Social Media and Scouts

internetYesterday I spent the day at our Council’s Program and Training Conference.  I assisted in instructing the Trainers EDGE class and upon arrival learned that I have an hour to kill in the morning, so I helped my buddy Adam teach his Social Media class.
Before I get into that, let me just share that yesterday was a wonderful Scouting experience.  Those of you that follow me on Twitter, Google+ and here on the blog know that it has been a real busy 6 months or so for me.  And beyond Scouting with my Troop, my Scouting relationships have been few and far between.  From the time that I entered Southridge High School, the event location, I was among great Scout friends.  Immediately hugs and picking right up where we left off where ever that was in our Scouting.  It was awesome!!
Part of the Social media class was Adam and I sharing how social media can be both positive and negative in Scouting.  I thought I would take a moment and share some of my thoughts on it.
I put together some rules that I think if followed when it comes to social media and Scouting with be a positive thing, keep our Scouts safe and you out of trouble.

1.  Remember that we are trying to Tell Scouting’s story.  You represent Scouting whether you like it or not.  If you tell the story of Scouting through unit activities on your blog, facebook status updates, twitter posts etc.. people are reading it and possibly sharing what you post.  The story is out there.  We can only control one thing 100% of the time and that is the content that we share.

2.  Do not “Friend” your Scouts in social media outlets.  If they follow you on twitter or your blog (and they will) that’s ok.  Remember that you are the Scout leader 24/7… act like it.  They are watching.  Do not friend them though.  You may not want to know and see what they are posting and you do not want to get into the parts of their life that will lead to them sharing to much with you or creating the wrong relationship.  Just think Youth protection.

3.  When using email to contact a Scout… CC their parents and another leader.  Two deep leadership works here also.

4.  Pictures are great.  Don’t name the characters and get permission to use them.

5.  Let the youth leaders run the Troop web site, monitor it.  Train them on what and what not to do.  They will do what you train them.

6.  Cell phones are not evil.  Let them have them.  Teen agers use cell phones.  Learn to communicate with them using the tools that they use.  Group texting is a great way to get the word out quickly.  Again, never text directly to the Scout.. send it to a parent or another leader also.
Create “No Ear Bud zones”.  The meeting place, while hiking, whatever you determine as a No ear bud use area.  Hold them to it.  If they want to listen to their music while in the car… let them.  Set limits and hold them to them.

7.  Create unit pages, twitter accounts, facebook pages and assign admins to monitor and update them.  A site that is not current doesn’t tell Scoutings Story.

8.  Train your youth and your adult leaders on proper use of the social media tools.  Inspect what you expect.

9.  The only rules that you need are found in the Scout Oath and Law when doing the right thing in social media.

10.  Don’t forget to have fun with it.  If it doesn’t look right.. hit delete.

Hope those few rules help you with your social media experience.  Bob Mazzucca once told us that we need to take Scouting where the Scouts are.  We live in an electronic age and our Scouts are very in tuned to using social media outlets to communicate, share, and discover.  When we use it to share Scouting’s story we can be a great part in the social media world.

Thanks for checking in and hanging out on the blog.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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