"Not Now, Mom, I'm Earning My Boy Scout Badge in Videogaming!"
By Deb Rox on April 29, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
Being a Boy Scout used to mean teaching boys outdoor survival skills like starting campfires, identifying bear tracks and building shelters to support them on the path to becoming men of leadership and character.
Alternatively, boys can now officially level up in dudehood simply by camping out in front of Xboxes and Gameboys, because boring, hard badges just got p0wned! The Boy Scouts of America announced this week that they have added Videogames to the roster of badges that Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts can earn.
Back in my day, having one's video game obsession hobby sanctioned by the venerable Boy Scouts of America was merely a pipe dream of some utopian future. That future is now, people: The Boy Scouts have officially introduced a video games badge into their awards curriculum. Earning the belt loop requires explaining the ESRB video game rating system, officially inking video game sessions into your calendar (holla!) along with homework and chores (boo!) and learning to play a new "approved" video game.
Have Michelle Obama and Jamie Oliver heard about this yet? Doesn't it seem a bit like earning college credit in Binge Drinking? Or adding a category to the Pulitzer Prize for Procrastination since most writers are prolifically engaged with that topic? Yes, technology is a vital skill, but do young boys need any incentive whatsoever to engage as gamers?
Back in the day, Cub Scouts had to go OUTSIDE.
Before this announcement, Wired wondered if the Boy Scouts were still relevant. Enrollment continues to decline for many reasons, including reactions against their policies of discrimination and reported incidents of child abuse. Is the new Videogame badge a PR move to make scouting look more relevant, or is it real sign of changing times? Or have the Boy Scouts simply finally earned the Jump the Shark badge?
The addition of Videogaming as an ability skill makes me wonder what might be next in merit badges now that the Boy Scouts plan to help boys navigate that manhood path in a contemporary way. Perhaps we're on our way to seeing these additions:
Daytime Sleeping Badge: Prove you can defy normal circadian patterns on a consistent basis; able to ignore mother's voice and the sound of a Weedeater and/or vacuum next to your ears.
Snackster Badge: Identify both chips and dips; display proficiency with shopping for and consuming sweet AND salty categories.
Theme Park Badge: Visit at least one new park, master diverse waiting-in-line and Are-You-Tall-Enough-to-Ride systems.
Hacker Badge: Learn to bypass parental control devices, porn blockers and evade website tracking systems.
Stink Badge: Cultivate various expressions of personal funk; demonstrate strength against intrusive use of hygiene products.
What do you think? It this a sensible move, or an overstatement of the obvious?
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