9 things that’ll be different for staffers at Jambo 2017

Better transportation, more time off, a staff village and maybe, just maybe, warmer showers.

That’s just some of what’s in store for volunteers at the 2017 National Jamboree. They’re in for an even better experience than staffers had last summer.

And if you’ve talked to anyone who staffed in 2013, you know that’s high praise. I know I had an incredible time (and actually didn’t mind the ambient-temperature water).

But the volunteers and professionals planning the 2017 version of the BSA’s signature gathering have no time for basking in the glow of 2013. They’re looking for commitments from volunteers wanting to share in the fun in 2017.

And they’re promising an even better experience than staffers had last summer. That means better communication, lodging and laundry service. And yes, assuming it can be done in a sustainable way, warm showers are looking possible. Learn how to sign up today right here.

Because everyone loves a good list, here are nine ways the 2017 jamboree staffing experience will be better than it was in 2013. These are straight from the Summit’s newly redesigned website.

  1. Transportation: Staff transportation will be enhanced. Assuming a reasonable level of fitness, no staff member will be required to walk longer than 30 minutes between their place of lodging and their assigned work station.
  2. Time off: Sufficient staff will be recruited and schedules developed to ensure staff members receive at least the equivalent of one full day off during the Jamboree. Staff work hours will allow them an opportunity to visit and enjoy other areas of the Jamboree outside their assigned work area. Provisions will be made for those desiring to explore the local area surrounding the Jamboree during their day off.
  3. Communications: A robust communications strategy will be developed and executed to keep staff members informed from the date they register as a staff member through the last day of the Jamboree.
  4. Lunch: We will make modifications to enhance the number and variety of lunch choices consistent with the requirement to maintain a “shelf stable” lunch menu given the demands of our site. We will provide supplemental items for our staff members in more active program areas to ensure an appropriate level of caloric content for their anticipated level of activity.
  5. Lodging: While capacity constraints of The Summit prevent the offering of 2-person tent accommodations, staff members will be provided the opportunity to pre-select their tent-mates up to one month prior to the Jamboree.
  6. Staff Village: The staff village(s) will be designed to provide for an area in which staff members can relax, recreate and refresh themselves in the company of other staff members. Retail food/beverage stands will be incorporated in this design as well as an area for athletic competition.
  7. Showers: We will explore options to create some increase in water temperature; however, any solution will have to be consistent with our sustainability focus of conserving water and energy.
  8. Laundry service: Laundry service will continue to be available for staff members desiring it.
  9. Staff photos: Official staff photos of individual teams will be taken and staff members will have the opportunity to purchase photos of their choosing.


  1. Are they planning on enhancing the electricity/charging capacities at the staff camp. The communication strategy hinges on devices that, unless charged, can’t be used… How about the drainage of the the “sinks” that never seemed to drain?

    How about installing Grass Pavers in between the staff tent rows to avoid sinking into the mud and spare us the nastiness of the soured straw that did little except bring the biting fly infestation? They will grow over, look neat and provide sufficient walking surface. Along with improved drainage, this would make a huge difference.

    I am hopeful that the promises of more staff and time off come true and will allow the staffers to experience something of the event (outside the opening and closing shows).

    • I second the desire for charging stations at Staff camp (or how about an outlet in every staff tent, similar to Philmont Training area). It was ridiculous that the only “relatively” SECURE place to charge was in or around the bath houses [which was technically ‘Illegal’ anyway] The BSA emphasis on internet and communication has to be facilitated accommodation for the Staff (We do not have the time to stand around an unsecured charging point).

      Another point on the Shower houses, could we have some decent places to rest our shaving kits?? The three inch piece of angle iron doesn’t make it. And the benches in the shower area?? Six grown adults can’t sit and keep our clean clothes dry as well.

  2. Awesome that the planning begins and the word spread starts on recruiting volunteers. One of my personal goals is to see an increase of Deaf units attending the National Jamboree along with an increase of interpreters.

    Are they combining the National and World Jamboree during 2017 Bryan, as I know we host the World Jamboree in 2017?

      • Thanks Mike on the clarity of year usage of Summit for National (2017) and World (2019). Now I can see where my confusion came in with looking so far ahead. Too many projects on my plate maybe??… *laughing

    • Allowing staff to use bicycles is a great idea. It would add 2 hours per day to work or participate in the other great venues. One problem might be congestion on the trails, but that could be taken care of by emphasizing bicycles stay to the right?

    • After volunteering as Sub-Camp staff in 2010 is that if bikes are available for the staff to use, put the bike corrals in an area only accessible by staff. This way, youth and adult participants won’t be able to access them (hopefully know where they are either) allowing for the staff in the surrounding area not to be annoyed by constant inquiries/requests about the bikes and people complaining after being told the bikes are for staff use only.

      Trust me, this is what happened in 2010 when everyone found out that there were bikes located at the sub-camp headquarters. We only had 10 bikes officially for only the staff to use. But everyday we got constant, irritating amounts of scouts and adults that came into the headquarters to “check-out” a bike. And when we told them they’re not available for participant use, majority of the people would start to argue with us. Overall, it was an headache from irritation for all the staff who worked there.

  3. I didn’t mind a lot of inconveniences being on staff. Working daily was pretty much expected. It was just that we had to pay $850.00 to be a volunteer plus air-fare from the west coast (another $600-$700). I just don’t see how you are going to attract more staff with that much of a price tag. I am not sure I would do it again.

    • I agree Steve, they didn’t mention anything about cost!?!?!?!?! I definitely thought that is something they were going to try and fix?!?!?!?! (the most common question… “Why would I pay $700 to go volunteer somewhere?!?!?!”) And then having to pay for airfare/ travel cost and special uniforms for my individual unit!!! It is unrealistic to ask people to take off work (not getting money) to come somewhere that not only are they not able to participate in the activities, but they are volunteering their skills that they had to pay to get (paramedic school, med school, ect.), and then they ask us to pay for that. If anything, they should charge us very minimal as I personally know a lot more people that would be willing to volunteer in Aerial sports (and remember that in 2013, aerial sports had 200 staffed of the actual 600 people that they needed) than there actually were!!! Staff fees should be only a hundred dollars or so. I can’t get people to volunteer for this due to the high cost, no one understands why they charge staff. And then for the people that had to travel 3 trips up there from places like Florida for the planning. It just continues to add up $$$$!!! Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now.

