Should Scouters capitalize on archery interest inspired by ‘The Hunger Games’?

Thanks to The Hunger Games, archery is cool again. Your move, Scout leaders.

In the megahit film and book, the character Katniss Everdeen (above) uses a bow and arrow to hunt for food.

And she does it in style.

Sounds like a great opportunity for Scouters to get their troop excited about Archery merit badge, right?

Turns out it’s not that simple.

As the movie (and book) progresses, the teenage heroine must turn that same bow and arrow on humans as she’s forced to fight for her survival.

So that’s the rub: How can Boy Scout or Venturing leaders capitalize on this new enthusiasm for archery without drawing attention to the violence in the PG-13 movie?

Or maybe the question is, should Scouters mention The Hunger Games at all?

Of course, these are questions only you and your fellow leaders can answer. But to help you weigh both sides, I asked our Facebook fans for their opinion.

Here are some of their responses:

Let them do the heavy lifting
“You don’t have to tie them together at all. If the kids are interested for that reason they will make the connection themselves.”
Iain A.

Talk it out
“I think that the violence (which is a naturally occurring thing to many) could easily be turned into a teaching tool for citizenship and the importance thereof. [Baden-Powell] really wanted Scouting to be a thing to connect all people and bring common sense to the future leaders. The dystopian society that Katniss is in is a great example of what happens when there is the lack of that common sense. Either way it is a conversation of Boy Scouts, not Cubs.”
John V.

A tool, not a weapon
“It’s the same as with knives or firearms. You have to teach it as a tool or a sport, not as a weapon of violence.”
Troop 777

Keep the aim on archery
“Why mention the movie? If kids are watching the movie and interested in Archery, focus on the interest (and skill) — [focus on] the archery.”
Charlene F.

More food for thought
“The violence in the movie (an moreso in the book) presents an opportunity to discuss violence on many levels — if you care to go that direction. In the story, the children are forced into a situation that the protagonist (and most “tributes” from the Districts) does not look forward to. She would rather use her tools (archery and other outdoorsy knowledge) to feed her friends and family. Violence is forced on them for the entertainment of others (those in the Capital). I see this as a great way to foster that discussion. If you choose to.”
Wade G.

Which came first?
“My boys are very excited about learning this new skill. But they don’t seem to be into it because of The Hunger Games or the violence you speak of. They simply think it is cool and have since before the movie was thought about.”
Serena S.

Get your facts straight
“Why not just teach them that The Hunger Games just a movie and not real life? If they are old enough for archery they should know the difference between fiction and nonfiction.”
Lori C.

Real-world lessons
“I’m an archery instructor and have already seen a big increase in interest in archery, especially in Boy Scouts. So much so that I’ve been asked to become an Archery merit badge counselor to help some boys get their badge. I always intended to become a counselor for it, but my own boys are still Cubs so I wasn’t in any rush. With the movie out I’m becoming one earlier than I’d planned so I can pass on the tradition of archery while interest is high. And I agree that you don’t necessarily need to talk about the movie much, if they are interested in it because of the movie (or books) then they will make their own connections.”
Melody S.

Safety reminder

Before Scouts pick up a bow and arrow, they’re told the safety rules of archery. In fact, explaining these precautions is first in the list of Archery merit badge requirements.

And it’s been that way for a while. Archery is one of the BSA’s original 57 merit badges, part of Scouting since 1911. I interpret that to mean the BSA has sharpened its safety standards during the past 100 years.

What do you think?

How will you approach this issue? Which (if any) of the comments above do you agree with? Leave your thought below.

Photo by Murray Close/Lions Gate Entertainment

9 thoughts on “Should Scouters capitalize on archery interest inspired by ‘The Hunger Games’?

  1. I did not realize that archery was not cool? It is just sensationalized a bit. Why do we believe that kids can’t disassociate two separate things within a complex situation? Does archery mean violence and killing? Of course not! The same goes for guns, cars, water sports, and many other things. If you respect the sport or machine, it can be a safe and fun thing to do. The movie just brings archery to light, and gives it a stage to many people who otherwise would not think about it. I have participated in archery since I was a kid, and I help operate a District Day camp every year where we expose nearly 150 Cub Scouts and siblings to it. I imagine I will need to have a bunch of information on where to buy this year for parents, but just a little more over the previous years. To sharpen the pencil a bit, This movie does not put archery in any more of a bad context that learning about warfare in England in the middle ages, or hoe the Jews defended their lands for centuries, or how Paris struck down Hercules. Let the story teach it’s meaning through plots, and the kids will see that separate not associated archery. Parents and Scout leaders can also always have discussions about this too. My two cents!

  2. If your boys are interested in Archery and think it’s cool, than it’s cool. The movie doesn’t need to be brought up at all. if it is than jump into a conversation. Untill then let them have fun learning a really cool and Neat activity!

  3. I feel that if you can incorporate something that the youth are interested in your program at that moment in time WHY reinvent the wheel. You newer know they may decide to try something and they may enjoy it for the rest of their lives.

  4. If a movie inspires interest in an activity, ask what is that is inspiring? Don’t shun it because there is violence in the movie. This is the perfect time to show the difference between marksmanship skill with a bow and responsible use of an ancient weapon. Hunting for food is okay but using it against a person is a crime. It’s the same way we speak to the boys about safety on the shotgun, rifle, BB, or slingshot range. If they aren’t mature enough to understand than they are not mature enough to assume the responsibility and should try again when they are a little older. As the leader it is our responsibility to say no, not yet.

  5. i think the movie (and book) should be used as a vital topic for many subjects for scouts. the protagonist uses a bow to hunt for food because her government is oppressive and cruel, a leader should take the opportunity to talk to older more mature scouts that the sort of government that is in the story is not fantasized but that it does exist all over the world in different forms of oppression. with archery a boy will know the difference between what he can and can not do, if he does not then he should not be taking the archery merit badge course.

  6. The entire book series, or the movie since it is what’s hot right now, can be the catalyst into many great Scoutcraft skills, archery obviously being the first and foremost. But as mentioned in other comments, one could also tie it into a discussion about citizenship and our form of government and our rights and duties as Scouts and citizens…not just contrasted towards the form of government and treatment of citizens in the book but also look at the local impact and the “help other people at all times” that is shown by people who have almost nothing themselves helping out their neighbors. And then there’s a whole host of wilderness survival and other Scoutcraft skills to delve into (knot tying, fishing, plant & animal identification, cooking outdoors, etc.).

    Obviously the context of the book in which the children are thrown into a deathmatch against each other doesn’t really match up with anything in Scouting, but you can de-emphasize that portion or it can be used as an ethical or moral discussion topic.

    Do you need The Hunger Games movie or books to excite Scouts about Scoutcraft skills? Not really. But if that’s what the boys (or girls, if Venturing) are interested in, it could surely be used to transition them into a great Scouting experience. That’s why many camping opportunities have themes.

  7. I haven’t seen “Hunger Games” and really don’t plan on seeing it. Just not my flavor. But archery IS an important skill to learn, and I’m trying to teach my just-crossed-over Webelo II to learn to shoot a bow with some degree of comfort. We’re not hunters, but being able to shoot a bow & arrow or a rifle may, one day, God forbid, make the difference in whether or not he’s able to feed his family…

  8. Pingback: New York OA Trader | Today’s Links April 30, 2012

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