Jamborees of the past
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 gettogether 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 Tenth 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 Scout Jamboree in 1947, two years after the Second World War
The 1st 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 Scout Jamborees of today. The most outstanding difference would be that the first Jamboree was held indoors, at Olympia in the heart of London. The great Olympia arena 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 difficult, 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 became 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 this 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 forbearance and give and take, then there is sympathy and harmony If it be your will, let us go forth 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 a Jamboree becomes.
The 2nd World Scout 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 35 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.
The 3rd World Scout Jamboree, the coming of age Jamboree, was held at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead in 1929 and 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 of camping 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.
The 4th World Scout Jamboree was held in the Royal Forest of Godollo, 11
miles from Budapest, and was attended by 25,000 Scouts from 34 nations.
It was notable for the excellent weather. 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 of the camp site on a
magnificent brown charger. It was also most
noticeable that the whole Hungarian nation had
co-operated to make the event a success
This Jamboree is remembered more particularly as the last Jamboree which B-P was able to attend before his death in January 1941. Queen Wihelmina opened the Jamboree and before her
were assembled 27,000 Scouts from 51 countries - including 8,000 from the British Empire B-P was 81 when he attended this 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 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 all!"
It was as though he knew that he would not be
able to attend another Jamboree and was giving
his blessing to the Scouts of many nations.
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 the 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. Twenty five thousand Scouts from more than 70 different lands gathered on the flat, rather open site on the banks of the River Seine. Peace and goodwill emerged stronger and more virile than ever.
This Jamboree, held 4 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
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.
This was the first World Scout
Jamboree to be held outside Europe.
The setting was beautiful rolling
parkland, at 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 the United
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 them and
lavished friendship and understanding
wherever they met.
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. Thirty
three thousand 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 of camping in the
surrounding countryside. Opened by H.R.H.
The Duke of Gloucester, visited by Her
Majesty the Queen and 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
The first World Scout 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 British Scout
£300, raised in various ways.
Held on the plain of Marathon,
scene of the famous battle in 490
B.C. between the ancient Greeks
and 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 £85. Attending
the Jamboree every day was H.R.H. Crown Prince Constantine, Chief Scout of Greece. Other
members of the Greek Royal Family including the
Greek 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 H.R.H. Crown
Prince Constantine with the United Kingdom's
highest award for Scouting, The Silver Wolf.
With its theme "For Friendship" the
12th World Scout 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 Hubert H Humphrey,
VicePresident of the United States. Memorable
features of the camp included a reconstruction of
Baden-Powell's Brownsea Island camp, the
specially stocked fishing area 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
Set in the foothills of Mount Fuji,
the 13th World Scout Jamboree
will be considered by many to
have been aptly numbered, for it
attracted an unwelcome visitor in
the shape of Typhoon Oliver! 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 on 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.
His Majesty King Olav V
opened "Nordjamb '75", as it
became known, in July 1975
in the presence of 17,000
Scouts from 94 countries. The British contingent,
led by Lord Baden Powell, was 1,624 strong and
included Scouts from Branches in Bermuda, Hong
Kong and Rhodesia. This Jamboree was a fine
example of international co-operation on the part
of the five Nordic countries responsible for its
organisation. The happy relationships that
developed were in large measures due to the
warm hospitality given to almost every visiting
Scout in the homes of the hosts. As well as
traditional pursuits such as hiking, orienteering
and camping, this Jamboree included in the
programme several activities involving modern
The 15th World Scout Jamboree was scheduled
to be held in Iran in 1979. However, the regime
of the Shah of Iran was toppled in a revolution
and the Jamboree was cancelled. The year was
designated ‘World Scout Jamboree Year’ and, at
very short notice a series of camps were organised in various parts of the world so no one
missed out on an International experience.
"The Spirit Lives On" was the
inspiring theme of the 15th
World Scout Jamboree held in
Kananaskis Country, an area of
Provincial Park, 4,000 feet up in
the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 80 miles
west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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 good-will 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 wild life from time to time!
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
taken 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
descendents of B-P. The opening ceremony of
the Jamboree, which took place at midnight on
31st December 1987, was the first official event
of Australia's Bicentennial celebrations.
'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 United Kingdom Contingent was made up
of 1,407 people including just over 50
representatives from the Guides. As part of its
contribution, the U.K. transported a replica
Brownsea Island camp to re-enact BadenPowell's 1907 experiment in Scouting. It became
the most photographed and filmed event at the
The Jamboree started with bad weather. Rain
and flooding provided major problems. The
opening and closing ceremonies were
masterpieces of showmanship designed to rival
those of the Olympic Games. U.K. Scouts also
experienced home hospitality in Korea and Japan
and a stay at a luxury hotel.
This Jamboree took place on
reclaimed land near Droten, in
Flevoland. Over 2,800
participants from the UK formed
part of the 28,000 strong event,
enjoying the superb weather and vast range of
activities. The theme was "the future starts
today" and a major attraction was the Global
Development Village, with Scouts from all over
the world keen to share experiences and learn
more about other peoples' ways of life. Lighter entertainment was provided by various walk-in
fun activities and stalls at the Plaza, in the middle
of the Jamboree Site.
