Sunday August 6, 2006
Even in high-tech age, youths learn
to 'Be prepared'
by CANDICE BOSELY
TRI-STATE - These are a few of their
favorite things: Cell phones and cookies, iPods and pop-up tents,
video games and wilderness badges.
Seeing teenagers - and children even
younger - talking or sending text messages on cell phones, fiddling
with mp3 music players and playing video games are common sights.
Girl Scouting and Boy Scouting might
almost seem pass, given the associated images of camping, surviving
in the wilderness and sleeping in wooden cabins at camp. But it's
not antiquated and is just as relevant, if not more so, today as in
the past, local Scouting officials say.
Broadus, 13, of Hagerstown, admitted that when she first joined Girl
Scouts six years ago she wasn't too keen on "the outdoorsy stuff."
Now, though, she said she likes
sleeping in a tent - even without her digital music player and
"I don't take any of those things
when I go" on Scouting activities, she said.
Daved Paddack, 12, joined the Boy
Scouts when he was a first-grader, in part because of his father,
who works for the organization.
"He said it was a great experience,"
said Daved, of Hagerstown.
He said he's into sports and also has
a computer, PlayStation game system, a portable Game Boy and an iPod
digital music player.
Although he enjoys using and playing
with the latest technologies, he's also always excited to go on Boy
Scout trips, said his mother, DeeDee Paddack.
Daved said his favorite Boy Scout
activities are rifle shooting, archery and swimming. He goes to camp
once a week in the summer, where he works on merit badges.
"I really want to become an Eagle
Scout," Daved said, believing it will help him have more choices
getting into colleges and with his career path.
"It just teaches you a lot about life
and stuff," he said.
Cooking and how to survive in the
woods are a few of those life skills Daved said he has learned.
"The cutest thing," his mother said,
is that Daved learned how to make barbecue chicken.
Values, ethics and ... fun
When Boy Scout representatives visit
schools, camping is still the No. 1 reason boys express interest in
the organization, said Don Shepard, Scout executive for the
Mason-Dixon Council of Boy Scouts of America.
The Hagerstown-based council serves
boys in Washington County and Franklin and Fulton counties in
"In a time when more and more of our
societal changes are heading in a technological direction, there are
still a great number of kids interested in the outdoors," Shepard
The local council grows 1 percent to
2 percent a year, evidence boys are still interested in the
traditional programming offered by Boy Scouts.
It's a misconception, Shepard said,
to believe that today's video game systems, computers and large TVs
will cause children to want to stay inside all the time.
Those gadgets keep children busy, but
when introduced to other experiences, they become involved and
If given a choice, most children will
choose to do something they've never done before. White-water
canoeing, spelunking or going on a long mountain bike ride are
activities most boys wouldn't be able to do without Boy Scouts,
"Our goal is to instill in them
values and ethics while having fun," Shepard said. "I'm a firm
believer that it takes parents to birth a child and it takes the
community to raise them."
The Scouts' motto, "Be prepared,"
refers not only to being prepared for wilderness survival situations
but being prepared for moral and ethical decision-making as well.
"It's being prepared for life,"
The types of merit badges available
to Scouts reflect the old-and-new mentality.
Boy Scouts can acquire as many as 120
merit badges in areas including canoeing and computers, geology and
graphic arts, engineering and entrepreneurship, nature and nuclear
"As kids have evolved with computers
and technology we have continued to come out with additional merit
badges," Shepard said.
The number of boys who seek merit
badges in new categories such as graphic arts and nuclear science is
small, but many work to obtain merit badges in computers because the
work can be done in school.
Mostly boys seek badges in more
traditional programs, Shepard said.
In the summer and other times, Boy
Scouts can spend time at Camp Sinoquipe, a 500-plus-acre camp in
Fulton County, Pa. There they can complete the hours needed for
outdoor-related merit badges as well as take part in activities
designed to be fun. Leadership skills also are honed.
Camping is a popular activity for
local troops, either in the form of backpacking, camping in a cabin
or "troop trailer camping" - in which supplies are hauled in a
trailer and unloaded at a campsite.
"We like to consider the outdoors our
classroom," Shepard said.
Typically, Scout masters prohibit
cell phones, Game Boys, music players and other gadgets from trips
into the outdoors.
Shepard, 37, registered to be a Cub
Scout when he was 7 years old. He advanced through the ranks and
eventually obtained the highest possible rank, Eagle Scout.
Boy Scouts, he said, teaches life
skills to those who might not be able to learn such things at home.
Given the situation with many of today's busy families, children
might not be able to learn how to cook at home, for example.
They can with the Boy Scouts, Shepard
Those skills often carry them into
adulthood. Seven out of 10 former Boy Scouts have indicated that
something they first were introduced to in Scouting became either a
lifelong hobby or a career, Shepard said.
Crafts, cookies, camping and more
One of the emphases of Girl Scouting
has been and remains today the idea of leadership development.
Entertainment devices can occupy a
girl's mind, but learning leadership skills and what each girl can
and cannot do are important, said Ellen Murphy, program and property
manager for Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council.
Based in Martinsburg, W.Va., the
council serves girls in 15 counties in the four-state region.
When Girl Scouts was created in
Savannah, Ga., in 1912, women's roles were limited. The idea of
girls playing basketball in bloomers was radical, Murphy, said.
In the 1940s, when World War II
caused so many men to leave their jobs behind for the military,
women learned about careers.
Today, girls are encouraged to pursue
whatever career interests they have - whether it's to become a
nuclear physicist or to stay at home and focus on family, Murphy
"Girl Scouting is fun for them, but
parents are interested in their girls learning things," she said.
As with Boys Scouts, the merit badges
a Girl Scout can earn have adapted to the times. Some of the
earliest badges focused on homemaking and emphasized farm skills,
such as pasteurizing milk. Today, girls can earn badges that
emphasize technology and medical careers.
And, the staple.
"The out-of-doors is still a
constant," Murphy said.
Selling Girl Scout cookies, making
crafts and camping remain part of the Girl Scouts program, but the
true traditional programming is molding young women into adults with
courage, confidence and character and who make the world a better
place, Murphy said - paraphrasing the organization's new motto.
Anastasia joined when she was a
second-grader. She said she enjoys going to Camp White Rock for a
week or two in the summer, and said she plans to one day work as a
counselor. Typically, girls with that goal start out as program
aides, but Broadus said she was able to skip that and start as a
"There's a lot of opportunities," she
said of Scouting.
Girl Scouts requires that girls take
on leadership roles - putting the needs of other girls before one's
own needs, Anastasia said.
"There are some girls who like to be
out on the streets. I'm not one of them," she said, saying that her
mother, Monique Broadus, deserves credit for being there for her.
"Most girls don't have someone like my mom."
When attending Camp White Rock, which
is in Capon Bridge, W.Va., girls are asked to leave their electronic
devices at home, Murphy said.
It's done not only in principle, but
"Things like cell phones simply don't
work here," Murphy said from the camp, where she said there is no