Busman’s Holiday

World Scout JamboreeWhile most people will be jetting off for their summer holiday to far flung places or visiting some of the beautiful countryside to be found around the UK, I’ll be doing something slightly different. I’ll be working, unpaid, for up to 12 hours a day, for three weeks with only a few days off. I’ll be sleeping in a tent; toilets and showers will be in portacabins. And I’ll be in Essex. What possible reason could I have for doing this? It’s the World Scout Jamboree, and it’s coming to the UK!

2007 marks 100 years of Scouting so the World Scout Jamboree – a gathering of Scouts from around the world which happens every four year – is returning home after 50 years. It’s set to be a massive event with 29,500 participants, 10,500 staff and up to 80,000 day visitors over 10 days. Up to 50,000 people on site at any one time, at Hylands Park just outside Chelmsford.

I’m involved in the ICT team who are responsible for checking people in when they arrive, network infrastructure across the site, the websites, databases, telephones and radios – pretty much everything technical! My role for the Jamboree is part of a team that will run five internet cafes containing 250 PCs and 125 telephones to allow people to phone and email home. Four will run 6am to 10:30pm with the one for adults available round the clock.

The size of the event is quite incredible. In the space of three weeks, the build team have to create a “village” to house twice the population of Ormskirk – it’s the largest construction project by volunteers in the UK ever. At a meeting last weekend they went through some of the statistics – 102,000kg of raw meat, 170,000 litres of fresh orange juice, 270,000 sandwiches.

That’s the stuff that makes sure no one goes hungry, but large events rely on technology too. The network guys have to install 35km of cable, 500 PCs, 150 switches, hundreds of VoIP phones and racks of servers.

Now this is where you lot can help out! TPTB in IT Services have agreed to set us loose for a day trip down to Hylands Park to help build some of the infrastructure and so I’m looking for volunteers! The day I’ve picked out is Friday 13th July and it will be an all day thing. No technical experience is required as you’ll be paired with someone who knows what they’re doing and jobs will mainly be things like running out cable into the correct places, crimping the ends and making sure it’s all ready for PCs and phones to be plugged in.

If you’re interested and are able to help, please let me know and I’ll give you more details.

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