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Help Scouts change the perception that Scouting’s not ‘cool’

Scouts in assistant Scoutmaster J.P.’s troop enjoy awesome adventures, yet they still get teased for being in Scouting. She asked how leaders can help change Scouting’s uncool perception.

We teach our Scouts how to respond when someone makes a negative comment. Examples: “Scouting is for wusses? When was the last time you hiked 63 miles, rappelled 40 feet, biked 60 miles, climbed a 12,000-foot peak, or canoed 60 miles?” “If there were an emergency, you could trust me to be able to take care of you. Would you be able to take care of me?” “Where do you think I learned the leadership skills to be the captain of the track (or cross-country, tennis, wrestling, football, basketball, or soccer) team?” “At least I’m able to put achieving Eagle Scout on my résumé/college application. What are you putting on yours?” “Are you part of anything that you and others our age plan and lead? I am. We plan and lead our meetings and activities. It’s not like everything else where the adults are in charge.”

When Scouts respond in such a manner, it usually shuts off the negative comments and often recruits the one making the comment about Scouting.

Scoutmaster B.W.-F.
Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Since entertainment is so immersive today, we have to step up our efforts to keep up. For example, I’m currently working on a “Zombie Survival Edition” of the Emergency Preparedness merit badge. The requirements are the same, but the instruction is delivered in a theatrical and imaginative way. I’m pretty sure that earning that badge will be memorable, effective, and comment-worthy. Measuring the effectiveness of our program by boys’ willingness to tell others about it will keep us adults heading in the right direction.

Unit Commissioner M.G.
Lehi, Utah

Many people choose not to join Scouting because the uniform is all they see. More attention has to be shifted away from what we wear to what we do: going on great trips, making amazing friends, and learning leadership, service, and new skills. We have to change the image of Scouting from a tan shirt and green pants to one of rock climbing and backpacking.

Junior Assistant Scoutmaster J.O.
Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Have the unit purchase some of the cool tech shirts that Scout Shops have been selling and let your guys wear them from time to time as a uniform alternative. You still look uniform as a group and increase the coolness factor a bit. 

Take action shots of your boys doing the fun and cool stuff that Boy Scouts do, and try to get those photos into the local paper. Scouting is a year-round sport; market it as such.

Scoutmaster J.P.
Loganville, Wis.

Packs and troops need to start working together to show the community how cool it is to be a Scout, not just because you get to go whitewater rafting or shoot a gun, but because you serve your community and make a difference. We need to do a better job making sure the community knows who we are and what impact we have; then the boys will find it cool whether they are cleaning up a park or hiking a mountain trail.

Pack Committee Chairman M.L.
Wayzata, Minn.

Ask your Scouts, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Executives, public leaders, military officers, and athletes were all Scouts. We need to give some examples and demonstrate how the life lessons and skills learned in Scouting contribute to future success. Plus, who doesn’t think knives and fire are cool? 

Mount Pleasant, S.C.