Technology vs Wilderness

on February 6, 2011 in Activity, Gadgets

When I volunteered to become an assistant scoutmaster for my local troop way back in 1980, the main competition we had for boy’s time was the school sport programs. Some boys were just too busy playing football, basketball, or baseball to join the Scout troop. Some boys did join both, learned to juggle their schedules, and had a good time in both programs. I always knew though that if both happened on the same night, the Scouting program would lose participation. That is just the way it was.

It is still that way today, but there is another thing that is taking up boy’s time: technology. By that I mean video games, the internet, and even cell phones. Some kids are so (shall I say it?) addicted to video games they may not join any other program, be it sports or Scouting. Those that do join Scouting always seem to have a cell phone or some other piece of technology with them wherever they go. Today’s teens have a tough time cutting that chord, and that can sometimes create a problem when a troop has a “No cell phone, video game, or mp3 player on campouts” policy.

Adults get caught up in the whole thing also. I see a lot of adult leaders at summer camp and camporees with a cell phone attached to their ear. With the new smart phones they no longer leave the internet behind. I bring a cell phone to camp but the only time I ever seem to use it is when the boys call their parents on the way home. I do bring an iPod along when we are going to an outing that is more then several miles from home so that I have something to listen to in the car. The boys usually choose what to listen to on the way.

Now there is the iPad. I do plan to get one someday. I do plan to put some Scouting related programs on it, like the Scout Handbook and an advancement tracking program. It should come in handy at troop meetings. But do I bring it on camping trips? This would violate our troop’s no electronics policy.

Some troops have changed their policy to allow electronics after the Scout earns a Technology Chit card, similar to the Totin Chip card. The Boy Scout takes a “course” on how to use technology responsibly during a troop activity. I have heard that a couple troops have used this new policy quite successfully. It may be something Troop 68 has to review sometime in the near future, but I still do not like the idea of Boy Scouts bringing video games and cell phones along on outings. I have seen Scouts in other troop too often paying attention to technology instead of having fun in the wilderness.

Today and tomorrow’s troops are going to need to find a balance between the two. Tech is here and I do not see it going away anytime in my future. In fact, I think the competition is only going to get worse.

How does your troop handle cell phone, video games, and iPods?

By the way, the picture of the robot and the squirrel was the inspiration for this article, so I had to use it.

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    6 Responses to “Technology vs Wilderness”

    1. Our “policy” is anything is fine for the drive to and from but if were camping it’s only for reference purposes and is functioning as a tool. Games, texting is out. Truth be tokd we’re a little looser about it if it’s the end of an inclement night.

    2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve B, HalfEagle Bot. HalfEagle Bot said: Technology vs Wilderness, A Scoutmaster's Blog http://halfeagle.com/r/21407 #scouts #bsa [...]

    3. Chad says:

      My policy with my BSA Varsity Team is if I hear it, I take it. If it comes out of the pocket, I take it. If it any sort of distraction I take it. There is something to be said to having no connection to parents and friends. You see who the boy truly is. Camping is a time to return to our roots and last time I checked cavemen did not have cell phones. :)

    4. Nick Wood says:

      We do try to stop the Scouts taking electronic item out to camp etc for two reasons. Firstly as you say, the distraction factor. And secondly to stop these expensive pieces of equipment getting stolen or broken – it’s just not worth the hassle!

      YIS

    5. Al Lundy says:

      The problem is not one of Scouting. The BSA has never tried to prohibit technology from the outdoor program. Such prohibition is the invention of some adults in some scout units. It has nothing to do with the scout program and everything to do with the adults ablities to understand and incorporate technology changes in the world around them into the scouting program.

      As a scout in the sixties there were some troops in our area that forbid transistor radios (obviously the work of the devil), because they were surf that scouts would spend all day listening to that horrid Rock n Roll music (also no doubt the work of the devil).

      The Scout leaders in our troop had no such fear and instead helped us to set simple rules on how to use them courteously if we brought them on an activity.

      The problem is not technology, can you imagine a Scoutmaster banning, GPS units, Gortex, nylon, Hollifill, LED flashights, strikable safety matches, or other forms of technology developed over the years?

      No the trouble is not technology, the trouble is a fear of entertainment. Some Scoutmasters fear that they are unable to make scouutig as entertaining as an I-pod, or a gamboy, or some other electronic device, and so they ban them in hopes that by ignoriong the technology that it will somehow make their program better. It is a personal problem that is unrelated to Scouting, so you cannot find an answer to it in the scouting program.

      The BSA has always embraced technology and embraced serving youth and by keeping Scouting related to their world and not the world that the Scoutleaders remember from their childhood.

    6. Larry Geiger says:

      You take the technology away, you lose. You’re done. You’re toast. As Al says, it just won’t work. Maybe you can try that stuff for a while, but pretty soon you won’t have any Scouts. A few people can get away with what Doug, Chad and Nick are trying to do but it won’t work for very long. You won’t win this one, that’s for sure.

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