First BSA National Jamboree - 1937

First National Jamboree

The 1937 National Jamboree was held in Washington, DC from June 30 to July 9 with 27,232 Scouts and Scouters in attendance.

Dan Beard fired up the opening campfire with flint and steel using wood that was brought by Scouts from all 48 states. The 1935 Jamboree before it was cancelled had been planned as a “spoon-fed” Jamboree, meaning a mess-hall kind of camping. That is what was done for the 1937 Jamboree. With thousands of professional chefs available due to the great depression, the meals for each subcamp of 1,200 Scouts were prepared by professional chefs in regiment-sized kitchen tents and were delivered three times a day to the troops.

Highlights of the Jamboree included a grand review on Pennsylvania Avenue by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only president to be an Arrowman, troop hikes around Washington, D.C. to all of the government buildings from the White House to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and even a trip to Mount Vernon. A Jamboree favorite was climbing the steps to the top of the Washington Monument.

Participation by the OA was very limited and primarily focused on a few things done to promote and spread the word about the OA. Urner and Louise Goodman got an aerial view of the Jamboree from a blimp. The National Executive Committee of the OA also sent a letter to each Scout Executive asking them to stress to OA members attending the Jamboree to not swap or exchange Order of the Arrow insignia. It is unknown if anyone followed this admonishment. Since that time the trading of OA emblems has become a staple activity at National Scout Jamborees.