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Smartphones in Scouting: A curse or a cure?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Twocubdad View Post
    Electronics on campouts are like an incurable, chronic disease which we must endure and manage as best we can.
    The pocket knife analogy is lame. Sure both are useful tools in their place, but I've not seed a Scout spend a weekend whittling to the exclusion of any other activity or interaction.
    I'd be curious where Mr. Butler would draw the line. My guess he would be agreeable with just about anything if he thought it would bring in more money and members.
    I've never seen a scout in my troop on a campout who carries a smartphone to use it to the exclusion of other activities. Outside of scouts, I've seen a lot of youth do this, but not among my scouts.I think the pocketknife analogy is good. I have seen pocketknives misused.

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    • #17
      How many smartphone opponents out there use one and like it? My guess is that those of us who use smartphones are in favor of them, while those who don't are against them. What I like it is that I can have numerous references at my fingertips. I guess I'm too lazy to carry around a dozen books.

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      • #18
        I once stood up after Meeting and announced that we had just become aware of a new invention that would revolutionize the transfer of information and knowledge. It was portable, easy to carry and inexpensive. Needed no batteries, worked out in the woods or in a building. Usable in many light levels, even in pitch dark with a small adapter. It was quickly adapted to many uses and anyone, young or old, could quickly learn how to avail themselves of its utility. Folks were even discussing how to loan and borrow them thru public venues.


        You could see folks start to sit up and pay attention, right up to when I said" it's called THE BOOK. " and reminded them I was on the Meeting's Library Committee.

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        • #19
          "My guess is that those of us who use smartphones are in favor of them, while those who don't are against them."
          I guess I'm the exception. I like smartphones but don't use one, mostly because of the crappy battery life.
          Moreover, I'm ok with the boys bringing them on a rafting trip or really any outing...chances are that there is going to be no signal at all and after the first day or so, the battery will be dead....terminated. If one drops into water or it gets lost, well, that's not my problem and it's a lesson for the future on what is or is not a good thing to bring.
          Personally, I don't use them because the flip phone that I do use will go for about a week of moderate use without the need to charge it. And if I'm not actually using it, it will 'idle' for several weeks. Plus there's no chance I'm going to become an addict.

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          • #20
            As for the responsibility we warn them that if they are lost or damaged for any reason it is at their own risk. That includes the car rides up and back. If the purpose is for communication for pickup at the end of the trip they can use an adult leaders phone. And we have had boys lose $300+ phones (and the occasional Scoutmasters' phones in the river).

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Tampa Turtle View Post
              As for the responsibility we warn them that if they are lost or damaged for any reason it is at their own risk. That includes the car rides up and back. If the purpose is for communication for pickup at the end of the trip they can use an adult leaders phone. And we have had boys lose $300+ phones (and the occasional Scoutmasters' phones in the river).
              That goes without saying, IMHO. Unless the kid gives it to me for safekeeping, the phone isn't my responsibility. (and for safekeeping, my answer would be leave it in my car).

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              • #22
                My unit still prohibits, but the discussion has started. Biggest concern I have is the homesickness issue already raised. I don't need kids calling home to get picked up. I already have challenges when kids have arranged for an early pickup, and I turn around and 3 others have loaded into the car to leave.

                The rest doesn't bother me as much. Some Scout wants music at night in their tent? I don't care. If they have it out during the day - I can ask / tell them to put it away. That is easy.

                I love the the star apps on my iPhone. Maybe that makes me lazy, but the full list of constellations has never been my strength, and I am learning them thanks to my phone.

                I love looking up recipes if I have a decent connection as well. Helps inspire some cooking with the Scouts.

                I was looking up a couple of questions when teaching Cit Nation one campout - I wasn't sure, and the book was limited in information. A quick wikipedia check helped me out.

