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

In Scouting, a jamboree is a large gathering of Scouts and/or Girl Guides 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 other World Scout Jamborees, hosted in various countries, generally every four years. The 26th World Jamboree is to be held in Poland in 2027.

The average Scout Life of a boy is a comparatively short one, and it is good for each generation of Scouts to see at least one big rally, since it enables the boy to realize his membership of a really great brotherhood, and at the same time brings him into personal acquaintance with brother Scouts of other districts and other countries.

— Baden-Powell, (September 1932)

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.

Other gatherings[edit]

With the birth of the Jamboree concept, other large gatherings are also organized by national Scout organizations, geared towards a particular group of Scouts. Examples of these large gatherings include:

  • Moot - a camp or a gathering of Rovers
  • Venture - a gathering of young people in the Venture (Senior Scout) section
  • Indaba - a camp or a gathering of Adult Scout leaders
  • Agoonoree - a camp of Scouts with special needs
  • COMDECA - acronym for Community Development Camp, a large gathering of young people, implementing community development projects[citation needed]


The origin of the word jamboree is not well understood. This is reflected in many dictionary entries. For example, according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the etymology is "19th century, origin unknown". The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) identifies it as coming from American slang, identifying a use in the New York Herald in 1868 and in Irish writing later in the 19th century.[1]

It is popularly believed within the Scouting Movement that the word was coined by Baden-Powell, but there is no written documentation by either Powell or Scouting publications, and the word was in use decades earlier.[2]

Use prior to Scouting[edit]

Baden-Powell was once asked why he chose "jamboree". He replied, "What else would you call it?" Other than a light-hearted retort, one way his response could have made sense is if the word had already had a specific meaning.[citation needed]

Other writers used "jamboree" in the early 20th century, prior to its use in Scouting, to refer to "a lavish or boisterous celebration or party".[2][3] Poet Robert W. Service used the term in a poem, Athabaska Dick, published in 1912: "They are all a-glee for the jamboree, and they make the Landing ring".[4] Lucy Maud Montgomery used the term three times in 1915 in Anne of the Island, a book set in the 1880s. For example "There was quite a bewildering succession of drives, dances, picnics and boating parties, all expressively lumped together by Phil under the head of “jamborees”.[5]

Robert Graves suggested in 1954 that Baden-Powell might have known the word through his regiment's Irish links, rather than from U.S. slang.[6]

Other theories[edit]

The word "jamboree" has several claimed possible origins, ranging from Hindi to Swahili to Native American languages, which further confuses the meaning used by Baden-Powell.[7][8]

A guess is that the word "jamboree" is derived from the Swahili for hello, Jambo!. Baden-Powell spent a considerable amount of time in East Africa in the 1880s then again in the late 1890s.[9][10][11]

Use in Scouting[edit]

The word "jamboree" is used primarily by the Scouting program following the first Boy Scout jamboree in 1920. Baden-Powell deliberately chose the name "jamboree" where attendees were warmly welcomed attending this first Boy Scout rally or meeting with the word "jambo."

The word jamboree in English is used as a borrowed foreign word, with the ending -ree. The word jamboree is both a noun and a transitive verb, with a direct action of the root word jambo.[12] For example, an attendee of a jambo is a jamboree.

Many, at this first "jamboree" or Scout gathering, did not fully capture the spirit of this then-new concept or greeting. At the first World Jamboree at Olympia, London, in 1920, 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."[13]

Olave 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.[14]

A similarly-used word, "camporee," in the Scouting program is also reflective of the older British use. "Camporee" reflects a local or regional gathering of Scouting units for a period of camping and common activities.[15] Similar to a camporee, a jamboree occurs less often and draws units from the entire nation or world.[16][17][18]

International jamborees[edit]

National jamborees[edit]

  • National Scout jamboree, Boy Scouts of America
  • Canadian Scout Jamboree, a gathering of Scouts from Canada
  • Lithuanian National Jamboree, a gathering of Scouts from Lithuania, held every five years[20]
  • Australian Scout Jamboree, a gathering of Scouts from Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region
  • Australian Girl Guide Jamboree, a gathering of Girl Guides from around Australia and the world.
  • Nippon Jamboree, a gathering of Scouts from Japan
  • Nawaka, a gathering of Sea Scouts in the Netherlands
  • Irish Scout Jamborees
  • New Zealand Scout Jamboree
  • Girl Scout Senior Roundup
  • "Gathering of Scouts and Guides in India". Archived from the original on 2011-12-11. Retrieved 2013-07-02.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "jamboree, n.". OED Online. Oxford University Press. September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Jamboree". The Concise Oxford University Dictionary (10th ed.). Oxford University Press. 1999.
  3. ^ "Jamboree". Collins English Dictionary (10th Edition - Complete & Unabridged ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 2 November 2015. {{cite encyclopedia}}: |website= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Service, Robert W. (1912). "Athabaska Dick". Rhymes of a Rolling Stone. Dodd, Mead and company.
  5. ^ Montgomery, L.M. (1915). Anne of the Island. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  6. ^ Graves, Robert (1956). The Crowning Privilege. The Clark Lectures, 1954–1955. Doubleday. p. 199. LCCN 56-6542.
  7. ^ Ashton, E. O. (1947). Swahili Grammar: Including intonation. Longman House. ISBN 0-582-62701-X.
  8. ^ Nurse, Derek; Hinnebusch, Thomas J. (1993). Swahili and Sabaki: a linguistic history. University of California Publications in Linguistics. Vol. 121.
  9. ^ Begbie, Harold (1900). The story of Baden-Powell: The Wolf that never Sleeps. London: Grant Richards.
  10. ^ Prins, A.H.J. (1961). "Swahili the Swahili-speaking peoples of Zanzibar and the East African Coast (Arabs, Shirazi, and Swahili)". In Forde, Daryll (ed.). Ethnographic Survey of Africa. London, UK: International African Institute.
  11. ^ Prins, A.H.J. (1970). A Swahili Nautical Dictionary. Preliminary Studies in Swahili Lexicon. Vol. 1. Dar es Salaam.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. ^ Hopper, Paul J; Thompson, Sandra A (June 1980). "Transitivity in grammar and discourse" (PDF). Language. 56 (2): 251–299. doi:10.1353/lan.1980.0017. S2CID 144215256. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  13. ^ Wilson, John S. (1959). Scouting Round the World (First ed.). Blandford Press. p. 238.
  14. ^ Wilson, John S. (1959). Scouting Round the World (First ed.). Blandford Press. p. 122.
  15. ^ "Camporee". U.S. Scouting Service Project.
  16. ^ "US Jamboree". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Archived from the original on 2017-09-25. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  17. ^ "The Summit, US Jamboree". BSA.
  18. ^ "World Jamboree". Scouting.org. Archived from the original on 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  19. ^ "The Baltic Jamboree 2022 "Back to the Balts" is going to be held in Lithuania! - Naujienos | Skautai - geresniam pasauliui". Skautai. Retrieved 2023-03-23.
  20. ^ "Scouts - Lithuanian Jamboree "Between Three Waters"". www.scouts.org.uk. Retrieved 2023-03-23.

External links[edit]