Monday, April 8, 2013

Pretend safety

As I mentioned in an earlier post I was recently working on a scout project. The conversation turned to the National Geographic TV show "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?" In particular, there are a number of challenges that the contestants face that are taken from a book of Boy Scout games. The games involve activities that most Boy Scout camps prohibit due to "safety" issues.

On one of the "tougher" episodes, the scouts and adults played "canoe jousting", where one two canoes are rowed past each other, while one person on each canoe stands up and tries to knock their opponent off the other canoe with a padded oar. Another canoe game I would expect is verboten is "gunwale jumping", where scouts race canoes, propelling them solely by standing on the gunwale and jumping up and down.

I've read articles on this as well. If you tried to do many of the activities that Boy Scouts did in, say, the 1950s you would be drummed out of the Scouts for "endangering" the boys. One of my pet peeves (and many of the adults and scouts in my troop) is the ban on "lazer tag". Lazer tag, for those who don't know, is a game where the players wear vests with infrared light sensors on them, and carry "guns" that shoot infrared lasers. When you are hit by the beam from an opponents' laser, the vest beeps and records it. After a certain number of hits you are "out". There is no physical contact. As several article point out, traditionally scouts have played way more violent games than lazer tag.

Anyway, as we listed games you can't play at scout camp, I mentioned lazer tag, and was immediately set upon by my fellow scouters. No, I was told, lazer tag is in a class by itself. It involves pointing a weapon at another person, which is something a scout has never been allowed to do. The verbal slap down by pretty much everybody present was such that I just shut up. But here I can say what I wanted to say then.

Yes, I am against scouts pointing a weapon at another person too. But a lazer tag "gun" is not a weapon. It is a flashlight. I've seen scouts use flashlights with a handle and trigger. Should those be banned as well? How about Hello Kitty bubble guns? How about pastries? How about fingers?

While I think it's important to keep our kids safe from threats, I also think it's important that we keep them safe from actual threats, not imaginary ones. Even our 10 year old new scouts are smart enough to know the difference between an actual gun, which can hurt, and a lazer tag "gun", which is a flashlight. When we pretend there is not difference, and the lazer tag "gun" is somehow bad, we are just exposing them to the adult world of hypocrisy.


Thanks, Verna. I'm glad you liked it.

Post a Comment