Sustainability Treehouse gives Boy Scouts a chance to learn about alternative energy | News

Conservation — a main concept taught to Boy Scouts from the time they start the program, and a concept they continue to strive for at the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean. 

As times are changing, so are our energy sources. And being a Boy Scout means you look for alternative ways to conserve and produce energy. 

At the Jamboree, a popular site involving all things green is the Sustainability Tree. A self-sustaining tree that takes from nature, while giving back. 

Lyn Gemperle, director of the Sustainability Treehouse, said the treehouse reuses water, energy and recycles waste. “We have five levels of the treehouse, and solar energy panels on the roof. All energy inside of the house is created from outside energy.”

The treehouse, 125 feet tall, allows Scouts to climb up its winding steps to discover exhibits on each floor featuring recycling, light bulb and conservation demonstrations. 

“All rain water gets filled into small buckets that is filtered and treated, and becomes the drinking water for the facility,” Gemperle said. “It’s really just one giant self-sustaining building, and the Scouts love it. We’ve had over 200 come through so far this morning.” 

Michael Ramsey, director of Marketing for Boy Scouts, said the Sustainability Treehouse was built in a very unique way.

“They didn’t want to destroy or cut down any trees in the process,” Ramsey said. “They poured down the foundation, and built each level in between the trees so nothing was harmed.” 

“If it weren’t for the big solar panels on top, you wouldn’t even see the house. It’s hidden in the trees. It’s very unique,” he said. 

Once reaching the top, Scouts discover a view among the trees only one could imagine. 

“It’s beautiful up here,” Ramsey said. “And the Scouts really love it because for some of them, this is a view unlike any of them have ever seen before.” 

At the top of the tree, Scouts were given the opportunity to fill out an aluminum tab to “make a commitment” on how they will work harder to conserve energy once they make their journeys back home.

The tabs said things such as “recycle,” “use less paper” and “love harder.”

For the Scouts, the fun did not stop at the treehouse. 

Afterwards many ventured their way to StemQuest, an area on the Summit where all things involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics are located. 

April McMillion, National Director of STEM Programs, said StemQuest is a place of very influential learning. 

“We want the Scouts to learn, get dirty while doing so, and have a great time,” McMillion said. “All of them seem to really love science, they love to make things go boom.” 

Justin Kachurak, 13, a Boy Scout from Pennsylvania said his favorite thing at StemQuest was the liquid nitrogen explosion. 

Chemists filled a plastic bottle with liquid nitrogen and carefully placed it inside of a cold plastic container full of water in the middle of StemQuest field. 

“Watch, it’s going to be huge,” Kachurak said. 

The temperature of the container got cold enough to explode, breaking the container, making the Scouts cheer with excitement. 

To get a refresher from the heat, Scouts lined up under the tent and one-by-one gave their hats to trained professionals. The professionals placed the hats inside of liquid nitrogen, freezing them instantly. 

The Scouts would place the hats back on their heads, helping the sweat dripping from their faces. 

“It’s so refreshing,” Kachurak said with a laugh. 

Kachurak said StemQuest has been his favorite activity at the Jamboree so far. “I’ve only been here for about 30 minutes, but I’ll tell ya what, I’m loving it. It’s so cool to see what all activities they have to offer.”

Another popular favorite at StemQuest was the “Walk on Water” display. 

Scouts mixed up corn starch and water and poured it into a container on the ground. Once mixed up well, Scouts would run across without sinking to the ground. 

“They have to be careful not to stop moving,” McMillion said. “If they stop, they’ll sink. It’s all about staying on the move.” 

Jessica Jonscha, National Staff Advisor for StemQuest, informed Scouts of a shortage all over the country for welders. “So we have Lincoln Electric here to allow you all to see how cool of a job it can be, and actually take a shot at welding yourself.” 

As Scouts geared up in actual welding uniforms and put on masks, they gave welding a go. 

“It’s actually really cool,” Jonscha said. “Part of STEM is to inform kids what career opportunities are available in those fields. 

Jonscha said the Scouts were allowed to weld eagles during their time at the welding station. “They’ve all really enjoyed it, and it’s a station that seems to always be busy.” 

It never fails, though. Through all the excitement of StemQuest, Scouts were still making their mark by trading patches under the shade.

“They receive merit badges at most of the stations, so they really enjoy relaxing and trading them among one another,” Jonscha said. “It’s actually kind of a bartering system.” 

Of all the activities provided at the Jamboree, StemQuest was a place Scouts made memories. And according to many, it was a place they will continue to go back to throughout their Jamboree quest. 

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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