Scouting magazine Exit Reader Mode

Controlling Misuse of Cell Phones

Parents in Scouter A.M.-O.’s troop want their sons to have use of cell phones during Scout activities. She asked for ideas that will prevent misuse of these devices but make parents feel secure.

Our troop has a strict “no electronics” rule for camp-outs, which includes cell phones, Game Boys, and iPods. To comfort parents, we provide a list of cell phone numbers for all adults going on the outing and allow boys to use our phones to call home or take calls from worried parents at any time.

Troop Committee Member J. O’K.
Dunedin, Fla.

First, tell the parents they are invited to attend all meetings and camp-outs. Second, tell them no cell phones.

Assistant Scoutmaster E.S.
Cave Creek, Ariz.

Preplan a block of time to allow Scouts to communicate with their parents to reassure both Scouts and parents that everything is fine. Make this scheduled time known to all parties so everyone can be available.

Troop Committee Member T.K.
Acworth, Ga.

Cell phones are very disruptive and encourage Scouts to isolate themselves from activities. We have a policy that Scouts cannot bring electronic gadgets on camping trips. If they do, I will keep them for the duration of the camping trip and give them back to the parents. If a Scout takes out a cell phone during a regular meeting, I collect it until the end of the meeting. If a parent needs to talk to their son during a meeting or camping trip, they can contact me, and I will relay the message to their son.

Scoutmaster D.W.
Lithonia, Ga.

If you question parents enough, you will find that they don’t really care if their sons have a cell phone. It’s the boys who want to call or text their friends. If the parents say they want the security, give them your number, which removes that objection.

Assistant Scoutmaster B.M.
Naperville, Ill.

We do allow Scouts to carry their cell phones on camp-outs and to meetings, but they are to be turned off and only used for emergency purposes. I stress that cell phone use while riding to and from camp is often a distraction to the driver. Fortunately, our Scouts are responsible enough to know where and when cell phones should be used.

Scouter K.W.
Green Bay, Wis.

There is no reason a Scout needs a telephone while in a meeting or other Scouting activity. If a Scout is allowed to use a cell phone without leader control, there is a good possibility that the phone will be used to call or take calls from friends, to play video games, or to listen to music. All these activities make it difficult for the Scout to completely participate in the current activity or to learn the skill being taught.

Assistant Scoutmaster M.F.
St. Paul, Minn.

Cell phones aren’t just phones anymore; they’re music players, gaming devices, instant messengers, cameras, and video players. We found that cell phones were becoming a significant distraction and have prohibited them at Scout functions.

Scoutmaster M.J.
Westford, Mass.


Web Exclusive Responses

The following responses do not appear in the print edition …

It is inappropriate for boys to have cell phones during meetings and camp-outs; they need to be focused on what we are teaching them, not on who is texting or calling. We do not allow the boys to have phones at our meetings. There is a phone at our meeting place, and the leaders have cell phones in case of an emergency.

Den Leader J.W.
Kaysville, Utah

Remind parents that security is built into all parts of the Scouting program. Parents should know where the meetings are held, when to pick up their sons, and that there is plenty of adult supervision. Cell phones are not necessary during a meeting.

Troop Committee Chairman P.S.
Sulphur, La.

Your patrol leaders council could create a code of conduct that they agree to follow. Clarify other issues such as foul language and bullying, and then be sure to include a section about electronic devices and cell phones.

Assistant Scoutmaster P.N.
Nottingham, Md.

A lively, active, engaging program at meetings, observing the rules of safe Scouting (especially the buddy system) on outings, and a clear understanding on the proper use of cell phones will greatly reduce the likelihood of cell phone abuse.

Scoutmaster C.G.
Kennett Square, Pa.

Our troop has a “no electronics for Scouts” policy. In addition to the distraction issue, we justify it by the fact that anything a boy brings camping may very well not survive the outing. Most parents are thrilled that their boys will be electronics-free for a weekend.

Scoutmaster S.S.
Beavercreek, Ohio

All cell phone ringers are turned off during our troop meetings, and phones must stay in a pocket. We allow the boys to bring phones on outings, but they must stay in a vehicle. If a parent requires a call to check in, set up a predetermined time for the boy to call home. This way, the parent stays connected without it becoming a disruption.

Troop Committee Chair L.R.
Mosinee, Wis.

There is a strict “no electronics” policy in my troop. We let parents know that all the leaders have cell phones, and that if anything happens to their Scout, we’ll call immediately. We tell the parents, “If you don’t hear from your Scout, he’s having a great time!”

Assistant Scoutmaster L.B.
Sebastian, Fla.