Four lucky Scouts and Guides from Leighton Buzzard are preparing for a World Scout Jamboree 6,000 miles away.
In 18 months time they will be among a 36-strong Bedfordshire contigent jetting off to spend three weeks with an army of 30,000 other Scouts from around the world on the Pacific coast of western Japan.
Jenny Slade-Pedrick, Harry Gaskin, Poppy Barrett and Connie Hulley from Leighton Linslade Explorer Units are all in training to cope with a new life, new foods and new customs in a country that is still just a name in an atlas.
At a recent training weekend they juggled with chopsticks, played Japanese Monopoly and gingerly tried Japanese cuisine of raw fish. They also practiced how to get three dozen lively young people onto a bullet train in under two minutes complete with all their kit.
Coming up will be how to cope with occasional earthquakes and summer rain that drenches in seconds. On the plus side they will have a chance to see exotic birdlife, unusual plants and strange buildings and temples that few western people know exist.
Between now and the summer of 2015 the youngsters will need to learn how to live and work together. As part of the preparations for the Jamboree experience each of them will be taking part in dozens of fundraising activities to cover the £3,400 individual cost. Part of this sum will go towards a solidarity fund aimed at enabling Scouts from the developing world to attend.
One poignant and moving event they will witness will be the service of remembrance at the Peace Dome in nearby Hiroshima on the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the city on August 6, 1945. A similar service will be held in Coventry Cathedral as a gesture of solidarity and peace.
Poppy, aged 16, from Trinity Explorer Unit in Leighton said: “When the confirmation message came through I went ballistic. It is one of those lifetime chances that is a dream come true. Scouting has opened up so many opportunities for me but this is something else.
“There will be loads of new things to learn like the Japanese language. I also want to meet as many foreign Scouts as I can to find out how they cope and what they do.”
Chief Scout Bear Grylls added: “I am sure that all the Bedfordshire Scouts will be super excited about the journey they are starting on. They will end up in Japan in 2015 at the World Scout Jamboree which will be a life changing experience for them.”