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Rock gym climbing

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There is a commercial rock gym in our area. It's pretty cool with a variety of climbing walls and is very safe. They charge $8.50 for an hour of climbing, including harness. There is also a video arcade and laser tag in the complex.

 

Would it be appropriate to have the troop meet at the rock gym for an evening activity instead of a regular meeting? (assuming of course the PLC so votes...) Most of the families in our troop could easily absorb this small cost, but I wouldn't want to put anyone's parents on the spot. Does anyone see any other concerns? Thanks!

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Our troop does this at least once a year. Very popular. I think it falls into the G2SS since its a commercial operation. Doubt the Laser tag is though.

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Gym climbing makes for a great meeting. I'm not sure how much you know about climbing, but you should be aware that every climbing wall will require your group to either A.) prove they know how to belay or B.) do a "guided tour" for the group. Some climbing walls (yours might be one) will only do option B.

 

For option A, most climbing gyms require each person to either pass a belay test or take their "learn to belay" class. Usually this costs extra and takes an hour or two. Depending the climbing gym and ability of the instructor, the instruction quality of this "class" ranges from OK to mediocre, usually somewhere in between. (The problem is with the method, belaying is a highly technical skill requiring repeated practice in various conditions and can't be sufficiently learned in an hour.)

 

For option B, if you've got a large group of beginners, most climbing gyms can set it up where they bring in staff to do all the belaying and all the participants have to do is climb. This usually has to be arranged in advance, however. Don't just assume you can walk in and have everything taken care of. Most gyms do this kind of thing commonly for birthday parties and scout troops, so they shouldn't be surprised. You might even be able to rent the entire wall for a flat hourly rate.

 

If you've got a large group with little-to-no belaying

experience, I can't recommend option B highly enough. If you don't even know what the word "belay" means, choose option B. :)

 

Hope this helps!

 

-Steve Zekany (who BTW used to manage a climbing gym)

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Oh, forgot to mention - Lots of time gyms will have their own odd policies on age related to climbing. Most of the time, you'll need all the parents to sign a waver form. There might be a minimum age for climbing as well, but it depends on the gym. Just be sure to ask about it.

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According to our District Commissioner, the #1 reason boys quit Scouting is BORING TROOP MEETINGS. With that in mind, here's the general plan for our troop each month:

 

 

1st Week: PLC meeting

 

2nd week: Troop meeting promoting the monthly troop outing and signup for the outing. Permission slips handed out.

 

3rd week: Collection of permission slips and trip fees for the outing, and preparation for it.

 

3rd week end: outing

 

4th week: Fun activity, such as your trip to the climbing gym, swimming at the nearby pool (every other month ---swimming is important and fun!)

 

 

This schedule has made it easier for Troop leaders to plan fun and interesting troop meetings, since they have fewer to plan and each meeting tends to be focussed on preparation for an outing. Indeed, meetings tend to be chock full of all the things that need to be done, which give troiop leaders choices about what to include in the meeting and allows them to place emphasis on the most important things.

 

It's a plan that seem to be working well, and a big improvement over every week troop meetings.

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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Our troop recently had a rock-climbing afternoon in an indoor gym. Only a few Scouts were interested, and it was learned that many were afraid of climbing. It was surprising to me at least who was. This would not be a good troop meeting night for this particular troop.

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Rock climbing is one of the activities that our PLC wanted to do. So the SPL contacted the local gym.To check the prices and forms needed.It turned out that one of the owners is a Merit Badge Counselor.With the number of boys that wanted to go a time and date was set up. The MBC had other MBC's there.They helped all the boys pass the belaying test.Sometime after Christmas they will go again to work on the climbing badge. The extra activity was a big hit.All of the boys are excited for the next climbing trip.

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1. Our troop goes to the Spokane, WA "Wild Walls" indoor climbing gym twice annually. Those who want to climb can do so for ~$10 (using our troop's harnesses & trained balayers), and those who don't go to the adjacent "Laser Quest" laser tag facility.

 

2. We do these outings when our regular troop meeting place is not available, or the Patrol Leaders' Council can't think of enough interesting activities for those months with "tough" themes.

 

3. When the weather gets warm, the troop climbs a local outdoor rock face (Minnehaha Rocks) to get some "Venture"-style activity.

 

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We usually have around 40 boys at any given troop meeting, so trying to have a meeting at our local climbing gym wouldn't work as I don't believe they could handle a group that large. We have a number of scouts and dad/leaders who do go to the gym every other Friday on their own as a recreational activity. My son went week before last and got his first taste and loved it. The troop outing was this past weekend and we went to one of our council properties with a climbing tower. The activities were split in shifts between mountain biking and climbing/rappeling. My son finally completed his Camping Merit Badge he took at summer camp when he got to rappel. I think climbing would make a great occasional troop meeting if the gym can handle a group your size.

