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Cell Phones At The Jamboree

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  • Cell Phones At The Jamboree

    Let's see if I can start a fracas. It has recently been posted on the Jamboree Yahoo group that some council contingents are banning cellphones for Scouts, both on the trip and at the Jamboree.

    Given that the Jamboree guidebooks and such other information as has been made available to participants and staff (and it's durn little, IMHO) has indicated that this will be the most "connected" jambo in history, including major cellphone coverage for 40,000 plus phones at a time, charging stations available, free tethered cellphones available, and indications that cellphones will be used for emergency communications, does this seem like a wise idea?

    Agreed that cellphones in the hands of Scouts can be a pain, but seems to me that advantages in that kind of venue - as opposed to summer camp, for example - far outweigh the disadvantages and that it's foolish for contingents to ban them. Contingent leaders will have to make rules about their use, obviously, and parents should be strictly forbidden to call except in emergencies, etc, but all those things are doable, seems to me.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    Having seen the 'discussion' on the jambo list AND their use at NOAC, I would agree with your point about "Contingent leaders will have to make rules about their use, obviously, and parents should be strictly forbidden to call except in emergencies, etc, but all those things are doable, seems to me." is a better thing then banning them outright.

    If the scouts properly use them (ie, not be on them all the time, but be on hand for their leaders to contact them as needed and for emergencies and the like, they shouldn't be banned.

    Frankly, I can't think of any NOAC contingent banning them, even before their heavy use at this past NOAC. Maybe the difference is most NOAC contingents are older boys as compared to Jamboree contingents, and prehaps a different mind set of lodge advisers vs scoutmaster types...


    • #3
      Have rules about their use, and let the boys bring them. For a lot of kids, their phone is also their camera.

      I will have mine at the SCUBA tank, and will use it to update my Facebook page as well.


      • #4
        parents should be strictly forbidden to call except in emergencies

        Hah. Good luck enforcing that one.

        The kids are so connected nowadays that it just seems foreign to be cut off, especially for the older ones.

        How would you enforce a ban, anyways? Going to search through everyone's stuff? Banning them just drives them underground, in my experience.

        I think the biggest problem will be having them get lost or broken. So just make it clear that it's the Scouts' responsibility for their own items.

        The only rules I would make are ones that are at least mostly enforceable. E.g., no phones at dinner, or no phones in the public area of the campsite, or no (audible) phones after 10pm, or other things like that.


        • #5
          What we're doing (and I say "we" because I'm the 3RD ASM and have been to the committee meetings to discuss the issue) is allowing cell phones, but with us watching closely.

          They'll be allowed on the tour, but we'll be watching, making sure they aren't texting while the guide is talking about the sights. They'll be allowed on site, too, but we'll have our designated "cell phone bag" which the phones will be in if we think the kids are making one too many calls to mommy. The parents also know about it, and we'll be having a special troop code of conduct that will require their signatures, also allowing us to do what we think fit.

          Scouts with cell phones running amok, calling their parents and texting their girls is not pretty at all, but neither is trying the stone age approach of banning them outright.

          Besides, cell phones have, for better or worse, taken over the lives of many a teenager these days, and while they do have their downsides, they can certainly be used well and effectively at the NSJ. It's all about the memories, and those phones can help keep and spread those memories. I think it's with his is mind that Nationals made it so big and we're trying to work with it.


          • #6
            "parents should be strictly forbidden to call except in emergencies

            Hah. Good luck enforcing that one."

            Well, true it's hard to keep parents from checking in with their little darlings, but if it's explained to them that calling means interrupting some activity that junior paid $1500 to participate in and making sure the kids do call the parents every couple of days, most of them will cooperate. I think.


            • #7
              Yes, you're right, Kahuna. I think most of the parents will be fine, especially if we describe it as you say, and don't tell them that they are "forbidden" from contacting their children.

              I think that some of the kids will find time to call home, though.


              • #8
                First, these are 14yo+ boys not the 11-12yo pups on their first summer camp. Most of them have used cell phones since they were in 7th grade.

                My son had one at the last Jamboree. When the electrical accident happened with the Alaskan contingent my son used it to convey that everyone in the troop was ok. There were 6 boys from our home troop in the council contingent. For the better part of a day we were the only ones that knew the status of the troop. My instructions were: its a tool, Be Prepared, pack it, when not in use stow it, use it properly, keep it charged and try not to lose it.

                Using words like forbidden when talking about communications with my boys is not showing due respect.


                • #9
                  I certainly don't think that cell phones and the like should be banned outright, especially in a frontcountry setting like the jamboree. I do think that there should be a code of courtesy for cell phones.



                  • #10

                    If Jambo can't compete head on with text messaging then taking the phone way ain't going to improve it.

                    If you travel for work you will know that taking a call from your wife/husband is very hard on the road. Its hard to break away from the activities to have a private conversation and more than likely you are already over scheduled.

                    If they are sitting around the campiste in the middle of the day. By all mean chase them out and reserve the right to confiscate the phone. Our scouts will have a ~4 days of traveling and events before they get to Jambo. They will already be de-connecting from daily life by the time they reach camp.

                    I doubt it will be an issue.


                    • #11
                      As a Troop Scoutmaster this year, here is what I told our boys regarding cellphones:
                      They can be used in the tents. Not to be carried around during the day. They are brought at the Scout's own risk. If they are seen being used outside of the tent, I confiscate, but if the phone is damaged it is still at the Scout's risk. (I will take precautions to prevent damage). Not having been told that there will be charging facilities for Scouts' phones, I told our Troop that there will not be a way to charge their phone...when the battery is dead it is done until they get home.

                      All of the above will be overruled by any policy from our Council Contingent, but as of now I have not been given a Council policy regarding electronics. I have the same policy for iPods. No other electronics besides cameras are allowed, and cameras can be taken anywhere by the Scouts, again at their own risk. And no "but my cell phone is my camera" excuses.


                      • #12
                        And don't forget, "My cell phone is my watch."


                        • #13
                          In our troop we've also heard "my cell phone is my flashlight". I have to admit that oft times these days my iphone is my handbook.


                          • #14
                            It's a subjective area, "cellephone courtesy". You could exhaust yourself making a set of rules everyone can follow.

                            When I see a couple of boys tuning out the rest of the group -- especially when they could use their leadership, I call them on it and tell them to stash the gadget. I explain that I'm not being "anti tech", and this is no different than when I was a kid and had to stash the deck of cards to help the rest of the patrol. Shoot, it's no more different than when my wife sends me the "earth to hubby" signal at home!

                            A couple of our boys with the worst habit of this are going to Jambo, and I hope that by coaching them now, they'll be a little more self-aware and recognise the trade-off between staying connected online and keeping on good terms with their contingent.

                            P.S. - I think some boys would leave the gadget at home if you made a rule that they HAVE to call mom once a day!!!!


                            • #15
                              I've come over to the dark side on this one. My iphone is my BSA handbook, camera, flashlight (in the tent), watch and alarm clock on a campout. So if scouts want to bring theirs I allow it with the understanding if it becomes a problem I may take it and keep it in timeout for a while. Most don't bring it but it sure is nice to have them when you are spread out on a campout.