THE SCOUT JAMBOREE BOOK
THAT Sunday night when we sat down to supper we felt that something was in the air. Our Scoutmaster bad a strange light in his eye and we knew that that meant an idea brewing.
For some reason the bunch seemed rather sober to start with; but before long our spirits began to rise. Somebody lost his hold on a cup of milk and its contents descended gracefully over his shorts and gave them a very sick appearance. That was 'just the opening we needed for some choice wit and sarcasm. In a moment we were all in the best of humor. Apparently that was what the Scoutmaster had been waiting for. He rose and cleared his throat.
"Say boys," he said, "how about having an international tea tomorrow afternoon?"
Grand! The motion was seconded and carried before you could say Jack Robinson. Then the Scoutmaster began to explain the procedure. Each of us was to bring a friend from a foreign camp; and since we wanted as many countries represented as possible, no two of us were permitted to bring boys from the same country. Some of us were to make the tea; others to get hold of the eatables.
Instantly we thought of the Danish fellow who had been kind to us during our trip around the world.
"I'll take care of Denmark!" said one of our bunch.
"I'm taking France!" another yelled.
"No, I am!" from another voice.
In a moment there was a great confusion. Three fellows wanted to bring in France. Two had Scottish friends. Two had Indian friends.
"We'll draw lots!" said the Scoutmaster.
He got hold of some small pieces of paper and started to write down the names of foreign countries from a list. He shuffled the papers together in a hat and each of us drew.
One of us got Denmark, another Iceland, and another India. The other countries were divided up among the rest of the bunch. After having distributed the duties for the next day's undertaking we adjourned. As it was raining there would be no camp fire; so we just strolled around a bit and turned in early.
The next morning after breakfast we went out to extend our invitations to our known Danish friend and to an unknown Icelandic Scout and the others. We found the Danish fellow without any trouble. He was in his own camp, rope spinning, seemingly the favorite outdoor sport of the Danes. He received our invitation with enthusiasm. And since he had nothing else to do he joined us in search of an Icelander.
We had located Iceland on our tour a couple of days before and had no trouble finding it again. When we got there we walked into one of their little green tents where we found two Scouts.
Then the fun began.
One of us started out by asking, "Do you speak English?"
A shake of the head said: "No."
"Parlez vous Francais?'
"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"
"Do you speak Icelandic?"
A big smile spread over the fellow's face and he began to jabber away in Icelandic. But now it was us who were stuck. We couldn't understand a word.
Suddenly our Danish friend, who had been standing smilingly aside, came to our rescue.
He spoke to the Icelander in a foreign tongue and the two of them came to perfect understanding. The Dane turned to us and said, "He will be there." So we started back to camp.
We were very much impressed with our friend's skill in languages. Then he told us that Iceland used to be a part of Denmark the same way as Greenland is now. A few years ago it became an independent country but with the Danish king as its ruler. And so the Icelandic boys understand Danish perfectly well.
We walked back toward our own camp. It was a glorious day; the first real summer day during the jamboree period. The sun was shining brightly and the wind was drying things out in spots. As we came near the Copenhagen Gate we saw a tremendous crowd of people outside. As it was Bank holiday in England ferries and buses and trains had brought thousands of people out to see the camp. They were waiting for the twelve o'clock rocket that would open up the entrances for them. When it came, they poured in and continued pouring all afternoon and evening.
We invited our Danish friend to dinner with our Troop and during the meal we found out that he hadn't really seen the American camp yet. We decided to give him a liberal education and when we had finished eating we started out systematically.
We went to the main entrance and from, there we began our travels. First we entered the big exhibition tent which was situated in such a way that you had to pass through it in order to arrive at the American parade ground. On the roof it carried the flags of all Scouting countries. Inside it would take several hours of study to see it all.
On one table American Scouting literature was displayed; on another was a complete camping equipment. One exhibit displayed a full set of American Merit Badges as well as badges of ranks and offices. Another showed how "Boys' Life," the official magazine, was edited and printed. A still more interesting part was the craftsmanship display. In this were shown leathercraft, basketry, totem poles, plaster casting and a lot of other handicrafts. Not only the finished products were shown. The whole procedure was also explained. From the exhibition tent we went to the parade ground. Here a lot of different activities were going on.
In one corner a Scout in an Indian costume Was demonstrating Indian Sign Language to a big group of interested onlookers. In another corner a Patrol was exhibiting pyramid building. And in the center a baseball match was going on between American and British teams while a large group of visitors was looking on eagerly.
