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Beavah

New Things

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One of da ironies of boy-led is dat the boys are always going to be interested in introducing us old dogs to new things. There have been whole new sports invented since I was their age: competitive climbing, snowboarding, rollerblading, paintball, laser tag, ropes courses, sod surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing. There have been whole new ways of communicating developed, too: web, and email, and television (yah, yah, I really am an old rural guy), and cell phones, and fax. Some of the subjects they study in school didn't exist when I studied: genetics, statistics, computers, graphing calculators, electronic probe laboratories.

 

Then we have the explosion of plastic fleece and nylon, waterproof breathable fabrics, lightweight campin' gear, leave-no-trace ethics.

 

It's worth takin' stock of where we are. When are we open to innovation? When are we grumpy old men who reject the new just because it's not something we know as well?

 

We all went off about sod surfin'. But if we're honest, we really don't know what da risk profile is there compared to the other things we do. We ban paintball and laser tag, but if we're honest we recognize that the risks of those activities are much less than many of the things we do in scouting. We get all high and mighty about da risk of internet, and forget we used to do da same stuff with the mail and da telephone. At da same time, we've been willin', tho slow, in learning some new tricks like LNT and some new sports.

 

Overall, though, it could be dat we've become da grumpy old men we used to make fun of; makin' bigger arguments out of "safety" and "values" than are really justified, just because we don't want to leave our comfort zones. And da youth, well, fewer and fewer of them are comin' to our old scoutin' program every year because of it.

 

 

 

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One of the reasons I enjoy Scouting is that contact with kids helps us to stay young and keep in touch. It's really easy when you get to be my age to think how much better or how much easier it was a few years back (well, maybe 30 years back :) ). We do have to keep an open mind about new things, especially if they are important to the kids in the program.

 

It really bothers me that we have been forced to adopt this cautionary attitude about everything, but at the same time I think back on what we let out boys do years back (or even did with them) and think how lucky we were never to have had any serious injuries.

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I think I hear you Beavah, but as you said, it is a different world and I am not sure what we as scouters can do about it. I would love to see the BSA allow ATV's, hang gliders, hot balloons, parasailing and parachuting and all other things (just about)prohibited in the guide to safe scouting, but what would that do to the insurance rates? Maybe its time to forget what the lawyers say and do what we/the boys want and the only BSA requirement is that the CO have insurance for that specific activity and then all is well and anything can be done.

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I do not think that the rules are more prohibitive becasue we elders are worried about our comfort zones. I agree with OGE about why that is happening.

 

Are we losing Scout numbers because we do not adopt these activities? I doubt it. We might attract some if we did - like amusement parks, but I do not think we lose any because the program is not exciting enough.

 

Providing....

 

we have the people qualified and experienced enough to lead high adventure

 

that we go on high adventures often enough

 

that we have the gear for it

 

and that the Scouts can afford it.

 

that is is different to what is offered by other organisations (commercial and community)

 

and lastly ...providing that it is adventurous for the Scout. At 11 adventure is different to adventure at 15 or 17. Sleeping in a cardboard box is adventurous the first and second time you do that. Camping without adults is scarry when you first do that - exciting when you get more used to it.

 

I do not think that adventure needs money or fluro lycra. But it does need to be new and exciting for that Scout at that time.(This message has been edited by ozemu)

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Beavah, You hit the nail on the head with your post. Other things to add that are "new" over the last 35 years and that make things different now, are the many well-developed and well-run community-wide athletic programs, especially the team sports. These can demand almost total time commitment from youth and their families. Competition for our children's time is enormous. (And, yes, this subject has been discussed in other threads.) These team sports can be demanding but they also can be a lot of fun. Bring on the new! We can't stop it. We can help by leading our children down the Scouting trail, and help make the journey as fun as we can.

 

Have fun scouting.

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To piggy back a little on Aquila's post - as mentioned, the explosion of organized youth sports (beyond the old little league baseball and Pop Warner football) is relatively new. I think we can say that a good part of that explosion is the result of something else that is relatively new - the majority of kids graduating high school moving on to college - it wasn't until the 1960's when the baby boomers were encouraged by their parents to go on to college (which their parents had not done) and do better than their parents that college started to become an expectation for high school students. It wasn't until the 1970's that the numbers of high school students intending on continuing on to college started hitting the 90th percentile. Now, those students are parents, most of them had gone to college, and it's now expected that their children will go to college too, just like dad AND mom.

 

So why the explosion of youth sports? Because most colleges have scholarships, often full ride scholarships, for their sports teams - not just their football teams, but their soccer teams, their cheerleading teams (now considered a sport in its own right), their gymnastics teams, their swim teams (and on and on) and many parents hope their children will be able to use the sports training they get as children to get onto the high school team and be able to be good enough to get a college scholarship (I know, I know - sounds rather cynical, but too many parents admit that in the back of their minds they hope their child will be able to get a soccer scholarship).

 

How can Scouts compete with that? Here's a thought - suggest that some of our largest contributers start creating Leadership Scholarships at schools within their state. It would be a small start but its a start. And who might be best qualified to earn a Leadership Scholarship other than Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Student Council members (who are often Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts anyway).

 

CalicoPenn

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Just when I start to think of myself as becoming an "old dog", someone posts something to remind me that maybe I'm not. Beavah's post did that for me again.

 

As I read the list of new sports, new school subjects and new devices, I realized that my generation (Gen X - I was born in 61 - and no, Boomers, I refuse to allow you to claim me as one of your own!) invented most of it (especially those sports), or fully embraced it (all that new technology/science), and that I've done a lot of it long before today's kids have done it (which of course could mean maybe this stuff isn't as new as it appears).

 

I'd take the lads windsurfing, snowboarding, sodsurfing, wakeboarding, rollerblading, etc. in a heartbeat.

 

Paintball and laser tag is a different story - I don't think the BSA bans these because they are dangerous but because people are shooting guns at other people and thats not a lesson the BSA wants to teach.

 

I suspect that as more and more parents from Generation X (most of whom are in their 30's now) get involved in the scouts we'll see less and less resistance to new things. Part of that is, I think, the continuing ability of Gen X to remain early adopters of new things. Gen X seems to be that group of people in our history who is transitioning the world view that the good old days isn't what happened in the past but what happens tomorrow (and each succeeding tomorrow), a viewpoint which seems to be translating to the next generation

 

CalicoPenn

 

 

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