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I suggest you read your G2SS... Laser Tag is specifically prohibited.

 

To be honest, the whole "laser tag is evil" issue just reminds me of an old Calvin and Hobbes comic. To paraphrase, it went something like:

 

"Do violent video games desensitize us to blood and gore?"

"Maybe."

"Do video games make an effective scapegoat for a violent society?"

"Definitely."

"Do video games actually cause violence?"

"Well, now that's hard to prove."

 

Without even going into the interpretation of the G2SS, I'll admit that we just ignore it. Laser tag is one of our favorite "fun nights". It's a great "fun night" because everyone (adults included) competes on an equal footing and not much advantage is given to being older/stronger/faster/etc. It promotes physical fitness and teamwork.

 

And let's not forget the biggest irony to the whole issue is that Laser Tag doesn't even use lasers! The "lasers" are actually infrared beams and the "laser gun" isn't a firearm, thus meaning Laser Tag is exempt from the BSA laser prohibition. The real meaning of the G2SS passage is to prohibit laser-guided firearms, not laser tag.

 

And above all, let us remember that a Scout (and Scouter) is Mentally Awake, and never blindly follows policy without understanding.

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"Without even going into the interpretation of the G2SS, I'll admit that we just ignore it."

I don't see that there is any room for interpretation or maneuvering here. In bold print, in the "Unauthorized and Restricted Activities" section of the G2SS :

"Pointing any type of firearm (including paintball, dye, or LASERS) at any individual is unauthorized."

It really doesn't matter why BSA has made Laser Tag "Unauthorized and Restricted", it has. Quite definitively so. If you enjoy Laser Tag so much, by all means indulge in the activity, just not as any type of BSA Unit.

BTW - I can't help but wonder, if you "ignore" this BSA rule, what other BSA rules are you ignoring?

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It really doesn't matter why BSA has made Laser Tag "Unauthorized and Restricted", it has.

 

Ah, but the real question we should be asking is "why"? "I was just following the rules" is always a poor excuse.

 

Have you ever played laser tag? The basic game in our area involves two teams that move around a maze playing high-tech freeze tag. A "tag" freezes the player for 30 seconds, while flashing video-game style lights and playing whooping noises. You get points for tags, but more points for team goals like tagging the opposing team's base.

 

In short, it is a fun no-contact game in which the younger kids can compete on equal terms with the older boys, and build teamwork across age groups. It is, for us, a program feature that is decidedly useful in our mission with youth.

 

Programmatically, therefore, the notion of a laser tag prohibition does not make any sense to me. Simply put, if a boy doesn't understand the difference between a large, plastic laser toy and a firearm, then he is in need of immediate professional psychological intervention, including institutionalization to protect himself and others. It isn't an issue of banning toy pistols, he needs help NOW.

 

In terms of safety, laser tag is one of the safest activities we do. Our local place even bans running, jumping, and physical contact. I have the hardest time even imagining a realistic accident scenario.

 

Quite definitively so.

 

Actually not, as I wrote in my earlier post, "laser tag" doesn't even use "lasers" and is thus exempt from that line in the G2SS. Ironic, eh? :)

 

If you enjoy Laser Tag so much, by all means indulge in the activity, just not as any type of BSA Unit.

 

Which brings up an interesting moral question. If a group of kids is going to go do an activity anyway... wouldn't it be better to have it properly supervised than to have them run off and do it in secret? Or do we get so caught up in following policy that we forget we're running a kids program? (This is probably more relevant for, say, paintball than laser tag, but still.)

 

I can't help but wonder, if you "ignore" this BSA rule, what other BSA rules are you ignoring?

 

My personal favorite is the black lettered prohibition on nighttime driving. Here in the Great North of Michigan, this would require us to literally shut down our program four months of the year because of the lack of evening daylight. Obviously, the belief of the troop and our chartered org is that running a program takes precedence. :)

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There is no prohibition on night driving. The policy reads this way, "All driving, except short trips, should be done in daylight." SHOULD and MUST have two entirely different meanings. I don't disagree with the policy. Driving in daylight is much preferred over driving in low light conditions at a time of day where the driver will most likely be more tired. That being said, driving at "night" is the only way most units will get to an outing during certain parts of the year. But wouldn't you agree that it would be better to do it in the light if possible?

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But wouldn't you agree that it would be better to do it in the light if possible?

 

Sure. But there's often a huge disconnect between theory and reality. (I should know, being a college level physics student. :) ) The reality is that we do what's right for the kids.

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