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American Scouts at the 4th World Jamboree

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Scouts join together in Friendship at the Close of the 1st World Jamboree, at Olympia, 1920


HAVING started the Fourth World Jamboree in such a spectacular manner, we might stop for a minute to find out what a Jamboree really is.

If you look the word tip in the dictionary, you may find it described as a bit of American slang meaning a "boisterous get-together." But to a Scout, the word is of far greater significance; to him it immediately unfolds a picture of Scouts of all the world meeting in brotherhood to get new inspiration and to make friends with each other. To understand it fully, it is necessary to look backward-the whole way to the start of the Scouting movement twenty-five years ago.

It was in England in 1908 that it got under way and immediately set out on a triumphant conquest of most of the civilized countries of the earth.

Well, in 1916, the Chief Scout, then known as Sir Robert Baden Powell, suggested that preparations be made for a real celebration of Scouting’s Tenth Anniversary in 1918—provided the Great War, which was then raging, was over in 1917. . . . But the War went on. For almost two years it continued its destructive work. Finally, peace. And a new world was to be built.

It was then decided to invite the Scouts of all nations to come to London in 1920 for a full week’s Peace Thanksgiving and delayed birthday celebration. Invitations were sent out to all the organizations and got an enthusiastic response.

Twenty-one nations answered: "We’ll be there!"

And when the jamboree opened, they were there, six thousand strong.

The American Scouts were there, too, 360 of them. And in grand style. The United States Government had realized the importance of the event and had placed the Army Transport ship Pocahontas at the disposal of the Boy Scouts of America. A few years previously it had transported more than twenty thousand troops overseas for war. Now it brought our Scouts to Europe for a gathering of peace.

And, then, on the thirtieth day of July, 1920, the First International Boy Scouts jamboree got under way.

What an event!

A big camp was put tip in Richmond Park, in the outskirts of London. Here we lived for a week through a real English climate of days with bright skies and days with cloudbursts which threatened to flood the park.

But the most exciting episodes of this jamboree did not take place at the camp. They happened in the heart of London, at "Olympia," a tremendous building for displays, with an arena about 120 yards long and 40 yards wide and capacity for almost 15,000 people.

An Immense decoration ran lengthwise through the building. At one end of the arena was built a three-decker, a regular pirate ship, used by the Sea Scouts to demonstrate the rescue of the crew of a wrecked ship with the help of rockets and breeches buoys. At the other end was a two-story log house which "burned" twice a day and was the scene of a fire-fighting stunt that was nearly as thrilling as sliding backward down an escalator.

The center part of the decoration showed a mountain and in opening the daily display we would appear at the top and march down into the arena.,

Those marches! Those processions of the nations!

They provided one of the greatest thrills of the Jamboree. Led by the American Scout Band, the Scouts of the World, with flags and banners flying, made their grand entry. We marched down the mountainside in front of the thousands of applauding spectators who crowded "Olympia," round the arena and out through the pine forest which formed a part of the background decoration.

For a moment the arena would be empty. Then suddenly it looked like a six-ring circus with trek cart demonstrations, national dances, pageants, tug-of-war, games, bridge-building, obstacle races, pyramid drills-hundreds of Scouts all over the place at once. As a London paper put it, "A visitor needed eyes all down his coat to see the whole arena’s display."

Three events of the London jamboree stand out particularly. The church service the first Sunday, with the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating—the night when B. P. was proclaimed the Chief Scout of the World—the night when the Jamboree came to a close.

From his platform, Baden Powell had bidden us goodbye. He stepped down among its and the American Band struck up "Auld Lang Syne.” All arms were linked in the spirit of brotherhood. Only B. P. stood alone. But just for a moment. Then he dove into the front row of the American boys and linked tip with us. As the song ended, a cheering arose. For fifteen minutes it lasted, while hats were thrown In the air and flags were waved. Then the roar abated, the nations marched out. The First World Jamboree was over. . . .

Four years later about six thousand Scouts from thirty-three nations met in Denmark at the Second International jamboree for two weeks of glorious friendship.

