Baden-Powell Council BSA at the
1998 Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette

The Blair Atholl Jamborette
More Daily Activities - Castle Tours and Mud Wars

As I said earlier, the international leaders were assigned to jobs on the Jamborette staff. My assignment, as in 1996, was as a tour guide at Blair Castle. As a history buff, I loved leading groups through the Castle - first built in the 13th Century, and enlarged and rebuilt repeatedly through the 19th, most of it was built and rebuilt before the oldest structure in my home village in upstate New York was even begun. I'd done quite a bit of reading on Scottish history since the last visit, and finally felt at least partially comfortable explaining the background of the Castle to the Scouts. I loved the job - teaching history has always been a passion, and it let me get out of the rain, warm and dry for nearly two hours twice a day. What's more, the Castle added the attractions of indoor plumbing to the history.

It had an interesting history, indeed. Although today it looks more like a Georgian mansion than a fortress, in 1745 it was much more martial in appearance. Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed there as he passed through Atholl on his campaign to win the throne for his father, and it was the last castle in the British Isles to be brought under siege, as the Duke's Jacobite brother Lord George Murray attempted to take it from Sir Andrew Agnew, the King's general. The siege was not long - 17 days - but it probably was unpleasant for the besieged, over 300 soldiers and servants, plus a number of horses, penned up in the castle with little food and only a small supply of water. About 9,000 musket rounds were fired during the siege, and over 200 cannon balls. As Patrick Agnew puts it, in his book "Sir Andrew and the Siege of Blair Castle", "it is a tribute to the accuracy of 18th century weaponry that there is no record of anyone being hurt by all this shooting."

The entrance hall contains much of the armament of
the Duke's private army.

The Ballroom walls are covered with trophies of a Sudanese war, 
brought back by the Eighth Duke

Jamie and several Scottish Scouts look at a scale model of the Castle.

Scouts from many countries line up outside the Castle entrance.

While I gave castle tours, Pete and Ed were assigned to work on the "Atholl Experience". This was a sort of outdoor challenge course, combined with lots of running around, mud and general mayhem. I never had a chance to actually see the Experience firsthand, as I was in the Castle while it was running, but when our patrol went through I gave Ed my digital camera to record the proceedings. I also spoke to several of the Scottish staff at meals. The general consensus seemed to be that the Experience was a lot of fun for all of the participants, but, in the words of one of the Scottish staff, "that Ed's mad." One of the more interesting, if a bit culturally insensitive, moments had to be Ed leading a Japanese patrol through the mud at a patrol of Norwegians, yelling "Banzai!" At first, they had to carry water in to make mud for the Experience, but by the second or third day of the Jamborette, Nature had provided far more mud than was absolutely necessary.

After the Jamborette, Pete, Ed, and I were at Loch Ness. As we got into our car at the visitor centre, one of the kids sitting at a picnic table in front of us jumped up, pointed at Ed and yelled "Atholl Experience!". It's a small world…

Pete B.E.
(Before Experience)

The whole group - Scots and Americans - after the
Atholl Experience. The volcano entrance
to the Experience is in the rear.

Morgan at the Blindfolded
Mud Course (?)

Pete and Ed A.E.
(After Experience)

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