Jamboree journeys

You will see from articles on the internet that the first World Scout Jamboree took place in 1920 at Kensington Olympia and was attended by about 8,000 Scouts representing 34 nations. It was at that event that Robert Baden-Powell was elected Chief Scout of the World.

Unfortunately we are currently unable to find any records that refer to Scouts from Finchley taking part.

With exceptions for the World War years and the Iranian Revolution (1979), further Jamborees have been held approximately every four years. The number of Scouts attending has ranged up to 50,000 and the number of nations has on occasions been over 150.

Unfortunately not every Scout that wishes to do so can attend and the number allowed from each nation is agreed in advance. In the UK, once the number this is known further decisions are made as to the allocation of places for each County and then District.

In our District another selection process then takes place to determine our representative(s). Once chosen it then becomes necessary to raise sufficient funds to cover the cost. In the past all Groups were asked to make a contribution and the Scout concerned, with help from their own Group, was expected to organise a number of fund raising events.


Below we have listed the Jamborees from 1924 and provided, where possible, the names of our representative(s), information from the archives, associated press cuttings, photographs and the memories of those who attended the events.

Please note that it is not our intention to write about the Jamboree and those readers that would like more information about them should refer to the following web site – World Scout Jamboree – Wikipedia

1st World Scout Jamboree: UK 1920

2nd World Scout Jamboree: Denmark 1924

3rd World Scout Jamboree: UK 1929

Arrowe Park, Birkenhead

The 1929 3rd World Scout Jamboree was billed as ‘The Coming of Age’ Jamboree. It was held at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead with about 50,000 Scouts attending. They represented 69 nations, more than double those represented at the previous Jamboree in Denmark.

Rather surprisingly, there is a minute from the District Executive meeting in January that says Finchley will take no official part in the Jamboree. However, a minute from the District Scouters meeting in April stated that Finchley would be represented by 23 Scouts from 4 Groups. This, figure was subsequently increased to 25.

It was subsequently revealed that Finchley would join forces with Hendon District and Golders Green District to send a composite Troop of 50 boys to Arrowe Park. Mr R Tuck the District Scout Master was chosen to lead the contingent but unfortunately the names of the individual Scouts that took part are not known.

Thanks to an unnamed Scout from the 6th Finchley we have a number of photos he took while at the Jamboree, including the contingent’s camp site and some of the Scouts.

No official report followed the camp although reference to the event was made in the District’s AGM report in addition to two varying press reports in the local papers.

Finally, it is probably worth mentioning that it was during this Jamboree that the well-known portrait of The Chief Scout by David Jagger was presented to the Chief by the Scouts of the World.

4th World Scout Jamboree: Hungary 1933

5th World Scout Jamboree: Netherlands 1937

6th World Scout Jamboree: France 1947

7th World Scout Jamboree: Austria 1951

Bad Ischl

The 7th World Scout Jamboree was held between the 3rd and 12th August 1951 and was hosted by Austria at Bad Ischl in Upper Austria. The attendance was 12,884 from 61 countries of the world.

Unfortunately there are very few references to the Jamboree in the District records. The first mention is a minute from and Executive Committee meeting in January 1952 when the District Commissioner states they still have two vacancies to fill. A decision is made to take the matter to a general meeting on the 21st February.

At that meeting it is revealed that Finchley were offered four places and two had already been allocated. There is no mention of the Scout’s names or what action, if any, will take place in respect of the other two places.

No further reference to the Jamboree can be found until after the event.

In the meantime the local paper produced a report naming the two Scouts as Patrol Leader Davies of the 2nd Finchley and Senior Scout Dix of the 10th Finchley. The report gave a general review of the camp and little else.

The final mention the Jamboree gets in the District records is from a general meeting held at the start of October when the District Commissioner simply states “I think you all know that out of four places offered to Finchley for the Jamboree in Austria, we were able to arrange for two scouts to go”. It does not even get a mention in the AGM report.

It is however, perhaps worth mentioning that another press report appeared later that provided the experience of Haden Blatch and David Coombes who, at the time, were representing their District of Wood Green, Southgate and Friern Barnet. They were members of the 199th North London who later became the 3rd Friern Barnet.

8th World Scout Jamboree: Canada 1955

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

We are unable to find a record relating to the decision that only one Scout from Finchley would attend the 8th World Scout Jamboree at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario in Canada, and the request for nominations.

However, at the District Executive meeting in September 1954 the cost was discussed and it was decided that as part of the fund raising effort all Groups would be asked to make a contribution. A total cost of £150 was mentioned but in the end the actual figure was £130.

