The National Scout Jamboree (NSJ) is a gathering of thousands of members of the Boy Scouts of America and guests, usually held every four years and organized by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. A NSJ provides opportunities for youth and leaders to participate in program events, activities and attractions focusing on the activities of Scouting such as: physical fitness, conservation, ecology, and the universal spirit of brotherhood. A jamboree is typically held for ten consecutive days and offers many activities for youth participants and the thousands of visitors from the general public who visit. It is considered to be Scouting at its best.
Key objectives of a NSJ is to: bring youth and leaders to a better understanding and a deeper sense of commitment to the ideals of Scouting, show the citizens of the United States of America and the world a model of democratic action as conducted by a great youth movement in a free society, to provide youth with a rich and genuine Scouting experience, and to provide an opportunity to meet and camp with brother Scouts from many parts of the United States of America and also the world.
Youth members sign up for the Jamboree through an application process through their local councils, who then places each boy into the Jamboree troop. Large councils are granted multiple Jamboree troops. Each troop comprises four adults (a Scoutmaster, and three assistant Scoutmasters) and 36 youth in four traditional patrols of eight boys each, plus a leadership corps of four older boys. Each troop that attends the Jamboree is assigned to a campsite location and in front of the campsite troops construct a gateway to display trademarks of their council or state. Gateways can range from the very simple to the extremely elaborate. Most troops issue a special patch, or series of patches, made especially for the Jamboree. Once at the jamboree, Scouts trade their council's patches for patches from across US and even the world.
The first Jamboree was to be held in 1935 in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Scouting, but was delayed two years following a Presidential Proclamation cancelling it due to a polio epidemic. The 1937 Jamboree in the nation's capital attracted 25,000 Scouts, who camped around the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin. The event was covered extensively by national media and attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was inducted into the OA in 1933.
Following the disruption of World War II, the next Jamboree was not held until 1950 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Subsequent jamborees have been held around the country as a means to promote Scouting nationally. Since 1981, the NSJ has been located at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. Jamborees starting in 2013 will be held at The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.
BSA National Scout Jamboree dates, attendance and location are as follows:
Note: In 1973, the BSA “National Jamboree” became known as the “National Scout Jamboree” adding the word “Scout”.