Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Near the end of this month’s Scenic District roundtable meeting I asked the Scouters if many of them had any of the digital copies of the old Boy Scout themed novels written in the early 1900’s. I had noticed that many of the Scouters owned smart phones and tablets and that they used these during meetings, so I thought it was a valid question. I do not think a hand went up in reply. That surprised me a little.

I have collected over 50 of these old books in the open source epub digital book format. They are novels featuring the adventures of Tom Slade, Roy Blakeley, and Pee Wee Harris. You may recognize those names from the Boy’s Life magazine cartoon pages. There are stories of the Banner Boy Scouts and the members of the Eagle Patrol. All of these old novels have fallen into the public domain. I think I have more eBooks than I do actual hardbound books in my collection.

I understand the epub eBook file works well with many current tablets, including the iPad, but does not work with the Amazon Kindle tablets. I guess Amazon would rather sell you a copy in their own format. However, I hear that there are free programs available to reformat epub files to something the Kindle can use. It is just an extra step needed to work on the Kindle.

I asked the Scouters if they would like a digital copy of these books. Most of them said yes. This morning I got busy and started burning cd’s of the 50 Scouting novels for the next roundtable. I will bring 12 cd’s to the meeting. It will be a nice bonus for some of the Scouters who take the time to come to the roundtable. If more than one Scouter from a troop attends I am sure they would be willing to share the cd of books.

How many of these digital novels do you own?

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.