The minutes from the next meeting stated that 14 Scouts had been nominated to represent the District. The record also stated that while most of the candidates were of a very high standard it was, after interview, the unanimous opinion of the panel, that William (Bill) Stevens, a Senior Scout with the 20th Finchley, was the outstanding candidate and was thus selected.

The minutes also note how much each Group was prepared to contribute to the cost.


It was later revealed that the selection panel consisted of the District Commissioner, the ADCs and the Local Association Treasurer & Secretary. It was also mentioned that each member of the panel made their selection independently and they all chose the same lad.



Unfortunately there is no further information or report about Bill’s experience. However, it is worth mentioning that he later became a leader with the 20th Finchley. He initially became an Assistant Cubmaster and later, when the Group merged with 1st Finchley, an Assistant leader with the Senior Scouts.

9th World Scout Jamboree: UK 1957

Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield

The 9th World Scout Jamboree, held at Sutton Coldfield from the 1st – 12th August, marked dual anniversaries as it was both the 50th anniversary of Scouting and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Baden-Powell.

It was held concurrently with the 2nd World Scout Indaba and the 6th World Rover Moot. Although known as the Jubilee Jamboree, to some it was also referred to as J.I.M. It is not clear as to exactly how many attended, with some reports saying there were Scouts from 82 countries and others saying 85 countries. In addition to the 31,000 plus that camped on the site it is thought that up to another 17,000 British Scouts camped on official sites within a 15 mile radius who were bussed in every day to attend the organised events.

Furthermore, with visitors being permitted every day, it was reported that a further 7,000 arrived independently or as part of a coach trip from locations all over the country.

What appears to be the only note in the District records about Finchley Scouts attending the Jamboree is a minute from the Executive meeting in November 1956. It is not known how much earlier they had been advised that 13 places had been allocated, and what steps had taken place to fill them, but at that time only 7 applications had been received.

The next item found is a short piece in the local press revealing the names of the final 13, as well as reporting that the group will be led by Trevor Hodges the Scoutmaster of the 7th Finchley. A little later, following interviews with those selected, the paper published a little more information about each of them.

It is also known that at the Rover Moot Finchley was represented by Godfrey Salmon of the 5th Finchley and Eric Garside the District Rover Scout Leader.

There was also plenty of coverage about the Jamaican and Liechtenstein contingents who were guests of the District/15th Finchley and 10th Finchley prior to them joining the camp. This has been covered elsewhere as part of the District’s history.

With the Jamboree being on ‘home soil’ the local and national newspapers gave the event plenty of coverage. One of the biggest articles though related to the heavy thunderstorms and flooding that occurred mid-way through the camp. Some dramatised the event by reporting that hundreds of Scouts had to be evacuated, whilst others gave a much more sober view and reported that no Scouts had left the camp.

Included in one of the London Evening Standard‘s regular reports was a photo of some of the London contingent. It featured David Merrick and Victor Courtice of the 20th Finchley.

In view of Finchley’s connection with the Jamaican Scouts it is worth mentioning that the Jamboree’s daily paper provided them with plenty of coverage. Why is not known but it could have been because their calypso band was so popular.

As part of the arranged entertainment the Scouting Association promoted a week-long Gang Show, which by coincidence, was the 25th anniversary of the show, at the Hippodrome Theatre in central Birmingham between 5th August and 10th August. It was led by Ralph Reader and featured a 150 strong cast from his London-based Gang Show. Buses were provided each evening to transport up to 500 campers into the city centre for the show. This is mentioned specifically as it is known that several Scouts from Finchley Groups were, from time to time, members of the cast in London. It is thought though that for this particular show only Roger Biddlecombe from the 10th Finchley was able to make the trip.

As mentioned earlier visitors were permitted every day and it was reported that on one day there were 135,000, including 25,000 Wolf Cubs. In the 15th Finchley book ‘Our Story’ it is reported that Charlie Roberts and Derek Warren went to the Camp. It is thought that they were probably also visitors as there is nothing to indicate that they were there in any other capacity. It is also thought that other members of their Group paid a visit but this is not recorded.

One Group from Finchley that is known to have taken full advantage of the ‘open door’ policy is the 5th Finchley. The press report of their summer camp at Rocester, Staffordshire explained how the site was specifically chosen to enable them to factor in three separate visits. During these occasions they met up with John Garside from their Group, who was one of the Finchley contingent and Godfrey Salmon the Rover at the Moot. Additionally, Tom and Audrey Marshall, Cub Scouters with the 5th arranged a coach trip.

