The Harmful Rays of the Moral Vacuum

The Harmful Rays of the Moral Vacuum
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cub Scouts encourage video gaming?

I was a Cub Scout when the original Nintendo Entertainment System was at the height of popularity.  My friend's mom was our Den Mother, and I remember how we used to sneak away during den meetings to consume snack foods and play classic games such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mike Tyson's Punchout.  I have fond memories of my time in Scouts.  I enjoyed many opportunities as a Boy Scout and Cub Scout which I would not have had otherwise as the kid of a single mom--such as camping.  But while my time in Scouting came and went, video gaming is still an active part of my life (much to the dismay of my dear wife, who does not necessarily share my excitement for the latest X-Box releases).

I was surprised, given that we are in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic which is the pet project of the First Lady, that the Cub Scouts have started offering a "Video Gaming" belt loop.  For the uninitiated, belt loops are the Cub Scout equivalent of merit badges.  They are little metal tabs which slide around the military style webbed belt worn by Scouts.  They also make putting the belt on or taking it off near impossible without sending little metal tabs flying all over the place.

This is likely an effort by the Boy Scouts of America to remain relevant in a time when kids are fixated by technology and gadgets.  The requirements for the badge include selecting and purchasing an appropriate video game under the supervision of an adult, and playing a video game with a friend for one hour (though when do kids ever stop playing video games after one hour?).  I fully intend to contact the Boy Scouts and request my retroactive video gaming belt loop based on all the hours I logged playing video games at Den meetings.  I would personally prefer that new merit badges and belt loops be based around concrete real world skills.  But I don't think this necessarily signals the death of physical activity for kids.  Many of the children in my karate dojo spend hours playing video games, but they also do karate, play sports, and participate in other extra curricular activities.  It's all about balance, as my wife likes to remind me.

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