Thursday, January 16, 2014

Those Places Thursday (January 16, 2014) -- National Jamborees, Boy Scouts of America

In 1969 I was a Boy Scout and that summer I attended the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree held at Farragut State Park outside Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  National Jamborees are held by the BSA about once every four years.  The 1969 Jamboree was the first of five National Jamborees that I have attended.  The other four I attended as an adult and I served in various capacities including as a Jamboree Troop 1st Assistant Scoutmaster, as a Jamboree Troop Scoutmaster, as a member of the Northeast Regional Staff (Action Alley), and, during the 100th BSA Anniversary Jamboree in 2010, as a member of the Jamboree Security Staff.  Both of our sons are Eagle Scouts.  One attended the 1997 Jamboree as a youth participant and the other attended the 2001 Jamboree as a youth participant.  National Jamborees are part of our family history.

The 1969 National Jamboree was actually held five years after the previous Jamboree held at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in 1964.  The 1969 National Jamboree was delayed for a year because in 1967 the Boy Scouts of America hosted the World Jamboree for the first time and the World Jamboree was held at Farragut State Park. 

The Boy Scouts of America have held eighteen* National Jamborees as of the one held the summer of 2013.  The first Jamboree was to have been held in Washington, DC in August 1935, but it had to be canceled due to a polio epidemic. The first BSA National Jamboree to actually take place was held on the Mall in Washington, DC in 1937 with 27,238 youth and adult participants from around the country. 

A Jamboree usually lasts for seven days as it did in 1953, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981, 1985, 1989, 1993; but in 1937, 1950, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2013 the Jamborees were ten days long.  Over the years, National Jamborees have been held in eight different locations in the country: Washington, DC (1937); Valley Forge, PA (1950, 1957 and 1964); Irvine Ranch, CA ( 1953); Colorado Springs, CO (1960); Farragut State Park, ID (1969 and 1973*); Moraine State Park, PA (1973* and 1977); Fort A.P. Hill, VA (1981, 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, and 2010); and, most recently, at the new BSA-owned "Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve - The Summit" in WV. Now that the BSA owns and controls 10,600 acres in West Virginia, The Summit will become the permanent home for all future National Jamborees. 

National Jamborees have always attracted tens of thousands of participants (youth and adult) from around the U.S. and some foreign countries.  The smallest of the National Jamborees was in 1937 at 27, 238 participants, but the Jamborees in 1977 and 1981 were not much larger at 28,601, and 29,765 participants respectively.  Setting aside the unique East/West Jamborees of 1973, which had a combined total of 73,610 participants, the largest single Jamboree is still the one held at Colorado Springs in 1960 with 56,377 participants.  The largest National Jamboree in the last 48 years has been the 2010 Jamboree, which was held in the year of the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America and had 43,434 participants.  That made the 100th Anniversary Jamboree the sixth largest Jamboree after 1960 (56,377), 1957 (52,580), 1964 (50,960), 1950 (47,163), and 1953 (45,401). 

As a youth participant at the 1969 National Jamboree, I was a member of a temporary "expeditionary Troop" formed from registered Scouts in Burlington County, NJ where my family lived at the time. Our Jamboree Troop #26 (pictured at the top of this post) was comprised of four "patrols" and I was the Patrol Leader for one of them -- the "Unami" patrol. Our patrol totem is hanging second from the left on the Troop's gateway in the photo above.

The shape of our patrol totem is a turtle because the area that became Burlington County, New Jersey was a small part of the ancestral home of the Lenape (lun-NAH-pay) people who were later called the  "Delaware" by the English. The Lenape were separated into three main sub-tribes: the Minsi symbolized by the Wolf; the Unami symbolized by the Turtle; and the Unalachtigo symbolized by the Turkey. The founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, William Penn, made his 1682 peace and land purchase treaty ("Penn's Treaty") with the Unami and the Unalachtigo peoples. Since the Unami lived in the areas bordering both sides of the Delaware River where the Philadelphia environs and Burlington County are now located, we decided to name our patrol the Unami.

The participant patch for the BSA's 1969 National Jamboree

The participant patches for (left to right top to bottom) the BSA's 2010, 2005, 2001 and 1997 National Jamborees

Oh, in the event you are trying to find me in the Troop 26 photograph above, I am the one kneeling at the far right in the second row. So young, such hair . . .
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* Purists will sometimes argue that there have actually only been seventeen truly "National" Jamborees because in 1973 the Jamboree was actually split between two locations -- one in the east (Moraine State Park, PA) and one in the west (Farragut State Park, ID) -- AND they were not even held simultaneously because the western location started on August 1, 1973 and the eastern location started two days later on August 3, 1973.  The 1973 Jamboree is unique, thus far, because all other Jamborees have occurred at a single location.
Original photograph in the personal collection of the author.

The image of the 1771-72 Benjamin West painting of William Penn's treaty with the Indians is from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.  The work is in the public domain because it was published or registered before January 1, 1923. 

Images of the Jamboree participant "patches" for the 1969, 2010, 2005, 2001 and 1997 National Jamborees made from original patches in the personal collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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  1. Great post John! That must have been quite an adventure for you traveling so far from home for the Jamboree that summer.

    One of our sons became an Eagle Scout too. The Boy Scouts is a wonderful program.

    I served as a Cub Scout Den Leader for a number of years (long ago when my boys were younger).

  2. Doing a random search on Google images for "1969 Boy Scout Idaho Jamboree" and the first page I find has my picture - I'm in the 2nd row, 5th from the right

    Luke Templin

    1. Hello Luke! Long, long, long time since I saw you last. :-) I hope all is well and that you look back on our National Jamboree days as fondly as I do. The water in that lake is still the coldest water I have ever been in!


  3. John, I'm doing a history of Idaho's state parks and am interested in the photo you have at the top of this blog from the National Scout Jamboree in 1969. Is there any way I can get a high resolution scan?