THERE has been a carnival-like atmosphere at the foot of Gunung Angsi in Negri Sembilan ever since boy scouts from around Malaysia and several foreign countries set up camp there on Dec 12.
The forest reserve area, known as the Ulu Bendul Recreational Park in Kuala Pilah, is crawling with about 7,000 scouts of all ages who are attending the 11th Malaysian Scout Jamboree that ends tomorrow.
The jamboree is markedly different from such events held in yesteryear. Among the tents pitched in the jungle are makeshift cybercafes for scouts to keep in touch with their families and friends back home via e-mail or for those who just cannot do without the trappings of information technology even when they are camping in the great outdoors.
The scouts also get a chance to do some shopping and “dining out” as there are also tents or stalls selling souvenirs, and food and drinks.
(From left) Malaysian Girl Guides Sri Izzati and Alifah Abdullah exchanging souvenirs with their counterparts from Maldives Mariyam Ramsha Mohd, Aishath Shamra and Aminath Sharumeela during the jamboree.
Howard Lai, 42, a scout for more than 30 years, is making brisk business selling souvenirs at the jamboree. “My souvenir items are mostly related to the scouts movement.”
“I set up stalls during occasions like jamboree as my scouting passion is too strong to lose touch with the movement,” said the special projects manager for Zonicerovers, a company based in Taman Ehsan, Kepong.
Hafiz Mansor, Hermawan Waren and Adam Riyadi from Pengakap Selangor were busy surfing the Internet at one of the many booths set up by private companies.
“This is our first jamboree and we are enjoying every moment of our time here. Eight days is just not enough,” said the boys.Surfing the net is just another hobby for the lads who also love the age-old scouting tradition of swapping badges and other scouting accessories with their “brothers” from other states or countries.
Burger seller Shafizan Mohd Shafie doing brisk business as hungry Scouts search for snacks at the carnival-like jamboree.
Scouts from Sri Lanka, Britain, Indonesia, the Maldives, Singapore and Brunei added international flavour to the jamboree.
International Commissioner for the Sri Lanka Scouts Association, Shanta Madurawe, 35, said the Scouts movement was growing in strength worldwide and introducing information technology into jamborees was one effective way to get connected with counterparts from other countries.
“I have been a scout for 24 years and I think we have to move with the times to make scouting more appealing and challenging to the younger set,” he added.
Even though cybercafes add a touch of the 21st century to the jamboree, members of the movement founded by Robert Baden-Powell 96 years ago still enjoy the sense of camaraderie in holding campfires, singing, cooking, trekking and working together at their jungle gathering.