Off to the Czech Republic!

Be prepared!

The Explorer Scouts in the Arverne Caravan (from Aubière, Beaumont and Romagnat in the Puy-de-Dôme district) took part in a fantastic project last summer. While the journey wasn't always easy, they rose to the challenge, undertaking a three-week trip to discover Czech Scouting and culture armed only with basic English and the "G'palémo" picture dictionary for communication.

The goal was to meet other Scouts, find out about their way of Scouting through daily camp life, develop as an individual and build links in readiness for introducing them to French culture the following year. The Caravan had spent a year in preparation to make sure everything would run smoothly once abroad: raising money by doing small jobs (known as "extra-jobs") for friends and family, finding sponsorship, organizing transport, setting up contacts... Luckily, all our preparations paid off!

Arriving at the Clermont-Ferrand bus station on 7 July, the Caravan Leader found an excited group of Scouts ready for adventure. The whole Caravan boarded the bus and off they went on a 31-hour trip by bus and train. With bus drivers that couldn't speak French, we already felt as though we were abroad!

A journey like no other...

We left Clermont-Ferrand by bus on Sunday 7 July and reached Prague on Monday 8 July at 5:30am, having travelled via Lyon, then Strasbourg and through Germany overnight. Although the trip itself was long, the waiting was even longer. At long last, we took the train from Prague at 11:30am, finally arriving at our camp destination, Olomouc, at 3pm. Tired, but glad to arrive and explore our surroundings, we were welcomed with the Czech Scouts' local war cry: “Hey Explorers, shall we sing the Caravan song?” No reply... we were too intimidated! The journey was a completely new experience; trains were the easiest way to travel and very different to those in France, with quite long journey times. However, that did give us plenty of time to talk to our Czech friends while we were travelling.

A week and a half after our arrival, we left our first camp for another in Ruprechtice, in the north of the Czech Republic close to the Polish border. This time the trip was 9 hours.

Finally, a week later we returned to Prague to explore the Czech capital, spend time together as a Caravan and keep our final camp appointment.

Discoveries and encounters thanks to camp life...

Discoveries and encounters thanks to camp life...

We noticed with great surprise that we were not welcomed as partners at the Czech campsite, but as guests! They had put on a great spread and we had to fight to share in the camp chores.

We also noticed that a lot of activities had been planned to introduce us to the Czech way of life: wood collection (done differently here!), an introduction to the Czech language (with the French Scouts having to say certain words in Czech instead of French, and vice-versa for the Czech Scouts), showers, saunas (not a luxury or leisure activity for them, but a very hygienic way to wash), games and the daily schedule. Last but not least, there were some rituals that seemed strange to us at first - raising the flags with the Scout salute, even bigger Scout promises... In a nutshell, complete discovery and immersion.

... and the people we met!

... and the people we met!

We set off wanting to meet Czech Scouts, and parted tearfully having made true friends. As we left, we promised that we would do our best to meet again in France next summer for another fantastic adventure.

When the flag was lowered each night, the Czech Scouts had a tradition of attaching a small coloured ribbon marked with the name of another camp member, as a way of thanking them for something they had done that day in the spirit of Scouting. We too attached a ribbon to the flag, with the words “Junak Modri SIP Ostrava” - the name of the Czech group that had welcomed us.

“The extraordinary lies in the path of ordinary people.”

We set off wanting to meet Czech Scouts, and parted tearfully having made true friends.

The campsites

Chargement en cours ...
The different campsites: Olomouc, Ruprechtice near the polish border and Prague, the capital.