Be prepared to keep alive those old Scouting skills

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Your kids might be handy at getting to the 12th level on some Nintendo DS game, but do they know practical stuff applicable to real life? Can they, for instance, tie a reef knot, light a fire, make and fly a kite or fix a bicycle puncture?

If they can’t, they’re not alone. Only one in five youngsters aged 8-15, surveyed in a poll for the Scouting Association, could complete the knot or repair a flat tyre.

Almost one in four reckoned they wouldn’t be able to construct a kite, while just 17 per cent said they could identify a star constellation using a telescope.

As for putting up a tent or cooking a meal, half didn’t have a clue and 38 per cent didn’t know basic first aid. Half couldn’t use a compass.

But it’s even worse than this because in most cases their parents said the kids had exaggerated (as kids so often do) and they actually possessed much less practical knowledge than they’d admitted to.

The unvarnished truth is that we’re breeding a generation who would be of no use whatsoever if asked to fend for themselves in the great outdoors.

Most of them spend so much time inside sat glued to screens that evolution may yet result in Homo sapiens developing eyes like a cat that can see in the dark, stumpy legs due to lack of exercise and elongated fingers and thumbs for improved dexterity on a computer gaming console.

But there is a potential saviour to rescue our young people from this technological torpor – the Scouts.

The organisation’s traditional ‘pioneer’ badge, which incorporates a range of lost crafts, is being revamped and relaunched in partnership with the Discovery Channel.

As new technology threatens to takes over children’s lives and the idea of actually leaving the house and exploring the world beyond the front door is rejected in favour of Facebook or fighting make-believe battles on the Xbox, the work of the Scouts is more important than ever.

Because who else can teach today’s kids the simple joys of going on camp, having fun doing various activities with their friends while at the same time learning things that could prove very useful in later life?