Over 2,000 Scouts and Scouters participated in our recent Summit Shakedown experience. Clearly, it created a buzz as we hoped. It also accomplished our other primary objective to test certain aspects of the Summit and learn more about running program there.
The overwhelming response from those I’ve heard from has been positive. That said, there have been many suggestions on how we can improve — all of which have been welcomed. One thing that struck me from reading the suggestions is there’s still some confusion over what the shakedown was about and how the shakedown experience relates to what you can expect at the 2013 National Jamboree. To clarify: It really doesn’t relate.
While we did test some processes we intend to use at the jamboree — shower houses, troop food issue, troop equipment, and jamboree tents are good examples — which helped us examine how well our plans will work at the jamboree so we can make adjustments before next year, the shakedown was not a jamboree-like experience.
The program areas seem to be where the greatest confusion exists between the shakedown and the jamboree. Only two shakedown program elements match what can be expected at the jamboree: mountain biking and whitewater rafting. The bike trails shakedown participants rode (they didn’t ride all of them, by the way) are trails we will use at the jamboree just as the New River rafting program will use similar sections of the river (although we trust it will be a bit more challenging next year).
The other program venues (challenge course, zip line, BMX, skate, canopy) were teasers. While they will be Action Point venues that visitors will have access to at the jamboree, they are not the primary adventure areas jamboree participants will be using. Those will be in other areas of the Summit and will be substantially more challenging. (E.g., at the shakedown, you rode one BMX track; at the jamboree, the Trax will feature nine tracks. At the shakedown, you rode one 1,100-foot zip line; at the jamboree, Zipzilla will provide five zip lines over three times as long.) In other words, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
One last point: The shakedown’s Garden Ground hike was intended to help us learn about moving a large number of Scouts to Garden Ground. We learned a lot! But for those who made the hike and asked “Is that all?” the answer is NO. During the jamboree there will be a Garden Ground filled with program activities that will await those who make the trek: pioneering, mountain man events, the Order of the Arrow’s Indian Village, a barbecue feast, and more. Once again, what you will see at the jamboree will be MUCH different.
So my message is: Thanks to all those that came to the shakedown. You taught us a lot, and we are making changes as a result, but don’t make the mistake of trying to relate the shakedown experience to the jamboree. As I said earlier: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”