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American Scouts at the 4th World Jamboree

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Admiral Horthy and Lord Baden-Powell Open the Jamboree



With this command, we snapped into position. The twelve glorious "Stars and Stripes" at the head of our columns were raised and the Jamboree Troop flags brought into line.

We were ready!


We were off to the opening parade of the Fourth World Jamboree. A minute before we had been just a bunch of American boys and men—four hundred and six to be exact, from practically every state of our Union-who had crossed an ocean and a number of European countries and finally gathered in an open glade in the Royal Castle Park of Gödöllõ, seventeen miles east of Budapest, Hungary.

But now, with the signal, a change came over us. We were no longer a mixed group of Americans. We became, suddenly, the representatives, at a great world gathering, of the youth of our country, the emissaries of the "Boy Scouts of America"—America itself! And with this realization, we lifted our heads and straightened our backs, as we started to move forward in rhythmic step toward the great adventure, which we knew awaited us.

For three days previous to this, the second of August, 1933, we had been arriving in Hungary. Some of us from tours through England, France, Germany, Austria-others from a northern route through the Scandinavian countries-still others through Italy and Jugoslavia. We had had many exciting experiences on the way, but they all seemed to pale as the moment of the adventure we had come for drew near.

Led by our American Camp Chief, Colonel H. D. McBride, we set out. First past Iceland over the Rakos river, through Denmark, where the boys were fast establishing their camp and out through the Copenhagen gate.

The domes of the Royal Castle towered in front of us, as we proceeded through the park entrance and up the Ferenc Jozsef Tér. All around us were thousands of visitors, who had come out from Budapest to see the grand event. Groups of Hungarian Scouts greeted us with loud yells as we advanced, and Scouts from other countries followed in our wake.

Arriving at the two new traffic bridges, which had been built for the jamboree by the Engineer Corps of the Hungarian Army, we looked back and saw flag upon flag, group upon group, down the road, as far as eye could see. Yet looking forward, from the highest point of the bridge, the sight was even more impressing.

In front of us lay the immense arena, the parade field of the jamboree. Right before us were the grandstands, three huge structures built to accommodate five thousand people. To the extreme left, a tremendous cross lifted its arms a hundred feet toward the sky and directly across the arena from the grandstands shone the gold and white altar, which had been erected for the great religious services.

But the most exciting sight was the mass of people who had gathered , filling the grandstands and crowding, many rows deep, making a thick wall on all sides of the arena. And on the field itself, were already lined tip troop upon troop of foreign Scouts.

Forward we marched, with the flags blowing in a brisk and cold breeze, which swept over the field until we arrived at the position intended for us. And all the while Scouts of still other nations were streaming across the bridges to take tip their places in the line, until finally the field had become a sea of youth.

Black clouds were being swept across the sky. Weather prophets looked upward sadly and predicted rain, while a few optimists said "Nothing doing!"

Chatting with the Danes, who had marched tip at our left and boys from Syria, who stood -it our right, we made the last few moments of our waiting time slip quickly by.

Four o’clock!

A bugle sounded over the field and at the same moment a band struck up the majestic tune of the Hungarian National Anthem. We looked around and saw a group of horsemen approaching. In front, on a pure white horse, rode a stately man, in the uniform of an admiral. Right behind him, on a brown steed, followed another, an older man, clad in the familiar khaki of the Scout Uniform. A score of brightly dressed horsemen on beautiful prancing mounts brought tip the rear.

The Regent of Hungary, Admiral Horthy, and "B. P.," Lord Baden Powell, the Chief Scout of the World, were passing before us, and as they rode down the line, the flags of the world were dipped in salute. Only our own was kept flowing in the breeze, according to our code, while our Troop flags were dipped to the ground in greeting.

To most of the boys, this was the first glimpse we had ever had of the founder of our great movement and we looked amazed as he passed by, at the man who at the age of seventy-six was still as a boy among us, youthful and spirited.

Slowly the cavalcade rode before the long line of the Scouts of the world, until every one had been viewed. Then, suddenly, from the extreme left end of the field, the white horse galloped across the arena, closely followed by the brown and the guard of horsemen, and stopped short at the reviewing platform in front of the grandstands.

The Regent and the Chief Scout dismounted. A moment later they stood on the platform and were greeted by a wild outburst of enthusiasm from the many onlookers.

As the last note of the hymn-like national anthem died away, the Regent spoke. Every word was carried by loud-speakers into the farthest ends of the field, as he talked, first in English, to the thousands of Scouts gathered before him.

"Scouts!" he said, "you have come to Hungary from all parts of the world to testify to the magnificent and uplifting powers of brotherhood represented by Scouting.

"The noble ties of friendship will, I believe, become even stronger among you through this Fourth World Jamboree.

"I am convinced that the Jamboree will do much toward the promotion of good-will and peaceful cooperation, for the general good of humanity."

