Scouting is a game, not a science.
Games suffer from a bad reputation.
Why have Scouts play games? What about some serious learning? Aren’t games just fillers? Are they a waste of time?
Fun has a bad reputation too; many adults think that learning is a rigorous, difficult, serious endeavor. After all we want our Scouts to take things seriously.
Look at what happens when our Scouts play:
Scouts Have fun! Scouts laughing, running, jumping, tussling, chasing, and evading are having fun! Fun is good, fun is serious work!
Scouts Develop Teamwork. Things may look chaotic, but if you watch carefully you’ll see the team develop. Watch how Scouts organize to achieve the goal in a hundred small interactions that teach the importance of cooperation. Scouts learn to look after each other, to place the goal of the group above their own self-interests.
Scouts Build Skills and Knowledge. Attaining a skill to achieve a goal in a game is immediately useful. Learning a skill because “you may need it someday” or “because it’s important” isn’t as compelling. Scouts are young people, and young people tend to live in the moment. We learn skills with an immediate application faster and better than those that are only theoretically useful.
Scouts Learn the Consequences of their Actions. Games teach lessons through trial and error. Play is a safe, low stakes, way to try approaches and make mistakes. The process of trying, failing, changing strategies, and trying again in a game mimics what most of us do all day every day in more ‘serious’ endeavors. Games provide an immediate feedback loop to strengthen the skills of innovation and invention.
Scouts Learn To Challenge Themselves. At that uncertain, awkward, stage of life when we are particularly sensitive to how we appear to others we can be reluctant to try for fear of failure. The context of a game removes the stigma of failing. “It’s only a game” after all, everybody tries, some succeed, some fail. Scouts who have learned to accept failing in the context of a game take on real challenges with less reluctance.
We are all naturally competitive, we all strive for achievement, status, and self-expression. Games offer a closed system where of play that reveals who we are, and offer immediate feedback about our decisions and actions.
Isn’t that a pretty good definition of Scouting? Scouters use the powerful factors present in games to aim our Scouts at developing resilience, inventiveness, and character.
Games are not a just a part of Scouting, Scouting is a game! Games are not a waste of time, they are absolutely required to reach the aims we all strive to achieve.