    • They scared away a huge part of my past middle age and older staff. lots of talk about loosing weight and lots of strenuous hiking. With the complaints from 2013 the next Jambo is going to be thin on staff.

      • Mike, the health standards were high because of people like myself: a bit “porky” and probably hasn’t hiked further than their mailbox in the past two years. (To get myself ready for the Jamboree, I took several three and five mile hikes, did a lot of walking from the far end of the Wal-Mart to the front doors and back, and stopped eating so much. I was still huffing and puffing it out the first three days of the Jamboree.) Not *everyone* fit that category, but the BSA was being on the cautious (and marketing) side.

        There’s a lot of experience and knowledge in us “porky” people but until the word came that we were 40-60 percent short in many areas, the BSA was waving those folks off or offering them *ah-hem* “less stressful” ways to contribute. Bad move. The BSA was also trying to promote the Summit and the Jamboree itself as an event in which “only the best, the strong, the fit” attend, which was not in their best interest as well. As I wrote in my after-action summary, what’s the answer – because the BMI standards did identify some folks who from a health standpoint should not be there; but from a program and sustainability standpoint, those same people was and is our “brain trust.” Folks did not have a clue one in how some of those areas could be run safely, efficiently, or even *at all*. The BSA also didn’t want a repeat of the photo featuring the “large man” in the golf cart being surrounded by skinny and fit young men and older men walking up the road, which hit our nation’s papers and “told the visual” of the last Jamboree.

        As Ida clearly stated and I supported, it isn’t like all of sudden the BSA up and announced last-minute “if you’re not fit, don’t apply”…they provided videos (remember the video in which our National Commissioner told us that “he was getting in shape to handle the ruggedness of the Summit — you should also!”?), information papers and webpages which stated in clear American English what the health and physical standards would be –THREE YEARS BEFORE the Jamboree.

        • “only the best, the strong, the fit” – social Darwinism in the BSA. Who’d a thunk it? Well, BSA, I am so sorry that my knowledge and experience are as so much dust to you because of my weight. Forgive me for living – i should have passed on a few years ago and did not – sorry about that.

          And 20 years ago BSA would not have accepted me either. I weighed 270 pounds. A little secret: I spend 3 – 5 hours a day in the gym, dojo, or running. I wore a XXXL shirt and had a waist line of 38 inches. I could bench press more than my weight and do far more pull ups than most people my age. But my BMI worked out to “obese”. I’ll bet my 20 years ago self would have run most of the Jamboree staff into the ground. But I wouldn’t have been allowed to attend Jamboree.

          I laugh.

  4. I agree with Steve Jung. The cost of being a volunteer is exorbitant. The BSA is a not for profit organization correct? If you want a waiting list for volunteers you need to reduce the fee to no more than $200.00. The cost was the primary reason I chose to not volunteer. Item 2 will not happen due to the cost.

    I don’t understand #5 While capacity constraints of The Summit prevent the offering of 2-person tent accommodations, staff members will be provided the opportunity to pre-select their tent-mates up to one month prior to the Jamboree.

    Did you have double occupancy in 2013?

    If all nine items were deficiencies in 2013, that was not a very good way to treat paying volunteers. Somebody should be taken to task for the poor planning of staff accommodations.

    • Staff was supposed to be 4 to a tent, although I heard some had 5. My tent only had 3 and then 1 guy had to leave .. so we were down to 2. And another on my team had a tent all to himself. We were farthest away from dining, but right next to the laundry. I have no complaints about my staff experience and would do it again, especially if they lowered the cost.

  5. In 2013 we brought engraved stones to be part of a special fire ring at the top of Garden Ground Mountain. There was supposed to be a nightly campfire in the ring which was cancelled. Did the engraved rocks ever get added? Will they? I’d love to see photos of the rocks (we went on the first day and didn’t see the ones added after that). As a continuation of that concept I think it would be a good idea if every Jamboree troop is encouraged to bring engraved rocks, and then use them to create walkways from the roads to the shower houses – add several walkways each Jamboree. Folks could come back with their grandkids and show them the rock from when grampa went to the Jamboree many years ago. The walkways would help make the shower houses handicap accessible and would avoid the mudpit scenarios we had in 2013.

  6. I did not mind the ambient temperature showers, either. It let me know if I decided to have my body sealed in a cryogenic process, how it would feel if I was still alive.

    Any chance that the quality of toilet tissue will be improved? I did not know that toilet tissue could be manufactured in less than one ply. Perhaps it may have been one ply but it was a metric one ply.

    I had a great experience and look forward to returning.

  7. About those showers . . . you do realize that Scout Stuff will complain b/c they will lose money from fewer sales of the solar showers. There should be some corporations that would step up to help add solar panels and large water storage tanks to the showers. Shrek’s suggestion about grass pavers is good.

    • When the first designs for the showers at the Summit were revealed in 2010, I suggested that solar warming of the wash water be incorporated into the roofs. It would have been a lot cheaper to do it then, but at least they’re now finally listening four years later.

      • In the “old days some camps simply had large black painted metal tanks above the shower houses and by the end of the day they would be extremely hot! No electric or solar panels needed.

  8. Given the focus of improvements and the limited time off, I wonder at the need to focus on a Staff Village as an improvement. Not for nothing, but I would imagine that upgrading showers would be seen as greatly preferred over being able to get a slice of pizza or have a place to play tether ball.

    (I’m not trying to be cynical – I just think the priority here is missed).

    • Look at it from this way Charles… they didn’t have enough volunteers last summer so if the Jamboree staff improves the conditions greatly of the volunteers, wouldn’t that make it easier to recruit more volunteers for future Jamborees??

  9. The time off is absolutely essential. As SM, I talked one of my Eagle scouts into volunteering as staff. He worked full-time, out in the sun, at an under-staffed station far enough away that he couldn’t get back for lunch, and only got breakfast and dinner by being early/late (respectively). His only time off was a few hours Sunday afternoon, when all of the activity stations were closed.

