Power struggle: Scouts, Scouters take different approaches to charging devices

At the jamboree, no power outlet remains empty for long.

Everywhere you look — using official AT&T charging stations, orange Summit Bechtel Reserve power arrays (not to be used when raining), outlets inside and outside of shower houses, and solar chargers hanging from backpacks — Scouts and Scouters grab every drop of power for their devices.

It’s no surprise, really, given the age in which we live and the fact the 2013 National Jamboree has lived up to its billing as the most-connected in history.

I found Ryan, an Atlanta Area Council Scout who works on the Aquatics staff, charging his Samsung phone with friends at an orange power station this morning. For Ryan, an empty battery means no way to stay connected with friends and family onsite and off.

“I’m doing it to keep in contact with everyone,” he said. “My family back home likes to hear from me, and I need to get in touch with acquaintances when we want to meet up somewhere.”

Still, there’s a line Ryan draws between using his phone for contact and using it for diversion.

“You see some people plugged into the wall sitting there doing nothing but playing games,” he said. “Don’t be that guy who’s just sitting there with earplugs in all week. Go out and get to know people.”

Charging has been tough, Ryan says, because you have to “find an outlet, sit there for an hour and be OK with that.” That’s why Ryan keeps his phone’s battery around 20 percent most days. He flips the phone to low-power airplane mode and only turns off airplane mode when he needs to make a call.

At future jamborees, Ryan said he’d love to see several manned locations where Scouts and Scouters can take their phones, get a claim check and leave the device in a secure place for a full charge.

Brandon, a Cincinnati Scout from jamboree Troop B225 whose phone was dead when I found him, turns off his LG Lucid when not using it.

“I do turn it on when storms are approaching,” he said. “So I know if someone’s trying to call me back to camp.”

And then there’s Hank, a Scout from jamboree Troop B426 in the Three Fires Council in Illinois. He was sitting with his friend Dustin near a charging station, but I noticed Hank didn’t have a phone plugged in.

“I didn’t bring one,” Hank said. “I wanted to really enjoy the activities instead of charging for hours.”

And how did Hank survive his 13-hour overnight bus ride from Illinois to the Summit without a tablet, gaming device, phone or other battery-powered device?

“I read a book.”

More photos:

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Love this photo from Bob Porell. Staying dry while charging!

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About Bryan Wendell 2893 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.