The London event had been an affair of exciting indoor displays. The Copenhagen jamboree became one of outdoor activities. The camp was the thing. And the weather was magnificent, with a hot sun in a blue sky. Even the Chinese Scouts, who had brought along their winter coats for a stay in a country so far north, had to give tip wearing them.

America sent a group of sixty Scouts and Scouters, carefully selected from all states of the Union. We became popular with our Indian dances and our Scoutcraft.

At this jamboree, again three things stood out.

First the camp fires in the natural amphitheater of the "Valley of the Wolves" under the old Danish beech trees. Thousands of Scouts and thousands of spectators were gathered nightly for a time of good fellowship and fun. "Sven Spejder," the Danish camp fire leader, made every one happy, coaxing along the Americans and the British in English, the Austrians and Germans in German, the French

in their native tongue and the Scandinavians in theirs and the applause rang out from every throat.

The next outstanding event was the day we greeted our Chief in the Copenhagen Stadium and when the very appearance of Baden Powell seemed to cause all the faucets of the sky to open for a drenching downpour.

And finally, the parade for King Christian the last day of the camp, culminating in the naming of our American team as winners of the Jamboree’s world championship events! . . .

Another step forward in time, to 1929 and the Third jamboree at Arrowe Park, England. This one the most tremendous of them all, with 50,000 boys from 41 nations (73 lands) participating-among them 1,300 American Scouts—for a fortnight, in the largest gathering of boys since the time of the Crusades.

And as we think back to 1929, we remember the parade of the nations on the opening day, the boys marching in rows twenty-two abreast, marching, marching, until finally, after an hour and a half, every Scout had passed and greeted the Chief Scout and the Duke of Connaught, uncle to King George V.

Our next memory is the visit of the Prince of Wales—how he entered the American Camp through the back door and left it through the kitchens.

We remember the rain ("Is it raining again?" "No, it’s still raining!") and the mud that oozed tip from the ground and apparently down from the sky,—through which we stumbled, waded and slid, thinking, with a smile, of the wee Scot lad and his "Aye, but it might be waur. It’s a good thing we’re no centipedes I"

We remember the great American pageant and the impressive closing, when B. P. stood before us as Lord Baden Powell, honored by his King . . . and most of all, we remember the friendships we made.

For two weeks we mingled as Scouts with boys from all over the world. We swapped badges, we walked through the camp with them, we sat together around the camp fires and we found out they were all very much like us. Their language was different, but at heart they were all—Scouts

And now again, a group of lucky American Scouts were meeting the boys of other nations and experiencing with them another Jamboree, this time at Gödöllõ, outside of Budapest, Hungary.

The Gödöllõeans really couldn’t be blamed for their town’s unpronounceable name. It goes the whole way back to the fourteenth century and isn’t really so difficult for them to say. But for a stranger—just try it yourself! The letter ö is pronounced like the "u" in "hurt"—the first two ö’s are short and the last is long. The "I’s" are pronounced in the ordinary way. In other words, altogether somewhat like "Gurdurllur," with the r’s silent like the z’s in "umbrella."

Gödöllõ itself is a small town of 12,000 inhabitants, with a history a mile long.

It was here, in the Twelfth Century, that King Bela went hunting. Here, three hundred years later, the Turks and the Hungarians fought their bloody battles. Here, Count Grassalkovich, in 1737, built a castle, which, a century and a half later, became the property of the Crown as the summer residence of the Hungarian kings.

In these historical surroundings, the Scouts of the world had gathered to spend together the days from August 2nd to August 15th, 1933.

It was through these parks that we returned home to the American Camp from the impressive opening ceremony, arm in arm with a string of foreign Scouts, talking in different languages but all thinking the same thoughts, yelling and singing.

The big rush for the reviewing stand and the mixing of all nationalities in one grand jumble had broken down all barriers of reserve.

We were truly-brothers.

1933-WJ4-arrow-guides.jpg (2542 bytes)

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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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Baden-Powell at the World Jamborees
Links to the World Jamborees, 1920-1937
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Last Modified: 6:00 PM on October 11, 1998