Jamboree, A History


The first National Scout Jamboree was in Washington D.C. in July 1937. Around 25,000 Scouts attended the gathering, mostly arriving by train. Over 600 reporters showed up,  President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended, and Dan Beard started the opening fire. He used wood brought by Scouts from all 48 states.

At the Jamboree, Scouts were able to attend a professional baseball game, visit Mount Vernon and climb the stairs to the top of the Washington Monument. They also participated in the typical Scouting activities shown in the video.   

  What many people don’t know is that the first National Scout Jamboree was supposed to be in 1935 in honor of the Silver Jubilee. Unfortunately, a polio outbreak caused the event to be canceled. The National Council had planned on doing a mess hall dining experience. This would not have been a good choice amid a health epidemic, so it was rescheduled for 1937. 

After the very first Jamboree, WWII came. The next Jamboree was not held until 1950 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. But, the tradition has continued strong since then.

There have now been 17 more Jamborees, the last one being this past summer of 2017. The Jamboree has been held in Virginia, California, Colorado, Idaho, Pennsylvania, before finding its permanent home at the Summit in West Virginia. The 100th Anniversary Celebration brought a record number of attendees to Jambo. This allowed more Scouts than ever to be present for the ceremonies, engage in patch trading, and camp.

Each Jamboree is meant to bring youth and leaders together to better understand Scouting and participate in a genuine Scout experience while meeting other troops from throughout the country. A new theme each year encourages the goal. For example, the 2013 theme was “Go big. Get Wild.” This theme demonstrates the fun and adventurous aspects of Scouting.

Today, the Jamboree is a technologically advanced, efficient, and safe excursion. National Council and Government leaders deliver speeches. Musical acts are headlining the opening and closing show. We have come a long way from shirtless, chaotic boxing matches, but it is no less fun, daring, or inspirational.        

(This video is from Chevrolet Leader News Newsreel Vol. 3. No. 3.)

Julia Thompson
has a Bachelors in English from BYU and is a fund development associate for the Utah National Parks Council.

One comment

  1. Darryl Alder
    Darryl Alder says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Jamboree, first as a Scout then as a Scouter. I finally made it this summer and had the best time of my Scouting career! If you are thinking about World Jamboree in 2019, don’t hesitate, it will be your son or daughter’s best ever experience

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