There are many out there that feel that there is no place for electronics in Scouting.. no phones, ipods, or gps units. Well I tend to disagree with those folks, but with this caveat, training, skills, and appropriate time and place.
Training. IF you are going to use a gps unit you need to know how to read a map and compass. Goecaching has made gps very popular and has taken away some of the map and compass skills that we use in the field. The game of geocaching on the other hand has gotten lots of folks out in the woods and hiking from point to point. I love this idea, but… add the map and compass skill to your list when hunting for your next treasure. Total reliance on the gps may leave you stranded when the batteries die. the compass and map will never fail you. So map and compass training is a must.
Training in basic camping (outdoor) skills are a must. Knot tying, First aid, and setting camp, cooking, and the principles of leave no trace are all must have skills. Your iPhone can help in those endeavors. There are great apps out there that teach skills. The Boy Scout handbook is a nice tool on the iPhone to take Scouting where the Scout is… on his phone.
In my troop we do not discourage the use of electronics. Game units, gps, iPhones, etc are all welcome. We do not have a written policy or a guidebook on how and when to use these items, it is understood however that there is an appropriate time and place. Once a Scout understands the when and where and the fact that we welcome technology the instances of abuse are rare. It is a matter of teaching, trusting, and letting them lead in the use of their electronics.
I think that there is a place for electronics in Scouting… and Scouting thinks so too. If you trust your Scouts to do the right thing, train them in the proper use, and then establish the appropriate time and place that it all can be used, it will naturally find its place in your unit.
There recently was a good article in Backpacker magazine about skills and the iPhone.. check it out here.
Let me know what you think. Leave a comment or drop me an email.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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