Jamboree (Scouting)

Closing ceremony of the 20th World Scout Jamboree, held in Thailand in 2002/2003

In Scouting, a jamboree is a large gathering of Scouts who rally at a national or international level.

The 1st World Scout Jamboree was held in 1920, and was hosted by the United Kingdom. Since then, there have been twenty three World Scout Jamborees, hosted in various countries, generally every four years. The 24th World Jamboree is to be held in North America in 2019.

There are also national and continental jamborees held around the world with varying frequency. Many of these events will invite and attract Scouts from overseas.


According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the etymology is "19th century, origin unknown". The OED identifies it as coming from American slang and identifies a use in the New York Herald in 1868 and in Irish writings later in the 19th century.[1] Robert Graves in The Crowning Privilege: The Clark Lectures, 1954–1955 suggests Baden-Powell might have known the word through his regiment's Irish links rather than from the US slang. Poet Robert W. Service used the term well before the first Scouting jamboree. It appears in the poem "Athabaska Dick" in his Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, which was published in 1912. At the time, the word meant a rowdy, boisterous gathering.

Baden-Powell was once asked why he chose "jamboree". He replied, "What else would you call it?", a response that makes sense if the word already means a boisterous gathering.

Nonetheless, it is popularly believed within the Scout Movement that the word was coined by Baden-Powell. It is said that the word has several possible origins, ranging from Hindi to Swahili to Native American dialects. It is said that the name is derived from the Swahili for hello, Jambo!, as a result of the considerable amount of time he spent in the region. It is also said that the word is related to corroboree, a term corrupted by the European settlers of Australia from the Aboriginal word caribberie meaning a ceremonial meeting of Aboriginals involving singing and dancing.

Baden-Powell chose the name as rally, meeting and gathering did not fully capture the spirit of this then-new concept. At the first world jamboree at Olympia in 1920, Lord Baden-Powell said "People give different meanings for this word, but from this year on, jamboree will take a specific meaning. It will be associated to the largest gathering of youth that ever took place."[2]

Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, coined the term jamborese to refer to the lingua franca used between Scouts of different languages and cultural habits, that develops when diverse Scouts meet, that fosters friendship and understanding between Scouts of the world. Sometimes the word jamborette is used to denote smaller, either local or international, gatherings.[3]

Girl Guides rarely use the term jamboree for their gatherings. Girl Scouts, however, do use the word.

International jamborees

National jamborees

See also


  1. "jamboree, n.". OED Online. September 2013. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/100700?redirectedFrom=jamboree (accessed October 07, 2013).
  2. John S. Wilson (1959), Scouting Round the World. First edition, Blandford Press. p. 238
  3. John S. Wilson (1959), Scouting Round the World. First edition, Blandford Press. p. 122
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