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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 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.

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 writings later in the 19th century.[1] Within a half century, the meaning outside the Scouting program was becoming lost. For example, 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.

Other writers used the term prior to Scouting in the early 20th century. Poet Robert W. Service used the term in the poem "Athabaska Dick" in his Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, which was published in 1912. By then, the word was becoming to mean a rowdy, boisterous gathering. Lucy Maud Montgomery used the term (same meaning) three times in Anne of the Island, a book set in the 1880s and published in 1915. 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”[2]

Baden-Powell was once asked why he chose "jamboree". He replied, "What else would you call it?" His response made sense if the word had already had a specific meaning other than a boisterous gathering.[citation needed] It is popularly believed within the Scout Movement that the word was coined by Baden-Powell but it was never formally documented by either.

The word "Jamboree" today has several claimed possible origins, ranging from Hindi to Swahili to Native American dialects, which further confuses the meaning used by Baden-Powell.[3][4]

The most logical use is that the name "Jamboree" is derived from the Swahili for hello, Jambo!, as a result of the considerable amount of time he spent in the South African region in the 1880s then again in the late 1890s.[5][6][7]

The word Jamboree is used in English, as a borrowed foreign word, with the ending -ree. The word Jamboree is a transitive verb with a direct action of the primary word Jambo.[8] For example, an attendee of a Jambo is a Jamboree. The word "Jamboree" is used primarily by the Scouting program before the first Boy Scout Jamboree in 1920. The word has also come to mean "a lavish or boisterous celebration or party" outside of the Scouting program.[9][10]

Baden-Powell deliberately chose the name "Jamboree" where attendees were warmly welcomed attending this first Boy Scout rally or meeting with the word "Jambo!" 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 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."[11]

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.[12]

A similarly used word "Camporee" in the Scouting program is also reflective of the older English style of use. "Camporee" today reflects a local or regional gathering of Scouting units for a period of camping and common activities.[13] Similar to a camporee, a jamboree occurs less often and draws units from the entire nation or world.[14][15][16]

International jamborees[edit]

National jamborees[edit]

  • National Scout jamboree, Boy Scouts of America
  • Canadian Scout Jamboree, a gathering of Scouts from Canada
  • Australian Scout Jamboree, a gathering of Scouts from Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region
  • 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".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "jamboree, n.". OED Online. Oxford University Press. September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  2. ^ Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud) (2006-03-08). Anne of the Island.
  3. ^ Ashton, E. O. (1947). Swahili Grammar: Including intonation. Longman House. ISBN 0-582-62701-X.
  4. ^ Nurse, Derek; Hinnebusch, Thomas J. (1993). Swahili and Sabaki: a linguistic history. University of California Publications in Linguistics. 121.
  5. ^ Begbie, Harold (1900). The story of Baden-Powell: The Wolf that never Sleeps. London: Grant Richards.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Prins, A.H.J. (1970). A Swahili Nautical Dictionary. Preliminary Studies in Swahili Lexicon. 1. Dar es Salaam.
  8. ^ 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. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Jamboree". The Concise Oxford University Dictionary (10th ed.). Oxford University Press. 1999.
  10. ^ "Jamboree". Collins English Dictionary. Dictionary.com (10th Edition - Complete & Unabridged ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  11. ^ Wilson, John S. (1959). Scouting Round the World (First ed.). Blandford Press. p. 238.
  12. ^ Wilson, John S. (1959). Scouting Round the World (First ed.). Blandford Press. p. 122.
  13. ^ "Camporee". U.S. Scouting Service Project.
  14. ^ "US Jamboree". U.S. Scouting Service Project.
  15. ^ "The Summit, US Jamboree". BSA.
  16. ^ "World Jamboree". Scouting.org.

External links[edit]