Celebrate WJ’55

2005 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Eighth World Scout Jamboree

By Scouter Liam Morland, May 17, 2004

In 1955, the Eighth World Scout Jamboree was held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. This was the first major international gathering of Scouts outside of Europe. Over 11,000 Scouts attended from 71 countries around the world. The Jamboree of New Horizons, as it was called, was held in a tent city next to the recently reconstructed Fort George National Historic Site. Today, nothing marks the spot of this historic event.

2005 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Jamboree. Since the attendees would have been teenagers, they are now either at retirement or close to it. What impact did the Jamboree have on their lives? Scouts learn skills in leadership and teamwork. They learn values that guide how they live. This fiftieth anniversary is an opportunity to assess the impact that Scouting has had on the lives and careers of people who were Scouts long ago.

It is proposed that we organize a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Eighth World Scout Jamboree. Let us find Scouts who attended the Jamboree then went on to distinguish themselves in business, government, science, arts, or any other field of human endeavour. The life work of these Scouts and how Scouting helped them become what they are now would be the focus of this celebration. Perhaps the ultimate Scout to find would be a Queen's Scout who attended the Jamboree then later in life won the Nobel Prize.

Part of the celebration would be the unveiling of a monument commemorating the Jamboree. This could be a bronze plaque mounted on a piece of stone or concrete. With the co-operation of Parks Canada, this could be located in a high-traffic area near the entrance to Fort George where it would remind visitors of the long standing role that Scouting has played in Canadian society.

Besides the unveiling ceremony for the monument, the celebration would include a formal dinner. A visit to the theatre at the Shaw Festival would round out an attractive weekend for former Scouts who participated in the Jamboree (there were over 5000 from Canada) and others who wish to support Scouting.

This project provides excellent opportunities to promote Scouting. This event focuses on what makes Scouting unique. Scouting is far more than just chance to have fun and go camping. It is an international Movement that permanently touches the lives of its members. The stories of exemplary Jamboree attendees will attest to this. These people will be role models for current youth members who attend the celebration.

This project will recapture the interest of Jamboree attendees who have not had a connection with Scouting for many years. It provides opportunities for fundraising, from the dinner to memorabilia sales, perhaps including a formal arrangement with the Shaw Festival.

Much must be done to make this project successful. We must raise money to build the monument, get permission to construct it, and have it designed and built. We must locate Jamboree attendees who have exemplified themselves. We must contact Jamboree participants and others to promote the event.

The celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1955 World Scout Jamboree is an opportunity showcase the best of Scouting from its first century in preparation for our second century, which begins in 2007. This celebration will demonstrate the positive, life-long impact that Scouting has on young people, thus building a foundation for the future.

A commemoration of WJ'55 is being organized for September 16-18, 2005 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. Please visit wj55.org for information.