    He put a good face on it, but I was absolutely appalled that BSA would treat a youth staffer in such a manner, particularly one who’d paid several hundred dollars to help other scouts. I was doubly appalled when adult staffers (parents of contingent youth) who worked “easier” jobs (e.g. retail) had enough free time to visit our site regularly.

    I’m grateful for the improvement, and I highly encourage the planning group to permit youth staffers get even more time off, in addition to offering youth staff a lower fee.

    • I agree and mandatory crew rest is an essential health and safety issue as well. Working staff to exhaustion just shows poor management skills by the senior folks running the event.

    • as a retail staff member i would like to point out we had it just as hard if not harder then most areas. i worked in the gateway store, we worked an upwards of 12 hours a day, in the hot tents, with temperamental computer systems, i had next to no time to see anything

    • In retail, we also had Eagle Scouts who worked VERY HARD. It broke my heart when the one time they arranged schedules to go try the zip lines, just to find the action center too busy to fit in, but tried–just couldn’t make it to the front of the line before they had to come back for their second shift. Yes, we worked split shifts every day! We would send one person if not too busy, to get Jambo shirts branded. Second shift had literally to racewalk, with flashlights, to try and get back before dinner meal ran out of food.

  10. The time off is absolutely essential. As SM, I talked one of my Eagle scouts into volunteering as staff. He worked full-time, out in the sun, at an under-staffed station far enough away that he couldn’t get back for lunch, and only got breakfast and dinner by being early/late (respectively). His only time off was a few hours Sunday afternoon, when all of the activity stations were closed.

    He put a good face on it, but I was absolutely appalled that BSA would treat a youth staffer in such a manner, particularly one who’d paid several hundred dollars to help other scouts. I was doubly appalled when adult staffers (parents of contingent youth) who worked “easier” jobs (e.g. retail) had enough free time to visit our site regularly.

    I’m grateful for the improvement, and I highly encourage the planning group to permit youth staffers get even more time off, in addition to offering youth staff a lower fee.

    • Tom, I’m not sure what your Eagle Scout told you but coming back for lunch was never an option. It was to be picked up after breakfast before heading out to the sites.

      I worked and hope to do it again with the added changes and hopefully lower costs.

      • I believe what he means is that he had to get Breakfast and leave so early that the lunch was not yet available by the time he had to leave.

  11. MORE staff should definitely be a priority. Whatever it takes to get them there! We turned away thousands of youth from the Aerial Sports activities because we didn’t have the staff to open all the facilities. Perfectly good zip lines, canopy tours and challenge courses went unused because we didn’t have enough staff to operate them.

      • I can’t find Mike’s original posting but here’s what he wrote earlier: “Don’t know if you noticed but BSA had some paid non BSA staff working some areas. College aged kids don’t know where they were from??”

        They were probably not paid, but they paid to be there like we did. Alpha Phi Omega (APO) had something like 40 of their Brothers to contribute in various areas of the Jamboree as in previous years.

        • I had the pleasure of chatting with a bunch of ‘paid staff’ at the hotel on the way in to Jambo. They were manning the ‘store’ up in Charlie (I’m guessing that there were other store locations, too, but Charlie is the only one I passed on my daily hike), and paid by AT&T, not Jambo. They were bused in and out each day and stayed at the hotel(s) nearby.

  12. As a staffer and writer for Jamboree Today, I have just two modest needs: a hot shower and a bike. I don’t think a hot shower is asking too much, considering the $850 we spent for the privilege of working at the jamboree. As for the bike, it was the first jamboree I didn’t have one to do my job. It took forever to hoof it from one place to another. If the idea is to gather news and information — and publish it ASAP for participants’ use and enjoyment — Jamboree Today staffers need a fast way to get from point A to point B.

  13. When I think of Jamboree, the first thing that comes to mind is “cold showers”. There has got to be a valve that mixes hot and cold to a “warm” level. Loved the pull chain, that will keep everyone taking a “Navy shower”. On the positive side… I did loose 12 pounds while I was at Jamboree.

  14. I had a fantastic time and cannot wait for 2017. I think 2013 was well done given the short time frame. I agree we need more charging stations and some transportation.

  15. I would agree that the cost of going to the Jamboree for staff would prevent the staff levels to climb to neeed levels. Hopefully there will be some breaks.

  16. Food was my biggest complaint. Working a short staffed medical in Delta Camp, it was extremely difficult to have time or energy to walk to Echo. I am diabetic and finding food at camp was difficult at best. Strongly recommend a dining hall at each camp. There used to be staff dining at all 20 sub camps. Really expensive to come from west coast. Volunteered at the last 4 Jamborees. Not sure if my group of 15 medical staffers will do it again

    • Each Troop was supposed to have 2 Staff members eat with their Troop. There were enough food for 42 persons in each Troop food allotment. 40 Troop members and 2 Staff members.

  17. Without whining (I did my share after I returned; and yes, I did submit an after-action report on my experiences), here’s my input and comment.

    First, overall for a “practice Jamboree” (that’s what *I* consider the 2013 Jamboree to be…a practice for the 2017 one), I thought it was executed in a grand, positive fashion. Did we encounter areas where the next one HAS to be better? You betcha! But compared to the first Jamborees at Fort AP Hill and before that, Moraine State Park, this went well.

    Transportation to me was not a personal issue. I was told beforehand and advised to get myself physically ready as this was not a “ride the bus to work” Jamboree. This was going to be “get on your feet and hike it to and from work” Jamboree. I lost eight pounds which helped my overall health significantly. The 45 minute hike from base camp to Summit Center, however, prevented many of us from appearing to the public in our best. We had to hike to the worksite, go to an enclosed location, change and wipe the sweat from our bodies before putting on the “work uniform” and going out to meet the public. At the end of the day, we reverse the actions, and end up having to repeat the action back at the base camp before dinner. So from this standpoint — less sweat, more presentable bodies — okay, I like the transportation part.

    But you know, this is Scouting and we’re expected to sweat. Goes along with the rest of the “discomfort” which we smile about now but at the time was grumbling about.

    Showers. Need warmer showers. Nothing more need to be said about it.