Down one street a totem pole was being carved by the boys from the Black Hawk area of Illinois and Fort Wayne, Indiana. A telephone pole acquired on English soil was being used, and the Scout Law was carved on the bottom. Then the Scout Motto and Patrol Emblems. At the top was a large eagle with outspread wings. The pole was to be left in Arrowe Park at the conclusion of the Jamboree.
We tried to find the one thousand or more live alligators that the Florida boys were supposed to have brought over with them. But rumor proved to blame for this exciting fiction; the thousand was in reality only one, a small mascot for the Alligator Patrol!
We passed the interesting land ship being constructed by the Sea Scouts of Chicago and St. Joseph, Missouri. As there was no water near enough for their use, they had done their best to make themselves at home on land. Their ship certainly was complete, with standing rigging and two masts with running parts.
Down one of the streets was an interesting exhibit of soap carving and plaster casting. Likenesses of Sir Baden-Powell and other famous Scouts were carved out in soap. They looked like little marble busts and statues, so beautifully were they done.
At another place we found the "Spirit of St. Louis" Troop collection of snakes. This was guaranteed to give any Tenderfoot the shivers. Some were regular pets such as the Hog Nose and the Whip. One named Salt and Pepper was warranted to be a lovely little playmate! But you kept a safe distance from others like the deadly Rattlesnake, Timber and Cotton Mouth. One of the Scouts picked up a harmless snake and showed our Danish friend how to handle it; but he didn't seem very enthusiastic. We had to use all our powers of persuasion to get him to try and then he became so proud of his feat that we had to photograph him in several poses with his little "pet."
Among the camps within the American camp which we visited, the wigwams and teepees and Longhouse of Troop I attracted the greatest attention. These were the real Indian articles. The wigwams were exactly like those used by the Ojibway Indians long ago. They were made of cedar strips fastened together and bent into wigwam shape. Strips of canvas were then wrapped around; each one overlapping the next one. Indian blankets were fastened over the doorways to make them picturesque. The teepees were, of course, conical in shape and made often heavy poles, the top ends fastened together while the lower ones made a big circle. The whole was covered with canvas. A fire was kept burning in the center and everything looked real Indian.
The Longhouse was much larger twenty-seven feet long and over nine feet tall, so that sixteen boys could sleep inside without discomfort. It was made of hickory sticks tied together with rope. The top was covered with some kind of canvas or burlap.
We passed by the Prairie Trek camp, the Adirondack Shelter camp and stood again on the parade ground. The baseball game had come to an end and the New Orleans boys were staging a demonstration of the "Pine Tree Patrol Camping stunt." There were four patrols of ten boys each, and they used less than ten minutes to unpack, pitch tents, and make a complete camp ready. They were heartily applauded by all the onlookers.
While showing our guest around in our camp the time had passed by quickly and the hour had come for our international party.
We hurried back to our own little group and arrived together with some of the first guests. We entertained them as well as we could until all of them had come. Then we all drew together, sitting on our cots which had been assembled for the purpose. We had entirely roped off our unit grounds, but before long the crowd of spectators were six and seven deep on all sides. We were literally imprisoned by
a wall of human beings, but each of us became so engrossed in the party that we soon forgot our audience.
There, on that beautiful summer afternoon the boys of nineteen nations were assembled at tea in perfect peace and harmony, all unconscious of the gaping, interested crowd. We were undoubtedly bound together by two words scouting and friendship.
The Scout Master started things going and before long each one was performing in some way. Our friend from Siam transported us to the Far East with a Siamese love song. He sang it beautifully in a minor key thus giving it a haunting oriental effect. We were next entertained by "South Africa," who gave us a song which he had heard sung by a group of Negroes. By music we were carried to the land of the bushmen by our guest from Australia, who sang the "Australians' Farewell to Our Chief." And thus we passed on and on into country after country through the medium of native melodies sung by our guests. "Our Gang" also entertained with several of our own Scout and folk songs.
The Scoutmaster then suggested that each one give his Scout Oath in his native tongue, and with his own Scout Sign. As the boys did so we realized how mutual the bond of Scouting was. Every Oath given embodied the idea of helping one another, and loyalty to God and country. Finally we all sang the Jamboree song and then retired for the refreshments.
Two of our fellows had acted as caterers and they certainly deserved the praise they received. The tea was as good as could be expected; the salad was a little rough and ready. But the taste was what counted most and it was O.K.
After all of us had finished loosening our belts we gathered together in a little group and had our pictures taken. Then autograph books suddenly appeared and a great deal of autographing was done. Certainly each of us wanted a record of that unforgettable afternoon.
When time came to say goodbye our friends left us with real Scout handshakes and with smiles on their faces. We hated to see them go.
Copyright © Lewis P. Orans, 1998