During the 1930s, on the Vietnamese Scouting badge, the Scout Motto “Be Prepared” was not initially included under the fleur-de-lis emblem; instead it was Thẳng Tiến (Moving Forward). After the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, South Vietnam was plagued under the control of Vietnamese Communists. The Vietnamese Scout Association was banned and ceased to exist. Many Scout leaders and former Scouts fled Vietnam.
Braving perilous seas and dangers, they set out in search for freedom. During their temporary resettlement in refugee camps, Vietnamese Scouts engaged in various activities to help newly arrived refugees settle and become accustomed to the new life. Such valuable humanitarian engagement prompted the Scouts in exile to revitalize Vietnamese Scouting Movement in the refugee camps. The very first overseas Vietnamese Scouting unit was formed in May 1975 in the refugee camp in Guam, an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Trương Trọng Trác. Subsequently, they continued their mission to revive the Vietnamese Scouting Movement and established Vietnamese Scout groups in many refugee camps as well as in the countries where they resettled such as the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Belgium, England, Norway, and the Netherlands, etc.
In 1983, the Costa Mesa Conference was held in California to reunite all these units and established the International Central Committee of Vietnamese Scouting (ICCVS) to respond to the World Scout Bureau’s compliance requirements. In the summer of 1985, the very first Jamboree was hosted in Jamesville, France and was named “Thẳng Tiến” (TT1). Scoutmaster Nghiêm Văn Thạch was the appointed Camp Chief. The success of this Jamboree had set off a tradition for subsequent jamborees as follows:
In accordance with ICCVS statistical reports, there have been over 11,500 participants registered for the Jamborees and over 2,300 Scout leaders, parents, and Scouts volunteered and participated in the planning of the Thẳng Tiến Jamborees. While exclusively dedicated and offered to Scout unit members of ICCVS, Thẳng Tiến Jamborees highlight a very unique class of campers, much more culturally diverse and colorful than other world jamborees and even the pre-1975 jamborees in Vietnam. Campers are decked out in decorated uniforms in accordance with the Scout attire in their country of residence, and one will enjoy listening to a multitude of languages from young campers of Vietnamese descent, German, French, English, Vietnamese, etc. Most significantly, it’s a beautiful gathering of the old and young generations.
Thẳng Tiến Jamboree is also a platform to incorporate (or assimilate) the Vietnamese culture and that of the host country in which Thẳng Tiến is organized. Therefore, it is the utmost mission of the Camp Chiefs and their organizing committees to nurture and highlight our Vietnamese heritage and culture as the main characteristics of these camps. It has always been our challenge to maintain the Vietnamese language in all our camp activities for young Scouts from different parts of the world to whom the Vietnamese language has become secondary. For that reason, our Heritage Day provides a treasure of our Vietnamese history, legacy and vestige of our glorious pasts as a means to educate our Scouting members and visitors. In participating in these activities, the attendees will also be able to recognize the dedication, reverence and appreciation that our Scout leaders have endeavored to preserve the heroic efforts of our ancestors. At the camp fire event, the audience will enjoy a compendium of artistic and cultural performances from our young Scouts based on what they’ve learned in preparation for the Jamboree. These are stories of patriotism, love, pride, and nostalgia of a people forever living in exile.
One is never too young or too old to participate in our Jamborees. A 3-month old baby attended TT3 in California in 1990, and Scoutmaster Phúc, then 91 years young, from Toronto, Canada joined us at our TT6. While the Jamboree is focused exclusively on Scouting for our leaders and Scouts, it also attracts and welcomes parents, friends, patrons, supporters, local community members, and dignitaries. The Jamboree also serves as a reunion platform for various former Scout Districts (Đạo) of the pre-1975 Vietnamese Scouting Movement. The Jamboree provides the great opportunity for these former Scouts from all necks of the woods to regroup and reminisce the glorious yesteryears. Moreover, Thẳng Tiến environment permeates the family ambiance throughout thus giving the participants a sense of true belonging and close-knit spirit. Activities are catered to both young Scouts and elder leaders, so no one would feel left out. It is indeed the perfect rendition for the young to comingle with the old and learn more about their heritage.