WHITCHURCH was represented on the international stage as a group of the town’s scouts were selected to take part in a “once in a lifetime” trip this summer.

Eleven members of the Whitchurch 1st Scouts travelled to West Virginia to take part in the 24th World Scout Jamboree from July 22 to August 2.

The event, which takes places every four years, featured 45,000 scouts from over 150 countries camping, living and working together and taking part in various teambuilding activities.

Ryan Tigwell, 17, was amongst the group of Whitchurch scouts to make the trip.

Speaking after returning to the UK, he said: “The best thing about it for me was how many different cultures were there.”

“You would be walking down the path and hear Japanese, French, Spanish, and you realise how big the trip is in that regard. I sort of had to take a step back.

“I didn’t even realise it would even exist in some countries.”

Ryan recalls meeting scouts from as far afield as Kenya. A big part of the trip involves trading badges and souvenirs, but the scouts from Kenya shared different memorabilia.

He said: “A lot of the Jamboree was trading but they didn’t have anything to trade. So they were making bracelets and they were saying that’s how they make an income, so I bought one.

“It put things into perspective.”

Scouts at the Jamboree had been chosen to take part by their scout leaders following a lengthy selection process. Ryan’s preparation for the event lasted one-and-a-half years in total.

And after being chosen, a select few were lucky enough to find out they would be given a leadership role on the trip.

Ryan said: “None of us realised it was going on but over the first three training weekends our leaders were looking at people thinking who would make a good candidate for a leadership role and luckily I made the cut.”

“I’ve been a scout for four or five years now,” he added, “so it was good to make the leaders who have done a lot for me proud – well, I hope I’ve done them proud – by going out there and getting a place.”

Bear Grylls was a special guest at the Jamboree. Ryan almost bumped into him during one of the activities on the climbing wall, but unbeknownst to him he left just before Bear arrived.

Ryan goes on to say the weekend was “probably the best thing” he has ever done and the selection process was just as rewarding.

“I can’t recommend it enough for people thinking of applying,” he said. “Even if you don’t get in, the whole selection weekend was brilliant, and I’ve still got mates from there that I’m still in contact with now.

“If you do get in that’s great, but the whole process is just fantastic and like I said, I can’t recommend it enough.”

The Scouts is the world’s largest youth movement with over 50 million members, including 638,000 in the UK.

To get involved or find out more about the UK team go to www.scouts.org.uk/wsj