We also worked hard to mark our site out, decorating it with jubilee bunting and as many union flags as we could muster.

Monday morning provided an end to the miserable rain, and the start of a plethora of incredible activities. The first of these was white water rafting, in which we overcame menacing rapids, and conquered our fears, by plunging off seven metre cliffs into the freezing water. After a well-earned sauna break, we embarked on the famous Golden Circle Tour, which included visits to the Haukadalur geysers, Gullfoss waterfall, and Þingvellir National Park, from which we could see the edges of two tectonic plates.

We spent Tuesday on site, where we made countless new friends from countries across the globe including Scotland, France, Norway, South Korea and Australia. We also enjoyed traditional Viking activities being put on by Jamboree staff, and were the proud victors in a rugby match against the French.

Another day brought us new opportunities to enjoy further off-site activities. We were fitted out with dry suits and super warm ‘teddy bear suits’ that allowed us to plunge into the icy depths of a glacial pool network for a superb snorkelling experience, during which the clean water gave us seventy plus metres of underwater visibility. Afterwards we explored a nine hundred year old lava tube, just one of the hundreds of known caves under the Iceland’s barren surface. As we delved deeper underground, our fantastic guides chilled us with folk tales of disappearing children.

On Thursday, our group split up to enjoy as wide an array of activities as possible. These included high mountain treks above the snow-line, rock climbing, and sailing on the lake next to the campsite, but our best trip was saved for Friday. We rose early for a long coach journey to Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano which wreaked international havoc in 2010. We Everyone was fitted with crampons and ice axes, and we were taken on a expedition over the glacier which covers the now dormant volcano. Once we reached a suitable spot, we were then given the opportunity to try ice climbing, an exciting first hand way of learning about the beauty of glaciers with an adrenalin pumping twist as we clambered over crevasses.

Saturday saw us teaching people from different countries how to play cricket at our international workshop, with a well earned tea break half-way through! Our last full day, we made the most of what time we had left, cementing our newly formed international friendships, and enjoying the magnificent closing ceremony. It was all over too soon, and by the time we were boarding the plane to come home again, every one of us wanted to stay just a little longer.

Jamie McMurtrie, Martians Explorer Scout Unit, Horsell