And with a sweep of the arm, which took in the arena and the park around it, he continued:

"The Hungarian nation offers you with love these wood-girt fields for your camping. The Hungarian nation welcomes you and your leader, the founder of the World Scout Movement, Lord Baden Powell.

"Welcome to you all! I hope you will feel at home!"

As he finished his greeting to the boys of the world, the Regent lifted his hand in salute. Then, as he let it fall, he changed into Hungarian and spoke to his own Scouts, as their ruler and friendly adviser. . . .

"To you, my sons, I shall speak separately. I am sure that you all feel the importance of this great event. From the four corners of the globe Scouts have assembled here. When they return home, they will spread at home the impressions they have gained.

"It is up to you, individually, to make these impressions favorable.

"Be all of you worthy of your reputation: modest, but possessed of proper pride—courteous and sympathetic.

"Much fun and good work, my boys!"

A great cheer rolled over the field. Then the Chief Scout of the world stepped up to the Microphone.

All weather prophets shivered. They knew that according to the tradition of all previous Jamborees, the skies should open for a cloudburst at the first sound of B. P.’s voice. The heavens looked dark enough, but to the great relief of all, not a single drop fell as Baden Powell started:

"Welcome to you all—my brother Scouts from all the world!

"It is a real joy to me to see you all again, assembled here on the hospitable soil of Hungary.

"His Highness, the Regent, has done us a very high honor and through us, to our whole movement, by coming here in person to greet us. Further than this, be has also granted us the use of this beautiful park for our camping ground.

"You would naturally want to show your gratitude to him by cheering him and by waving your banners, but there is something he would value more highly than this. It is up to all of us—every Scout and Scouter—to show him, by our conduct here, that we do fully appreciate the honor he has done us and the belief he has shown in us.

"He will, I felt sure, like to see that you are not merely camping here for your health and amusement, as you could do anywhere, but that you have come together here to make personal friendships with your brother Scouts of other nations, as peace-makers in the world."

B. P. stopped for a moment Then he continued and his voice was stronger and his appeal more direct.

"Let me remind you that the days flit quickly by. There is no time to waste! Make the most of the few hours you are here in getting in touch with the other fellows.

"I do hope that each one of you has a notebook in which to enter the names and addresses of the new friends you make each day, so that when you are back home again, you can continue to keep up the friendships by letters and if possible, by exchanging visits.

"I want to see men of all countries at peace with each other. You are the future men of your countries, so be friends!

"You have a wonderful opportunity here to start such friendships. Make the most of it! Don’t let a day pass without making new friends.

"Many of you have come very long distances to be here. I thank you for it. It shows your keenness as Scouts. And I thank you, Scouters, for bringing your lads, especially at such a difficult time. I hope you will all have a most enjoyable time!

"See all you can of this wonderful country while you are here. But above all: MAKE FRIENDS!"

So ended the welcome of the Chief Scout of the World. A miracle happened as he finished, for the sun broke through the dark clouds for a fleeting second and beamed on the thousands of Scouts, as they yelled their tumultuous applause.

Now, somewhere far up to our right, something started to move. The parade of the nations was on its way past the reviewing stand, where Admiral Horthy and B. P. stood at attention, and past the grandstand with its thousands of applauding visitors.

To the tune of Hungarian bands, the Scouts of the world marched by.

First in line, a single Hungarian flag was borne past by its proud color guards. Immediately after followed France with a burst of color as the mass of Tricolors fluttered by, heading more than a thousand boys with Troop and Patrol flags waving in the breeze.

Then Belgium with two small boys dressed in Flemish peasant costumes leading the way. They were greeted lustily by the audience. So, too, were the Scouts of Roumania, as they marched by with two hundred hands raised in Roman salute.

Armenia came next-boys without a country, but with a flag of orange, red and blue waving over them, followed by the boys of Syria with their picturesque flowing headdresses.

Then a blaze of red, white and blue as the "Stars and Stripes" approached with Troop after Troop of American Scouts, in khaki uniforms with bright red neckerchiefs. As we came near the reviewing stand, all heads turned right toward our Chief Scout and the Regent of our host country and the applause of the masses in the grandstand rolled out to us.

Close behind us was Denmark with their red flags with the white cross, their old Norse musical instruments, the "Lurs," and with a little Teddy bear for their mascot.

Still they came. . . .

Lithuanian Scouts, each waving a miniature flag of his country overhead, Iceland with several boys in the dress of the "Glima" wrestlers,

Estonia with the somber white, blue and black flag.

Then Norway in bright green uniforms, with more miniature flags, Holland with the clatter of wooden shoes, Latvia, and Japan, a small band from the far away East.

Cheers rolled over the field as the Scouts of England in uniforms of many colors marched by, throwing their hats into the air. They were followed by almost a hundred Scouts from Australia, with maroon neckerchiefs and yelling the distinctive Australian greeting "Coo-ee, coo-ce, coo-ee!"

