Report on the 1933 Jamboree
From the United Kingdom Scouting Magazine
F. Haydn Dimmock
The Jamboree of smiling faces and loving hearts! That, I think, sums up the fourth World Scout Jamboree at Gödöllõ, Hungary.
Never has there been a happier gathering of the world's Scouts, and never has kindness been showered upon guests in such overwhelming abundance as by the Hungarian nation. I say that fearlessly, remembering all past Jamborees, and am confident that no one will deny it. From peasant to the Regent himself we received a welcome and an ever-flowing stream of kindness. To Count Paul Teleki, the Jamboree Camp Chief, to Dr. de Molnar, International Commissioner for Hungary, and to their gallant band of organisers, we owe a very deep debt of gratitude. They worked well and truly in the cause of world Scouting.
Having said that I must hasten to add that once again it was the boys themselves who made the jamboree the tremendous success it undoubtedly was. The Hungarian Scouts set themselves out to make us feel at home; what we should have done without our "cousins" in the camp I do not know! They acted as interpreters and guides, and taught us how to cook the Hungarian food which was supplied to us.
The camp itself was delightfully situated, the majority of the tents being pitched under trees. The only complaint was the dust. Mud at Arrowe—dust at Gödöllõ.
In the neighbourhood of Sub-camp IX, where George Carter and his stalwarts from the Tyne held sway, the dust blew like a desert sandstorm whenever there was a high wind. The most delightful and peaceful(!) spot in the whole camp was British H.Q., the tents being pitched around a small tree-bordered clearing—a really beautiful setting— and the most peaceful man, "G.F.," invariably to be found sitting in his camp chair reading. G.F. had a loyal and hard-working staff and everything according to plan. The Chief's tent, set up on a raised terrace in the shadow of a rocky monument, practically in the centre of the camp, commanded a fine view.
As at Arrowe, it was a camp of gateways and fences, some of them very elaborate affairs, and most of them telling a story of national or county industry. It would take Pages of the Scouter to describe them. Again, as at Arrowe, there was a market of shops under a covered way which provided welcome shade from the blistering sun. Yes, it was a sunny Jamboree except for two days when we had showers, and one of these was the opening day, when the Chief was present but the rain held off during the a opening scenes. So the Jamboree became the "Sunboree."
Close to the market were several open-air restaurants, where one sat under the shade of a wooden roof and took much-needed liquid refreshment. The arena was set in an open field, the ground sloping gently away from the three huge stands built specially for the occasion to the edge of a thick wood, which provided a beautiful natural background.
Facing the stands, and just in front of the wood, was a magnificent altar where the Roman Catholic services were held and on the extreme right, towering a hundred feet, rose a great white cross.
The opening day was a day of triumph for the Hungarian Scouts, a realisation of all they had worked and planned for during the past two years. But it was also a triumph for us of the British Contingent. We glowed with national pride when the Chief entered the arena. He had brought the world of youth together in a common fellowship for the fourth time. We had a right to feel proud.
The welcome accorded to the Chief by the Hungarians was almost riotous. When he had difficulty in dismounting from his horse there was an audible gasp of sympathy. The Chief limped rather badly to the dais, but stood for more than an hour and a half while the contingents marched past.
The March Past was a most impressive and picturesque sight. Many of the Scouts wore their national costumes-Belgian peasants, Polish fishermen with a huge net, Armenians in hafayah and tabash, and Czechoslovakians in quaint, colourful dress. The Cairo Scouts carried bunches of pampas grass, and each of the Swedish boys carried a coloured balloon; these we're simultaneously released as they passed the saluting-base, 10 float gaily away over the stands and out of sight. Ireland marched to the skirl of its pipes and secured a special cheer. Austria carried weird instruments made from tree branches and pieces of wood, and those from Tyrol a mighty crucifix of solid wood twenty feet high. It took more than an hour for the representatives of the thirty-four nations to pass the saluting-base.
The excited Hungarians in the three stands, rose time and again to their feet to cheer the Scouts as they passed. the British Empire contingent received a tumultuous burst of cheering as they marched past the Chief, hats raised high, and shouting a welcome.
