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MyScouting, online social network for scouts

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The Boy Scouts of America is currently testing a new social networking web site, geared specifically toward the Boy Scouts.

The web site is currently in the beta phase and is available to registered Scout leaders and volunteers, who have a MyScouting account. When fully operational, the web site will connect Scouting volunteers from around the country with one another, and allow the volunteers to share their stories, their experiences, and their suggestions about the Scouting program.

MyScouting was launched as the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America institutes a new public-awareness effort to revive Boy Scouting as an intricate part of youth education. Officials hope the new site will help Scouting volunteers share their stories with one another so they can share them with the public.

"It's time to take our destiny and our definition back into our own hands," said Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca. "We have such a positive story to tell."

Currently, the site is self-monitored by its members, and access is limited to people older than 13 years old, with a valid Boy Scouts of America member ID.

Scouting officials warn that the community is not meant to replace normal modes of communication, such as roundtable discussions, council newsletters, and council web sites. However, they stress the new online community will be a safe environment for members and leaders of Scouting.

MyScouting will include member profile pages, and will feature groups, blogs, and forums for its members. Users will be able to create groups for different areas of focus in the organization, such as High Adventure, summer camp, and local council service.

Using the same user name and password, Scouters can log in and create their own profile page, which will be used to share pictures, blogs, and announcements with MyScouting friends. A "report abuse" link at the site gives anyone the opportunity to report something that is inappropriate or offensive. An item is automatically removed, if two different people report an abuse.

For those needing Scouting professionals, they should contact their district professional at the local Scout office.

The web site has the dual purpose of giving parents a resource to learn about the Boy Scouts and an avenue for its current members to publicize and promote the benefits of the organization, said to Wayne Dalton, the field director of the eight-county Flint River Council, based in Griffin, Ga.

"A lot of Generation X, the younger generation, is more apt to the Internet as opposed to coming out to a church or facility to get their boys started," Dalton said. "The young families go on the Internet and get their information first, before they branch out into the community."

The Boy Scouts of America serves nearly five million youths, between the ages of 7and 20, and has more than 300 councils throughout the United States and its territories. The organization is credited with being one of the nation's foremost youth programs of character development and values-based leadership training.

"Scouting can give a young man a sense of direction and help them to make ethical choices when it comes to facing difficult things in life," Dalton said.

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On the net:

Boy Scouts of America:

www.scouting.org

Flint River Council:

www.flintrivercouncil.org

Atlanta Area Council:

www.atlantabsa.org