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Electronics use during Venturing functions

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John-in-KC writes:

Have the youth members write it. If you write it, even if they vote on it, it's your rule and not their self-chosen custom.



I didn't write it. My daughter, who was the crew president in the prior crew, found it on the internet. She brought it in, and they tweaked it (a LOT).


She used those old ByLaws to use as a starting draft for her new crew.

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FScouter got me really thinking on this one. I am the Scoutmaster and often believe the "old ways" are the right ways. This means no electronics on campouts. But my son and the other boys live in a new time.


Unknown to me, my son once brought his game machine on a campout and was playing it during downtime. I was questioned about it and had to have him put it away. Similar to FScouter, I received the dreaded question "Why?". I was able to work through the situation and there was no problem.


But this discussion gets me thinking. Who does the program belong to? Why should the adults make rules that just suit ourselves? We encourage books for downtime entertainment, even board games. Are we just out of touch?


Once again going back to Green bar Bill, my job as Scoutmaster is to provide an exciting, stimulating program. If I do that, much will be accomplished and electronics will not be a problem. And if that happens, who cares if they use electronics during free time?

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To Narraticong:


I agree with you 100%. I have zero problems with electronics, when used on personal time.


Let them bring anything they want. It's all about MODERATION. I could care less if they want to tune out during downtimes, but I DO enjoy seeing a bunch of teenagers sitting at a table together all playing cards, or a board game...and really interacting with each other.


I'm sad when I see the one or two holed off in a corner, plugged into headphones and playing a hand-held game. What is it about this kid that makes him want to isolate himself from the others?


If a youth is going to pay money - and usually quite a bit of money - to come to a function, then I feel something is wrong if he is continually shut-off from the others... walking around with headphones on... nose in a game on his cellphone, etc... I mean, why go at all?


Isn't that what Scouting is about? Learning and Experiencing outdoors etc etc? Let the youth have their technology, but draw the line - lay out limits....


... or have THEM lay out - and agree to - their own limits. Work for a compromise.

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My situation is a little different than most because the "rules" are defined by the event we attend. No electronics for anyone, boy or adult alike. People enforce these rules and if a boy has need to place a cell phone call he is expected to leave the event grounds to place the call. Our boys never have had a problem with the rules and we've never had to say anything to anyone. More often than not, we have more problems with adults than with the boys.



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I don't know of any rules about this and I hope there aren't any coming.


For my troop, unless we go on a long trip (more than 4 hour drive) I don't allow personal electronics from the time we leave the parking lot. Everyone complains, at first. And then they realize they can play the mp3s in the car if everyone listens to the same thing. Then they start arguing and teasing each other about what songs they like. They end up having a new experience, believe it or not, that is listening to the same thing at the same time and talking about it. Once we're at our destination I don't allow electronics. Nature sounds pretty good. Yes, I'm getting old, but we leave behind the tv and the furnace and the big soft bed and lots of hot running water and all the other nice things for a reason. The scouts that can be cheerful when they only have what they need, as opposed to what they want, tend to be better scouts. When I get back from Klondike I really appreciate a warm house on a cold night.


To the response that if the event isn't enjoyable enough then it's OK for scouts to "unplug" from their friends, I have a different view. Maybe the scouts need to learn how to make lemonade from lemons. My children would complain horribly when they were younger and I told them to turn off the tv, electronics, or whatever and go find something else to do. Five minutes later they'd come back and say they were bored. Too bad, I'd say. About a half hour later they were getting into something and having a great time. Imagination is a skill and it takes effort, but that's how problems are solved, so it's a worthwhile skill to learn.

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Oh yeah, its rant time, baby.


I find it hard to believe that any troop or crew would allow rampant texting and cell phones.


We tell our Scouts and we would tell our crew the same if we had one (we do have a large Senior Scout patrol and the rule applies to them), is that texting and cell phones are not allowed on outings or meetings. Why allow it? Are they in business and need to talk to someone to prevent Wall Street from failing and the apocalypse from happening? I doubt it. Would I allow a Scout who was homesick to call his parents or friends and talk to them? Absolutely not.


I am a technophile. I always have my cell phone with me and use it to text for work, scan the web, and read e-docs and e-books. But when I go on a Scout outing, I turn it off. I keep it in my pack for emergencies, but otherwise it stays out of sight and I spend time with the group. If I am on call for work, or need to monitor a work situation, I excuse myself and take breaks away from the group to make those contacts in very brief periods. But I dont expect that many youth fall into that category.


Apple, Napster, and others have done an amazing job convincing us all that we have to be plugged in and listening to MP3s the whole time we are outside. Have you ever sat on a bus (I ride BART) and seen 20 people plugged in and off in their own little worlds? Walking trails or riding bikes with earphones and just oblivious to the world around them? Isnt that sort of checking out from their environment part of what we are trying to avoid? Dont buy into the commercials. Portable radios and players have been around for 40 years! It only started becoming acceptable when these companies started trying to convince us that this was cool and we had to be plugged in 24/7. Decide for yourself what is right. Just because my 9-year old daughter likes Abercrombie and Fitch does not give her the right to dress like a sex object. But that s what they sell. I dont have to buy it.


I have the same opinion of large RVs pulling into campgrounds with their microwave/TV/shower/DVD player/etc. Why did they even leave their house?


Constant texting or phones is a bored reaction. I find that most youth look to texting as a bored response, like eating or watching TV. They do not have something occupying their mind, so they look to check out. Are you bored? I have a deck of cards here, lets deal a couple of hands. Got a knife? Lets whittle. Got rope or lace, lets weave a lanyard. Cant sit? Lets hike.

Bored at night, lets tell stories or sing songs. Get the picture? We fight homesickness by taking their minds off of it and we do the same with electronic leashes. I allow board games in down time. Why? Because it requires conversation and social interaction. Texting and MP3s do not.


Are you at an event where e-mail is allowed and provided for (like Jamboree) go ahead, but limit the time and exposure.


The reason I give the youth for this restriction? Its simply not allowed.

Why? Because I value my time with you and dont want to share it with an LCD screen.

If thats not enough for the youth, then next time they can stay at home. I know that I will never find the solid gold reason that will convince everyone and I dont try. Sounds like that is what some folks are looking for.


Last month, during award presentations at a Court of Honor, I walked across the aisle to two scouts who were sitting and texting and whispered 3 options to them- turn it off, give it to me, or leave the building. There were no why discussions involved and they understood the options and turned them off.


And for Venture crews, sure you make the rules, but we provide the guidelines for those rules. Consider this a guideline.


.whew.rant ended..

(This message has been edited by Cubmaster Mike)

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Cubmaster Mike wrote:

The reason I give the youth for this restriction? Its simply not allowed.

Why? Because I value my time with you and dont want to share it with an LCD screen.

If thats not enough for the youth, then next time they can stay at home.


Wow. Thank you. This is the most logical reason I've heard to date (not just in here) as to why electronics shouldn't be allowed on Scout functions.


Yes, technically, it is (supposed to be) different for Venturing Crews. THEY make the rules, the adults are no more than the BIC (Bad Idea Committee - this is taught in VLSC). Our jobs are little more than making sure that the G2SS is followed, an no laws are broken.


BUT - as Advisor, I can advise, and set guidelines.


For our Venturing Crew, I think a fair compromise can be reached.

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You hit a significant issue. This is a venture crew, not a scout troop or cub pack. You can advise, but it is really their crew. They set the rules, you just make sure it doesn't violate G2SS. If they want to write a strict rule, so be it. If they don't care, so be it. You really don't have much voice here except to walk away.

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