What is a jamboree? That is a question I found myself asking some years ago. Now that I have attended a few, I am equipped to say that there is no short answer to this question. For those of you who have never even heard of a jamboree before, the idea is to bring thousands of scouts together for 1 or 2 weeks to have fun, build relationships and learn. I can personally assure you that every jamboree surpasses this definition.
For those of you who have never attended a jamboree, here are the basics:
- They are hosted all around the world throughout the Scouting year (each event is usually 1 to 2 weeks long);
- They can bring together anywhere from 1,000 to 47,000 people at bigger events like the World Scout Jamboree;
- They are typically for Scout-age youth, but there are other types of major Scouting events for other age groups such as Beaverees and Cuborees.
In my own personal experience, jamborees can be a life-changing adventures.
I have had the chance to attend four jamborees with anywhere from 1,500 to 47,000 participants in multiple continents and countries. Even with this experience, I can’t say that I have had my fill of jamborees. It is very hard to describe the feeling of accomplishment and the fun that you can have during such an event. But the best way to describe what it feels like may be to think about every Scouting success, failure, new friend, walk, fun moments, and emotion that you have experienced so far in Scouting and imagining all of it happening in a week.
During a jamboree, the activities are always fun and very diverse. They range from zipline to scuba diving, and even though they are fun, they are by no means the most enjoyable part of camp. The best part of it all is to make new friends. At this point, you might be thinking that it won’t be fun if you aren’t very social. That’s exactly what I thought before my first jamboree, as a very introverted person, but the moment I got there, I was hooked and had the time of my life! Participants are always supportive of each other and keen to meet other Scouts because we are all part of one large Scouting community, and proud to be a part of it.
The friendships you make at a jamboree didn’t happen just because you were at the same place at the same time, but also because you went through the same adversity and success at camp and shared a unique and incredible experience. That is why these friendships tend to last. In fact, I kept in contact with jamboree friends from 2 years ago.
Once you have been to a jamboree, you all share a special bond because, despite the solid planning and all the work that goes into every jamboree, there are always challenges and difficulties to overcome as a Scouting community. As an example, during my first jamboree, we had to walk multiple kilometres for food every day, but instead of complaining, we saw it as an opportunity to meet new people and connect with others. At my latest jamboree, I actually made new friends and made a ton of jokes about that same issue.
If the social component of a jamboree doesn’t sound that appealing to you, just remember that the activities offer a unique experience and are always delivered by trained professionals. I have never been to a jamboree where the activities were not the main focus. The activities that I have participated in during a jamboree include geocaching, hiking, swimming, mountain biking, climbing, multiple sports, model UN educational activity, and so many more. With this much a variety there is something for everyone!
If you are interested in going to a jamboree in the future, you can talk to your group or council to get more information. I would highly recommend participating in a jamboree at least once in your lifetime, and if you are attending the European jamboree next year, I will see you there!