National Scout jamboree (Boy Scouts of America)

National Scout jamboree (Boy Scouts of America)
Opening of the first jamboree, on the National Mall in Washington, June 30, 1937

The national Scout jamboree is a gathering, or jamboree of thousands of members of the Boy Scouts of America, usually held every four years and organized by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Referred to as "the Jamboree", "Jambo", or NSJ, Scouts from all over the nation and world have the opportunity to attend. They are considered to be one of several unique experiences that the Boy Scouts of America offers. The first jamboree was scheduled to be held in 1935 in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Scouting, but was delayed two years. The 1937 jamboree in the Nation's Capital attracted 25,000 Scouts, who camped around the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin.[1] The event was covered extensively by national media and attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Following the disruption of World War II, the next jamboree was not held until 1950 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.[2] Subsequent jamborees have been held around the country as a means to promoting Scouting nationally. Since 1981, the jamboree has been located Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. Future jamborees will be held at The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.

A jamboree is held for several consecutive days and offers many activities for youth participants and the 300,000 members of the general public who visit it. It is considered to be Scouting at its best[by whom?].

Recent national Scout jamborees have concluded with a spectacular arena show
U.S. President Roosevelt in a national radio address for the 1937 national Scout jamboree



Like the Boy Scouts of America's national organization, the jamboree is divided into regions — Central, Western, Northeast, and Southern. Each region is made up of five to six subcamps, with twenty in all. Each subcamp has its own latrines, shower facilities, food commissaries, with one "action center" per region. Each subcamp contains a number of troops, identified by a three or four digit number depending on the location of the subcamp within the encampment. The 2005 National Scout Jamboree had 20 subcamps, identified by number and named after famous explorers (e.g. Robert Ballard, Steve Fossett, Joe Kittinger, and Will Steger.)

Troops and contingents

Scouts from all over the country and the world showed up for the jamboree.
Seven presidents have appeared at the jamboree.

Attending the jamboree is an intensive and expensive process. Considering the logistics of having thousands of youth and their leaders concentrated in one area at one time, the Jamboree Division of the National Council coordinates the entire jamboree process. A normal Boy Scout troop cannot petition to attend the jamboree as participants, instead, the local council establishes a jamboree committee which is charged with promoting and facilitating the experience to their members. Local council committees typically have volunteer members responsible for finance, fundraising, training, recruitment, transportation, touring while en route to the jamboree site, and other functions where appropriate.

Youth members sign up for the jamboree through an application process to the local council, who then places each boy into the jamboree troop. Large councils are granted multiple jamboree troops. Each troop comprises four adults (a Scoutmaster, and three assistant Scoutmasters) and 36 youth in four traditional patrols of eight boys each, plus a leadership corps of four older boys (senior patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, quartermaster, and scribe). After being assigned a jamboree troop, members are given their troop numbers, a participant's patch for wear on the Scout's field uniform, and a jamboree council shoulder patch. Training and preparation for the jamboree often begins more than a year before the actual jamboree begins. Most troops require the adult leaders to obtain Basic Scoutmaster training and Wood Badge, an intensive management training course offered by the BSA.

Before the jamboree begins, many troops visit Washington, D.C. and other areas of interest near Fort A.P. Hill.


Dutchess County Council (NY) troop at the 1977 National Scout Jamboree, held at Moraine State Park, Pennsylvania

Youth and adult volunteer and professional Scouters, plus members of the military and government provide a number of services to the jamboree by being on staff. Jamboree staff are given a special hat and neckerchief as tokens of their service, plus many of the different staff groups have special patches or pins that are sought after by youth and adult participants. In addition to the regional staff that provide services in subcamps and at the regional activity centers, many other staff members work in areas that serve the entire jamboree. Staff members arrive a number of days before the jamboree begins and usually depart on the same day or several days after participants leave, depending on their assignments. Regional staff members often stay within the subcamps, while National staff members stay in barracks locations within the post itself.

