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.
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:
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. 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”
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. 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 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.
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. 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.
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."
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.
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. Similar to a camporee, a jamboree occurs less often and draws units from the entire nation or world.
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