What is a Gemboree?

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The question has been asked what is a GEMBOREE?  Well, the word GEMBOREE evolved from the Scout term JAMBOREE (which in broad terms means a “rally of Boy Scouts”).  “GEM” (begin part of what our hobby is about), replaced “JAM”.

The Australian rockhounds claim that they “invented” this word and at some stage were not enamoured that other countries and communities took over the word “GEMBOREE”.  However, today, it is universally accepted as being in broad terms “a rally of rockhounds”.  In Australia their Gemboree is combined with their National Gem and Mineral Show.

In South Africa, the GEMBOREE is normally hosted by a member Club, at a venue that has the necessary amenities to cater for a large gathering, has suitable gem and mineral collecting sites and is reasonably accessible to the host Club (necessary for pre-planning).  At the moment there is a roster which is followed in general order amongst four of the larger Clubs, but smaller Clubs can also volunteer to host this event, whether it be on their own or in conjunction with one of the larger Clubs.

What activities can be regarded as typical of a South African GEMBOREE?  First and foremost, it is an annual social Easter gathering of members of various Gem and Mineral Clubs in Southern Africa affiliated to the Federation of Southern African Gem & Mineralogical Societies.

As the collecting of rocks, gems and minerals constitutes one of the main pillars of this hobby, a considerable amount of time over this weekend is spent in collecting these.  In addition the following activities also form part of the proceedings:

  1. Registration of participants.
  2. Handing out of “goodie bags” to each participant upon registration (includes name tag, programme for the weekend, the “obligatory” roll of toilet paper, Easter egg, brochures on area were GEMBOREE is taking place, pen, paper, toiletries such as soap and Tabard, etc).
  3. Swop and sell amongst members and selling of merchandise by gem and mineral dealers.
  4. Live and silent auctions (in aid of funds for the host Club and the Federation).
  5. Official opening of GEMBOREE (by local dignitary or President of the Federation).
  6. Annual General Meeting of the Federation.
  7. Other fund-raising items such as “Guessing the number of tumbled stones in a glass jar”, claim-pegging, donations by participants and even dealers and Club members not attending the GEMBOREE, guessing the mass of faceted stone, Easter egg hunt for children, etc/
  8. Communal dinner, braai, potjiekos, duckbraai, etc.
  9. Awarding of certificates of certain participants for special services rendered, furthest distance travelled, humorous figures or events, etc.
  10. Other events that have taken place at past GEMBOREES include:  Fancy Dress competition, Inter-Club quiz, demonstrations of gem-tree making, carving, mineral photography, “Mr & Mrs Legs” competition, cutting and polishing of a cabochon competition, angling competition, stories around the campfire, Easter Sunday interdenominational church service, guided tours of mines, museums and local places of general interest, visiting local gem and mineral dealers, gold-panning competition and demonstrations, T-shirt competition.
  11. Official closing of the GEMBOREE normally takes place on Easter Sunday evening, at which the venue for the following year’s GEMBOREE is announced.

All in all, a pleasant social weekend where many friendships are forged and renewed.

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