With 8 days until we depart for Gambia 2K14, it now feels like it is getting really close. To help everyone I thought I would write a ‘Preparing for Gambia’ series; not necessarily the words of an experienced Gambian veteran more a result of ‘well I did this last time and it didn’t go too badly, so maybe it is worth a go’.


To start with we need to talk about kit. I am sure everyone is far more prepared than I am and has their bag packed and ready to go. Just in case you are much more like me – still suffering from teenage syndrome and have left it to the last minute – then the following tips might prove helpful in your dash to get ready.


1. Avon Skin So Soft Moisture – this might come as a big surprise to some, but no, moisturising should not be your top concern in the Gambia. This product is used, however, by the British army the world over and has been testified by experienced travellers to have the same effect as insect repellant and can be a perfect partner to a spray containing DEET in your battle against the mosquitoes.


2. Disposable Cameras – the mobile phone has replaced these once must haves for any holiday. In Africa they can come into their own. It could be a replacement for the camera that perhaps your Mum or Dad isn’t too happy about you stealing or it can be a bit of fun. Once a stalwart of a 90s wedding it was common to hand them out to each table to see just what shenanigans you might capture. Take a couple and ask children in your class, or the Basse scouts, to capture their memories of our week and you might see a very different perspective.


3. A Diary – There will be many memories you will want to keep from your two weeks in the Gambia. Most of which a camera will suffice for capturing and preserving. Perhaps the most important memories though will be the events and sights that changes your perspective. Never mind the jokes and anecdotes you will no doubt create for yourselves as well! Recording all of this is a more complex task and a travel diary, I can personally recommend, is a good way to keep such memories stored.


4. Gifts – No doubt a highlight of our time in Gambia will be when we hand over any gifts we have brought. There were lots of brilliant ideas that we came up with last Sunday morning; anything that will take up relatively little space but can provide lots of fun is a good starting place. (Just to recap everyone needs to bring a compass and at least two of the following: colouring pens, pencils, old scouts badges and uniforms, other scouting paraphernalia, loom bands, inflatable sports stuff, board games, cards, sweets, UNO, short reading books, any old instruments (think recorders!), colouring books, football shirts, scout t-shirts, calculators, rubbers, sharpeners, chalk, colourful chalk, more sweets, or anything else you can think of!)


5. Earplugs – just in case you happen to sit anywhere near Pete on the plane, or draw the real short straw and have the hotel room next to him.


PS. 8 days is probably late enough … get going and sort yourself out!


PPS. Just in case you have lost the kit list, and want to save yourself the embarrassment of asking Adam for a new one here is the whole kit list:


Kit List


  • 1 x backpack (no more than 80L and no heavier than 18kg, preferably backpack but could use soft bag with wheels, no hard suitcases) plus padlocks.
  • 1 x hand luggage (remember no sharps or liquids in hand luggage).
  • Uniform shirt and UK scarf (for ceremonies and driving in Gambia)
  • Gambia 2014 poloshirt (to travel to/from airport and on plane with)
  • Uniform trousers
  • 2 Light long sleeve tops or shirts (for evening to reduce bites)
  • 2 Light long trousers (for evening to reduce bites)
  • 4-6 T-shirts
  • Underwear – include long socks for evenings
  • Nightwear – light pj’s please!
  • 2 pairs shorts
  • 1-2 pairs of swimwear
  • 1 jacket with hood – preferably waterproof
  • Wash kit – no large bottles, keep as light as possible please
  • 1 towel – medium size maximum (i.e. bath towel)
  • Strong trainers or hiking boots and thick socks – (wear on plane for weight)
  • Flip-flops / sandals
  • 1 pair lightweight trainer type shoes


  • Passport
  • Yellow fever certificate
  • Mosquito net (supplied at meeting in July)
  • Malaria tablets (supplied at meeting in July)
  • Alcohol handgel (2 small bottles for personal use)
  • Insect repellent (jungle formula!)
  • Sun block (or at least 30+ factor)
  • Personal medication (tablets, inhalers, sprays, creams)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • 1 penknife – (pack in main backpack for checking in)
  • Money belt (optional or other safe way of carrying money eg wallet with lead)
  • Spending money – maximum £150
  • 1 phone (optional – try to share chargers)
  • Camera
  • I-pad / tablets are optional – there are a few long journeys to do and some time at the hotel – so a i-pad or tablet may be to preferable to some books.
  • Small torch with new batteries (or wind-up torch)
  • Sleeping bag cotton Iiner (sleeping bag not required)
  • Personal water bottle (optional – leave empty in backpack for flight)