World Scout Jambo-What?

If i told you i was going to the world scout jamboree would that mean anything to you?

An awful lot of my friends are scouts and so yes, those of you would definitely know what i’m talking about, or at least i’d hope so! But for a lot of my friends the reply you’d give would be something along the lines of “Ah, cool..What’s that then?” well, sit tight i’ll tell you what it is!

A World scout Jamboree is a 10-14 day camp in a host country. Much like the world cup or olympics, countries have to bid to host the Jamboree and it’s held every 4 years. Between 30,000 and 45,000 young people and adult leaders attend the Jamboree and for me was the absolute pinnacle of my experiences as a young person in scouting. You get one chance to attend a WSJ as a participant aged between 14 and 18. When you’re an adult you can attend multiple times as part of the international service team, The unit leader team or the contingent management/service team. Everyone Who attends the jamboree (from the UK at least) has to go through a selection process. Those who are successful spend the best part of a year or two preparing for their adventure of a lifetime. over 33,000 people from 90 countries attended the 23rd WSJ in Japan in 2015, so it’s a pretty big event. Every jamboree has a structured programme of events and a theme that shapes activities as well as official jamboree Song (Obviously). Reading this paragraph back i realise that for those of you who haven’t experienced a jamboree it doesn’t seem like much to be excited about, but i honestly haven’t got the words to describe how phenomenal an event it actually is. If you get the chance to go to one, GO!!

The 24th World scout Jamboree has 3 host countries who are Boy Scouts of America, Scouts Mexico and Scouts Canada and is set to be held at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia (America) It will be one of the most attended jamborees with over 40,000 people due to be onsite from July 22nd – August 2nd 2019. The theme this time around is Unlock a new world. Here’s a link to the video promoting the 24th WSJ at Summit Bechtel.


As you can see the site has an awful lot to offer everyone who is there, so it promises to be an action packed 12 days that will be remembered for a long time to come!

My Experience at the WSJ Japan in 2015 as a participant was beyond amazing, like i said earlier its hard to find words to do the jamboree and the experience you have any justice.

First off, I didn’t get in to the jamboree first time around. I was sent my cheque back in the post with a letter that stripped me of an opportunity i wouldn’t get again. 15 year old me was heartbroken, i told my parents i wasn’t that bothered anyway but went to my room and cried, i’d had such a good time at my selection and my adventure was over before it had even begun.

Three months later someone rang the house phone and said “We’ve been given more participant places, Would Bethanie still like to go to the Jamboree?” Errmmmmmm YEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! And that was that. I now had the massive task of fundraising £3400 to pay for my trip to Japan.

I did Meal Nights, quizzes but the big money makes was glass bottle collecting. I hated it. But how could i say no to making £30 in an hour and getting to know the people in my community? I’m not going to lie, there was tears and i was a very sulky teenager back then but i did it! Eventually i raised my grand total and could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

We had five training camps where we met with the rest of out Unit, we were all rejects at first which just made the whole thing better. we were from the whole of the north east of England from the borders of Scotland right down to Sheffield, we were UK Unit 69 (LOL) and we called our selves ‘Up North, Aye’ with the strap-line of ‘Translation Required’ which came about because no one could understand what anyone for Newcastle was on about until the 2nd/3rd camp. The unit was like my other family, we all got along like a house on fire and found ourselves counting down the days until we got to see each other again, soon enough it was July 25th 2015, Departure day!

We did home hospitality first, where we paired up and spent a couple of days with a Japanese family, Mine and Ellie’s didn’t speak English so we had quite an interesting couple of days, we did however, still manage to get the wifi password! After that we went to the Jamboree itself, 9 hours on a coach later, we arrived.

When you’re at the jamboree it’s like you’re in a bubble. You lose touch with the real world which, can seem like an issue in todays society with regards to social media and always being connected to everyone, but there’s so much going on around you and right in front of your eyes, you’ve barely got time to message your mum or dad letting them know you’re still alive, never mind getting the goss on your bezzies ex boyfriend and seeing what you cousin had for tea at Nando’s. I must have said hello to about 200 people I didn’t know on the way to our camping area.

Anything goes at the jamboree. we live in a world where you’re judged on you’re every move, What you wear and who you spend your time with, at the jamboree it’s just not like that. You’re in the middle of a sea of culture and no one will bat an eyelid at what your wearing or what you’re doing as long as it’s not rude or hurtful.

One of my favourite memories from japan was on one of the first days of activity, My patrol we’re doing the Global Development Village, which to be perfectly honest with you didn’t take my fancy at the time. Anyway, i knew that at a Jamboree you get out what you put in so i cracked on with all the activities we went to. One of the first one’s we did was airbrushing a Japanese word/symbol on to a metal cup, doesn’t sound enthralling but there were big machines and shiny metal so off we went, my thought process was “Get in, i can write ‘DAD’ in Japanese and that’s a free gift for him!”… You can take me out of Yorkshire but you can’t take the Yorkshire out of me!

Anyways, i finished my mug first so faced a solid 5 -10 minute wait for the rest of my patrol to finish theirs. Being British i didn’t think much of it and I started singing the Jamboree song because why not? it’s a pretty catchy song and we must have sang it over a hundred times while we were there. So i’m there singing away and i hear this voice behind me singing along and i turn around and it’s a girl from Italy. She’s got a massive smile on her face and we end up going through most of the song dancing about, Not near the machines obviously #HealthAndSafety, but yeah, we were dancing and it was great,  when we’d finished we introduced ourselves and swapped wristbands (Swapping things is a massive thing at the jamboree, One of my best swaps was two badges and a friendship ribbon for a Swiss army knife). I still have the “I love Italia” Wristband nearly 3 years on. As you can see from the Photo there was zero consideration for my appearance at the jamboree, but 50 degree Celsius and 98% humidity tells me you wouldn’t either.

IMG_0040 (If you can see it, my nose is bruised at the top. Well it’s bruised because i walked in to a bamboo stick that was part of the paddling pool shelter while i was tying a friendship knot into a necker and wasn’t watching where i was going :/ it really really hurt.)

I experienced tons of amazing things in Japan including my 17th Birthday in Tokyo which was just The best Birthday ever,  i also grew up a lot in the three weeks i spent 5950 Miles away from home. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the people around me, i cried, laughed, felt on top of the world, and didn’t know if i cope another day, but I did and i’ve never been more thankful for an opportunity of this scale.


So, thats a little bit about my jamboree in japan, i’ll be going to America next year as part of IST, and hopefully i’ll be blogging a little about my journey this time around. If you want some more info about The upcoming Jamboree there’s a link to the website at the bottom(I hope).

Below are Some fun facts about Jamboree;

“Jamboree” is considered an Americanism that traces back to 1860–65 and refers to a joyful, noisy gathering. The term is believed to originate from the words jabber (rapid, indistinct talk) and shivaree (noisy celebration), with “m” from jam (crowd). 

The only continent that hasn’t hosted a Jamboree is Africa.

There has been a World scout Jamboree every four years since 1920 with the exception of 1937, 1947 and 1979 which didn’t go ahead due to war and political upheaval.

The First World Scout Jamboree was held in Kensington, UK, and was attended by 8,000 people from 34 countries.

The 25th World Scout Jamboree will be held in South Korea in 2023.






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