Skip to comments.Scouting survives: Even in high-tech age, youths learn to 'Be prepared'
Posted on 08/06/2006 7:41:01 PM PDT by fgoodwin
Scouting survives: Even in high-tech age, youths learn to 'Be prepared'
Sunday August 6, 2006
by CANDICE BOSELY
TRI-STATE - These are a few of their favorite things: Cell phones and cookies, iPods and pop-up tents, video games and wilderness badges.
Seeing teenagers - and children even younger - talking or sending text messages on cell phones, fiddling with mp3 music players and playing video games are common sights.
Girl Scouting and Boy Scouting might almost seem passé, given the associated images of camping, surviving in the wilderness and sleeping in wooden cabins at camp. But it's not antiquated and is just as relevant, if not more so, today as in the past, local Scouting officials say.
Anastasia Broadus, 13, of Hagerstown, admitted that when she first joined Girl Scouts six years ago she wasn't too keen on "the outdoorsy stuff."
Now, though, she said she likes sleeping in a tent - even without her digital music player and computer.
"I don't take any of those things when I go" on Scouting activities, she said.
Daved Paddack, 12, joined the Boy Scouts when he was a first-grader, in part because of his father, who works for the organization.
"He said it was a great experience," said Daved, of Hagerstown.
He said he's into sports and also has a computer, PlayStation game system, a portable Game Boy and an iPod digital music player.
Although he enjoys using and playing with the latest technologies, he's also always excited to go on Boy Scout trips, said his mother, DeeDee Paddack.
Daved said his favorite Boy Scout activities are rifle shooting, archery and swimming. He goes to camp once a week in the summer, where he works on merit badges.
"I really want to become an Eagle Scout," Daved said, believing it will help him have more choices getting into colleges and with his career path.
"It just teaches you a lot about life and stuff," he said.
Cooking and how to survive in the woods are a few of those life skills Daved said he has learned.
"The cutest thing," his mother said, is that Daved learned how to make barbecue chicken.
Values, ethics and ... fun
When Boy Scout representatives visit schools, camping is still the No. 1 reason boys express interest in the organization, said Don Shepard, Scout executive for the Mason-Dixon Council of Boy Scouts of America.
The Hagerstown-based council serves boys in Washington County and Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania.
"In a time when more and more of our societal changes are heading in a technological direction, there are still a great number of kids interested in the outdoors," Shepard said.
The local council grows 1 percent to 2 percent a year, evidence boys are still interested in the traditional programming offered by Boy Scouts.
It's a misconception, Shepard said, to believe that today's video game systems, computers and large TVs will cause children to want to stay inside all the time.
Those gadgets keep children busy, but when introduced to other experiences, they become involved and interested.
If given a choice, most children will choose to do something they've never done before. White-water canoeing, spelunking or going on a long mountain bike ride are activities most boys wouldn't be able to do without Boy Scouts, Shepard said.
"Our goal is to instill in them values and ethics while having fun," Shepard said. "I'm a firm believer that it takes parents to birth a child and it takes the community to raise them."
The Scouts' motto, "Be prepared," refers not only to being prepared for wilderness survival situations but being prepared for moral and ethical decision-making as well.
"It's being prepared for life," Shepard said.
The types of merit badges available to Scouts reflect the old-and-new mentality.
Boy Scouts can acquire as many as 120 merit badges in areas including canoeing and computers, geology and graphic arts, engineering and entrepreneurship, nature and nuclear science.
"As kids have evolved with computers and technology we have continued to come out with additional merit badges," Shepard said.
The number of boys who seek merit badges in new categories such as graphic arts and nuclear science is small, but many work to obtain merit badges in computers because the work can be done in school.
Mostly boys seek badges in more traditional programs, Shepard said.
In the summer and other times, Boy Scouts can spend time at Camp Sinoquipe, a 500-plus-acre camp in Fulton County, Pa. There they can complete the hours needed for outdoor-related merit badges as well as take part in activities designed to be fun. Leadership skills also are honed.
Camping is a popular activity for local troops, either in the form of backpacking, camping in a cabin or "troop trailer camping" - in which supplies are hauled in a trailer and unloaded at a campsite.