First national jamboree

BSA leadership at the 1937 jamboree:
E. Urner Goodman, Program Director (3rd from left)
Walter Head, BSA President (center)
James E. West, Chief Scout Executive (3rd from right)

The first national jamboree was held in Washington, D.C. for ten days in July 1937, attended by 25,000 Scouts, most of whom arrived by train. Region campsites were set up around the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin.[1] The event was covered extensively by radio and newspapers. A press tent accommodated 626 news media reporters, photographers, and broadcasters. Sixty-four news releases were issued and the BSA assisted in the making of 11 newsreels and 53 magazine articles.[3] The three major U.S. radio networks of the time, NBC, CBS and Mutual, had broadcasting studios near the jamboree headquarters to produce almost 19 hours of live, on–site jamboree coverage broadcast coast–to–coast. Celebrities also visited the jamboree, including well–known broadcaster Lowell Thomas and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While at the jamboree, Scouts also attended a three-game baseball series between the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox at Griffith Stadium, as well as touring nearby Mount Vernon.[3]

List of jamborees

Comanche Trail Council Indian Camp at the National Scout jamboree in Washington, D. C., July, 1937. The swastika emblems used for decoration still held their ancient meanings of luck and well-being, and were not widely associated with Nazism.

The National Scout Jamborees have been held at a number of different locations.[4][5]

Year Location Theme/Notes Dates Attendance[6]
1935 Washington, D.C. BSA Silver Jubilee (25th) 01935-08-21 August 21, 193501935-08-30 August 30, 1935 cancelled due to a polio epidemic.[7]
1937 Washington D.C.[8] 01937-06-30 June 30, 193701937-07-09 July 9, 1937 &1000000000002723800000027,238
1950 Valley Forge, Pennsylvania "Strengthen Liberty" 01950-06-27 June 27, 195001950-07-06 July 6, 1950 &1000000000004716300000047,163
1953 Irvine Ranch, California
(Area now called Jamboree Road)
"Forward on Liberty's Team" 01953-07-17 July 17, 195301953-07-23 July 23, 1953 &1000000000004540100000045,401
1957 Valley Forge, Pennsylvania "Onward For God And My Country" 01957-07-12 July 12, 195701957-07-18 July 18, 1957 &1000000000005258000000052,580
1960 Colorado Springs, Colorado "For God and Country"
BSA Golden Jubilee (50th)
01960-07-22 July 22, 196001960-07-28 July 28, 1960 &1000000000005637700000056,377
1964 Valley Forge, Pennsylvania "Strengthen America's Heritage" 01964-07-17 July 17, 196401964-07-23 July 23, 1964 &1000000000005096000000050,960
1969 Farragut State Park, Idaho "Building to Serve" 01969-07-16 July 16, 196901969-07-22 July 22, 1969 &1000000000003425100000034,251
1973 Farragut State Park, Idaho and Moraine State Park, Pennsylvania "Growing Together" 01973-08-01 August 1, 197301973-08-07 August 7, 1973 (ID)
01973-08-03 August 3, 197301973-08-09 August 9, 1973 (PA)
&1000000000007361000000073,610 (Combined)
1977 Moraine State Park, Pennsylvania "Forward Together" 01977-08-03 August 3, 197701977-08-09 August 9, 1977 &1000000000002860100000028,601
1981 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "Scouting's Reunion with History" 01981-07-29 July 29, 198101981-08-04 August 4, 1981 &1000000000002976500000029,765
1985 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "The Spirit Lives On"
BSA Diamond Jubilee (75th)
01985-07-24 July 24, 198501985-07-30 July 30, 1985[9] &1000000000003261500000032,615
1989 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "The Adventure Begins...With America's Youth" 01989-08-03 August 3, 198901989-08-09 August 9, 1989 &1000000000003271700000032,717
1993 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "Scouting...A bridge to the Future" 01993-08-04 August 4, 199301993-08-10 August 10, 1993 &1000000000003444900000034,449
1997 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "Character Counts...Be Prepared for the 21st Century" 01997-07-28 July 28, 199701997-08-06 August 6, 1997 &1000000000003601500000036,015
2001 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "Strong Values, Strong Leaders...Character Counts" 02001-07-23 July 23, 200102001-08-01 August 1, 2001 &1000000000004200200000042,002
2005 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "Character Not Only Counts, It Multiplies" 02005-07-25 July 25, 200502005-08-03 August 3, 2005 &1000000000004330700000043,307
2010 Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia "Celebrating the Adventure, Continuing the Journey"[10] (100th) 02010-07-26 July 26, 201002010-08-04 August 4, 2010 &1000000000004343400000043,434
2013 The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve West Virginia 02013-07-15 July 15, 201302013-07-24 July 24, 2013[11]

National jamborees are now traditionally held two years after a World Jamboree. 2010 is a slight aberration in the schedule (which resumes in 2013) due to the 100th anniversary of BSA.

The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve

The BSA announced in June 2008 that locales interested in permanently hosting the National Jamboree should submit applications to BSA. Permanent Jamboree site considerations included 5,000 acres (20 km2) to be donated or leased for 100 years, water, natural beauty, transportation, ability to also host World Jamborees, and use as a BSA high adventure/training center in non-jamboree years.