I have been to all but one of the International Jamborees, and each seems more splendid, more awe-inspiring more thrilling-twenty thousand boys, white black, tan, Catholic, Protestant, Mahommedan, Jew, marching along together towards a new world Of hope and peace. As the van passed into the distance I felt that they were marching into the generation that is more priceless than greed of gold or lust for power, and that national pride is useless without international understanding.
Then from the distance they came charging back, shoulder to shoulder, their voices rising to a crescendo as they raced madly back to the stands, twenty thousand boys telling the world that happiness comes from love and goodwill. It seemed that they, were trying to make the echoes of their voices circle the world so that all might hear their mighty supplication that there be peace in our time.
"Oh, it is beautiful," murmured a Hungarian to me. "I am overwhelmed! These boys are so happy, so friendly. I have seen them in their camps. Would that all the statesmen of the world could come and live with them at this jamboree. Much would they learn."
Indeed, we were all learning.
At a signal the multitude was silent to listen to the address of the Regent of Hungary, Admiral Horthy who, with the Chief, had previously inspected the Scouts His Serene Highness first spoke in English, then in Hungarian.
Then it was the Chief's turn. He spoke in English. There was not a movement in the vast crowd.
"It is a real joy to me to see you all again, assembled here on the hospitable soil of Hungary.
The Jamboree was opened. Crowds surged about the cars as the Regent and the Chief drove away, the Chief standing up that all might see him.
In the evening shadows the fires of many circles lit the dark sky and tinged the trees in a ruddy glow. As in primitive days, when Earth was young, these boys of many lands gathered round their fires to sing the joys of life and to make merry after the day's toil. From one to another I went. moving quietly through the trees. As the singing and laughter died away, other new sounds were born in the distance. The whole world was singing. The jamboree spirit was working.
Day by day the merry round of activities went on-displays in the great arena, and on the sports ground; shows in the large airy theatre; cinema entertainments, autograph hunting (despite the ban put upon it); the constant clicking of cameras; swopping; impromptu shows in the different camps; camp fires; and excursions.
Will our boys ever forget those wonderful trips, or the welcome they received wherever they went? Crowds lining the railway tracks to cheer them, brass bands blaring, civic receptions, feasts, dancing-the whole country stirred to a great emotion, inflamed with the desire to make us happy and to show us that we were among friends.
I am not attempting to write a full story of the Jamboree. The best I can do is to give you glimpses and impressions. To me, the greatest moment of the jamboree was when Chief bade us farewell.
In front of the stands, massed in close ranks, the Scouts sat to hear their Chief. From the saluting-base he thanked all those who had helped towards the success of the Jamboree-the Scouters who brought the boys, the jamboree staff, the Regent and the Hungarian people-with a word about the friendships which had been made. A word of more solemn thanks- "Let us pause for one moment for each of us silently to thank God for bringing us together as a happy family at Gödöllõ." The impressive silence was unbroken, save the rustle of flags, until the Chief said good-bye.
Like a rumble of thunder the answer rang out, in a wonderful promise, as the figure of the White Stag was raised aloft.
How they cheered the man beloved of all the world. "Chief! Chief! Chief!" they shouted, and yell upon yell went up through the multitude. They pressed round the car as the Chief drove away.
That night there was a farewell camp fire when torches were carried to the many other camp fires in the mighty camp. It was a symbol of friendship that the fires of many countries should be kindled from the heart of Scouting as represented by the Chief's own fire. When the Chief had gone from Gödöllõ, more than one felt the jamboree had ended. But the shows went on the camp continued to draw thousands of visitors—over 360,000 people passed through the gates during the fortnight—the camp fires burned at night, the displays were carried through, and the Jamboree breathed out the Scout Spirit.
And so we came to the last day, with the arena once again the scene, and thousands upon thousands to see the Scouts bid good-bye, to hear their mighty shout of "Brothers! Brothers! Brothers!"
We came, we saw, and seeing thought it good;
Special thanks to the archivists at the Baden-Powell House in London for supplying a photocopy of this article.