The Birth of JOTT
By Kevin Thomson
A Canadian Scout Troop hiked part of the Trans Canada Trail one fine October weekend in 1997. The following Monday, Scoutmaster Dave Wiebe sent a trip report to an Internet email list at Scouts Canada, beginning a conversation on hiking. The conversation lead to the idea of a Scout hiking day for all sections and on any trail. Further discussion set the date for the first event as April 25, 1998; late enough that those in the Northern parts were likely to have trails free of snow on which to walk.
Reading list messages about the idea, UK Scouter Kevin Thomson began to wish that he could take part in this too. It then occurred to him that this needn’t be limited to the shores of Canada as there are trails to walk on all over the world. Scouters quickly agreed that this could be a world-wide event.
Now that the event was born, they discussed what to call it. For a while it was going to be World Wide Walk because it had been started through discussions on the World Wide Web. In the end, they decided on Jamboree On The Trail (JOTT).
With the idea developed, it was time for implementation. Many volunteers were needed to make the event a success. Dale Kelly, Joe Kotch, Judy Harcus, and Kathy Nielson helped with coordination, registration, and publicity. Boyd Otter coordinated the submission of designs for the event crest. Liam Morland set up a web site for the event and in Britain Dave Stokes put information on The Scout Association’s web site, ScoutBase UK. Jean-Francois Lagarde’s work with translation lead to a French version of the web site.
In Canada, The Leader magazine carried information about JOTT and people were asked to publicise and promote the event locally. Registration were handled by post and by an on-line registration form on ScoutBase UK.
The first Jamboree On The Trail took place just 29 weeks after the fall hike that started it all. There was no official recognition for the event, no funding for publicity, and just the Internet and word of mouth to spread the news. Nonetheless, the event did catch the imagination of a great number of Scouters. The inaugural JOTT had over twenty-four thousand participants in seventeen countries around the world. From this beginning, Jamboree On The Trail has grown. JOTT 1999 had thirty thousand participants and JOTT 2000 was bigger still.
Jamboree On The Trail is the only international annual event for every member of the Scouting family; Scouts of all ages and all sorts. It is an ideal opportunity to come together in spirit with Scouts all over the world and to promote the world-wide aspect of this growing Movement.