Scouting in the New Millennium

When we think of “scouts,” the images that immediately come to mind are the lightweight uniforms, maps, compasses, as well as extensive survival skills and knowledge of the wilderness. Additionally, scouts aim to be good members of society by helping the community in general, including extensive volunteer work. These skills were valued and treasured as you needed to study and practice them in order to really be a scout master.

But with the changes in technology as well as what the wilderness has become, scouting has had to adapt and change to meet modernizations. Here is what scouting in the new millennium looks like.

In Film

Scout meeting
Scout meeting

In some ways scouting may have an old-fashioned feel to it, but it is still being represented in popular culture. The Pixar movie Up was released in 2009, featuring a young scout named Russell who was able to apply his wilderness teachings in a hands-on and unexpected manner in the wilds of South America.

The biggest issue with modern scouting, as demonstrated in the movie, is that while we can study scouting and wilderness training, but there are fewer opportunities for the application. Russell struggles in the movie with the things he has learned as he has never had the opportunity to actually do them.


The popularity of scouting has decreased
The popularity of scouting has decreased

Despite being mentioned in movies once in a while, the fact is that the popularity of scouting has been steadily declining. There was a 7.4 percent decrease in scout enrollment between 2014 and 2015. This is because of the perception that scouting is too “vanilla,” “goody-goody,” and “clean cut,” making it uncool to be a scout in the new millennium. Despite all of the impressive skills that kids are taught, it has not translated well to the greater population as being a cool and fun thing to do. Another factor in this is that parental participation is down as parental responsibilities have increased and free time has decreased.


Wording and acceptance are probably the biggest changes that scouting has experienced over the past few years. I am sure some parents may think that the advancement of technology has been a change, but the reality is that it has not moved forward with technology. Instead, the inclusion of everyone as well as being kind, even within the ranks of the scouts, has been a focus of the more recent years, ensuring that anyone can participate in the scouts.

Scouts in action
Scouts in action

Inclusion is essential not just to the social good, but also for the survival of scouting as an activity. If organizations limit who can learn and participate with the scouts, the number of new scouts will continue to decline, making scouting a group of exclusion rather than inclusion.


Though scouting has undergone some changes in the past few decades, there are still many fundamentals of scouting that remain unchanged. The skills of learning to tie knots, build fires, navigate a map, first aid, and general wilderness knowledge are still taught in scouting for both boys and girls, ensuring that while the skills may be less used than they were before, they still are being taught. Likewise, hiking and camping are still part of the scouts, teaching children to appreciate nature and understand the values of protecting and respecting the wild.

With all of the noise provided by social media, the internet, tablets, and other technologies, scouting does not have the same appeal to people as it once did. Regardless, learning the skills from scouts is something that children should have if they are going to be avid outdoor enthusiasts as they get older.

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marion-fernandez is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival