Embracing every moment of Roverway!

Thirty-one IGG members took part in Roverway in the Netherlands from 21 July to 2 August. Here Lauren Mooney of Castleblaney writes about her experience:

At 7:15am on Saturday 21 July 2018, I found myself standing in front of the Aer Lingus check-In desk at Dublin Airport. After some reunions, catch-ups, check-in, security checks and shopping, we were on a plane to Amsterdam for Roverway 2018. The plane landed at 12:30pm and we got a train onto Haarlem, where we would spend the next two nights for our Pre-Camp. We had lunch and rested for a bit, then we decided to explore Haarlem. Haarlem was beautiful, with a magnificent church and cobblestone streets. That evening we had a campfire where we sang and toasted some marshmallows.

On Sunday we were up bright and early to go to Amsterdam. We took part in a Scavenger Hunt with groups of Scouts who were also going to Roverway. Through the Scavenger Hunt, we got to visit some of Amsterdam’s most famous landmarks such as Dam Square, Rijksmuseum and Museum Square. In the afternoon we had free time, so we divided into groups. Maggie, Nicki, Orla, Orna, Méabh, Danielle, Ciara-Beth and I all went to Primark, The Duck Shop and The Cheese Museum. We went back to the Museum Gardens to have our dinner and then onto the Anne Frank Museum where we met the rest of the Contingent. After the museum, we went back to Haarlem.

For Roverway, we were divided into patrols. My patrol was called Mint and there was seven people in our patrol – Ellie, Niamh, Cathy, Kate, Gráinne, Aisling and me. For five days of Roverway, participants go on a path. A path can be standstill (where the tents are set up and are not taken down until you go to main camp) or roaming (where participants stay in various locations over the five days). Our path was roaming and we decided to put some of our belongings in a bag to be taken straight to main camp.

On Monday, we tidied up the Scout Den and went to The Hague for registration and the Opening Ceremony of Roverway 2018. The Hague is a city in the Netherlands where most of the government buildings are. It also has a huge beach, where the 4,500 Roverway participants and 1,000 International Service Team members were camping for a night. I had lunch, then talked to some people from Oxford that were on our Path and went for a walk along by the water. The Opening Ceremony was amazing, with music afterwards.

The next morning our breakfast was scheduled for 6:30am and our bus was leaving at 7:30am. We went to a Scout Den in Harlingen, where we would be staying for one night. By 11am, we were all on a boat (about the same size as a tall ship) heading out to sail across the Ijsselmeer. The boat stopped twice so that we could go swimming. We got talking to many people from our Path and there was a lot of food so, overall, it was a great day.

On the second day of our Path we arrived in a small town called Giethoorn. We were about 3.5km into a 14km hike with our backpacks when we were told to stop because of the heat. We sat in the shade, drank a lot of water and talked to plenty of people and, after a while, a bus came to get us and we were taken to a Scouts Den in Zwartsluis. At this Scout Den, there was a huge lake for us to swim in.

The next day was International Day. To start the day, we had an English breakfast, then some free time to go to the shops, swim and relax. For dinner that evening, we tried food from each patrol on our Path. There were patrols from Slovenia, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Germany and the UK. We decided to cook Irish Stew with creamy mashed potatoes and, for dessert, we made Fifteens. We then did an activity from each country. We did the Walls of Limerick and Dreoilín with our Path group.

On Friday we went cycling to our next Scout Den in Kampen. The cycle was 48km, so we made sure to stop plenty of times for water breaks in the heat. About 8km outside of Kampen, we stopped in a lake to go swimming. That evening, we had a Dutch Barbeque.

Saturday was our last day on the Path. One of our Path leaders, Jeffry, said he would take a small group of us to a farm shop outside of Kampen to get some food for dinner that evening. We had to cycle about 8km to get there and, when we arrived, there was a strawberry farm. In the afternoon, we went into Kampen to explore the city.

On Sunday morning we went to the Main Camp in Zeewolde and pitched our tents and set off exploring the campsite. That evening we had the Main Camp Opening Ceremony and there was different music and activities in each of the cafés. On Monday there were activities on different fields – some activities were related to the environment and recycling while others were to do with mindfulness and well-being. I got to make a solar oven for cooking food and I took part in a yoga class.

As part of the activities on Tuesday, we went to the town of Zeewolde by bike and, in the afternoon, we went canoeing and swimming. On Wednesday we spent our last full day with people from our Path group and we went to a ceremony called Celebrating Roverway. On Thursday morning we packed up, went to the Closing Ceremony, said our goodbyes and got on the bus to Schiphol Airport. On our way to the airport, we found out that our flight was cancelled, but luckily enough we had had our amazing International Commissioner and two fantastic Heads of Contingent who organised hotels, new flights and kept everything running as smoothly as possible. Some of us flew back to Ireland on Thursday night while the rest waited until Friday morning to fly home.

Overall, I had an incredible time at Roverway. I would highly recommend it and I can’t wait until the next Roverway in 2024. This is a journey that I will always remember. I learned so much from Roverway and got to meet some great people. Honestly, I couldn’t pick a favourite day or moment because I enjoyed them all so much. The worst part was having to leave and say ‘goodbye’ to everyone. All our international friends promised to go to the World Scout Moot 2021 in Ireland. I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to our Heads of Contingent, Aoife and Fiona, IGG International Commissioner Lorna and everyone else who helped make this trip possible.

If I could give six tips to future Roverway participants, they would be:

1) Pack lightly (get help from an experienced packer, if needed)

2) Don’t let the word ‘roaming” on a Path description scare you off

3) Ask your Path Leader lots of questions

4) Push yourself out of your comfort zone

5) Talk to as many new people as possible

6) Embrace and enjoy every moment!