Welcome to the twenty-first century, where feats of childhood derring-do like building teepees, backpacking, and tying square knots are about to share time with a decidedly interior activity: video gaming.
That's right, the Cub Scouts--the junior 8 to 11 ages subset of the Boy Scouts of America--are adding a new "ability badge" to their arsenal of earnable merits for the Tiger, Cub, and Webelos troops. But here's the catch: The awards aren't for how many bonus lives you've earned, or stars you've collected--you have to do stuff like bone up on the ESRB's rating system and be able to describe why it's important.
I know what some of you are thinking. Just a trend-driven ploy to bolster recruitment, right? Maybe, but look at it this way: At least these kids get a look at the video games ratings system early on, and under the supervision of trained adults.
Check out some of these requirements. In addition to scoping games ratings, to get the "belt loop" you have to "create a schedule...that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming" as well as "learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher."
And to earn the "academics pin," you have to do stuff like: Save money (to buy a game appropriate for your age group), compare game systems (i.e. develop analytic comparison abilities), "teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game" (i.e. develop instructional and/or social interaction skills), and "with an adult's supervision, install a gaming system," by which I'd like to think they mean software, e.g. Windows, OS X, or Linux, not just running A/V cabling from a Wii or Xbox 360 to the back of a TV.
The full list of requirements is here.
What do you think former (or current) scouts and parents? Educational or empty-headed?
Follow me on Twitter (@game_on)