Nfld. & Labrador

U.K. scouts rave about 'amazing' Newfoundland, and get facetime with PM

If there were a badge for a successful trip to Newfoundland and Labrador, a group of scouts from England would have something new to sew onto their uniform.

Bonfire, kayaking and Cape Spear all on the itinerary for British youths

Scout leader Siobhán Casey, and, from left, scouts Ben Wright, Abby Young, Holly Skingsley and Alexa Haykal, and World Scout Jamboree Canadian contingent head Steve Kent. (Kenny Sharpe/CBC)

If there were a badge for a successful trip to Newfoundland and Labrador, a group of scouts from the United Kingdom would have something new to sew onto their uniform.

About 80 young people from Scouts Unit 55 from Hampshire in southern England and Unit 21 in London arrived on the northeast Avalon on Monday, and have had a busy itinerary experiencing Canada and meeting their local counterparts.

"We had a bonfire on the beach, and we did some water activities. We had a boat trip and we went to Kelly's Island [Conception Bay]. We did some kayaking," said Alexa Haykal, 14.

For Ben Wright, 15, the highlight of the trip was visiting North America's most easterly point, Cape Spear, and looking toward Europe.

"There was some amazing scenery," he said.

"And it was amazing to not be close to home, but be the closest [to] home that we were going to get and be able to think about, over that massive ocean, is us. and the world isn't actually that big."

The British scouts also visited the St. John's Regatta on Wednesday — with a few of them getting to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Holly Skingsley, 17, says it was a fun trip to a new place — with familiar weather. 

"It's really lovely. Everyone here is so nice and welcoming," she said. "And the weather is like England, so I'm a bit at home."

One of the largest scouting events

Steve Kent of Mount Pearl served as a sort of tour guide for the group, as well as the head of the Canadian contingent at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, an international meeting of more than 45,000 scouts in West Virginia in late July.

The British scouts were hosted in Newfoundland and Labrador as part of Scouts Canada's Hosted Hospitality program, bringing Europeans to Canada before or after the Jamboree.

Kent says it was one of the largest scouting events ever held, with close to 800 scouts from Canada and more than 4,000 from the U.K. attending.  

"We literally built a city twice the size of Mount Pearl in the mountains of West Virginia," he said.

"It's big enough to host the world. We had 45,000 people there at a high adventure base in the mountains."

The group leaves St. John's on Thursday to fly back to England.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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