Christian Welles, one of the 6 dedicated leaders, told me, “The groups were founded by Geoff Gavaskar back in 2006. Our sim is owned by Ninja Kawabata and Sola Phobos was the camp builder. I'm one of the estate managers and run most of the merit badges as well. We have about 6 dedicated leaders. Kyal and I run the Cub Scouts with our assistant Ardy and Jeremiah runs the scouts with his assistant Billybob. We also have a few members who are real life Eagle Scouts and Queen Scouts who serve on an advisory role.”
They have a wonderful camp and many activities going on weekly. I spent a Sunday going to a meeting to learn about them. I expected a sit down meeting, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the meeting was actually a field trip to work on two badges. The leader for the day was BillyBob Portal. He passed out the requisites for two badges they were working on that day. The first badge was video gaming and off we all went to a Super Mario game at Electrobit City. There, with the help of a “personal guide” bot of the sim each scout proceeded through a list of activities to complete. It was great fun to observe, and I had many chuckles at the patter among the group and the hard work of completing some of the tasks. It was like being at regular meeting of children trying to do a task and either winning or failing but trying again. I am sorry that I could not stay for the whole meeting since it was such an enjoyable trip.
The Scouts have a structure based on real-life scouting principles, although they are not related in any way to real-life organizations. They are expected to attend at least 2 meetings a month to be considered active. All ages and genders are invited to join in one capacity or another. There are no dues but they may purchase uniforms with colors based on their age group and wear them to the meetings. Adults may join as volunteers as den mothers, park rangers if they are accepted by the administration. I am sure they are well vetted. Parents are allowed to visit the Camp at any time and visitors are invited to join in the field trips as well.
I asked Christian what he liked about the idea of scouting in Second Life and what the scouts get out of it. He answered, “I love the diversity of people and things we do. Our membership base brings together people from different communities, countries, and social groups. We do a wide range of activities for badges from aviation to zombie defense, along with role playing and socializing. A lot of people join scouts to relive their time as scouts in real life or because they didn't get to join as a kid. At our meetings, scouts can earn 29 (and growing) merit badges and learn about how to do things in Second Life like flying, sailing, building, and a whole range or topics that are also applicable in real life.”
I went to see another field trip to a zoo and asked some of the kids what do you like about scouting.They told me how much fun getting badges was and all loved the field trips and learning. Niki Frak said, ”Welp, I'ma forest kid myself. So I love livin' at the scout camp. All the badgees n' stuff give me lots of fun things to do, n' places to visit. It's great havin' the older scouts lookin' after us lil cubs, cause we learn stuff from 'em.”
You can find out more about the scouting in Second Life by visiting their web page http://scoutcamp.