Baden-Powell Council BSA at the
1998 Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette

The Blair Atholl Jamborette
July 21 - 31, 1998


















The Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette was begun in 1946 by Jack Stewart, then the International Scout Commissioner for Scotland, as a way of bringing together Scouts from all over a world just beginning to recover from the devastation of the Second World War. His vision was for a week-long camp to be held at Blair Castle, in Perthshire. International Jamborees had been held before, the first in 1929, but in these the Scouts camped in national troops, and met Scouts from other countries only occasionally. Stewart's unique idea was to have a Jamborette - based on patrols, rather than troops, with each patrol to be made up half of Scouts from Scotland and half from overseas. The overseas Scouts would have to bring nothing but personal gear - everything else would be provided by the Scots - and they would be met in London and transported to Blair Atholl by a special train. By living together as a patrol of Scouts, they would get to know each other far better than if each country remained in troops apart, as in a Jamboree. Britain was still under wartime rationing restrictions, but Stewart was able to get enough food for his encampment, and, in the summer of 1946, Scouts from a dozen countries or more came together in the first Jamborette. The camp was a tremendous success, and it was decided to hold them every two years thereafter.

Fifty-two years later, Stewart's dream is still a reality. The special overnight train from London is gone, along with the national railway that provided it - Scouts arrive by van or train, or by bus ("coach"), as we did - but they are still greeted at the camp gateway and quickly integrated into their patrols. In 1998 there were patrols of Scouts aged 13-15 from the following countries and states:

Austria

Canada (four groups from BC)

Denmark

Germany (several patrols)

Gibralter

Hong Kong

Iceland

Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland

Japan

Luxembourg

Malta

Mexico

Mongolia

Netherlands

Norway

Poland

Russia

Scotland

USA - New York
Baden-Powell & Hiawatha Councils

USA - California
Santa Clara and Monterey Bay Councils

USA - Florida

USA - Maryland

USA - Texas

Then as now, the Jamborette is held on the grounds of Blair Castle, albeit on a different field (it was moved to its present location on Target Field in 1970 when the Caravan Park was built on the old site). The patrols are divided up into six sub-camps - MacDonald, MacLean, Morrison, Murray, Robertson, and Stewart - each forming its own circle on the huge field.


MacLean Subcamp

Morrison Subcamp

Murray Subcamp

Robertson Subcamp

The overseas patrols are quickly integrated into their merged patrols, and settle into their homes for the next ten days - each patrol occupying a wedge-shaped portion of the large sub-camp circle, with housing and store tents and a lashed-together table/cook fire area under a tarp. Here's our group, at home in Murray subcamp:

 

The overall campsite can be seen in the aerial photo below (the only picture in this site which isn't mine - it's from a postcard).

The Castle is in the upper right corner of the photo, with Target Field surrounded by trees in the center through the left side. The six sub-camps are the circles of tents, with staff camp along the tree lines to the left and bottom. The large cross-shaped tent is the "Kross", housing the Bank, Post Office, Scout Shop, and Café, with room for the Activity Office, Camp Newspaper (the "Kross Kurrents") and enough open area to hold the entire camp and more for campfires (more about that later). (a more detailed plan of the camp).

As evening fell, the first day at the 1998 Jamborette ended with the traditional opening campfire. Although the weather began to show its true colors (dull gray and wet green), the camp gathered on the slope under the flags of each nation to sing songs and hear the sub-camp yells for the first time. The entire camp gave a shout and listened for the "Blair Echo" from the hills across the valley - the low-hanging clouds seemed to enhance the effect, if anything. As night, and increasing rain, fell, the campfire ended with a feeling of anticipation for the Jamborette to come.

In keeping with Jack Stewart's dream of merging the Scottish and International Scouts, the International Leaders also get merged into the Jamborette organization. As soon as we arrived at Blair Atholl, the boys went off one way with their Scottish counterparts, and we leaders were sent off to our staff assignments. Pete and Ed went off to meet the Atholl Experience crew, and Pat Reilley grabbed me to go to Blair Castle, to get back up to speed for the Castle tours I would be giving for the next week or so.

 
Inside the Kross - the Glasgow Scout Shop.

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