This past Saturday was JOTT, or Jamboree On The Trail, a day where all members of Scouts, of any age, around the world are encouraged to go for a hike. The 3rd Waterdown group that my kids (and wife) are part of does this every year. They generally arrange things so that all the groups – Beavers (ages 5-7), Cubs (8-10), Scouts (11-14), Venturers (14-17), and Rovers (18+) all hike different trails that end up at the same place at the same time for a barbecue. The Venturers start early and hike 10-15 km, the Scouts a little later and a little shorter, the Cubs shorter still, and the Beavers start last and hike 2-3 km. Nicky is a third-year Cub while Ryan is a third-year Scout, and Gail is a Cub leader. Gail was busy this past weekend so I took her place and hiked with the Cubs.
We walked along part of the Bruce Trail from northern Burlington to Camp Manitou, a Scout camp south of Campbellville. We went through forests and meadows and farmers’ fields and up and down steep hills and across wooden and metal bridges and boardwalks over swampy areas and rivers, and even along residential streets through the little town of Kilbride. We saw no fauna other than a few birds, but lots of flora including giant mushrooms eight inches across, trees growing on top of huge rocks, ferns, and thousands of pink and white trilliums.
I made a map of the trail we covered. Of course, the straight lines through the forests are very rough approximations, since you can’t see the path on the map. I can assure you that the paths through the forests were not straight for very long, so the 3.67 miles (5.9 km) that Google Maps reports is rather low.
Of course, when you have thirty or so 8-10 year olds and no TV or video games, you end up with some interesting conversations. Here are a couple that I overheard snippets of and one that I was involved in:
A: [Talking about digging a hole with a chainsaw] Then I sit on the chainsaw and dig down.
B: Then you’d go all the way to China.
A: You know what? China isn’t on the other side of the world.
C: You couldn’t do that anyway. This earth has a core in the middle. If you get too close to the core, you’d die. You’d disintegrate.
A: Do you believe in God?
B: Do you?
A: No. You don’t have to, you know. It’s a person’s choice whether they want to.
B: So if God didn’t make the world, then who did?
A: I dunno.
A: How long would it take to get to the moon?
Me: I think it took the astronauts about three days to get there.
A: But in space time, it only took them, like, two minutes. Time goes slower in space.
Me: Well, the astronauts were going pretty fast, but not fast enough to slow down time for them.
[At this point, I’m impressed that he has even the most vague knowledge of relativity. Then…]
A: I knew a guy who could stack cups, like, almost the speed of light. Like, a decimetre.
A: How fast is a decimetre?
[A decimetre is a seldom-used measurement of length equal to one-tenth of a metre, or ten centimetres. This is about four inches.]
When it was all said and done, the GPS said we walked about 9.8 km in 3hrs 15 minutes. The Scouts walked a little further, about 10.3 km. Everything worked out really well at the end of the trail – the hot dogs were ready when we got there, and there were lots of apples and oranges and watermelon and of course watery Kool-aid (I believe that is a Scouting requirement). All the different groups arrived within about half an hour of each other, with no missing kids and no injuries. It was also the first JOTT in at least a couple of years with no rain; actually the weather was perfect. I hope the other Scouts from around the world who participated had as great a day as we did.