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Troop Smartphone Policy

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For various reasons our troop has always had a zero cell phone/smartphone policy, and despite the odd infraction we successfully maintained an electronics free environment. However, recognizing the power and utility of smartphones we recently worked with the PLC to draft a digital device policy to allow the PLC to carry their devices (with a current Cyber Chip) during campouts to help with communications, access relevant information, and for use as a GPS for the new 1st Class requirement. Devices are required to be stored otherwise. Our digital device policy also includes language to prevent YPT issues (use is prohibited in sleeping and changing areas). Just curious how other troops handle this issue, what pitfalls you've encountered, and any advice you could share as we work to adopt this new policy.

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I'm curious if the prior zero policy also applied to adults as well?  

 

It did not. But, recognizing the potential hypocritical perspective we only used them sparingly

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Scouts cannot use mobile devices. They remain in the car. They can use while travelling but not at camp. If used as cameras, they may use them during the day but they are put back up at night. At summer camp they are not allowed, period. Violations are handled by taking away the device privilege at the next event.

 

If there's a need for GPS, we have our own units Scouts can use. Anything else they need they can either 1) use their Handbook or 2) bring a print copy of what they need (e.g., MB books).

 

Adults have more leeway. Why? Well adults have different requirements than Scouts, especially at summer camp. Some parents are on call, others use their devices to help the youth leaders managed things, some are used for comms devices in camp. 

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Scouts cannot use mobile devices. They remain in the car. They can use while travelling but not at camp. If used as cameras, they may use them during the day but they are put back up at night. At summer camp they are not allowed, period. Violations are handled by taking away the device privilege at the next event.

 

If there's a need for GPS, we have our own units Scouts can use. Anything else they need they can either 1) use their Handbook or 2) bring a print copy of what they need (e.g., MB books).

 

Adults have more leeway. Why? Well adults have different requirements than Scouts, especially at summer camp. Some parents are on call, others use their devices to help the youth leaders managed things, some are used for comms devices in camp. 

 

This was essentially our previous stance, with the exception of the camera usage. We don't own GPS units, and smartphones can use free GPS apps, so that seems like a justifiable use.

 

We have found that at large events, such as camporees or OA conclaves, it's helpful for the PLC/senior scouts to be able to coordinate their efforts when spread out over a large area. Granted, the ASMs could facilitate, but we're trying to let the PLC act as autonomously as possible.

 

Ditto on the adult usage

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We have found that at large events, such as camporees or OA conclaves, it's helpful for the PLC/senior scouts to be able to coordinate their efforts when spread out over a large area. Granted, the ASMs could facilitate, but we're trying to let the PLC act as autonomously as possible.

 

We have two way radios with weather radio on them. The youth leaders are trained to use them and that's how we stay in touch on such events. Almost makes up for them not having phones.

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We have two way radios with weather radio on them. The youth leaders are trained to use them and that's how we stay in touch on such events. Almost makes up for them not having phones.

 

We've tried 2-way radios, but our council camp is very hilly and radio reception is spotty at best. Verizon and AT&T have good coverage over most of the camp, and texting works everywhere. 

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For those troops that still ban cell phones for the Scouts, I think it is probably fairly common NOT to apply that rule to adults.  As someone else pointed out, adults have different responsibilities outside of Scouting, whether it is work, home, etc.  Now, it is true that before there were cell phones at all, a Scouter who was at a camping trip and needed to be in touch with work or home had to get in his/her car and go find a pay phone.  Somewhere along the way, we all became accustomed to being able to reach into our pocket and make (or accept) a call.  I am not even sure what our troop's policy is these days, since I don't go on camping trips anymore.  My impression is that it is less restrictive on the Scouts than it used to be.

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Now, it is true that before there were cell phones at all, a Scouter who was at a camping trip and needed to be in touch with work or home had to get in his/her car and go find a pay phone.  Somewhere along the way, we all became accustomed to being able to reach into our pocket and make (or accept) a call. 

 

I've been in tech for over 30 years now. Straight out of college. Perhaps like many folks here. I can remember all the musings about how "more technology" will lead to greater free time, shorter work weeks and all sorts of cool things to save us time and frustration.

 

While some of that has been true, there have been many unintended consequences. Technology has become more invasive than ever before. People measure you by how fast you respond. If someone texts you and one does not respond within a few minutes the other person feels put out. Certainly employers expect near real-time responses. If you live in the high tech world that's certainly true.

 

Personally, I use my technology at camp for the benefit of the kids. I take pics. I run a blog to let family back home know what they kids are doing. We live-cast cool things (like zip lining over a canyon). I do this for a number of reasons: Keep parents up to date (and off my case), record troop history (yes, with the youth historian helping), develop action events for recruiting, keep up that public image, etc.

 

Most Scouts will use their phones for YouTube, gaming, texting or snapchat. Some may actually take pictures, most won't. Few really use their phone for much other than that, though they will tell you otherwise so you don't take it away.

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Never had a troop policy in 6 years as a SM.    Set the example for use an adult (see shouldn't we teach adulting thread), expected same from youth.    They are tools, learn to use them.  Probably a few occassions where grumpy SM suggested this wasn't time or place for use.  Have watched an SPL organize, reorganize and complete projects solely by txt and on the fly txting faster than I could think.   Guess its all in your perspective of being a control freak.    

 

RichardB

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I've been in tech for over 30 years now. Straight out of college. Perhaps like many folks here. I can remember all the musings about how "more technology" will lead to greater free time, shorter work weeks and all sorts of cool things to save us time and frustration.

