Jamboree

Less than 5 years after the end of WWII, the Boy Scouts of America put on a National Jamboree. They camped at the site of Washington’s winter encampment at Valley Forge. There was no ambivalence about America then. The support for Scouting was broad and deep. There was no question what Scouting was about, either. The theme of the Jamboree was “Crusade to Strengthen the Arm of Liberty”.

The newspapers hadn’t given up on reporting. The nearest city newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, sent reporters and photographers to cover the events of the Jamboree. One of those reporters was John McCullough. He wrote a series of articles that was published in the paper with accompanying photographs. Those articles were later republished in a magazine format and presented to the Boy Scouts by the editor of the newspaper, Walter Annenberg. I have a copy of the magazine. Here is the cover.

The image is the patch from the Jamboree. It is Gen. George Washington, kneeling in prayer. This patch was used on a U.S. 3 cent postage stamp. It sets the tone. It is a series of articles that paints a picture of Scouting and America at it’s height. There is no shading or snarky mocking. This is written with admiration bordering on love.

It talks of the logistics, the 150 locomotives and 600 train cars used to shuttle the Scouts to the Jamboree. 49,000 Scouts, including leaders and Scouts from other countries. It goes on and on, each article building on the last. Talking of the events, the visits by President Truman and then Gen. Eisenhower, the candlelight worship service, the phone exchange set up, the plumbing and latrine needs, the 4400 Patrol kitchens. It does so in terms like this:

…trains and countless buses poured their steady stream of boys in khaki and their seniors in forest green down upon the encampment where Washington and his pitiful 10,000 shielded with their bodies the flickering candle of American liberty and independence.

With pictures like this:

It closes with an editorial in glowing terms, and this cartoon:

Where is that America? How did it disappear so fast?

There was a moving scene when 11-year-old Robert Black, of 343 Bishop Ave., Weskbrook Park, upper Darby, youngest candidate to qualify for the Tenderfoot badge in Valley Forge Council, took the oath of allegiance.
In the glare of the great floodlights, standing within a few feet of everybody’s hero, General “Ike”, with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Black, at his side, he repeated in a firm clear voice the Scout Oath: “On my honor…”

–John McCullough, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer July 5th, 1950

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One thought on “Jamboree

  1. One of my biggest regrets was I never made a National Jamboree.

    Due to being a military brat, timing, finances, etc; not a single troop ever attended a jamboree while I was a member.

    Keep up the great stories.

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