Everyone was impressed by the superb
organisation before, during and after the
Jamboree. A new standard was established for
World Scout Jamborees of the future.
From 27 December 1998 to 6
January 1999, the first Jamboree to
take place in Latin America was held
at 'Picarquin' in Chile's central zone,
famous for vineyards and orchards,
approximately 70 kms south of Santiago. A total
of almost 31,000 participants took part from 157
With a theme of 'Building Peace Together' this
Jamboree was quite different from those of
recent times and reflected much of what is
typical of Scouting in South America. Activities
were patrol orientated and included a 'Day of
Service' where the patrol helped in the
refurbishment of facilities in local villages, and
'The Earth That Provides' which saw participants
visiting typical Chilean industrial and agricultural
centres in the area close to the Jamboree and
hikes of varying standards. There was also an
enormous 'Global Development Village' and a
memorable New Year’s Eve party.
Many new initiatives were used throughout the
10 days of the Jamboree, such as on-site
supermarkets using a debit card for food
purchases and every participant's details being
The UK Contingent was the fourth largest, with only Brazil, Argentina and the hosts having more
participants, and totalled 1,982. This figure
included participants from across the UK and
also 3 Scouts and their Leader from the Falkland
Islands, who may never be so close to a Jamboree
Share our World, Share our
Cultures’, promoting peace and
international friendship through
challenging activities, thought
provoking cultural experiences and simply being
together bought together 30,000 Scouts at
Sattahip, Chonburi Province, Thailand from the
28th Dec 2002 – 8
th Jan 2003.
The UK Contingent was 3000 strong and
enjoyed a Thailand experience where they toured
Bangkok and celebrated Christmas in style. The
contingent included two patrols – one from the
Solomon Islands and one from Malawi.
The Jamboree site was divided into four villages
(named Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Pacific
Ocean and Atlantic Ocean) and each village was
divided into six sub-camps (named after various
seas). The site was sandy with daytime
temperatures hitting 40 degrees.
Major attractions included ‘Face the Waves’ (the
site benefited from being on a beautiful sandy
beach), the Global Development Vllage,
Crossroads of Culture,Our Heritage, City of
Science, Community Action day, Explore Nature
and the Tournaments.
During the closing ceremony the Jamboree Flag
was handed to the UK in preparation for 2007.
“One World, One Promise” was
the theme for the Jamboree
which took place from the 28
July to the 8 August 2007 at
Hylands Park, Chelmsford,
Essex. 40,000 participants from around the
world attended making it the biggest Jamboree
yet experienced. The opening ceremony was
attended by Prince William and the Duke of
Kent. The site was divided into 5 Hubs. These
were Tropical, Ocean, Mountain, Island and
On the 30 July around three hundred Scouts left
the Jamboree site to travel to Brownsea Island
where they took part in the Sunrise Ceremony to
celebrate the start of Scouting 100 years before
when Baden-Powell held an experimental camp
on the island to test out the scheme of Scouting.
During the Jamboree period 42,000 visitors from
73 countries went to Hylands Park for the day.
At the end of the Jamboree the participants and
staff gathered in the arena for a show featuring
music and dance and to end there was a
fireworks display. Chief Scout, Peter Duncan,
and a UK Scout handed over the World Flag to
the organisers of the 22nd World Jamboree which
is to be held in Sweden in 2011.
“Simply Scouting” was the message for the
Jamboree which took place from the 27 July to
the 8 August 2011 in Rinkaby, Sweden.
More than 40,000 participants from across the world attended the Jamboree, with 4,000 people
attending from the UK Contingent.
The campsite was divided into four towns:
Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring with the
towns further divided into sub-camps. The camp
included activities including the Global
Development Village, The Quest of a Lifetime,
Our home: the Earth, Dream at night and City of
People all of which focused on learning new
cultures and having fun.
The closing ceremony finished with the camp
song, ‘Changing the World’ with performances
from artists and participants and a speech by the
Swedish King. The finale was a fantastic musical
fireworks and the flag was handed over to Japan,
host to the 23rd World Scout Jamboree.
The 23rd World Scout Jamboree
took place in Kirarahama,
Yamaguchi in western Japan from
28 July to 8 August 2015. The
event was attended by 33,628
Scouts and leaders. The theme was
和 Wa: A Spirit of Unity. The kanji
和, meaning harmony, unity or
togetherness, was part of the theme. Wa is also
an early name for Japan.
The wide range of activities provided included a
Peace Programme with the opportunity to visit
Hiroshima Peace memorial Park and a Global
Development Village which raised awareness of
environmental, health and human rights issues.
There were nature conservation and service
projects, a science village and a range of water
The 24th World Scout
Jamboree was held at the
Summit Bechtel Family
National Scout Reserve in
West Virginia from 22 July to
2 August 2019. The hosting
duties were split between the Boy Scouts of
America, Scouts Canada, and Asociación de
Scouts de México. The theme was Unlock a New