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Cub Scouts lost in the proverbial woods

April 30, 2010

Remember the Cub Scouts? Personally, I’d tucked them away on the same memory shelf as the space race, coonskin caps and open homophobia, but it turns out they’re still around. And now they’re stepping into the 21st (or at least the 20th) century, with the introduction of a merit badge for being good at video games (or something). The New York Daily News:

“The Boy Scouts are struggling for relevance in the digital age and they realize their target audience has dramatically changed,” says Adam Hanft, an authority on consumer marketing and social trends. “They need to speak to that market to recruit new members. The Boy Scouts is about camping and developing skills, but this is a recruiting device.”

If you told today’s Scouts-aged kids that they could join up and play video games, you’d probably have an effective recruiting device. But the Scouts have approached this effort at modernization in a predictably old-fashioned way: According to the guidelines for earning the honor, you’re limited to games that are rated for your age group; you have to first make a schedule with your parents for doing homework, chores and all that other boring shit first; and you have to start fresh with a new game, which means all those hours you’ve logged with your older brother’s copy of Resident Evil 5 were for nothing. In short: potential recruits will realize early on that this doesn’t mean they’ll have the endorsement of our nation’s foremost anachronistic purveyor of exclusionary, conservative values if they want to sit up until 3 a.m. building their criminal empires in Grand Theft Auto. Which they’ll do anyway, they’ll just forget about doing it while wearing a kerchief.

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