"We like to consider the outdoors our classroom," Shepard said.
Typically, Scout masters prohibit cell phones, Game Boys, music players and other gadgets from trips into the outdoors.
Shepard, 37, registered to be a Cub Scout when he was 7 years old. He advanced through the ranks and eventually obtained the highest possible rank, Eagle Scout.
Boy Scouts, he said, teaches life skills to those who might not be able to learn such things at home. Given the situation with many of today's busy families, children might not be able to learn how to cook at home, for example.
They can with the Boy Scouts, Shepard said.
Those skills often carry them into adulthood. Seven out of 10 former Boy Scouts have indicated that something they first were introduced to in Scouting became either a lifelong hobby or a career, Shepard said.
Crafts, cookies, camping and more
One of the emphases of Girl Scouting has been and remains today the idea of leadership development.
Entertainment devices can occupy a girl's mind, but learning leadership skills and what each girl can and cannot do are important, said Ellen Murphy, program and property manager for Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council.
Based in Martinsburg, W.Va., the council serves girls in 15 counties in the four-state region.
When Girl Scouts was created in Savannah, Ga., in 1912, women's roles were limited. The idea of girls playing basketball in bloomers was radical, Murphy, said.
In the 1940s, when World War II caused so many men to leave their jobs behind for the military, women learned about careers.
Today, girls are encouraged to pursue whatever career interests they have - whether it's to become a nuclear physicist or to stay at home and focus on family, Murphy said.
"Girl Scouting is fun for them, but parents are interested in their girls learning things," she said.
As with Boys Scouts, the merit badges a Girl Scout can earn have adapted to the times. Some of the earliest badges focused on homemaking and emphasized farm skills, such as pasteurizing milk. Today, girls can earn badges that emphasize technology and medical careers.
And, the staple.
"The out-of-doors is still a constant," Murphy said.
Selling Girl Scout cookies, making crafts and camping remain part of the Girl Scouts program, but the true traditional programming is molding young women into adults with courage, confidence and character and who make the world a better place, Murphy said - paraphrasing the organization's new motto.
Anastasia joined when she was a second-grader. She said she enjoys going to Camp White Rock for a week or two in the summer, and said she plans to one day work as a counselor. Typically, girls with that goal start out as program aides, but Broadus said she was able to skip that and start as a counselor-in-training.
"There's a lot of opportunities," she said of Scouting.
Girl Scouts requires that girls take on leadership roles - putting the needs of other girls before one's own needs, Anastasia said.
"There are some girls who like to be out on the streets. I'm not one of them," she said, saying that her mother, Monique Broadus, deserves credit for being there for her. "Most girls don't have someone like my mom."
When attending Camp White Rock, which is in Capon Bridge, W.Va., girls are asked to leave their electronic devices at home, Murphy said.
It's done not only in principle, but practicality.
"Things like cell phones simply don't work here," Murphy said from the camp, where she said there is no reception.
By the numbers
Number of boys served in 2005 by the Hagerstown-based Boy Scouts council:
· 1,534 Cub Scouts
· 750 Boy Scouts
· 180 Venturers
Number of boys and girls who participated in the council's Learning for Life program:
· 1,310 elementary, middle and high school students
· 96 career explorers
The Mason-Dixon Council of Boy Scouts of America serves boys in Washington County and Franklin and Fulton counties, Pa.
Number of girls served by the Martinsburg, W.Va.-based Girl Scouts Council:
· More than 5,000 in programs from the Daisy Girl Scouts, for girls 5 and 6 years old, to the Senior Girl Scouts program, for those up to 17 years old.
Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council serves girls in 15 counties in the four-state region, including Washington County, Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties in West Virginia, and a portion of Bedford County, Pa.
The only luxury item that we carried when I was on a Boy Scout camping trip was matches
In truth, the GS is nothing more than feminist/lesbian training group. Yes, I know, you local GS chapter is good fun and promotes good Christian values. But you cannot escape what the national organization has become. It does filter down weather you wish to admit it or not.
On a side note, of the Boy Scout group I've been involved with, NO electronics were allowed to be taken with them, except a flashlight. And the leaders had a GPS or two, just to be safe.