As the 20th World Jamboree dawns upon us, a little bit of history.
Shortly after the start of Scouting in 1908, its rapid and unexpected spread in countries outside the British Isles caused Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the Founder of Scouting, to realise that a get- together of Scouts of all nationalities must sooner or later be organised. But any ideas he may have had were stifled by the outbreak of war in 1914.
In 1917, the 10th Anniversary of the first Scout Camp on Brownsea Island, it had been hoped to hold some kind of celebration to mark the event. Things being as they were, it was decided that an ‘Imperial and International Jamboree’ be held as soon as circumstances would permit. As the war finished in 1918, it was decided to hold it two years later in 1920. Incidentally, a similar position was reached when it was decided to hold the 6th World Jamboree in 1947, two years after the Second World War.
1ST WORLD JAMBOREE – Olympia, London, England, 1920
That first Jamboree was quite an occasion, nothing like it had ever before been attempted, and it took a lot of courage by B.-P. and his team of organisers to make it the success it undoubtedly turned out to be.
The 1920 Jamboree would bear little resemblance to the World Jamborees of today. The most outstanding difference would be that the first Jamboree was held indoors at Olympia in the heart of London. The Scouts taking part, 8,000 from 34 different countries, gave displays daily in the great Olympia arena which had to have a foot of earth and turf laid especially to enable the Scouts to pitch tents! A camp site in the middle of the metropolis is hard, if not impossible, to find, and a camp of 5,000 Scouts was, therefore, set up in the Old Deer Park at Richmond, whilst the rest slept at Olympia ready for the following days’ performances. In the great side halls at Olympia, various exhibits were on show, even a tent was something of a novelty in those days, and demonstrations of handicrafts by Scouts and Wolf Cubs went on non-stop. So it was that the first World Scout Jamboree was more of a display and exhibition than a get-together camp.
What had begun as a Scout celebration turned into a great demonstration of international goodwill. Towards the close of the Jamboree, a tribute was paid which was not a scheduled part of the programme. In the great arena packed with Scouts and in the presence of many thousands of spectators, B.-P. was spontaneously acclaimed by the boys as ‘Chief Scout of the World’ – a title which no government or King could confer and one which lapsed on his death.
At the closing ceremony, B.-P. gave a parting message, as full of meaning today as it was on the historic occasion.
Here is an extract:
“Brother Scouts. Differences exist between the peoples of the world in thought and sentiment, just as they do in language and physique. The Jamboree has taught us that if we exercise mutual forebearances and give and take, then there is sympathy and harmony. If it be your will, let us go forth from here fully determined that we will develop among ourselves and our boys that comradeship, through the world wide spirit of the Scout brotherhood, so that we may help to develop peace and happiness in the world and goodwill among men”.
A number of lessons were learned from this first Jamboree and these were carefully noted for future guidance. An indoor display limits the activity and prevents a full demonstration of Scouting, which is an outdoor Movement. It was also realised that above all else, a Jamboree is a means of developing a spirit of good comradeship between the boys of many nations and the more that aspect can be stressed, the more successful becomes a Jamboree.
Click here to read more about the 1st World Jamboree
2ND WORLD JAMBOREE – Copenhagen, Denmark, 1924
The 2nd World Jamboree was held near Copenhagen, Denmark in 1924. The Jamboree camp lasted for seven days and was followed by seven days of remarkable hospitality in the homes of the Danes. Five thousand Scouts from 34 nations assembled for a week under canvas, the first time such a ‘huge’ camp had been planned. A special Rally was held which was honoured by the presence of Their Majesties, The King and Queen of Denmark. The Jamboree proved a great success and once again Scouting had shown the world something new.
Click here to read about the 2nd World Jamboree
3RD WORLD JAMBOREE – Coming of Age Jamboree, Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, U.K. 1929
The 3rd World Jamboree was held at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, England in 1929 and this celebrated the 21st Anniversary of the publication of ‘Scouting for Boys’. Thirty-five countries were represented by 30,000 Scouts, plus another 10,000 British Scouts who took the opportunity to camp in the vicinity. It was certainly the greatest assembly of international youth the world had ever seen up to that time. Two things stand out from the Arrowe Park Jamboree – the numbers and the mud! It rained so much that the clay soil could not absorb the water and the site soon resembled a sea of mud!
