Put more than 32,000 Boy Scouts in one place for nine days and some of them are going to learn something, in spite of themselves.
But no one is pretending that the 11th National Boy Scout Jamboree, which ended here tonight, was supposed to be anything but fun.
Timothy Tucker, 13, learned at the jamboree, which was held at Fort A.P. Hill near here, how to drive a hard bargain.
In doing so, he earned a reputation as the best patch trader in his troop from Augusta, Ga.
Todd Inman learned about broadcasting, sending news reports about the jamboree to a radio station in his hometown of Calvert City, Ky.
Chip Griner, 15, from Columbia, Miss., learned how to give orders as a senior patrol leader, not to mention, he said, a few new curse words.
And Ken Davis, 13, learned that "roughing it" in a tent isn't bad, but he did miss some of the amenities of his home in Bethlehem, Pa.
"I'm sick of washing my clothes," he said. "Mom can do it when I get home."
She'll get her chance soon, since the Boy Scouts are scheduled to board buses to return home Wednesday after the closing ceremonies tonight, which featured a speech by First Lady Nancy Reagan and a concert by a country music group, the Oak Ridge Boys.
After nine days at the jamboree area -- parts of which are still muddy from rainstorms last week -- today's closing ceremonies marked the first time many scouts have had that clean, pressed look since the opening ceremony July 24.
But this was a concession most of the scouts seemed to make happily enough for the closing procession.
"There's nothing like looking down a line and seeing 30,000 scouts all in uniform with you," said John Hadley, a former scout and a volunteer at the jamboree.
"It's a real feeling of pride," he said.
Hadley said he attended his first jamboree as a scout from Indiana in 1977 and worked as a volunteer at the last jamboree, which was held at Fort A.P. Hill in 1981.
If the pageantry of the closing ceremony doesn't provide lasting memories for a scout, the cost of the jamboree might.
Individual scouts paid their own way to the jamboree, although some received assistance from their local troops.
The flat fee for attending the jamboree was $246, scout officials said, but travel costs and pre-jamboree training camps, which many scouts attended, pushed the cost higher.
David Cuccia of Troop 338 in Arlington said he paid $400.
Some scouts from Northern California paid $1,300 each for their jamboree vacation, which included stops in Washington and Williamsburg.
Griner said he paid his jamboree fee of $700 on his own by working on an oil rig.
His friend Charlie Pope, 11, also from Mississippi, earned his way to the jamboree in more routine fashion: "I mowed lawns," he sighed wearily.
Many of the activities at the jamboree had a distinctly high-tech flavor.
The IBM and Apple computer companies had booths at the jamboree, and scouts could earn merit badges for computer work.
Apple gave away more than 19,000 gray pouches that are designed to hold portable computers, which many scouts discovered also work well for carrying scout patches and other jamboree paraphernalia.
In spite of that high-tech flavor, the activities scouts said they enjoyed most were of the more traditional sort, such as bicycle motocross competitions and canoe races. And in the finest tradition of scouting there was, of course, a booth training scouts to tie knots.
Many scouts ended the jamboree wishing they could stay longer.
"There's so much stuff to do that you can't get to it all in such a short time," said Tucker, vowing to return to the next jamboree, four years from now.
Scout Todd Inman seemed to think it might take him that long to recover from the exhausting events of the celebration.
"I can't remember my name," he said. "About 18 hours of sleep on the bus will be perfect."
At the jamboree's closing ceremony tonight, attended by an enthusiastic crowd of scouts and visitors estimated at around 60,000, Nancy Reagan continued her crusade against drug abuse.
After thanking the scouts for the opportunity to "pinch-hit" for "my favorite scout," the recuperating president, she urged the scouts to "please be strong and help fight against the influence of drugs. Say no and then help others to say no."