The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 25, 2013

Organizers of Scout Jamboree planning improvements after learning from first

THE SUMMIT — As the Boy Scouts pulled out of Fayette County Wednesday, Jamboree organizers are already preparing to make their next event a success by tallying lessons learned.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is asking all participants — youth, leaders, volunteers, exhibitors and partners — to complete detailed “after-action reports” on their experience at The Summit.

“We’re saying, ‘Tell us what you saw that was great, and what you saw that needed a lot of improvement,’” said Larry Pritchard, director of the Jamboree.

They’ll also be checking their usage numbers to find out which activities the kids loved, and which they voted down with their absence.

“We want to take the lessons learned and move forward. We’ll be able to apply it to our high adventure center, which starts next summer,” says Pritchard.

When asked where he saw room for improvement, Pritchard said it was mainly “small stuff.”

“The devil’s in the details. Our big plan worked,” he said.

Pritchard counts activities undertaken with outside partners — from rafting trips with local outfitters to hundreds of community service projects performed in the area — as big successes that may be expanded in the future.

Ask Scouts and they’ll tell you two things could have improved their time: better food and less time walking and waiting in lines.

The size and configuration of The Summit meant that it could take an hour and a half of walking to get to some activities.

A stretched staff meant some Scouts were turned away from some of the activities when they got to the activity site, or had to wait in long lines.

Aerial activities like zip lines proved hugely popular, but only three Scouts per contingent were given tickets to the featured attraction, Big Zip, because of the demand.

“We could have had as many people flying as we had staff to run it,” said Pritchard.

“I’m not saying consolidate it or make it smaller, but it’s kind of a drag if you have to get somewhere and it’s a huge line when you get there. Figure out a way to move things faster and get more staff,” Adam Holbrook of Wasilla, Alaska, advised Jamboree planners.

He added that while all the walking has been hard, it’s also been a fun way to spend time with friends.

Pritchard says a “more relaxed program schedule” may be considered in the future.

Participants are also asking for better quality food. Most meals were composed of processed, packaged food.

Boys described cooking frozen sandwiches at their base camps and squirting tubes of jelly and peanut butter onto crackers for their picnic lunches.

Then, of course, there were uncontrollable things like rain showers. Scouts said the rain was a downer, but they managed. Some retreated to their base camps to play epic rounds of cards. Others built mud slides.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

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