I have never decried the inevitable march of progress to bring us into the age we now occupy and to show us the way through it to one of even more amazement. Progress I always embrace. I never complained when, during the course of my lifetime, toilet seats changed. Granted there was a part of me that said, “If a wooden toilet seat was good enough for George Washington its good enough for me,” but I never fumed with the advent of the plastic seat. Did you hear me complain when they moved the headlight dimmer switch from the floorboard to the steering wheel column? I think not. Was I one to resist the move from the stove to the microwave? It never happened.
I have embraced every invention that has added to the technological revolution that has come along. I even have an iPhone. Now you might ask of an old codger as I: How would you know how to operate an iPhone? Simple. I took two of my granddaughters on a week‘s trip to New York City. They had never operated an iPhone either, but they, being products of their generation, figured it out completely in one hour and three minutes. By the time we got home I knew all about the iPhone and had more apps than a senior citizen deserves.
All this it prelude to a concern I have with a new development in this technological age. That concern centers around the Boy Scouts of America. Specifically, I address the new award cub scouts can receive for – are you ready for this? – playing video games! Cub Scouts can now receive a merit badge – well actually it’s not a merit badge; it’s a belt loop, but it’s still an award.
Now to be fair, the scout has to do more than just play games. He has to demonstrate knowledge of the game’s rating system; he has to create a schedule for playing that brings balance with schoolwork, chores and learning, and the ability to play any video game approved by a parent, guardian or teacher.
All this is admirable, to be sure. But when one thinks of scouting, there’s an image of campfires, of tying knots, of hiking, of identifying wildlife, to say nothing of accumulating wilderness survival skills. In a word one thinks of outdoors. I’m sorry, but I have difficulty conjuring up a picture of scouts gathered around the campfire playing these games.
Let’s see if I can articulate my concern. Look, building a campfire is a learned skill. The scout learns it from the troop or pack leader. Tying a proper square knot is a learned endeavor. The scout learns it from his leader. Did the scouting executives not see the topsy- turvy world they have now created? Scout leaders are supposed to teach the scouts. Scout leaders are supposed to be passing on knowledge. Remember my trip with my granddaughters and the new iPhone.
Adults teaching video games to young scouts? It’s not going to happen.