Celebrating 110 years of Scouting in the South Okanagan
John and David go to Jamboree
Jamboree is a highlight of the Scouting movement for every youth member, but only a few are able to attend due to cost and timing. Every generation of Scouts should be able to participate in at least one of these large gatherings, since it enables the Scout to experience his membership in a large brotherhood, and at the same time brings the youth into contact with brother Scouts of other districts and other countries. It is a gathering of Scouts on an international, national or provincial level. Jamboree could be smaller like the one in 1966 on the West Bench in Penticton, where 2,500 Scouts attended, plus support volunteers. This was the first of many such gatherings organized by the B.C./Yukon Council.
Jamboree was sometimes a massive undertaking, such as the American National Jamboree held in 1960 at Colorado Springs, Colorado, attended by 56,000 Scouts tented in a massive field for a week. One of the local attendees was Scout David Ogilvie from Oliver. Ogilvie was fortunate in that he was able to attend two Jamborees, the second one being the 3rd Canadian Jamboree in 1961 near Ottawa, where 2100 Scouts attended.
The 1st Canadian Jamboree, held in 1949 at Connaught Ranges near Ottawa, Ontario, attracted 2500 Scouts. Among them were a large group of Scouts from the South Okanagan, including, from Oliver, John Boone, Fred Collins and Ordie Jones.
Over the decades, Oliver has sent a large number of youth and adult volunteers to Jamborees all over the world. Today, cost can be a major factor, but logistics from the 1940s, 50s and 60s were a challenge. Most travel was done by bus and train. Imagine for a moment, before the days of the internet and email, assembling fifty or more Scouts from all corners of British Columbia, together on a specific train in the Sicamous area so they could travel together. That train then would collect more assembled Scouts as it travelled across Canada. Fortunately, they were easy to recognize since they gathered in uniform with large duffle bags over their shoulders. Many of the planning documents and letters from these earlier Jamborees have been preserved in our Museums and they offer a fascinating glimpse of those days.
Each jamboree was different, and each had its own memorabilia. Scouts would seldom wear the neckerchief (necker) from their own local Scouting Group. A Jamboree would often have a special necker worn by all Scouts in attendance, and we have been able to preserve many of these in our museums, along with the names of the local Scouts who wore them. Jamboree neckers varied widely in colour, but most had the unique badge from that Jamboree stitched to the triangular point at the back. Sometimes a Scout would return with two special neckers as souvenirs. When Canadian Scouts traveled to a large jamboree in another country, they would often wear a red necker with a maple leaf logo on the back, and switch to the Jamboree necker when they arrived. Sometimes a special necker was worn by all Scouts from a particular province or region. These were often multicoloured, with imprints of eagles, kangaroos, or almost any image associated with a particular place in the world. Some are quite exotic.
Badges were distinctive in that there were the basic ones for each Jamboree, shared by all attendees, and then there were the collector items. Our local museums have been able to archive many of these pieces of historic memorabilia, and they are matched with names of the youths and adults who attended each event. The South Okanagan was certainly a busy place when it came to Scouts attending these special gatherings. Jamboree was an experience that stayed with them for the rest of their lives. We are grateful to John Boone and David Ogilvie for donating many items from their time in Scouting, including Jamboree memorabilia, to the Oliver and District Heritage Society, where they will be on display this summer. And thank you to all volunteers who helped our Scouts experience the truly wide world of Scouting!
Copyright Gerry Lamb 2020
Ogilvie photo courtesy David Ogilvie
Boone photo supplied by Gerry Lamb