                So there is value in the amount of information accessible from a small device - and there are risks too. I think the benefit outweighs the risk - but I will let the PLC make the first proposal.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Scouter99 View Post
                  There is not one use for a smart phone mentioned here or on the blog that merits their inclusion. At best, competent but lazy people want to use them as shortcuts, at worst incompetent people need them to keep themselves from learning.
                  roflmao

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                  • #24
                    I use a smartphone and a kindle. All of my scout books are on them, plus my gps mapping program. I allow cellphones on trips. The scouts have learned that we camp in remote areas with spotty service. They usually power them down at camp and stow them. I tell all parents that they not allowed to come to campouts to pick up scouts. There are exceptions, but that's case by case. I have had a mom call me due to a homesick phone call. I reassured her that everything was fine and we will talk about at the reg meeting. Cell phone have helped with emergency situations and lost hikers in my region.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
                      "It clearly beats the compass when it comes to learning about effective land or water navigation." That ranks right up there with Kudu's favorite quotes from scout executives.
                      Yeah, the kind of thing an HQ Eagle would say who believes "Our mission, values and desired outcomes of leadership and character development haven’t changed since that first campout on Brownsea Island."

                      We have two set of rules in our Troop. The indoor dads don't allow electronics on their car camp outings. Same for summer camp, which in my book is just summer school, so the same rules should apply as in school.

                      However, I actively encourage electronics for activities that I organize, which is to say outings in which Scouts use their muscles and the physical leadership of mature Scouts to get there: Backpack, canoe, and 50 mile bike trips.

                      In fact, I carry enough power banks with me to recharge the phones of the Scouts who actually run the outing. This kind of thing: http://www.neweggflash.com/Product/0SC-000Y-00060

                      I do require they use earphones.

                      Yours at 300 feet,

                      Kudu
                      http://kudu.net



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                      • #26
                        Figured that'd be Kudu's response. If he's 300 feet away, he can't really monitor for cell phones anyways. =P

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                        • #27
                          We allow electronics in the car on the way to campouts (although not all driver's do) but absolutely not on the campout. The Scouts understand that I may PERMANENTLY confiscate any electronic device I find on a Scout outing or at a Troop meeting - because I've done it. Use of these devices divide Scouts from each other, preventing them from being a full participant in their Patrol or Troop. They cause many more problems than they could ever hope to solve.

                          I find it extremely hard to believe those who claim Scouts take them along, but they aren't ever used. The Scouts are hiding their use from Adults is what's happening.

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                          • #28
                            I don't own one and hope never to do so. Prefer compass and maps to GPS. I wish they would leave "devices" at home.

                            But it's not about me and what "I" want.

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                            • #29
                              We have had Survival campouts where we took apart a phone to use the wires, glass, and batteries for demonstration. And I was not above telling an SPL to look up the BSA Electronic Chip (or whatever) as an approach with the SM. There is an argument for them but my experience shows them to be more distracting/disruptive.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by scoutergipper View Post
                                We allow electronics in the car on the way to campouts (although not all driver's do) but absolutely not on the campout. The Scouts understand that I may PERMANENTLY confiscate any electronic device I find on a Scout outing or at a Troop meeting - because I've done it. Use of these devices divide Scouts from each other, preventing them from being a full participant in their Patrol or Troop. They cause many more problems than they could ever hope to solve.
                                I find it extremely hard to believe those who claim Scouts take them along, but they aren't ever used. The Scouts are hiding their use from Adults is what's happening.
                                You cannot PERMANENTLY confiscate electronic devices. That's theft. If I were a parent of a child who had a device permanently confiscated, I'd be on the phone with the police (and the Council). Parents are the only ones who can permanently confiscate devices.

                                I would never claim that the devices aren't used--I've seen my son take pictures with his Ipod, I've seen my older scouts listening to music in their tents. I would say that the devices aren't detracting from a Scout's experiences. I haven't seen a scout use a device when it was time to do something else on a campout (I have in a troop meeting, but I nipped it, and it hasn't been repeated ). I would also venture that Scouts in no electronics troops are also hiding their devices/use from Adults.

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