Goshen Scout Reservation in Virginia was selected for the new site in February 2009,[12] [13] but was withdrawn due to significant restrictions on land utilization[14] and local community opposition.

The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in the New River Gorge region was chosen as the new home of the national Scout jamboree in November 2009.[15] The purchase of the property was made possible by a $50 million gift from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.[16][17] Other donations, including a $25 million donation from The Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation and a gift of an undisclosed amount from Mike and Gillian Goodrich, as well as other donations, have brought the total amount of contributions for The Summit to over $100 million in under one year.[18] A portion of the 10,000-acre (40 km2) property is a reclaimed mine site once known as Garden Grounds. It is located along the New River Gorge National River near Mount Hope, West Virginia and north of Beckley, West Virginia.[19]

Early announcements from The Summit team at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree, and subsequently on Facebook announced that Venturing would be a part of the Jamboree, not just as staff, but as participants.[20] This would mark the first appearance of Venturing at a jamboree, and the first attempt to expand the program to include the senior scouting program of the BSA since the attempted inclusion of Exploring in 1989.

Jamboree traditions

A patch collection from the 2005 National Scout Jamboree


Each unit that attends the jamboree is assigned to a campsite. In front of the camp site, the troop constructs a gateway to display trademarks of their council or state. Gateways can range from the very simple to the extremely elaborate.

Patch trading

Most troops that attend the jamboree have a special patch, or series of patches, made especially for the jamboree. Once at the jamboree, Scouts trade their council's patches for patches from across US and even the world. At each jamboree there are always several hot patches, that everyone seems to want, usually a patch relating to something in pop culture. At the 2005 National Scout Jamboree, popular patches displayed such things as Ron Jon Surf Shop, Master Chief from Halo, Star Wars characters, Super Mario, SoBe energy drink, and the unofficial, yet still sought after, Hooters patches. At the 2010 Jamboree, sought-after patches included Marvel superheroes from both Theodore Roosevelt Council and Northern New Jersey Council, Halo, Blues Brothers, the Orange County[disambiguation needed ] set (filled with vibrant images of surfers), the Central Florida Guitars (which made music when squeezed), the Great Salt Lake racers, and all sorts of military helicopters and planes, as well as a reappearance of the Hooters patches. Other unofficial patches included fake Halo patches, and a set of Order of the Arrow pocket flaps which included designs from popular internet games, such as Farmville.

Military support lawsuit

On April 4, 2007, a US Court of Appeals ruled that federal support for the national jamboree may continue. For details on this controversy, see Winkler v. Rumsfeld.

See also


  1. ^ a b "National Jamboree". Time magazine. 1937-07-12.,9171,788126,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  2. ^ Valley Forge National Historical Park: Making and Remaking a National Symbol (Chapter 8)
  3. ^ a b The National and World Jamborees in Pictures, New York: Boy Scouts of America (1937).
  4. ^ January 2009 Jamboree Bulletin[dead link]
  5. ^ West Texas Scouting History
  6. ^ 2010 National Scout Jamboree had highest attendance since 1973
  7. ^ "1st National Jamboree (1935)". Pine Tree Web. 1998. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  8. ^ "1st National Jamboree (1937)". Pine Tree Web. 1998. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  9. ^ "Participants in the 1985 National Jamboree". West Texas Scouting History. Texas Trails Council, BSA. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  10. ^ Subcamp operations guide[dead link]
  11. ^ Ground broken on Boy Scouts' new W.Va. jamboree site
  12. ^ "Boy Scouts of America to Pursue Negotiations With Sites in Eastern Region to Establish National Scouting Center". The Earth Times. 2009-02-11.,713809.shtml. Retrieved 2009-02-12. [dead link]
  13. ^ "BSA Project Arrow Committee settles on site for National Scouting Center". PR Newswire Association LLC. 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  14. ^ "Boy Scouts No Longer Looking At Goshen". The News-Gazette. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  15. ^ Boy Scouts’ announcement ‘unbelievable partnership’ » Local News » The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va
  16. ^ "The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve". Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Boy Scouts to Bring World-Class Center of Scouting Excellence to West Virginia" (Press release). Boy Scouts of America. November 18, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  18. ^ Boy Scouts of America Announces Additional Donations to The Summit Bechtel Family... - GLEN JEAN, W.Va., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/
  19. ^ Goshen Will Not Host Scout Jamboree
  20. ^ "Facebook: The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve". Retrieved November 11, 2010. 

External links

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