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The joke of the day seems to be that the Cub Scouts are redefining ‘outdoor activities’ to include sitting in front of the TV playing video games. The reality is that the Boy Scouts of America are now offering a belt loop and pin to Cub Scouts (i.e. kids generally 6-11) related to Video Games.

Also new this year are belt loops and pins for such activities as Disability Awareness, Family Travel, Good Manners, Nutrition, as well as Hockey and Skateboarding.

If you look at any of those you will see a very similar structure to what the Video Games Academic loop & pin require: basic tasks that build familiarity and show an interest in learning more, followed by a more involved set of tasks.

Here are the requirements:

Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may complete requirements in a family, den, pack, school, or community environment. Tiger Cubs must work with their parents or adult partners. Parents and partners do not earn loops or pins.

Belt Loop

Complete these three requirements:

1. Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
2. With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
3. Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.

Academics Pin

Earn the Video Games belt loop and complete five of the following requirements:

1. With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
2. Compare two game systems (for example, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and so on). Explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to purchase or use a game system.
3. Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
4. Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
5. List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
6. Play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
7. Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
8. Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer’s warranty.
9. With an adult’s supervision, install a gaming system.

Again, while this might be the hilarious topic of the day for some bloggers, remember two things:
– The Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program is a supplementary system that seeks to get kids involved in more things and make them more well-rounded individuals, which is why there is such a breadth of activities covered. Teaching kids to try new things and learn about a variety of activities at an early life can help them later on.
– Video gaming has become so ingrained in our culture that the research work contained in Grand Theft Childhood showed not playing them and being aware of them actually made you a social outcast.

I’m sure that many folks thought it was equally hilarious and wasteful when the Cub Scouts started offering the Computers Belt Loops, only there wasn’t the same proliferation of cynical bloggers waiting around back then.

So I applaud the BSA for taking this step. You can be sure that there was much discussion in committee when considering this step, anticipating the sort of backlash we’ve seen. But at the same time those forward-thinking folks also realized that video games are an intrinsic part of our culture, and as they look to make Scouting a better way for young kids to become better and more well rounded citizens, anything they offer will help further that goal.

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