Jamboree - a retrospective on Scouting's flagship event
As many of us know, the first experimental Scout camp started on 1 August 1907 at Brownsea Island (United Kingdom). Baden-Powell (B-P) blew the kudu horn to start that camp where the “first” 20 lucky Scouts camped and practiced Scout skills under the Scout Mastership of none other than the Chief Scout of the World. Within a couple of years, the Scout Movement had spread to several corners of the world.
To celebrate 10 years of Scouting after the “experimental camp” in 1907, Baden-Powell thought of holding a “special event” to bring together Scouts of all nationalities. B-P coined the word “Jamboree” for this special event. However, due to the on going First World War at that time, the idea had to be postponed.
Eventually, in 1920, the first World Scout Jamboree was held in Olympia, London. Over 8,000 Scouts from 34 countries participated in this magical Scout gathering, which gave a first visual impression (although only a sample) of the collective global Scout Movement it had grown into. It made a big impression on everyone including B-P himself. He felt that the solidarity was so strong that children and young people from various corners of the world had came together along with their Scout leaders traveling for months on ships and other means of transport at a time when air transport for public was non-existent. Especially in the aftermath of the terrible First World War, at this Jamboree, B-P was inspired to think of a new era for Scouting, becoming a global social force for positive change and said to the Scout Leaders: "If it be your will, let us go forth from here fully determined that we will develop, among ourselves and our boys, a commradeship through the worldwide spirit of the Scout brotherhood, so that we may help to develop peace and happiness in the world and goodwill among men."
It was subsequently agreed that every four years a World Scout Jamboree will be organised, and has continued to be that until now, except during the Second World War (1937-1945). B-P attended all the five World Scout Jamborees when he was alive (Gone Home: 1941). By the time the Second World War had ended, the Scout Movement had grown in strength and had spread around the world. Lots of smaller Jamborees and Jamborettes were being organised at local, national and international levels giving more and more children and young people the possibility to attend such special and large Scout events. However, the quadrennial World Scout Jamboree continued to be the cream of them all.
The sixth World Scout Jamboree was held in 1947 (France) and was called the “Jamboree of Peace”. Scouts from India celebrated the Independence of the country in a big way at this Jamboree. At this Jamboree’s opening ceremony, Scouts marched in national contingents, but at the closing ceremony, they all gathered in their sub-camps in a strong symbolic message of the international friendship and solidarity in Scouting.
In 1979, the scheduled World Scout Jamboree in Iran had to be postponed and instead the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) announced that year as a “World Scout Jamboree Year”. In an attempt to multiply the spirit of Jamborees in thousands, several World Scout Jamboree Year camps were organised all over the world and all along the year. In addition, countless “Join-in-Jamboree” activities were organised all over the world at smaller local levels. It was a massive expression of the global kinship/brotherhood of Scouting in a coordinated global attempt, giving rise to waves of international friendships across various barriers and borders.
In the 1970’s, there were approximately 15 million Scouts around the world and it was assessed by the then Secretary General of WOSM, Laslo Nagy, that at least 250 million children and young people had been part of the Scout programme around the world since its inception in 1907. Fast-forward to today, we now have over 40 million Scouts and nearly half a billion Scouts have been through Scouting. It is clear that Scouting has grown faster in recent years with the growing interconnectivity of the world. Today, there is a permanent online Jamboree on WOSM’s digital platform, www.scout.org, where Scouts from around the world come to tell hundreds of Scout stories from around the world, everyday.
Come 2015, the charm of a World Scout Jamboree has not waned much. In fact, the popularity and the hype around it has increased so much that the upcoming World Scout Jamboree in Japan (twenty-third) is oversubscribed beyond the original plans. Peace and solidarity are still at the centre of what we do at the Jamborees in terms of the impact on young people. Join-in-Jamboree activities are prepared in advance and distributed to National Scout Organizations around the world so Scouts who cannot afford to go to World Scout Jamborees can still experience the same activities in some way. Digital engagement has become so strong that at the World Jamboree in Japan this year, www.scout.org/wsj2015 is running a digital Join-in-Jamboree where Scouts can share all their World Scout Jamboree experiences both from Japan and all over the world on one digital space.
From 28 July to 8 August 2015, myriad of colours and countries will come together, in Japan and on scout.org, to show a glimpse of what millions of Scouts are doing in their own little communities, as active citizens creating positive change to help create a better world.