    Staff recreation area? In my opinion, not needed. The existing coffeehouse, relaxation center, and trading post all in one general area was just fine. You want to add a place to play horseshoes or badminton or soccer? Okay…not going to get any complains from me. At the end of the day, all I really wanted to do is to sit and write home, edit some video and crop some photos, maybe make a phone or Skype(tm) call or two, and then walk back to my tent and talk with my tent mate before we readied ourselves for sleep and the start of the next day.

    Tenting? While the tents were designed for four to a tent, two to a tent worked out better.

    Food. The staffer(s) who subjected us to substandard food should be forced to eat 90 days worth of that food and only that food, to include the “icicle sandwiches”! There is simply no reason for it. You knew how many people were going to be there. You plus up the meal count by 10 percent and you prepare the meals early enough in the day for it to be hot, ready to consume and enjoyed by the posted dinner time. Maybe they need to review the skills in the Cooking merit badge, eh?

    Hot water and non-carbonated drinks should be available 24/7 during the Jamboree. People like myself should not have to go, mug in hand, asking for someone’s kindness in providing me coffee — or hot water so I can stir in my own personal “statch” of Tasters’ Choice(tm) or Folgers’ ™ coffee packets.

    Our managers (Eagle Scouts they are!) gave us plenty of “me time” during the last Jamboree; but other areas did not have that benefit. So yes, time to explore and enjoy what you are staffing would be a great benefit next go-around.

    Did anyone do a video of the Jamboree experience? I didn’t get the memo if that happened…I would love to share parts of the 2013 Jamboree, warts and all, with those unable to attend. That too, would help in recruiting volunteers for the next Jamboree.

    I look forward in participating, if selected, as a staff member in the 2017 National Scout Jamboree.

    • I remember after the jamboree being told to “shut up.” (Not me directly, but none the less…)

      “Thanks everyone, we heard you. Now stop talking about it and let’s move on.”

      As the comments here show – the BSA didn’t handle that particularly well. But it was indicative of what was really going on which was a lack of respect for those who paid in many cases much more than the $900 registration fee, but into the THOUSANDS of dollars to make themselves available. It meant my wife and younger son gave up our every-4-year vacation so that we could go to Jamboree. My son worked a hundred hours of babysitting (only so much a 14 year old can do) to earn his share of his his several thousand dollar costs ~ he was devastated that while we paid a $300 deposit nearly 2 years in advance, he had a $50 late fee because we couldn’t raise the final payment in time.

      “Because you took more than one, someone else got none” was a sign at the end of the dining hall. There was no shortage of food, yet we were made to feel like criminals. On yet several other occasions, being forced out into the rain with our food because the staff dining hall was being reserved for a “special function” was insulting. Removing the beverages (water and lemonade) to get you to leave was inhumane. Water fountains were closed – I had to be picked up twice for dehydration on a “hike” that my cell phone measured at 17 miles. I never prepared for that.

      Heck, we learned how to hoard food. We became best friends with guys we only just met and still keep in touch with. We learned how to literally enjoy an ambient shower – when mixed with a little solar heated baggie, shared with those who had none. Most of us, even after being denied our promised day off, gave up the little time we did have on Sunday to go back and man our stations because we were there for the kids to have a good time. I have a wonderful touching story of a woman in climbing who gave up her personal gear for my son who waited for 3.5 hours to get to the front of the line and was turned back, until she intervened.

      Yet ~100 staffers per day walked off the job. They walked 6 miles to get in their cars, some stuck in mud and had to be pulled out, to quit.

      These highly trained volunteers who spent a small fortune to come to the Summit simply walked away. We came back to our tent half way through to an empty bed. A great guy replaced him, but another one of my tent mates grabbed his son 2 days early and he left too.

      This wasn’t just complaining and whining as you put it. Nothing short of a pretty big overhaul starting from the top is going to “fix” what is wrong ~ my tent mate reported a youth hit by the back end of one of the big Suburbans – two youth jumped off the road, the third was caught by the back of the truck. The Scout was okay but bruised after the encounter – but nothing happened to the guy driving the truck.

      Did some staffers have it “better” than others? Sure. Life isn’t fair. Some didn’t walk as far or have the same level of work detail. Maybe they didn’t realize that some locations didn’t even have porta-potties within a 15 minute hike up a 20′ grade or the only shelter on the top of the mountain during a lightning storm was a metal pole tent. Nor that at the end the BSA was so desperate for volunteers that we had a wonderful husband and wife team that were on my work detail where she had suffered a stroke several months before, and he had severe problems with mobility as well. (And we had jobs for them to do that they were wonderful at doing – but the conditions for them in some cases were life threatening.)

      I think most of the comments here come from people pretty darn dedicated to doing ANYTHING that it would take to make the event a success – and even now want to see it fixed, not torn down. We knew it wouldn’t be Disney-World for us, and we were in it to work. Let’s have the BSA acknowledge that. It came down to a lack of respect (and very poor planning), and not a lack of hot water.

      • “Thanks everyone, we heard you. Now stop talking about it and let’s move on.” That is the modus operandi of National. Pay and shut up. You’re nobody, just a volunteer.

        Someone asked me to apply for Jamboree staff and I could not due to work responsibilities and the financial strain, and judging from what I was told and what I am reading I am glad I did not apply. Is it true that when staff arrived workmen were still trying to finish up some jobs?

        Maybe some of those half million dollar salaries paid to the few at the top could have been used to get the place ready.

        • Yesterday, more than 100 MILLION dollars was poured into the Summit and yes, there were folks working up until the first full day of the Jamboree getting some areas ready for the thousands of Scouts and Scouters and visitors at this place, the third largest city in the state of West Virginia for a while…

          This is NO DIFFERENT than what occurred before the start of the LAST Jamboree, in which additional cell towers, paths, tents, water lines and walkways were constructed the 48 hours before the Jamboree had the first busses to come onto Fort AP Hill.

          As we experienced, the weather itself in early 2013 backed things up a bit as well…it’s hard to get those big old trucks in and around the Summit area if many areas were thick with mud and the roads not firm enough under the rains and snows which stuck around until mid April.

        • So poor planning and lack of foresight are inherent in Jamborees? Where was the hundred million before the Jamboree?

