Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Garfield as Mascot
Garfield as Mascot
Sat, 12 Jun 1999 13:23:26 -0400
In response to my description of a young woman's views on Garfield as a
mascot, Jay wrote in good humor "Sounds like this young woman "educator" has
a great potential as a political 'spin doctor', ;-) as in: 'even though
mustard gas can cause irrepairable damage, it has made people aware of the
dangers of chemical warfare.'"
The young woman in question is my daughter and tends to say what she thinks
with a great deal of honesty - sometimes causing her parents to rethink how
they see things (not always easy either!). This of course is a good thing.
When we as parents listen and enter into meaningful discussions, we have the
chance for both parent and child to learn and grow. We may not always see
eye-to-eye, but we can and do respect each others opinions.
Sometimes one of the hardest things for an adult to do is to see things from
a kid's perspective and understand what a kid is thinking, what make's 'em
tick, and what impact something has. We tend to react from experience and
sometimes get frustrated when they inevitably act like children. :-))
Patrick's essay on viewing life through new eyes was outstanding in my
opinion. (What a powerful training idea!) This is something that we try
to accomplish in training by organizing adults into patrols so that they can
get a little of a sense of how it feels to be in a Troop from a boy's
When we can step back a little and see things from a younger person's
perspective and understand a little more how they are seeing things, we can
be much more effective in coaching, helping the to grow, and helping them to
Along with this we have to understand what they think is fun, what is
exciting, what is "cool" and what gets their attention. Think about Cub
Scouting's themes. For example, Cub Scouting has used themes like Knights
of the Roundtable, Pirates, and the like. A jaded adult with no sense of
fun could jump in and say that emmulating a knight is bad - we shouldn't be
encouraging violence as a way to resolve disputes or that pirates are a bad
example - they after all engaged in murder, theft, etc. But the thing is we
are not emphasizing those things at all. We are using them as a draw because
boys this age like to pretend, to imagine, to dream and to play. They have
loads of fun building cardboard box castles, wearing funny hats and eye
patches, and the like. We use these themes because we can organize fun
activities that the encourage participation - they are the bait, the things
that draw the boys and keep them coming back.
You can't do any thing to encourage character development, citizenship or
fitness if you don't have the boys there in the first place. You have to
draw them in. That is why there is such an emphasis on "Keep It Fun, Make
It Simple" KISMIF in Cub Scouting. We draw them in with activities that are
enjoyable, fun and at the same time an opportunity to grow.
Once they are enjoying and participating in the program, having lots of fun,
we can work in opportunities for growth. We help them learn they can do
more, do better, and achieve. We help them develop a sense of self-esteem
that helps prevent the despair that leads to anti-social behavior. We also
help them have a sense of purpose and value. But all of this depends on
getting them in the door and keeping them there.
Using Garfield as a mascot is just a small part of this. If young boys get
excited about seeing Garfield and Odie as Cub Scouts and more want to give
Cub Scouting a try, then just like the themes we use it is a tool to get
them in the door. The experience in test Councils confirms that it works
and I suspect that we'll see some results at Join Scouting Nights around the
country this fall.
Now I can hear some folks grumbling and muttering about all the new Garfield
products that are for sale at Scout Shops and advertised on the national
site. Our adult tendancy is to look at these products and jump to the
conclusion that the whole thing was about getting a theme that could make
money for BSA and conclude that it was just a money-making scheme. Is it
For sure it will put money in BSA's coffers. BSA will derive income from
the sale of all the Garfield goodies. Is that bad? Is there something
inherently evil about that? BSA and its programs don't happen for free.
They have to be funded. To me it looks like BSA found a great win-win
situation. One where they could do two things at one time - attract new
members and at the same time get funds to support the program.
Now if only some of the profits from Garfield goodies could be used to
reduce the cost of uniforms . . . :-) . . . ah! And yes BSA is doing just
that for Cub Scouting this year. Stop by
http://bsa.scouting.org/stuff/cubuniform/index.html and get a coupon worth
$36 off the price of a Cub Scout uniform.
Looks to me like this may be one of those times where BSA has done a very
good job of coordinating in order to really promote getting more boys into
Cub Scouting. And once we get them in the door, that is where the fun
begins and coincidently the growth and character building that we are all