 

While some of that has been true, there have been many unintended consequences. Technology has become more invasive than ever before. People measure you by how fast you respond. If someone texts you and one does not respond within a few minutes the other person feels put out. Certainly employers expect near real-time responses. If you live in the high tech world that's certainly true.

Well, it's also certainly true for the "legal world" and, I think, the world of business in general.  I am not one of those who ever "mused" that technology in general, and certainly not cell/smartphones in particular, would lead to greater free time and shorter work weeks.  Well, there are many for whom technology has resulted in all the free time they can use, because they are unemployed.  I don't think that was the goal.  As for me, it has definitely had the "unintended consequences" you mention, though I'm not sure how "unintended" they are.  The "work day" is now potentially 24/7/365 because I have a device in my pocket at all times on which people can reach me (by three different methods), and they know I have it.  The idea of having time to think about something before responding is a relic of the past.  "I wasn't home" or "I was in court" or "I was in the car" no longer works.  (You still cannot speak on the phone while you are in a courtroom, and most courtrooms still have a rule that your phone is supposed to be turned off, but most of the officers will now look the other way if you have your phone on silent and are quietly and discreetly texting or emailing while waiting for your case to be called.  There is still one courthouse in the greater NY metropolitan area that I am aware of where you have to give your phone to the guard at the front security gate, but only one.)

 

The expectation in the world of business and law today is that you have a smartphone, you have it with you, and its's all charged up and ready to go.  Anything else and you aren't taking care of your clients or your colleagues.  I actually held out from having a cell phone, and then a smartphone, for as long as I could.  But today it is part of being in business.  I'm not complaining.  Well, maybe I'm complaining a little.  But nobody can tell me that because I have to have a phone with me at all times, that a sixth grader has to have one too.  My son, who is now 25, did not have a phone until he was 18.  Of course, he was the last 18 year old in the entire Universe to have one, but I have to give him credit, he did not really complain about it before we decided to bow to the inevitable.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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For various reasons our troop has always had a zero cell phone/smartphone policy, and despite the odd infraction we successfully maintained an electronics free environment. However, recognizing the power and utility of smartphones we recently worked with the PLC to draft a digital device policy to allow the PLC to carry their devices (with a current Cyber Chip) during campouts to help with communications, access relevant information, and for use as a GPS for the new 1st Class requirement. Devices are required to be stored otherwise. Our digital device policy also includes language to prevent YPT issues (use is prohibited in sleeping and changing areas). Just curious how other troops handle this issue, what pitfalls you've encountered, and any advice you could share as we work to adopt this new policy.

Well, we allowed them for a while, when our older scouts were more responsible.  Now, we've gone back to no electronics on campout besides in the car.  

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We adults used to have a ban in place (OK while travelling into the lockbox at Camp) and we liberalized after we started the Cyber Chip. It became a big distraction again and the youth leadership re-instated the ban. For Summer Camp they are considering an "electronics allowed" period once a day for those who have done their Scout duties (for example: supposed to do the Patrol dishes and did not--no Smart Phone for you tonight!)

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Never had a troop policy in 6 years as a SM.    Set the example for use an adult (see shouldn't we teach adulting thread), expected same from youth.    They are tools, learn to use them.  Probably a few occassions where grumpy SM suggested this wasn't time or place for use.  Have watched an SPL organize, reorganize and complete projects solely by txt and on the fly txting faster than I could think.   Guess its all in your perspective of being a control freak.    

 

RichardB

 

When the average 10-17 year old has all the responsibilities and obligations of an adult; in addition to giving up their weekends and vacations shuttling these kids everywhere, then yeah, kids and adults can have equal rights when it comes to phones.

 

Did you set the example by going to bed and turning lights out when the kids did? Refrain from drinking caffeine like some council camps prohibit kids from doing while adults guzzle coffee by the vat? Give up the special SM perks like air conditioned "lounges" at camps for leaders unless your kids could partake too?

 

It's got nothing to do with being a control freak. It has to do with implementing the outdoor part of the outdoor program. These kids are outright addicted to display screens. 36 hours without one won't kill them.

Edited by Col. Flagg
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Scouts cannot use mobile devices. They remain in the car. They can use while travelling but not at camp. If used as cameras, they may use them during the day but they are put back up at night. At summer camp they are not allowed, period. Violations are handled by taking away the device privilege at the next event.

 

If there's a need for GPS, we have our own units Scouts can use. Anything else they need they can either 1) use their Handbook or 2) bring a print copy of what they need (e.g., MB books).

 

Adults have more leeway. Why? Well adults have different requirements than Scouts, especially at summer camp. Some parents are on call, others use their devices to help the youth leaders managed things, some are used for comms devices in camp. 

 

Our troop does pretty much the same...except we don't have GPS's to offer, and I have never seen or heard of allowances for camera use.

phones ok on the trip but are left in the car for the duration.

 

Personally, if I'm ever asked I will say I am opposed to it as we have it.

Don't get me wrong, I see the point of it...and I strongly recognize a turn for the better with my kids when they are away form tech at home

but I see the value in the tools available to scouts, & even though adults have the "sometimes" legit excuse of responsibility it is hypocritical in my view

and besides the "legit" tools.... there is also teh entertainment value during down times.

Just because we old folks might like to see the scouts sitting around after dinner having fun together playing cards or checkers or some other thing, that's us projecting onto them.....and that aint the point of this in my view

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