Scouts make new badges for the digital age

As closely linked to the Scouts as the woggle and also the khaki shorts, badges have long been put on with pleasure, conscientiously acquired and, generally, poorly sewn on.

Woodcraft and cooking, orienteering and watching birds are actually probably the most popular awards in the Scouting movement’s 107-year history. However the famous badges are to see a change: out go wood-whittling, blacksmithery along with other old-school notions of what young people needs to be doing to enhance their characters and in come some much more up-to-date ideas covering computer whizzery, disability awareness, understanding global issues, photography as well as helping out in food banks and othercommunity-based projects.

In all, 250 badges are to be presented or updated over the six to 18 age groups in what the Scouting Association shows is actually its biggest revamp of the movement. The wave of modernisation began 2 years ago whenever a new Scout promise was announced that enables atheists to skip the “God” part of the oath that newbies must take whenever they join.

An enormous range of hobbies and activities are actually mirrored in Scout badges, from horseback riding to sailing, coxswain to smallholder, air navigation to parascending. While some happen to be updated to mirror safety guidelines or science, others, like snowboarding, geocaching and paddle sports, have already been brought in to cover new passions and exercises which may not have been with us a couple of decades back.


Nevertheless outdoor skills continue to be key, insisted Wayne Bulpitt, the UK’s chief commissioner of the Scouting Association, whom mentioned the introduction of the “digital citizen” badge is not a sign that they're encouraging boys and girls to stay inside on their screens.

“Grit and resilience are the new buzzwords,” he stated. “One of the reasons we are growing and being successful is the fact that there’s something for everyone, no matter whether it’s a conventional craft or something that is with computers.

“But we don’t want to move away from the tradition of adventure; in addition we want young adults to be familiar with disability, as an example, to be comprehensive, to possess skills around teamworking and leadership. Obviously, a number of the outdoor skills have to be modified,” he said, agreeing that during the past badges that required whittling sticks with sharp hunting knives or perhaps carrying other youngsters down stairs to flee fires are actually unlikely to find favour with most modern parents. Now Scouts should be able to work at Navigator, Camp Craft and Community Impact badges.”

TV speaker and adventurer Bear Grylls - chief Scout and one of the ultimate advocates of outdoor activities - suggested the new badges were necessary to maintaining young adults engaged and enthused: “We’re delighted to be launching a new choice of badges that guarantee fun and adventure while motivating Scouts to develop a larger comprehension of their local neighborhoods within modern society. And the contribution they can make.”

He explained scouting needed to carry on and develop. “The new badges ensure we are able to keep providing activities that teach and enthuse young people in equal measure.”

Motivating leadership is another key problem for the Scouts, that have an ever-growing downside to recruiting enough volunteers to bring a number of the 40,000 young people on their waiting lists into the movement. “We’d love to bring Scouting to every one, because there is a great deal to be acquired in developing skills and in developing in character,” reported Bulpitt.

But he publicly stated there were no plans to sort out one of the key issues that torments parents of boys and girls in the Scouts - sewing on those fiddly little badges. “No plans for an iron-on version yet,” he said. “Sorry.”