Recently the Cub Scouts of America introduced a new award based on video games. At first this may seem very surprising considering the goal of Scouting is to build life skills within boys and young men. So what life skills can one learn from video games? Let's take a look at what a Cub Scout must do to get this award. (source)
There are two parts to this award. This first is a belt loop and the second is a pin. There are requirements that the scout must do to get each part.
First a look at the belt loop.
- 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.
- 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.
- Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.
What life skills can be gained from completing these three requirements?
For the first requirement, we learn that not all media is appropriate for all ages. We learn what tools the entertainment industries have provided to help gauge a game's suitability for people of certain ages. This is certainly a skill that more people should have not just a scout.
The Second requirement requires the scout to learn to manage their time. They learn that they must schedule time to complete necessary activities (chore, homework) and leisure activities (video games). This is a skill that will help them throughout their life as they move up through grade school to high school to college and then to a full time job.
The third requirement gives the scout the opportunity to learn and experience something new. Depending on the game they choose, they could experience a whole new genre of gaming and learn what makes that game or genre different from others they are use to play. If done properly this could help the scout become more willing to try new things throughout their life. A very good life skill to have.
Now we move on to the pin.
- With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
- 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.
- Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
- Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
- List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
- Play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
- Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
- 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.
- With an adult’s supervision, install a gaming system.
Requirements one, two and eight have quite a bit in common. All require the scout to learn about a product and make comparisons with other related products prior to making the decision to purchase. Requirement one specifically focuses on the ratings and making a budget plan for the game purchase. Requirement two requires the scout to make feature comparisons between products to decide which product meets the scouts needs. Requirement eight teaches a scout to shop around to find the best deals for the item they want. These skills will come into play as the scout grows and gains more disposable income and makes larger purchases such as a car, or high end electronics.
Requirements three and six are a lesson in the social aspects of gaming. The scout learns that gaming is not just a solo activity. They learn that social gaming is not just confined to the gameplay modes of the game they are playing and that gaming can be inclusive of all those around.
Requirements four and five let the scout learn to teach others skills that the player knows. Through out the scouts lives they will be teaching others new skills and the earlier they learn to become more effective teachers the better those future experiences will go.
Requirement seven teaches the scout that gaming itself can be used as a tool to teach and learn skills useful outside of gaming. Not only can games be used to teach skills useful at school, but also can be used to teach skills useful for employment.
Finally requirement nine teaches the building blocks of electronics installation. The ability to install a game console will help the scout as they learn to install and set up new electronics and even computer systems.
All these skills are important for anyone to learn and the fact that the Cub Scouts are teaching the skills using a medium that the scouts are more inclined to enjoy will help ensure that the scouts are willing to learn. I am excited that the Cub Scouts are willing to bring in modern interests for teaching these timeless skills.