Another party to visit the Jamboree was led by Cyril Allen, the District Commissioner, and a reporter from the Finchley Press. They took with them Eric Burton (Finchley Youth Officer), a group of Scouts from the 14th Finchley and two German Scouts that were camping at Frith Grange. A brief report subsequently appeared in the press.

As the Jamboree drew to a close the Chief Scout wrote a short letter to the London Evening News:

A week later the Finchley Press published a piece, written by their Editor, saying how the Jamboree and the Jubilee events throughout the year had made a big impact on the public. It was thought that, along with making parents more interested in the Groups of which their sons are members, it might help recruit more boys and leaders.

10th World Scout Jamboree: Philippines 1959

The District first discussed the 1959 Jamboree at the Executive Committee meeting in December 1958. They were advised that two Scouts would be selected to represent the whole of the N.W. London area at the 10th World Scout Jamboree to be held at Mount Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna in the Philippines in July 1959.

The cost was also discussed and in January it was agree that Finchley’s contribution would be 1s 6d per Scout (later reduced to just 1 shilling) and a letter was sent to all Group Scout Masters asking them to send this to the District Treasurer as soon as possible.



Upon his return the local press published an account of his experience.

11th World Scout Jamboree: Greece 1963


89 countries sent a total of 11,398 members of the Movement to the 11th World Scout Jamboree that was held between the 1st and 11th August 1963 in Marathon, Greece. Included in this number were John Purkiss from the 12th Finchley and Michael Fitzjohn from the 16th Finchley, who had been selected to represent the District, from nine nominees.

This information was released in the District Bulletin for February and quickly picked up by the local press.

The cost of sending the Scouts to Greece totalled £160 and all Groups and supporters were asked to help raise the money.  A Jamboree Fund was started with an initial donation of Ten pounds and ten shillings.

In March it was announced that donations for the Jamboree had reached £57 and that a number of events were being planned to raise additional funds. In April the District Commissioner was pleased to say that there was much interest and enthusiasm within the District to raise the required sum and the dates of various fund raising events were given.

In June it was announced that the target had been achieved and a list of all the contributions was published.

Unfortunately this article is lacking in information about the Scouts actual trip as no report can currently be found in the District records or the local press.

It is worth recording that Paul Thompson was also at the Jamboree representing his District of Wood Green, Southgate and Friern Barnet. Paul was a member of the 199th North London Group, which the following year became the 3rd Friern Barnet.

Whilst there Paul was lucky enough to meet Sir Charles Maclean, the Chief Scout.


12th World Scout Jamboree: USA 1967

13th World Scout Jamboree: Japan 1971

14th World Scout Jamboree: Norway 1975

The Jamboree that wasn’t: Iran 1979 (cancelled)

The 15th World Scout Jamboree was planned to take place in Iran during July 1979 and it was announced in the March 1978 bulletin that the District would send 1 Scout from the District.

We have no record as to how many nominations were received but in the November bulletin the District Commissioner announced that Graham Hagger of the 2nd Friern Barnet would represent the District.

There is no further mention, in the records we have, until just before Graham’s departure when it is confirmed that he will go to an International camp in New Mexico, USA as the Jamboree in Iran had been cancelled.

The following is a report that Graham has been kind enough to provide giving details of his trip.

In 1978 I was 14 years old and a member of 2nd Friern Barnet Scouts. In the late summer of that year I was chosen to represent the District at the World Scout Jamboree in 1979 planned to be held at Omar Khayyam Scout near Neighaboor in north-eastern Iran. The plan was for over 1000 scouts from the UK to attend the event, leaving July 13th and returning on 29th July.  However, as the year progressed, and events unfolded in Iran, it became obvious that it wouldn’t be safe for us to attend and the Jamboree was cancelled.

As an alternative a number of International World Jamboree Year camps were organised in Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. It was decided we would attend the camp in America instead.

In the months leading up to our departure a special troop representing Greater London North and Central was set up. This troop was made up of the 32 scouts and 4 leaders chosen to represent their respective Districts within the area. A number of troop meetings and weekend camps at Tolmers Scout Camp were held to allow us to get to know each other. We were split into 4 patrols of 8.

The cost of the trip was £420/boy and we were tasked with raising as much money as possible towards this cost. I can’t remember how well I did at this but do remember going to as many district events as possible and selling special badges that were produced to mark the trip.