  18. Shortly after the 2013 Jamboree I entered a rather long narrative at the Tech Quest and other sites of the LONG list of the shortcomings of the arrangements both physical and management . So I will not repeat myself here. I tied to be relatively polite but pulled no punches in my criticism which was well earned and deserved. I had high praise for the morning and evening meals and for the experience with my staff team and work team. Every other aspect seemed to be lacking in varying degrees and significance.

    There are several good ideas in the previous blogs here, but they are just a short beginning on what needs to be accomplished before they will have anywhere near even what few volunteers they had in 2013. The powers that be had better take a long, hard look at these suggestions if they desire a successful 2017 Jamboree and 2019 World Jamboree.

  19. I wanted to volunteer, but with three sons attending, the cost was too much. I stayed home to make sure they could go. One of their cousins was in their troop, and they met up with another cousin and uncle who were there.
    A lower cost for the adult volunteer will generate more volunteers.
    Also, not looking for a free ride, but how about a family rate schedule, x% off for second kid attending, y% off for third kid, etc.

  20. Having been on staff in 2013, I can appreciate some of these changes. However, some I don’t necessarily agree with.

    1) Transportation: You were to be physically fit. You were told you would be hiking. Deal with it. [Yeah, I believe in tough love]

    2) Ambient showers. You were warned. (I bought a Sunshower that my bunkmate and I used — it was generally enough for two) BUT, those ambient showers felt good after the hottest days.

    3) COMMUNICATION — this is a big one. Improved communication is great! My husband was OFF SITE in the HOSPITAL for 2 days before anyone “knew.” And it was only because he was moved from a ‘room’ into ‘ICU’ and I freaked trying to get my car out of cold storage and over to him that anyone knew he had left property. Bless the Chaplaincy/Medical Staff who once they DID know about him, eventually made the drive to Charleston to see him (and me) while he spent a week and a half on life-support! Bless those who remained in contact and felt bad because they were ‘leaving me’ away from home, without a support-group.

    4) Staff Village? Unnecessary. We all found the cantina. Food and beverage stands?! Really?! More trash!?!? Did you walk through the activity area — you know, the places that the visitors could go … where there were pizza boxes and soda cans everywhere?! OMG! NO NO NO!!

    5) Staff photos? Mmmmm … no thanks. We took photos in our area. We shared photos. I don’t need photos of the 20,000 staff members, most of whom I never met.

    In the time that I was at the Jambo (and not sitting in the hospital), it quickly became obvious that more phone/electronics charging stations were needed.

    • Ida:
      I am very grateful that you and your husband survived ’13.
      My only quibble would be with your transportation point. A number of us were stationed at ‘Bulls and Barrels’ and other outer venues. Walking time is not reasonable, no matter our conditioning, when you consider the set-up and break-down time. We often were not leaving the venue area until 5:45 pm. Thank god for the busses that were provided. With those kind of logistics though, it was almost impossible for us, especially considering the short staffing, to do anything other than our jobs.

      Hopefully BSA is listening.

      • Ray – I understand that some had longer walks than I did. I only walked to the Consol Energy Bridge. I agree that the distant locations should have transportation. “Half hour” is rather vague tho, I would prefer a distance. My general pace is a bit slower than some, and was definitely slower on that trek back to Echo. 🙂

        I had the pleasure of hiking with a gentleman from Idaho — a retired professor who worked over at BMX by the bridge. He was in his late 80’s/early 90’s (I remembered right after Jambo, but my memory slips now). We begged him to take the bus that was eventually provided to transport some to the Action Center. I think he took it once during the first week – and only to work, as he walked back. I can’t speak for the second week because we weren’t there.

        Even with everything, I am reasonably sure I will be there in 2017. My hubby, not so sure. He might take a separate vacation to the beach. 🙂 We still have a little time to decide.

    • Yes, we were told to become fit, but alot of volunteers that didn’t heed that looked like they hadn’t seen their belt buckles in years and years. Yet they were there at the Jambo

  21. Having been on staff in 2013, I can appreciate some of these changes. However, some I don’t necessarily agree with.

    1) Transportation: You were to be physically fit. You were told you would be hiking. Deal with it. [Yeah, I believe in tough love]

    2) Ambient showers. You were warned. (I bought a Sunshower that my bunkmate and I used — it was generally enough for two) BUT, those ambient showers felt good after the hottest days.

    3) COMMUNICATION — this is a big one. Improved communication is great! My husband was OFF SITE in the HOSPITAL for 2 days before anyone “knew.” And it was only because he was moved from a ‘room’ into ‘ICU’ and I freaked trying to get my car out of cold storage and over to him that anyone knew he had left property. Bless the Chaplaincy/Medical Staff who once they DID know about him, eventually made the drive to Charleston to see him (and me) while he spent a week and a half on life-support! Bless those who remained in contact and felt bad because they were ‘leaving me’ away from home, without a support-group.

    4) Staff Village? Unnecessary. We all found the cantina. Food and beverage stands?! Really?! More trash!?!? Did you walk through the activity area — you know, the places that the visitors could go … where there were pizza boxes and soda cans everywhere?! OMG! NO NO NO!!

    4) Staff photos? Mmmmm … no thanks. We took photos in our area. We shared photos. I don’t need photos of the 20,000 staff members, most of whom I never met.

    What wasn’t mentioned, but several people have mentioned: Charging stations for phones/electronics. I was in a MB area where we could charge our phones, so I did not have to fight for one of the few spots available in Echo.

    • Let me clarify — those who remained in contact after Jambo ENDED, and we remained in the hospital after the end of Jambo.

      Want to know who the last to ‘leave’ Jambo was?! We “left” on August 1 when he was discharged from the hospital.

  22. In full disclosure, Ida (Lively) was the person who gave me the REAL heads up as to what life would be at the Summit two weeks before I arrived. I thanked her then and I thank her now for reminding me to bring another set of shoes because of the rain and muck; to be prepared for the cold showers (she didn’t sugar coat THAT…”ambient showers”…HA!); that I needed to make sure that I was physically able to participate in both weeks of the Jamboree (tough love, nothing — she told me that she wasn’t gonna be totin’ my butt around; if the docs say “don’t go,” don’t cheat it…we’ll have another one!), and the deal with the parking of the vehicles at the mall.

