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Solar Chargers a Must

If there’s one thing you don’t want to be at the 2017 National Jamboree, it’s disconnected. Jamboree leaders, participants and staff can use their smartphones to access maps of the Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR), check on live adventure area wait times, stay posted on program announcements, communicate with their fellow Scouts and Scouters, read emergency alerts and even get information on patch trading – so when it comes to being prepared around digital devices, you’ll want to have a game plan for keeping them charged. This year, SBR will feature even more permanent charging stations in base camps and other key locations. But if you want to stay powered up wherever you go, the best option is going to be a solar charger.

Solar chargers will provide the best and easiest way for jamboree leaders, participants and staff to keep juice in their batteries. Portable, easy and lightweight – often no more than a pound or two – most camping solar chargers are ideal for a day around SBR. Many kits will come with a small solar panel and a connectable battery pack. During the day, you can clip the panel to the outside of your backpack as you’re walking around, or lay it out in the sun during breakfast, lunch, or a patch-trading session. Then, at night, plug the battery pack into your device and watch the power flow. Other products may just include a bulkier solar panel, or some other configuration.

Keep in mind that solar chargers aren’t limited to cell phones and tablets. Gear like flashlights and lanterns, and other accessories like wireless speakers and cameras, can often work with a charger. Outfitter retailers and online stores might even stock portable fans or stoves powered by USB. Solar power can be a unique and exciting solution for working with electronics throughout a long camping experience.

Anthony Holmgren, 16, Star Scout, Circle Ten Council, Troop D211 charges his electronics using solar power while walking across Summit Center at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, Mt. Hope, WV. (BSA photo by Edward Bronson)

So if you’re set on bringing a solar charger to Jambo, the next question is: which one? For starters, look no further than the jamboree catalog. The BSA’s National Supply Group stocks convenient kits and power packs from Goal Zero. Those kits will include everything you need to get started with solar charging, minus the cord for your device. Solar chargers have become more common at camping retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online. Decide on a price point and the features you’d like, then do some research. Be thrifty by checking out online reviews and product descriptions to ensure the charger you choose will be durable, fit your needs and last for a long time. Ask the gearheads in your troop or crew if they’ve got a kit that you can borrow, or look to share a charger with a friend in your contingent!

No matter what ends up working for you, you’ll find that smartphones have become a must to capture the entire jamboree experience. Leaders will especially see SBR’s weather communications system and the ability to check in with their scouts no matter the distance between them as necessities. While the jamboree team will make many charging opportunities available, a solar charger will make the experience easier, quicker and much more convenient. Having one available will let you spend your time enjoying all that the 2017 National Jamboree has to offer instead of stressing about the tech.


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