Part One :)
My Moot adventure started by attending the training to be a Tribe Advisor. The role would be to assist a tribe of 40 young people get started at their expedition centre. I was to be part of a small team of tribe advisors, effectively acting as a conduit between the Icelandic organisers and the tribe members. My expedition centre was Skaftafell - one of the furthest centres, around 5 hours away from Reykjavik by coach.
The tribes had found out about their other members a few months before the moot, giving them the opportunity to get to know each other via social media ahead of time. This meant a lot of the icebreakers could handled long before meeting in person. My tribe, soon to call themselves "Scoutafell", seemed to be an instant hit. I met them all before the opening ceremony, while wearing an orange...hat (an orange seat cushion with ties and "SKAF-4" written on it) to make sure people could find me. I had a really mixed group of people, from places like Mexico, Norway (!!), Peru, Australia, UK and more.
There wasn't much space to talk, stand or sit in the sports hall, especially with almost 5,000 people crammed into the space. We were sat for 2 hours, with presentations from various local politicians, the camp leader (Hrönn), World Scout Committee Chair (João Gonçalves). This was interspersed with special acts, including acrobatics, rope acrobatic dancing (like pole dancing, with ropes). An incredibly opening ceremony.
This then led to the slight issue of getting 5000 people onto coaches. Did I mention each group had to get themselves, their bags (with two weeks worth of clothing, tents, camping kit and anything additional) and also their food for the next 4 days into the coaches? Fun fact, there weren't actually enough coaches in Iceland for the Moot, when the organisers asked 2 years ago. Scoutafell were really good, helpful and got loaded quickly. A coach, ready to go and my first chance to talk to them while we were waiting. Setting off only 15 minutes late, I got on the microphone (I'm shy and have a certain dislike for public speaking, but I pretend and seem to get on OK) to give a few words and information on what was going to happen next. 10 minutes into the journey, the microphone cable fell away from the microphone and into the dashboard, never to be seen again, despite trying to extract it with a selfie stick. Good start.
Turns out, you don't need a microphone when you have 7 Aussie's who are spread throughout the coach and will shout down what you're saying. Then you find out one of the Mexicans is translating everything you're saying for the guys who are having trouble understanding. Just in awe of these guys. We had a laugh about some of the troubles, and they found a way to help.
450 words and we haven't even got to Skaftafell. This doesn't bode well for anyone reading this and wanting a short TL;DR. There'll be a part three for sure.
We saw some nice sites along the way and the coach driver was nice enough to give me a personal guide about everything we were driving past, including the names of volcanos, top tourist sites including the black beach, road-side monuments to events in Icelandic history and more.
Eventually, we get to Skaftafell. There's a campsite and information centre in the park, where you're surround on all three sides by glaciers and mountains. The fourth side is effectively barren landscape and then the sea.
The campsite itself was pretty bog-standard. Some grass, shower and toilet facilities. The scenery was sublime. Toilets had long queues, except at night, but mercifully, the showers had almost no queue. This might have been because to have hot water in your shower was 500ISK per 5 minutes. So. Worth it.
The next few days went so quickly. I didn't manage to do the highest walk (Kristínartindar) due to my assignments and slight blister issues, but, I did manage:
- Bæjarstaðarskógur (twice - half-way around the walk is the pool as in this post's main picture)
I got to know my tribe even better, seeing them flourish and accomplish all of their tasks quickly, efficiently and without argument. They all cooked together, did every activity together. They elected their patrol leaders and tribe leader within a few ours of me asking them to and I'm pretty certain they were the first to do this at the Skaftafell centre. Even when tents were blowing away on the one stormy day, they weren't phased and just got on with things. I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to be the tribe advisor for these guys. Lucky and happy.
As part of the IST, however, we were all leaders in various activities. This could be on the walks (as I was), rock climbing, glacier walking, open-fire cooking, first aid (physical or mental) and more. Unlike the participants, we didn't have to cook for ourselves. We were looked after by our Icelandic managers who fed us some of the best international camp food I've ever had. Dinner was a treat, every night. As a pescatarian (or veggy) I don't expect much on camps, especially internationals, but I was looked after so incredibly well. As with all things, however, this part of the moot had to come to an end.
Admittedly, the journey to Úlfljótsvatn was going to be interesting. Unbeknownst to the participants, there was a concern Katla may erupt due to seismic activity and a glacial river flood in Múlakvísl. We were told there were two scenarios for the journey home.
- One, we get across the river near Vik (2.5 hours away) and stop for a break. Carry on as normal
- Two, the bridge is either closed by police or no longer there. Turn around, travel for 6 hours and stop for the night.
Obviously, option one was preferred and luckily, that's what happened. Next up, the main camp at Úlfljótsvatn!
Part three is coming...soon!
If you're interested in reading more about Skaftafell and the activities, please visit their information centre website.