Monday, October 25, 2010

Modern Merit Badges

"Boy Scouts of America now offers video game awards in the form of a belt loop and the more advanced video game pin."
- MSNBC - April 28, 2010

Although the new video gaming belt loop and game pin are just for Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts are apparently looking to modernize their entire awards program. Rumor has it that, in order to appeal to today’s youth, the organization will soon be updating its merit badge program to include the following new badges:

Cell phone
Cell phones are now an integral part of modern life. This merit badge will be rewarded to those who demonstrate mastery of handheld wireless communication devices.
1. Must be able to analyse and assess competing cell phone plans and identify the cheapest one including any network charges, connection fees, roaming charges and additional usage surcharges.
2. Demonstrate basic operational skills such as placing and receiving calls and text messages. The candidate must achieve certain minimum texting character typing speeds with and without a QWERTY keypad.
3. Must be able to receive and transmit even in weak reception areas such as camping grounds and high-rise basements.
4. Required to start a fire in a remote location using only the cell phone battery and a fire-starting app.

Web surfing
This badge is awarded for demonstrated skill in navigating and exploiting the World Wide Web.
1. Must be able to use various search engines in order to locate vaguely described web sites.
2. Candidate needs to demonstrate the ability to bypass content filters in order to access restricted or adult-content sites.
3. Create and upload a YouTube video of a friend in a compromising position using only a camera phone and a laptop computer.
4. Use the Google search function to learn how to tie knots including a sheepshank, bowline and a half hitch.

Mall navigation
The Boy Scouts have always stressed the importance of wilderness skills. Mall navigation is simply a modern version of finding your way out of the woods. To earn this badge, a candidate is placed in an unknown location at an unfamiliar shopping mall. Given a cell phone with only a compass app, he must successfully navigate the mall and locate the food court, the cinemas, the Starbucks and at least two cool teen clothing or footwear stores.

Portable digital music devices are almost mandatory in today’s world. Thus, it is essential that Scouts learn how to operate and fully exploit this modern technology. A badge candidate is required to:
1. Download songs and videos from authorized and unauthorized sites.
2. Bust a move while wearing an iPod without dislodging the ear buds.
3. Go an entire 24-hour day wearing and using one’s iPod.
4. Identify at least six different wild songbirds using a songbird podcast.

Drug identification
As with wilderness survival, this is a field trip merit badge. Candidates will be taken on an outing to a local downtown park or high school parking lot. Each Scout is required to distinguish undercover narcotics police officers from legitimate drug dealers. He must also be able to differentiate prescription from non-prescription pharmaceuticals. Must demonstrate the ability to classify on-street product as "grass", "speed", "acid", "crack" or "meth." The final test involves rapid identification of an anonymous white powder including drug type, potency, street value and any unusual additives and/or side effects.

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