Click here to read about the 3rd World Jamboree
4TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Gödöllö, Hungary, 1933
The 4th World Jamboree was held in the Royal Forest of Gödöllö, 11 miles from Budapest, and was attended by 25,000 Scouts from 34 nations. It was notable for the excellent weather which was enjoyed and the assembled Scouts were thankful for the shade which the trees of the Royal Forest afforded. Scouts who attended this gathering will remember particularly the pleasing sight of B.-P. making his rounds on the camp site on a magnificent brown charger. It was also most noticeable that the whole Hungarian nation had cooperated to make the event a success.
Click here to read about the 4th World Jamboree
5TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Vogelenzang, Holland, 1937
This Jamboree is remembered more particularly as the last Jamboree B.-P. was able to attend before his death in January 1941. Queen Wilhelmina opened the Jamboree and before her were assembled 27,000 Scouts from 51 countries – including 8,000 from the British Commonwealth. B.-P. was 81 when he attended the Jamboree and in his message to Scouts of the world, he said:
“I … am nearing the end of my life. Most of you are at the beginning , and I want your lives to be happy and successful. You can make them d=so by doing your best to carry out the Scout Law all your days, whatever your station and wherever you are … Now goodbye. God bless you all! God bless you!”
It was as though he knew he would not be able to attend another Jamboree and was giving his blessing to the Scouts of all nations.
Click here to read about the 5th World Jamboree
6TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Molsson, France, 1947
What B.-P. could not have known was that in such a short time the world would again be plunged into conflict. The Scouts throughout the world thought of their Jamborees which should have been held in 1941 and 1945. It is significant that with the end of war in 1945, plans were immediately laid for a Jamboree to be held in 1947, and France, so recently liberated, invited the Scouts of all nations. Despite the overwhelming difficulties which confronted the organisers, the ‘Jamboree of Peace’ was a tremendous success. 25,000 Scouts from more than 70 countries gathered on the flat, rather open site on the banks of the River Seine providing the refreshing fact that not only had the Scout Movement survived the years of war, but that it had emerged stronger and more virile than ever. Little was it realised at that time that within a few months our brother Scouts of Czechoslovakia and Hungary would be suppressed.
7TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Bad Ischl, Austria 1951
This Jamboree, held four years later, took place in a country still suffering from long years of hardship. For this reason, the 1951 Jamboree in Austria was termed the ‘Jamboree of Simplicity’. The site was a golf course set amongst the picturesque mountains in the Salzkammergut region, not far from the little town of Bad Ischl. The Jamboree was organised by voluntary Scout Leaders in their spare time and the Austrian Scouts worked on the site for two years to save costs and ensure the amenities of a Jamboree Camp Site. Numbers were limited to 15,000 and none will forget the first night when, as a welcoming gesture, the Austrian Scouts lit beacons on the tops of each of the mountains surrounding the site. All in all it was a tremendous achievement by a country still under military occupation.
8TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, 1955
This was the first World Jamboree to be held in the western hemisphere. The setting was a beautiful rolling parkland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada. 11,000 Scouts attended this great gathering which was notable for the number of contingents which crossed the Atlantic by air to attend – 1,000 from Great Britain alone. The most outstanding feature, however, was the tremendous hospitality accorded to the Scouts by the people of Canada. Not only did they raise money to help Scouts from the ‘soft currency’ areas, but they welcomed and lavished friendship and understanding wherever they met.
9TH WORLD JAMBOREE – The Jubilee Jamboree, Sutton Coalfield, Warwickshire, U.K. 1957
To celebrate the Jubilee of the Movement and the Centenary of its Founder, B.-P. , a combined Jamboree, Scouters Indaba and Rover Moot was held in Sutton Park – a beautiful natural park of 2,400 acres. 33,000 Scouts from 90 countries camped for 12 days in weather which ranged from a heat wave to a storm which flooded parts of the huge camp site. Many thousands more took the opportunity to camp in the surrounding countryside. Opened by HRH Prince Philip, the Prime Minister, Mr Harold MacMillan, and closed by the World Chief Guide, Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, it was the first Jamboree held in England to have its own commemorative postage stamps. One special aspect was the overwhelming hospitality offered to the participants by the people of the UK, both before and after the event.
10TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Laguna, Philippine Islands, 1959
The first World Jamboree to be held in Asia, it was attended by 12,000 Scouts from 69 countries including a carefully selected contingent of 105 from the UK which made the outward and homeward journey by air. The trip cost each Scout about œ300, raised in various ways.
11TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Marathon, Greece, 1963
Held on the plain of Marathon, scene of the famous battle in 490BC between the Ancient Greeks and the Persians. The Jamboree was attended by 10,394 Scouts from 89 countries, the largest contingent being 1,498 Scouts from the UK (20 chartered aircraft took part in this, the biggest UK Scout airlift ever). The trip cost each British Scout œ85. Attending the Jamboree every day was HRH Crown Prince Constantine, Chief Scout of Greece. Other members of the Greek Royal Family, including the King and Queen, visited the 11-day event. Sir Charles Maclean, Chief Scout of the Commonwealth, attended the Jamboree and at a special ceremony presented HRH Crown Prince Constantine with the United Kingdom’s highest award for Scouting, The Silver Wolf.
12TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Farragut State Park, Idaho, USA, 1967
With its theme ‘For Friendship’, the 12th World Jamboree attracted 12,000 Scouts from over 100 countries, including 1,300 from the UK, the largest contingent from outside the North American Continent. For the UK Scouts, dressed in their smart new uniforms, it was a highlight to their Diamond Jubilee Year.
Amongst the distinguished visitors were Olave, Lady Baden-Powell (widow of the Founder of Scouting), and Vice President of the United States, Hubert H. Humphrey. Memorable features of the camp included a reconstruction of Baden-Powell’s Brownsea Island Camp Site, the specially stocked fishing area and boating and other water activities. Also a visit to a real wild west rodeo and a repeat of the very successful ‘Friendship Wide Game’, introduced at the Greek Jamboree in 1963.
13TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Asagiri Heights, near Fujinomiya City, 1971
Set on the foothills of Mount Fuji, the 13th World Jamboree will be considered by many to have been aptly numbered, for it attracted an unwelcome visitor in the shape of Typhoon Olive!
The 20,000 Scouts, including 437 Scouts and Venture Scouts and 49 adult Leaders from the UK, found themselves amidst a sea of black mud and buffeted by high winds for close to three days! Conditioned previously by camping in ‘typical British Summer weather’, many of the UK Scouts were able to last out the trying conditions and help their less fortunate neighbours in the waterlogged 800 acre camp site.
Despite the typhoon, the Scouts managed to carry out many of the planned activities, including a World Scout Forum, expeditions up Mount Fuji and an International evening with displays of national skills, dancing and song.
14TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Lillehammer, Norway, 1975
15TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Kananaskis Country, Canada, 1983
‘The Spirit Lives On’ was the inspiring theme of the 15th World Jamboree held in Kananaskis Country, an area of provincial park, 4,000 feet up in the foothills of the Rockie Mountains, 80 miles west of Calgary, Alberta.
1,345 UK Scouts were amongst a total attendance of over 15,000 Scouts from nearly 100 countries. ‘The Spirit Lives On’ was certainly in evidence in the great amount of international goodwill pervading the Jamboree and in the warm hospitality of the Canadians.
The backwoods location was given added realism through the intrusion into camp of bears, moose and other wildlife from time to time!
16TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Cataract Park, Sydney, Australia, 1987
Held at Cataract Park, a specially constructed Scout tent town situated on a 160 hectare site near Sydney, this was the first World Scout Jamboree to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. Under the theme ‘Bringing the World Together’, 16,000 Scouts from over 80 countries attended the Jamboree with around 13,000 more in attendance on ‘visiting day’.
The 850 strong UK contingent included 18 Ranger Guides (the first time members of the Guide Association have been allowed to take part in a World Scout Jamboree), Mrs Betty Clay, daughter of the Founder, and 11 members of the Baden-Powell family, 9 of whom are direct descendants of B.-P.
The opening ceremony of the Jamboree, which took place at midnight on December 31, 1987, was the first official event of Australia’s Bicentennial Celebrations.
17TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Soraksan National Park, South Korea, 1991
‘Many Lands, One World’ was the theme which brought together 16,000 young people from more than 130 countries in the beautiful Mount Sorak National Park. The location was a few kilometres from the disputed border with North Korea and some 200km, or six hours by road, from Seoul, the capital city.
The UK contingent was made up of 1,407 people, including just over 50 representatives from the Guides. As part of its contribution, the UK transported a replica Brownsea Island camp to re-enact B.- P.’s 1907 experiment in Scouting. It became the most photographed and filmed event at the Jamboree.
The Jamboree started with bad weather with rain and flooding providing major problems. The opening and closing ceremonies were masterpieces of showmanship, designed to rival those of the Olympic Games. UK Scouts also experienced home hospitality in Korea and Japan and a stay at a luxury hotel.
18TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Holland, 1995
19TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Chile, 1998-9
Click here to read more about the 19th World Jamboree
20TH WORLD JAMBOREE – Thailand, 2002-3
Click here to visit the website of the 20th WOrld Scout Jamboree in Thailand
Reproduced from the Scouter Magazine of UK.