    Without her advice and emails, my Jamboree experience would have been a lot less than optimal. As far as communication, those in my “patrol” during the Jamboree kept in constant contact with me, before, during and after the Jamboree. The cellphone coverage could have been better for those of us not on AT&T’s network; what I gave as part of my after-action review, that AT&T should have partnered with Cricket(tm) or some other carrier and provided free or low cost “burner cellphones” which would work just fine for text and calls at the Jamboree but which wouldn’t work five miles away from the Summit. In that way, *everyone* had access to the Jamboree’s network and be able to receive emergent and important communication during the period.

    Many “smart phones” have a “PTT” (push to talk) feature which works like walkie-talkies of old. Taking advantage of that system would work well also. My personal cellphone is not as “smart” as the modern phones but it does have that feature built-in.

    About staff photos. We had someone to take ours but it would be really nice to have a “professionally taken” photo of all of us taken at the start and after “half time” (for those not aware; the BSA established two costs — the full staff cost for the two weeks; and half the amount for those who could only attend the first or latter half of the Jamboree. During the Jamboree, we “reset” the Jamboree program after the sixth day (we called it “half time”) in which we said “thanks and see ya next Jambo!” to those who had to leave; and “hey and glad you’re here!” to those who volunteered to help the second half.) My Jamboree staff photo is hanging in my office with great memories of those men who provided great service on their vacations or like me, took the cut in pay for three weeks to be there.

    (yes, I realize that not a whole lot of people can do what I and many others volunteered to do — no pay for a month meant no personal bills were paid by me that month. I saved up money for four years to attend the Jamboree — like I did for the last eight — and a “sweetie” who believed in Scouting and in her “Scouter man” to pay for my travel, hotel and “go nuts money” at the Trading Post. My prayer is that all of you have someone or someones like that in your lives also.)

    About the cost of being on staff: Put aside some money now if you want to serve on staff — over four years, its what: $200 to $400 a year? The cost of a Venti Mocha and a piece of cake a week… ($8 a week, $36 a month, $432 a year, $1728 over four years. That’s the Jamboree staff fee, a couple of uniforms (cheaper if you can get them on eBay), pair of nice hiking shoes/boots, travel and tolls and some money left over (I used my leftover for a night in a real bed and a long hot shower in Charleston, along with a good meal at the Cracker Barrel ™ *smiling*)

  23. Cold showers, poor food, too much time walking to and from work stations, poor communications, and $850 to volunteer for a 2 week gig….no thanks! That’s more than most of the High Adventure Bases! Good luck with the changes. I do hope Jamoboree is able to recruit adults willing to put up with these.

  24. I understand Ida’s comment about “You were told you would be hiking. Deal with it.”, but for the staff members I’ve spoken to the issue was not exertion/effort but TIME–I know folks who had walks of over an hour to get to program sites. A half-hour sounds like a reasonable target maximum.

  25. I was there in 2013. I got to teach young men, some of whom had never held a gun of any sort, to shoot a shotgun. While I shoot a fair bit, I don’t often get on a range that nice (the view from the trap deck at the Summit is not to be missed) nor do I get to teach that range of people.

    If they’ll have me I’ll go back in 2017. I’ll recruit others to staff as well, lots of others. Cost, ambient temperature showers, disc-o-bed bunk cots, squishy floors – none of it will keep me away. I’ll go back for the company of other staffers, the opportunity to serve the youth and because, despite all my griping, it was the most fun I’ve had in quite awhile!

  26. The people organizing and running the NJ knew a year out about cold showers and hinted about crummy lunches, but nothing was done. They should be fired. Why wasn’t the customers, the volunteer scouters and scout not given surveys about what had worked in the past. I filled out a registration form and waited but nothing positive came out in the Scouter etc. and I made a decision not to work on Staff, I guess I made the correct decision. And this list of promised changes are just that a list of promises. National should know they made a lot of major mistakes and major changes and not promises must be corrected. The fee is very pricey for a multi-member from the same family. Volunteers volunteer and pay to have fun and decent working conditions. When Adult Volunteers walk off the job something, actually a lot of things must be changed, OR THIS WILL BE THE LAST US NATIONAL JAMBOREE.

    • Check out someone’s comment above: “Thanks everyone, we heard you. Now stop talking about it and let’s move on.” That is BSA’s philosophy.

    • Ron, the last National Jamboree?? Really? Just because we have to walk too far, or the lunches could be better, or the showers are too cold? I am going back and will even if nothing changes. As will my daughter….she staffed last time and loved it.

  27. I will be surprised if there is any cost relief for adult volunteers or families with multiple scouts. The Summit was supposed to cost around $115 million, but is over $200 million over budget and according to reporters from Reuters News Service is projected to cost $440 million by 2015. The project is heavily bonded and with corporate donations lagging projections that money has to come from somewhere.

    • And we, the families and volunteers, will be asked to make up the difference. And those asking us will be people pulling down over a million per year in salary, benefits, and “other reportable compensation”.

  28. Number 8 on the list is not an improvement, it is status quo. If something remains the same how can it be better? Were there plans to make it worse?

  29. What happened to all of the thumbs up/down this morning? All seem to be back to 0 or 1, implying that nobody is reading this blog?

  30. How about meeting food concerns – i.e. food allergies (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Etc..) and Labeling the menu items appropriately – there were many days lunch was an apple or a banana I took from breakfast. They could provide special “religious” restriction food but not observe any health restrictions!

    • I forget which dietary need one of the staff members I worked with had but it wasn’t provided by the BSA and was pretty significant. As we walked back to camp on the 4th day or so, the individual got very sick on the side of the rode because he ran out of food he brought (Couldn’t keep it fresh/cold any longer) and had to eat the food BSA provided. BSA should have never let this happen.

  31. My big gripe was the understaffing which resulted in working double shifts…leaving little time to at least visit some of the activity sites…a very big disappointment. Before I sign up for 2017, I want to hear that staffing is at least 75% secured. I do not wish to repeat the heavy work schedule. One full day off is not enough. I prefer a few hours each day.