More and more!

Cairo, New Zealand, British Guiana, Canada, Newfoundland. Ceylon, brown boys with gray shirts, leopard skin bat bands and carrying fans of palm leaves. South Africa with shields and spears. Just like pages being torn out of a geography book and suddenly miraculously coming to life.

Ireland next. First Northern Ireland, then the Irish Free State with their bagpipe band. The grandstand exploded in a roar as they marched by, the pipes going full blast and the drummers twirling their drumsticks in most amazing antics.

Here came Gibraltar, followed by eighty boys of India, brown-skinned and white together, but all with splendid green turbans.

Scotland got a great ovation as its boys strode past in swaying kilts. So did the black boys of Jamaica and Trinidad, the white of Malta, and the boys of Palestine with their Arabian headdresses, Rhodesia and Wales.

The blue-clad Scouts of Sweden came rnarching in quick steps. As they passed the reviewing stand, they released hundreds of small balloons in green, white and red, the Hungarian colors, which floated skyward as a multicolored cloud.

Czechoslovakia was next, led by many of their boys in picturesque national costumes and with a Scout band dressed in bright white.

Now came Poland, with mighty red-white flags floating over the color bearers. When they approached the Chief Scout, a signal was given and two hundred carrier pigeons flew up, each carrying a greeting to the homeland. It was a beautiful sight as they rose, hesitated and then disappeared toward the north, while the Polish Scouts moved past with a few bicycle and motorcycle Troops as a rear guard.

Still they marched. Yugoslavia, with many, small, national colors. Russian Emigrant Scouts with their priest, and boys from Bulgaria. Finnish Scouts in dark blue uniforms with light blue neckerchiefs.

Then Austria arrived, led by an orchestra of quaint, big wooden pipes. Some of them, from Lower Austria, wore sandals, others from Tyrol, had arrived in their iron clamped mountain boots. They carried with them a tremendous crucifix which had a great history behind it. It had once been carried in front of the Austrian army against Napoleon’s troops. Now it was again carried, but this time, on a mission of peace.

The Austrians were followed in their turn by the boys of Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries of the world, and the latest to join the World Brotherhood of Scouts.

Then came the boys of Egypt with red tarbouches on their beads, carrying green flags with Arabic inscriptions, followed by five hundred Scouts of Switzerland, with their picturesque red and white neckerchiefs. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Siam with striking black broad-brimmed hats, pinned tip at one side with a golden tiger head.

And finally the Scouts of Hungary, the host country. Twelve thousand of them. From Budapest, Pécs, Debrecen, Transdanuboa, Céged and Csanàd and whatever are the names of the rest of the Hungarian cities, towns and counties. All of them with the characteristic plumes–the Arváldinyhaj, the "Orphan Maid’s Hair"—waving from their hats—each Troop carrying its own embroidered flag.

At last, after two hours, the parade was over. In an amazing pageant of youth the Scouts of the world had passed before their Chief and returned to their original places on the field.

For a moment, silence reigned. Then the grand rush started. From all over the arena National and Troops flags were carried toward the reviewing stand. As they were massed around it, pandemonium broke loose. Twenty-five thousand boys from different lands rushed across the field. From all sides we came running and in a moment formed an impenetrable wall around the Regent and B. P..

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The "Grand Rush" of the Opening of the Jamboree

The cheering rose to the skies. Flags were raised, bats thrown in the air, arms lifted in salute. Every one forgot himself in paying enthusiastic homage to the Chief.

It was all unforgettable and inspiring moment!

Here we were, the boys of the world, standing shoulder to shoulder, as friends, with one single purpose—to greet the man who had brought us together and bound us together—the Chief Scout of the World.

You could notice how deeply moved he was as he waved to us. You could also see some of the emotions on the face of Admiral Horthy for being the first ruler of a country to whom such a salute had ever been given by the representatives of so many nations of the world.

The cheering continued. In the grandstand, the audience was standing, applauding yelling. Even the sun broke through the clouds for a moment in an approving smile that lit up the whole field, shone in the bright colors of the flags and made the plumes on the Hungarian Scout hats look like the sprays on the top of breaking waves.

Finally B. P. and the Regent stepped down from the platform into the waiting automobiles. A path was cleared through the surging mass of youth and with a last wave of the hand, as he stood up in his car, B.P. left the arena.

With this exciting afternoon, crowded with so many tremendous moments, we started the Fourth World Jamboree, at Gödöllõ, near Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday, August 2nd, in the year 1933.

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link-1933-wj4-sjb.jpg (2889 bytes) The 1933 Scout Jamboree Book
by James E. West & William Hillcourt
link-1933-small.jpg (2999 bytes) Home Page of the 4th World Jamboree
Gödöllö, Hungary, 1933
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Last Modified: 6:00 PM on December 20, 1998