Scoutmaster Musings - Artificial Adventures

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Scoutmaster Musings

Artificial Adventures
The Nature Conservancy funded a study to determine if the trend in outdoor recreation was declining or not. The study includes data on camping, backpacking, fishing, hiking, hunting, visits to national and state parks and forests. The study was done in the USA but collaborated by similar results in Japan.

Results indicate that between 1981 and 1991 there was roughly a 1.25% annual rate of decline in per capita nature recreation. Since then, nature use has continued to drop between 18% and 25%. That means for every 100 people that enjoyed nature 15 years ago, there are now only 75 people.

At first glance, folks like me that enjoy a little solitude on the mountain might say, "Cool! less people bothering me out there!" But, if we stop and think, a sickening realization sets in. Fewer people experiencing nature means fewer people that care about it, and fewer people caring means less conservation, protection, and maintenance. Without experiencing nature, people don't make the connection that clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and clean food to eat all require work on our parts.

Why are we getting outdoors less? The study indicates the root cause is videophilia - the sedentary pasttime of video games, movies, and internet. Computers can now create such vivid and exciting adventures for us to watch, we don't need to go experience things ourselves. Instead, we sit on our butts and navigate a character through a imaginary world with our little thumb instead of navigating our entire bodies to the top of a real mountain.

As these artificial adventures become more interactive and sensational, I expect the trend to sit at home will continue to rise. As that trend continues, our natural spaces will gradually disappear with no one left to care about or care for them.

As a scouting volunteer and outdoorsman, this trend is not a surprise to me. I see it every week when I ask scouts what they've been doing. We have two scouts that enjoy golfing, but the rest can carry on lengthy, in-depth discussions and debates about the various techniques to improve your score on Halo, Puzzle Pirates, Need for Speed, and a slew of other games while having no interest in any outdoor activity.

One of my main goals this year is to raise the participation level in the troop and to challenge scouts to become more in tune with nature on our campouts. Making that as interesting as doing laser battle with an army of dragons or space monsters will be a tough order. But, we have them captive for 12 days at Philmont, a week at summer camp, and 4 days canoeing so we have a chance.

Scout On

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Posted: 11:46 02-25-2008 313
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