  32. Well, this is all very interesting, but I think it misses the larger problem — did the Scouts have a good time?

    We had eight attend from our Troop. Here’s what they talked about upon their return: Walking five or more hours to get to an activity area; not being able to do ANY of the aerial events because of the weather and the crowd (or lack of staff); the muddy conditions throughout; the food difficulties.

    Strangely, they said they enjoyed parts of the Jamboree. When I asked, not one said they would do it again.

    It sounds like the Jamboree organizers have a substantial set of problems to solve for both the staff and the participants. And is it really true at least one helicopter a day was required to transport accident victims from the BMX area?

    Hope they get all this straightened out before the World arrives.

    • Phil, I would have to agree with you and there was a BIG difference between scouts in my troop who came back from Jamboree and those who had come back from a High Adventure outing. I heard NOTHING from our Jamboree boys, but the stories from those who had gone to Philmont or Sea Base are still being told two or more years later.

      I regret I was unable to get the 2013 experience. I attended the 1977 (Moraine State Park) and 1993 (Ft. A.P. Hill) Jamborees and had a pretty good time at both, so I really can’t make a comparison, but after reading some of these detailed posts and then stopping to think about what you mentioned about the boys having a good time…really makes me have second thoughts.

      One thing does come to mind from ’93… My very best friend and I decided to head down early to help out with the setup because we had heard on good authority that there was a shortage of help. We are both Eagle Scouts and have been highly involved adult volunteers for nearly 40 years now. We arrived in full uniform with signed letters from our then-council Scout Executive and had our health forms in-hand. We came with work clothes and asked for nothing, yet we were both shocked that we were treated so poorly by adult national staff members on site!

      We weren’t welcomed, but were questioned incessantly about our motives, even after presenting official documentation from our council exec. I really felt like they had treated us like criminals. In the end, we waited around for hours at the admin offices and finally just walked away from it in disgust.

      I am well aware that a major event requires plenty of training and preparation, but to treat volunteers so shabbily and to not consider your paying “customers” is criminal in itself. I’d like to think a lot has changed since 21 years ago and in the current times when Scouting is in heated competition with other organizations stealing potential members, you would think the BSA would think more highly of those who have stuck around to administer and enjoy its programs.

  33. I went as adult staff and both of my sons went as campers. I had no time to spend with them as I was walking, working, or sleeping. The only times I did see them was when they came to the store to see me. They went to SCUBA once, and had a class at the the rifles. One went to the big BMX course once. One got to go whitewater rafting. He said he thought he was NEVER going to get to where the buses loaded. Those are they only times they left Summit Center because everything was so far away. My boys participate in school and extracurricular sports. They run miles weekly with JROTC. They are not overweight or unhealthy. However, they saw no need to walk for 1.5 – 2 hours one way to do an activity. They haven’t asked about 2017.

  34. I was surprised that The Summit brought this article back up after this time. Perhaps because the new theme and materials have been identified for 2017. But as the comments above clearly show, BSA has some work to do to heal the relationship with some volunteers who not only felt they weren’t treated very well – we certainly weren’t treated well at all.

    Jamboree is not Philmont. I hope they get that this time around. If that’s what the experience is “supposed to be” moving forward – so very different than what came before 2013 – it may not sit well to the “new” model of Scouting we’re embracing everywhere else through program and local unit changes.

    I hope I have the opportunity to return. But I wouldn’t return as Staff. My family gave up a lot for my son and I to attend, and if my measure should be if he had a good time – I’m not sure if the positives (and there were positives) offset the problems which in some cases we could have solved for ourselves, if those planning the last Jamboree hadn’t been so headstrong and out of touch.

    As for my experience, we would have done anything for the kids – but the disrespect was palpable. Perhaps best summed up by walking an hour in the rain to get to dining late, and then having to eat in the rain because dozens of tables were “closed” for a “private event” before walking back to a mud hole to go to bed. It’s one of 1000 items that let us know we weren’t important – someone else was the “VIP” here.

    And I’ll also say shared suffering brings people together – met some amazingly great “brothers” because of all this. Maybe if things had been better, we wouldn’t have drawn so close.

  35. Solar shower bags heat well but weigh up to 35 pounds when full. Even when I only filled it half full it was still impossible to get on the hook that was higher than I could reach. I gave it away on the third day. Cold showers are not a deal breaker for me.

    My problem was I arrived early and my car was in the top parking lot. There was no option to visit my car as I worked evenings in the dining hall and that is when transportation was provided. The lot was several miles away, we heard 11 and besides I had no idea how to find it.

    I volunteered because I love Scouting and my grandson attended. I met the physical requirements but have knee issues so worked dining as I could live near where I worked. I saw almost nothing of the Jamboree because even when they added buses you had to climb the huge hill behind the Order of the Arrow tents.

    I plan to volunteer again but only for the first half. Then I will move to a campground and come in the front gate with the visitors. That way I can meet my grandson and watch him skate, bike or whatever he wants.

    My one suggestion would be to have an additional tent where people could have meetings or visit in the evening. Working supper was long but made harder because people had nowhere to go and I hated to run them out to clean.

    I hope volunteers don’t give up on Jamboree I had a great time.

  36. I worked on the trap deck in 2013 (shotgun). I’m planning to go back in 2017 even though I’ll most likely be paying for two scouts as well.

    Spending the day, between thunderstorm shutdowns at least, getting young men breaking clays was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

    Tripling the number of volunteers would be about right. We had lots of shotgun stations that we couldn’t run because of lack of staff. Plenty of guns and launchers, just no staff to run the station.

    I’m glad to see more attention paid to transportation – it’s not a matter of convenience, it’s a matter of making the schedule work. Sounds like transportation is needed for many more areas because you just can’t walk there and back and still make meal times, get a shower, and sleep.

  37. Most of the problems identified above are accurate. There were plenty of issues. One issue was indeed short staffing. Especially in Ariel sports. I had applied for for three positions in this area and was rejected. I finally got an offer for transport which I accepted because I really wanted to go.