Finally the day came and on the 13th July 1979 we left the Islington Scout centre, having spent the night there. With our branded Braniff bright orange jackets and flight bags, we headed for Gatwick airport and a flight to Dallas Fort Worth. Not only was this my first time abroad it was my first time flying, so very exciting!

We touched down in Dallas the following day and having passed through passport and immigration control we were introduced to the host families who we would be staying with. My hosts were the Graycroft family who lived in Dartmouth Dallas. They spent the next 5 days showing me the sights and sounds of Dallas. We explored the city, went up the 50-storey tall Reunion tower with its panoramic view of the whole city. Onto a tour of the Dallas Cowboys stadium, a visit to the Dallas Scout headquarters and spent a day at Six Flags over Dallas theme park. These 5 days were my first experience of so many things, from rollercoasters, the only double loop in the US at the time, to TGI Fridays! I had an amazing time and can’t thank the Craycrofts enough for this experience.

On Thursday 18th July we left Dallas on an overnight coach trip to Philmont Scout Ranch Cimarron, New Mexico, and the second part of the trip. Philmont is a Scout campsite of about 215 square miles of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rockies. On arrival we were assigned our tents and each patrol was paired with a Ranger who would look after us and be our guide for the first two days of the trek we were to undertake. Our ranger was John. The first day was spent exploring the base camp, meeting other scouts staying, including some from Japan and South Africa, having a team photo and being issued with our camping equipment.

The next 10 days were spent hiking a total of 52 miles along one of the Philmont trails. According to my trek record my pack weighed 30-35lbs and we started at Lover’s leap camp. Each day we would hike across the wilderness to a different camp site. Some of these sites were manned and would have activities for us to undertake. These included black powder rifle shooting, a mine tour with panning for gold, learning about trapping, mountaineering, how to do branding – our boots not animals – lassoing, and a chuck wagon meal. Each night after eating we would have to put all our food in a bag and suspend it between two trees, as high as possible, to stop any bears from taking it!

I remember two occasions we encountered bears. One resulted in a stream of boys running after it with cameras. It ended up in a tree with us at the bottom looking up. When we related this back to our ranger afterwards, we were told this was very dangerous, nothing worse than a treed bear. The other occasion was in the middle of the night when I was woken by the blast of whistles which we all had to frighten off the bears. On investigation the next day it was obvious the bear had been nosing around in our rucksacks we had left by a tree the night before. Other animals we saw included deer, porcupine antelope and snakes.

One of the highlights was completing a climb up Mount Philips at a height of 11,736 ft. At the top each patrol spelt out where they came from and the date in the white stones found at the top. We left “London 1979”. At the end of the trek we arrived back at the tent city where we’d spent the first day. The last day was spent badge swapping with other scouts, reliving our experiences and a final campfire.

The next day after our goodbyes to our ranger John and the other scouts we had met, we departed Philmont for an overnight coach trip back to Dallas, with a breakfast stop in MacDonalds, another new experience. The last day was spent sightseeing Dallas and souvenir shopping. I do remember at Dallas airport we caused a few problems, for some reason airport security wouldn’t let 32 scouts with baseball bats (the must-have souvenir) on the plane. The bats had to go in the hold but they did allow us all on with our penknives. As one security man said, “they’re Scouts, of course they’ll have penknives”. Not sure we would be today.

After another overnight flight we arrived back in the UK. A coach trip back to Islington Scout centre to meet our parents and fill them in on all our adventures.

The next few days were spent telling everyone about my trip including an interview with the local press before setting off again for the annual 2nd Friern Barnet Summer camp.  Summer 1979 was a fantastic time for me. The whole experience has stayed with me since then and so much has come flooding back while writing this. While it wasn’t the official jamboree it was meant to be, I will be forever thankful to Finchley, Friern Barnet and Golders Green Scout District for allowing me to go and experience such an amazing time and I hope the other Scouts who have been to the Jamborees that have taken place since had an equally incredible time.

Graham later gave a report to a special District meeting but this, apparently, was poorly attended.

15th World Scout Jamboree: Canada 1983

16th World Scout Jamboree: Australia 1987 - 88

17th World Scout Jamboree: South Korea 1991

18th World Scout Jamboree: Netherlands 1995

19th World Scout Jamboree: Chile 1998 - 99

20th World Scout Jamboree: Thailand 2002 - 03

21st World Scout Jamboree: UK 2007

Look up your local Scout Group, because you’ve got a safe, practical community who will encourage and support you.'
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls