A merit badge for playing video games?
I thought someone was just being funny. So I dropped by the Atascadero office for Boy Scouts of America and learned that yes, it’s true.The badge is for Tiger Cubs, Cubs and Webelos. It isn’t available to the older Boy Scouts.
I asked for information about the new badge. In Cub Scouts, they don’t call them “merit” badges — they are called “belt loops.” I wanted to see one, but they were all out of them. Obviously, this is already a popular loop for the youngsters to earn.
To get the video game loop, the Cub most complete three requirements. First, he must explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Then, the Cub has to create a schedule for doing things around the home such as homework and video gaming. And finally, he has to learn to play a new video game that is approved by his parents, a guardian or a teacher.
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It just seems to me sitting around playing a video game goes against what I thought Boy Scouting is all about.
I cherish my own memories of Boy Scouts — camping, hiking, canoeing, rope work, building shelters, cooking over an open fire and learning to follow orders given to me by adults I trusted and admired.
I remember one of our adult troop leaders had served in the merchant marine. He taught us to tie knots over and over again. I used those skills when I was in the Navy and still do today.
We keep hearing more and more about how sedentary our children have become; that they spend too much time sitting on the couch watching television and now — playing video games. As a result, our children aren’t getting enough exercise because they aren’t getting outside enough.
In addition to getting a belt loop for video game playing, the Cubs, Tigers and Webelos can also earn an “Academic Pin” for the same exercise. To win the pin, the Scouts need to first earn the belt loop and then do more, such as “create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group,” “compare two game systems,” “play a video game with family members in a family tournament,” “play a video game with a friend for one hour” and more.
Rewarding a Cub Scout for playing a video game simply contributes to the problem. I think this goes against everything the Boy Scouts of America stands for.
I know there is a trend to make scouting and its subsequent badges more relevant. But a badge for video games is not the way to do it.
Lon Allan can be reached at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.