    Here’s the interesting thing. I have pretty much determined from Scout Executive imput as well as imput from National Staff on site at the Jamboree that I was rejected due to age. At the time I was 53. But here’s the thing, I’m an impressively muscled and fit man. More importantly I have been a high altitude mountain climber and a rock climber almost all my life. I am incredibly skilled and experienced in climbing matters, even if I have to say it myself. In fact I have 8000m climbing experience which I venture to guess none or at least very few at the 2013 Jamboree had. I put all that on my application along with the fact that I was a BSA climbing instructor and a COPE instructor as well as a trained NOLS mountaineering instructor and an AMS trained Mt McKinley mountain guide. I still got passed over fast.

    The transportation division, especially the motorpool was a miserable place to work basically to the individual in charge. But I got lucky, after a couple day the guy at the jamboree who was basically the overall guy in charge of staffing recognized me and offered to move me instantly and he did. Amazing. After that my jamboree experience was totally wonderful. The Rocks was run by the best of the best and the staff were all people I would gladly call my friends. I had a great time up there. Hiking all the way there at incredibly early hours…big deal. No real time off…big deal. Although I did indeed get a day off because even though we were short staffed or lead guy deemed it important that his staff got to see the rest of the jamboree. Good man.

    So, from my perspective one of the major problems was the incredibly negligent way volunteers were selected and assigned. I can’t imagine I was the only one with a very high skill set in a particular area that didn’t get where they should of been, and I’m guessing many of those didn’t luck out like I did.

    I’d go back in a heartbeat if I could work climbing again…let’s see, I’d be 57…but I’ll still be fit and I’ll still be climbing. I’ve already expressed my interest. But, and it’s a big but, I’d never go back on a random assignment that didn’t acknowledge my skills learned over a lifetime. I worked hard on the climbing program and was glad to do it. But I wouldn’t take what a staffer had to take in 2013 unless I was at least assigned to something I enjoyed and was skilled at instructing.

    All said, the Jamboree was racing against the clock. They were still doing major construction right up until the day of opening. The place was new. The facilities were new, there was undoubtedly a learning curve. So, everything wasn’t perfect, but all in all they pulled it off. I’m sure it will be much improved for 2017. And I wouldn’t discourage anyone from volunteering based on any of the above. Should you show up fit? Sure you should. Heck, you should wake up fit every day of your life. Should you be prepared to suffer inconvenience to deliver the program, derned betcha. But, with the right mental attitude, it can be a wonderful time and anyone who follows the motto “Be Prepared” should anticipate a couple of weeks of good fun.

  38. Most of the shortcomings of Jamboree 2013 have been well documented. The caliber of the staff members I got to know was very high. I am still in contact with my tent mates. The other staffers who rolled up their sleeves and did whatever was needed to make things work for the scouts really impressed me.

    What I haven’t seen mentioned is that some volunteers have expensive skill sets. Whether you are an NRA instructor/RSO or COPE/climbing certified with wilderness first aid training or aquatics certified, you have spent a lot of time and money to safely teach and lead specific program areas in your unit, district, and council. If Jamboree planners could recognize specific skill sets with reduced volunteer costs for current certifications or issue vouchers for future re-certifications, it would serve two purposes: volunteers would feel more appreciated for developing their skill sets and encouraged to keep them current.

    Aerial Sports was critically understaffed in 2013 and I heard the same from Shooting Sports staffers. These are the high adventure activities that scouts want most. They are also inherently dangerous activities so trained and experienced staff is a necessity. Being unable to leave my post as a level II challenge course facilitator at The Ropes for a bathroom break until the course director could take my place (due to gross understaffing) bordered on being unsafe. We ate our lunches at our posts because we had no alternative.

    So, what does my experience cost? I am ACCT Level I Challenge Course Facilitator certified. It costs $125 to get recertified every year. I am a Climbing Director and it cost $500 but it is good for 5 years. CPR can be as cheap as $25-$35 every two years. Wilderness and Remote First Aid Training is available to me for $75. I am taking the Trainer’s EDGE training for $20 to enhance my teaching skills. I let my NRA RSO certification lapse so I could focus on Aerial Sports. I also have my own helmet, harness, approach pack, belay gloves, and assorted climbing gear which I use very frequently. If I got a training voucher from staffing Jamboree 2017, I would become a COPE Director. If the Jamboree 2017 staff fee was lower, I would do more now within my council and the added experiences would help me be better at Jamboree 2017. I would also encourage others to sign up. Right now it is too pricy for many skilled volunteers.

  39. I hope the staffing people pay attention to my comment above about some time off each day to see and experience the Jamboree great activities; not just 1 day off. Note: there were more “likes” to my comment above than any other comments; that should say something. Thanks.

  40. I was part of the Emergency Medical Services group. All of us are certified professionals and had to be licensed to practice in the state of West Virginia. We were short handed as well. It is very hard to explain to someone with medical licenses, a very specialized area, that they have to pay $850 to go, then pay about another $200-$300 for specialized jamboree clothing. .

    As for the accommodations. At $850 for the 16 days I was there, that’s just over $50 a day. The actual cost of food was probably$10-$15, as much of the labor to prepare was volunteer. So I don’t understand why we can’t have a limit of 2 people per tent. The Scoutmasters of the scouts in attendance had their own tents. The scouts have 2 per tent. I paid to be there, why am I treated differently?

    Transportation. We weren’t affected as we used UTV/ATV’s due our large amount of medical equipment. But I emphathized with some of the staff that had to walk great distances. Especially some of the more senior members. I was 57 and in excellent shape, but there were some long walks that had to be taken. Our issue in EMS is that the staff was upset about the walks, so when we had to get by them in the UTV’s, they wouldn’t move out of the roadways to let us by. We have UTV’s because we have to respond immediately, just as an ambulance, so the staff needs to be instructed to get out of our way. When the scouts arrived it was fine, they understand.

    And the Lunches…don’t get me started, especially with the prices being charged by vendors if you wanted some real food. Scouts were paying far too much.

    I am heavily recruiting staff for the 2017 jamboree. I am just hoping that I am not hated after the jamboree is over due to unnecessary problems that have been identified.

    I’ve always been told how valuable volunteers are, treat them well. I think the BSA needs to look at this with how they treat staff at their prize jewel of events, the National Jamboree.

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