Technology in Scouting: A blessing or a curse?

scoutcast-logo1In this corner, we have modern-day Scouting, where technology enhances the delivery of the program in ways never thought possible.

In the other corner, it’s traditional Scouting, that rare respite from a young person’s screen-based life one weekend each month.

Can’t we all just get along?

That’s the thinking I espouse in the latest episode of ScoutCast, the BSA’s monthly podcast. Yes, you read right; I’m honored to say the guest this month is yours truly.

In the 13-minute podcast, I tell the hosts some ways in which technology can be both a blessing and a curse for your pack, troop, or crew. By sharing personal anecdotes, ideas from blog readers, and some useful online tools, I add my thoughts to the important discussion about how your unit can walk the line between technological over-reliance and under-reliance.

This ScoutCast is a continuation of a discussion started last year on my blog. Read some other troops’ electronics policies, but remember that no one size fits all and that your troop’s youth leaders should set the policy themselves. Otherwise, good luck enforcing it!

Cubcast: How to engage parents

cubcast-logoIt’s the summer and, hopefully, you’re out and about doing fun activities with your Cub Scouts, but have you found yourself wondering, “Gee, how can I get the parents more involved?”

The CubCast team thought you might, so Linda Case, committee chair for Pack 459 in Whitehouse, Tenn., explores opportunities to engage parents in the Cub Scout program in the July 2013 episode.

Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by stepol

7 thoughts on “Technology in Scouting: A blessing or a curse?

  1. Technology will be something that society is going to have to struggle and cope with, not just Scouting. My son’s middle school has wi-fi and allows kids to bring in devices to use at school. However, there are strict rules on when and how to use them. Break the rules, and you’ll no longer be allowed to have them. For example, can’t have them out between classes. if they are out during class, have to be turned upside down until they are in use. And then when they are in use, have to be on the table so the teacher can see them and then only used for the purpose at hand: research, calculator, etc.

    The school has chosen to embrace the technology for good and attempts to implement them with sound rules. (Also, the 3G network doesn’t work inside the school so the wi-fi can limit what websites they go to.)

    Anyone over 30 didn’t grow up using this kind of technology and we’ll have a difficult time understanding just how a part of a child’s life this is. It’s like our parents who may not understand how much computers are a part of our lives or how much music was a part of theirs growing up to their grandparents.

    Every generation will have new things like this which the older generation will have to cope with.

  2. Bryan, you hit a real hot button for me! Yes I work for IBM but I am also a Scout volunteer and see the issues…

    There are things no one is doing and that is we are giving our youth technology but not teaching them to use it properly. They can get into a lot of trouble with just a split second error in judgement which young boys are prone to do i.e. downloading movies, pictures, trading pictures, cyber bullying, and more…On the other hand, we can use it for maps, GPS locate, posting schedules, weather alerts, and more like the Summit Jamboree app which we are rolling out at the Jamboree.

    It is truly a blessing and a real problem that we are not dealing with very well…

  3. I really appreciate some of the changes for scouters that are web-based like training and tour permits, but I just wish that BSA tools, especially Rechartering on-line, were more Mac friendly.
    There are definitely some apps that are useful, but smartphones at the meetings are mostly a distraction.

  4. I use my smartphone regularly at meetings to take attendance on our troop management software and to look at merit badge requirements with boys on an app. I’m also looking forward to how the Jambo app is going to work at SBR and would love to have more publications in ebook format.

    On the other hand, I don’t want to be connected on campouts and I really don’t want the boys to be constantly plugged in to technology either. Definitely an issue that is going to be revisited regularly and that we are going to have to work to integrate wisely in the Scouting program!

  5. Just a reminder from this BSA National Radio Scouting Committee member: If your unit does restrict technology with a written policy, please make sure it specifically allows Amateur Radio equipment brought by an FCC licensed Amateur Radio Operator, whether a youth or adult.

    We want to ENCOURAGE kids to work on their Radio Merit Badge and get their FCC license. That’s why BSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ARRL and recently added the Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip (Supply No. 617431) to the uniform.


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