Happy 101st Birthday BSA/Technology -vs- Scouting

BSA Birthday CakeYesterday was the BSA’s birthday.  101 years old – wow!  Pretty amazing to think that this youth organization has been in existence for over 100 years now, and is still going strong.

One thing that is a major issue with my Troop is retention.  We’ve lost a lot of boys in the last year.  Some of it is to sports and other outside activities, and some of it – well, I just don’t really know.  Seems like parents these days either make the Scout choose between sports and Scouting – or they choose it for them.  Typically, Scouts loses that battle.

I think now more than ever we as Scouting leaders need to look outside of the box and find ways to retain and recruit new youth to our units.  I keep reading about technology versus Scouting – and I have to say that if we don’t (as adult leaders) change how we communicate and allow some technology into our program we’re bound to lose more and more boys.  I think that by letting technology into our units to some degree may help keep some of the boys who might not otherwise stick around.  There’s some good technology articles on Scouting over at Scoutmaster Steve’s blog:  http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about campfire skits by the light of cellphones here, but there needs to be a time and a place for them to use these types of things in the Scouting program.  I know that at least one of our Council’s Troops at the National Jamboree this last year not only allowed cell phone use, but encouraged it so the leaders could keep tabs on where the boys were during the day.  I realize this doesn’t apply to most typical camp-outs, but I’m curious how Troops deal with this, if at all?  I already text-message my SPL on occasion, as it’s the quickest and easiest way to get in touch with him when I need to.

Please, let me know your thoughts on retention and if you feel the technology part of it has anything to do with it.


About Mayor Kyle P. Riel

Dad, Husband, Firefighter, Mayor, Blogger, Drummer, yadda, yadda, yadda. View all posts by Mayor Kyle P. Riel

2 responses to “Happy 101st Birthday BSA/Technology -vs- Scouting

  • Shane

    Technology is a distraction…. that us adults fall victim to. We should show our youth how to balance technology and use it when appropriate. I struggle with this all the time.

    I see nothing wrong with letting kids have cell phones, but it should be within reason. Maybe establish some ground rules.

    How many adults are tweeting / facebook’n from their sleeping bags on camp outs? How many adults will answer a cell call in the middle of a conversation they are having face to face? What does this teach our youth?

    I’m sure their are some sensible guidelines that allow us to use technology without becoming enamored by it.

  • Doug Metz

    I think Geocaching (new merit badge last year) is a perfect example of how modern technology can be incorporated into the 100 year old “game” of Scouting. It introduces how the technology works while still giving attention to older methods of map/compass. (Requirement 5b: Explain the similarities and differences between GPS navigation and standard map reading skills and describe the benefits of each.) While many Scouts parents may have a GPS in their vehicle does the Scout (or parent) really understand how it all works? It’s also a good teaching point on how could we ‘survive’ without all our modern gadgets. Overall I look at it with the perspective that technology is a tool and should be used as such. As far as our Troop, 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 told we’re a little looser about it if it’s the end of an inclement night.

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