Recently Phillip Torrone wrote an excellent post on the history of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, pondering whether it wasn't time for a new version of these programs that spoke to the technologically changing world. I think he hit the nail on the head. We have never participated in Scouts, or 4-H for that matter, for many reasons- the values of the Boy Scout organization conflict with ours, the activities of all of them seem outdated or they offered things we do already, the method of testing for badges seemed archaic, really just a sense of lackluster for our family. I'm sure others will argue the benefits of these groups, but they are not for us. My husband has great memories, however, of the Boy Scouts merit badges. He enthusiastically describes having manuals that taught him a very specific skill that he could then master and the sense of excitement in realizing the power in that manual was the knowledge it contained (though the badge was nice too). And while he has no desire to put our boys in any of the organizations mentioned above either, he shared in my attraction to joining or developing a structured program of helping our children develop skills in the areas they are truly interested in, abilities that would allow them to dream big and create big.
Now, Adafruit Industries has started offering skill badges for the Maker crowd, which suits our family fine. As homeschoolers, we tend to view life as one big Beta test anyway, so the idea Torrone has suggested of a new kind of Scout piqued our interest. As Makers and artist, we delighted in the possibilities. So much so, that my husband and I are now designing a Hacker Scout program for our local Hackerspace. Skill building, family time, relevant subject matter- it's the best of the future based on time-tested traditions of the past. We are very excited about this new project, and more importantly, so are our kids- who technically have already earned a few of Adafruit's badges and want to make sure we remember that in our next order.
This post was orginally published on www.burninggnome.com on 3/12/12