World Jamborees: 1937 Report

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1937 - 5th World Jamboree, Vogelenzang, Holland

Jamboree Badge

31st July 8th August / Participants 28 750 / Countries 54 / South Africans 49

On Friday 2nd July 1937 the South African Contingent was given an official 'Farewell Tea' party by the Mayor of Cape Town. Later they assembled on the Parade and from there they marched through the streets to the harbour.

That afternoon the 49 Scouts sailed for England en route to Holland onboard the Union Castle 'Mailship' Edinburgh Castle. In those days the voyage by ship to England took 18 days and they arrived in Southampton on the 19th July. In charge of the contingent was Commissioner H Seymour from the Transvaal.

The emblem

The emblem of the Jamboree was a Jacob's Staff, a simple form of sextant dating from the 14th Century.

The pre-Jamboree tour

S A Contingent - Sightseeing in Ely, England

The Contingent spent 11 days touring England before departing for Holland. Starting in the south, they visited Salisbury and Stonehenge, Oxford - Morris Car factory, Stratford Upon Avon – Shakespeare's birthplace, Birmingham - Bourneville for free chocolates, Wedgwood – pottery and Manchester - cotton mills. A relaxing weekend in the Lake District was followed by Newcastle - Iron works, York - city tour, Ely and then on to Tilbury for the ferry to Holland.

These were 'High Profile' tours and at many of the places visited they were entertained by the Mayors or factory Managers, and received various mementos.

On the 30th July the Contingent departed from Tilbury by ferry to the 'Hook of Holland' and then on to Vogelenzang (translates as Bird Song) to attend the 5th World Jamboree.

The Jamboree

The South African Gateway

The official opening started with the grand march of the nations in alphabetical order. America leading the procession, the white stockings of the Austrians, the blue and white skull caps of the Finns, the bright blue uniforms of Sweden, the brown straw Scout hats of the boys from the Dutch East Indies and the French Scouts with red, white and blue flowers at the tops of their staffs.

Queen Wilhelmina opened the Jamboree with words of welcome. "May you always now, as in after life, remain true to the Scout spirit which in the words of your Chief is characterised by its broad and selfless outlook, its loyal friendship, its active love and sense of cheerful service."

And how the people flocked to see the boys of 35 nations camping together. On the first Sunday 120 000 arrived, altogether some half a million visited the Jamboree.

The mornings were devoted to 'making friendship', as the Jamboree Log book has it - in that curious, rather touching phrase one has the justification for all Jamborees.

There were many displays, 5 000 Cubs with bright balloons and a Grand Howl, three huge campfires led by "Pom" Van Voorthuisen, the Sea Scout display, especially that of the Poles in their 7 double-paddled canoes - one part of the show was when they all capsized exactly together and there was no sign of them for 3 or 4 minutes - they had of course remained under the belly of the craft.

BP Visits South African Camp

On the Wednesday the 4th the South African camp had a surprise visit from Baden Powell and Lady BP, who stayed and chatted for quite some time.

BP Visiting the South African Camp

The late Impie Bryant (a well known Western Cape Scouter) took this picture of BP and said "BP travelled around in his car all the time, but the only campsite he visited was ours."

On the last day the Scouts assembled in the glittering sunshine, for the last time they marched past their Chief, the man whose dream had brought them into being. On a tiny platform against a giant Jacob's Staff, Baden Powell now very old, stood watching, and when after some hour and a half they had all gone by, smiling cheering waving he spoke to them once more. Let us hear the end of his speech;

"Now the time has come for me to say goodbye. I want you to lead happy lives. You know that many of us will never meet again in this world. I am in my 81st year and am nearing the end of my life. Most of you are at the beginning. You can make your life so by doing your best to carry out the Scout Law all your days, whatever your station and wherever you are.

I want you all to preserve this badge of the Jamboree which is on your uniform. I suggest that you keep it and try to remember for what it stands. It will be a reminder to you of the happy times you had here; it will remind you to take the ten points of your Scout Law as your guide in life; it will remind you of the many friends to whom you had held out the hand of friendship and so helped through goodwill to bring about God's reign of peace among men. Now good-bye. God bless you all."

BP then presented a 'Jacobs Staff' to each Contingent Leader.

Excursions in Holland

After the Jamboree had ended there were a few days allocated to sightseeing before leaving for England. As distances in Holland are relatively short, the various tours were made up of 'day trips', returning to camp at night. Some of the places visited were Volendam, Marken, Amsterdam, the seaside resort of Schevinninge and Den Haag. On Friday morning the 13th the contingent left Vogelenzang, crossed back to England and arrived at Forrest Hill, London as guest of the local Scout Troop.

Sightseeing in London

Reading reports as to where the Scouts went, it is as though London is timeless as many of the places they visited are still very popular today. Visiting the Boy Scout Headquarters was always a must where one could buy books and various souvenirs; one could even have lunch at their cafe. More popular lunch spots were the chain of 'Lyons Corner House' tea rooms. Other places visited were the traditional ones like Buckingham Palace and St Pauls. Selfridges Department Store was quite an 'eye opener' to the sightseers.

On the last Thursday before departing, the whole contingent met on Trafalgar Square and walked over to South Africa House to have Tea with the Ambassador Mr Waterson.

On Friday 20th the contingent left Forrest Hill and headed for Southampton from where they left for South Africa onboard the Dunnottar Castle. During the return journey one of the Scouts C G Sullivan from Port Elizabeth had a 'Brain abscess' and died. The funeral service was conducted by the Captain and the Scout was 'committed to the deep'.

The Contingent arrived back in Cape Town on the 6th of September after an adventure of 9 weeks.

S A Scout Heritage

See Also