Welcome to Scouting And The Internet. This site is designed to be used as a reference for the attendees of the 'Scouting and the Internet' course at the 1998 Quapaw Area Council Pow-Wow. This course is intended to answer some of the basic questions you may have regarding how the Internet can help you be a better informed scout leader.
Without a computer
If you don't have a computer you have a few options: 1) buy a computer, 2) ask a friend if they will let you use their computer / internet access, or 3) find public access. We really can't go into the first two but we can give you some hints regarding the last option.
Ok, so you have a computer (with a modem and a phone line) now what? Well there are MANY, MANY options. I am going to list a few Central Arkansas Internet Service Providers (ISP's) and try to give you some information about them. Please note that I can not possibly list all providers (if I overlook your favorite I apologize) and I am not RECOMMENDING any of these providers. Also, this information (while I believe it to be correct as of 10/24/98) may be incorrect and can change without notice!
Finding things on the Internet is not hard. Finding what you want can be a real pain in the neck. In this section I will try to point you to some useful general purpose portals and search engines.
Portals are categorized lists of links that are pretty easy to use, you just click on a category and you will be shown another list of sub-categories and/or links with descriptions. Most portals offer a "Search" button to help you locate the category or link you are looking for. Portals only know about links that are added manually, so if the page you are looking for has not been added you won't be able to find it. Here are some general purpose portals:
Search engines, on the other hand, usually check each added link for links to other pages and then checks those pages for more links, then checks THOSE pages, etc.... This means that a search engine might find hundreds or even thousands of pages automatically for each page added manually. Search engines usually have only a "Search" button and they don't usually have categories. This means that you are likely to find hundreds of POSSIBLE links for each search even though only a few (or none) are what you are really looking for. Search engines require a little finesse in getting accurate results. For instance on one search engine the search for "SCOUT" returned almost a million possible links whereas "cub scout pack 55" found only 21 links. Here are some general purpose search engines:
A meta-search engine is a special type of search engine. They do not keep their own search information, instead they perform the search you specify on more than one of the "real" portals and/or search engines and give you back the best results from each.
Ok, now that we have the basics out of the way let's jump right into the meat of the issue - finding scouting information on the internet. It sounds easy, and in fact it is pretty easy, if you know where to look!
You are probably already aware of the fact that Boy Scouts Of America (http://www.bsa.scouting.org) has an official home page. This page has been RECENTLY UPDATED to make it MUCH more useful as a leader.
I am going to try to point you to several pages that were (and still are) helpful to me. Here are some of my favorites:
Some of you have or are considering a web page for your den or pack so I am going to briefly digress here for a topic I consider serious. Some groups (I haven't seen a scout page specifically) post a nice group picture with the names of all the member under the picture or a picture of the winners of a race with the winners names. While this seems innocuous at first glance I PERSONALLY have become quite worried about this practice.
A pack or den web page probably has the time and location of pack meetings and in some cases den meetings. With this information, a picture and the names of the boys, we are basically setting up an online catalog for pedophiles. My pack page has been up for almost a year and the most common search phrase used to find my page is "little boys"! This leads me to believe that people (and I use that word sparingly) are cruising the net for nefarious purposes and are finding my web page. This frightened me enough that I have implemented a policy on our web page that pictures of the boys, if used at all, do not have the boys names. Additionally, we do not have a scout phone book on the web site (even though we do have a leader phone book).
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