Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wired Scouts and Wireless Scouting



This has been an interesting year so far, and not at all what I imagined.  

I've been working on a number of projects, and learning how to work in a few new tools, like Facebook and Twitter.  Our council's camping committee asked me to put together a web presence for Camp Rock Enon in the little blip of Gore, VA.

So, how does this benefit you, the Scout and the Scouter alike?

First, these tools are being used regularly by our Scouts.  They "get it" without the long explanations.  They don't require the convincing that these tools are worthwhile, important or relevant.  I've yet to meet a 40-50-60 year old Scouter that just "gets it".

It is a perspective thing--often our Scouts have had the Internet in their homes their entire lives.  These tools are as pervasive to their existence as we see television and radio.  Yeah, that wasn't fun to realize.  We all like the story about the Scoutmaster who had to explain rotary dial phones to his Scout so he could call home.

Some of these tools will come and go.  In the past 15 years, we've seen the near death of fax machines, replaced by scanners and email.  

There is a place for it.  Like pitching a tent, starting a fire and reading the weather, technology is an important skill.  Maybe we don't need a "Web 2.0" merit badge, but our troop historian may need to be a bit more savvy.

But the important thing is to embrace them so that we can understand our Scouts' lives.  A "wired" Scout ("wireless"?) out camping is a different creature than one who a few years ago couldn't make a phone call from his front yard.

Second, the Internet can help you generate interest in your local council's units, activities and camps.  Big or small, there is a great opportunity to share what makes Scouting special with other members of the Scouting community and the broader world.

My efforts so far have been small and careful.  But I'm getting feedback from our local Scouters, and even from outside our area.  They are getting the word (tweet) and seeing programs (blog) and learning that we have something going on.

Our summer camp is almost completely booked solid, in a down economy.  

I've seen an email from someone who "discovered" us and is looking at 2010 events now.  Another person reached out to see if Camp Rock Enon could be a stopping point before the next Jamboree.

The future of Scouting is now.

How do you embrace technology?  or your council?  What do your Scouts use?  Have you asked them?  Comment away below.

5 comments:

Hypermommy said...

Great article!!! You and I seem to share an opinion on this issue. I don't think anyone is trying to negate the benefits of camping and going out in the backcountry. It is through these activities that we will continue to teach boys to be self-reliant and responsible and able to handle just about any situation that comes at them in life. But first we have to get the boys... we have to interest them... we have to show them that scouting is not a passe thing. And that requires a bit of understanding of where they are and how they gather and process information. So a blog for a troop historian might be a great idea. Or a quick tweet to a patrol (if all members are known to be twitterers) to let them know of a change in plans.

Anyway, thanks for such a great article.

FamilyMan said...

Thanks for weighing in. I should have also mentioned that it is great fun to do these things, too! "Being online" and being active online are completely different things. They are active, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about how Scouting can benefit from embracing technology! In the Northeastern Pennsylvania council their summer camp - Goose Pond Scout Reservation - started supporting online registration for merit badge classes, which has simplified the checkin and class scheduling immensely. They also now have a video game that promotes the camp while helping players review all that Scout knowledge they've learned at camp. Check it out at http://gpsrcd.nepabsa.org. The game is being sold to support the camp's development fund, but there is also a free version available, so I hope this posting doesn't violate any commercial post prohibitions.

FamilyMan said...

More thoughts on this from OKCScouter: http://okcscouter.blogspot.com/2009/06/social-networking-and-local-scouting.html

FamilyMan said...

BSA Cracker Barrel blog post on this topic: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2009/07/the-digital-divide.html