Be Prepared

Dave Killion — December 13, 2011

Further to yesterday’s post on Scouts Canada, I want to take a moment to stress how wonderful it is to have organizations such as Scouts. There are many people, including children, who do not enjoy taking part in organized athletics. They may be clumsy or slow, they may not enjoy competition, or perhaps they just find the activities pointless. If the coaches (who are often volunteers) are inept or unpleasant, practice sessions can be boring or humiliating. There is no doubt in my mind that many children meet these challenges and are better people for overcoming them, but for some that is simply not the case. As far as I know, Scouting (and Guides) is the only opportunity for young people to engage socially in physical, outdoor activities without those elements of competitive sports for which they don’t care. For certain children, the absence of outdoor youth groups leaves them little stimulation outside of their TVs, computers, and game systems. And as I wrote yesterday, I don’t think youth are in great danger of sexual assault in the modern Scouts organization. So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that, for an organization so very involved with nature and the environment, Scouting teaches a very simplistic, very one-sided, very wrong view of the environment. For example, youth have an opportunity to earn the Climate Change Challenge Crest. The requirements are based on an assumption that not only is climate change occurring, but that it is bad and the Scout (along with everyone else) is exacerbating it. Drive less. Consume less. Recycle more. Buy local. No where in any of these requirements are youth likely to learn about the tragedy of the commons, trade offs, or the roles that market forces and private property play in protecting the environment. I don’t think this is a calamity, since the program is really just reinforcing what kids are being taught in school. Still, I’m sorry that people who should know better aren’t showing youth both sides of the argument.


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