Catherine Seitz Nichols
June 4, 2013
Why Hacker Scouts?
I’ve been asked why I decided to get involved with Hacker Scouts instead of a traditional scouting organization. Originally, I was inspired to start a group in Seattle called the Geek Scouts, but after participating in last year’s Seattle Mini Maker Faire, I soon found out that there was far more interest than I expected.
We decided to join forces with the newly formed Hacker Scouts, based in Oakland, California because they developed a well thought-out program that perfectly aligned with our ideals and values that appeals to a wide age-range of kids with different learning styles and abilities.
When considering what kind of group I want my family to be involved in, it was very important to me that it be an organization that is open to all children and family members. Hacker Scouts is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or religion in their educational programs and activities.
While I am happy to see that the Boy Scouts are now allowing gay kids to participate, excluding gay parents sends the message that there is something wrong with them, and that they are not equal. Personally, I feel that participating in the group would be condoning discrimination.
I also wanted to participate in a co-ed group where girls had the same opportunities as boys. My father was an Eagle Scout, and he and my older brothers were active in the Boy Scouts. After a few weeks as a Brownie in the Girl Scouts, I soon discovered to my dismay that they did not have the same types of exciting projects that the boys did, such as the Pinewood Derby. I wasn’t interested in cooking or crafts, so I quit (for the record, I think the Girl Scouts organization has come a long way since then, and has a lot more to offer girls today).
I want to be a part of a group that values diversity, not just tolerates it. Diversity is strength in nature and in communities. Collaboration and cooperation are key to success in science, technology and art. I’ve seen what these values can do in the Hacker and Maker communities in Seattle, and I believe drawing on inspiration and talent from all quarters can only make for a stronger organization and richer experience.
When our kids grow up, no matter what career path they chose, they will be encountering and working with people of different sexes, beliefs and backgrounds. Beginning this process at an early age makes this a natural part of life.
Hacker Scouts is inspired by the Open Source movement and ideology. Sharing knowledge leads to faster progress, and deeper learning. Having access to a group of mentors who are knowledgeable in many different areas is a powerful asset, and we would like to bring that opportunity to as many kids who are interested as we can. We are actively looking for ways to involve families from economically and socially diverse communities, and would welcome any support in that goal.
Another point that impressed me about the Hacker Scouts program is that is a STEAM-based program, where art has a place right alongside science and technology. Artistic endeavors inspire creative thinking, and technical know-how helps bring creative ideas to fruition. Our society has divided these two areas of knowledge erroneously.
There is science behind all art, and having a background and familiarity with artistic concepts and ideas can greatly enhance science and technology. Critical thinking and creativity make for a more balanced, productive and joyful life.
And last on this list, but first in importance is the goal of having fun. Making and learning together with my family is my favorite activity. The journey to get an alternative scouting group going in Seattle was inspired by how much fun I’ve had making projects with my son, and how excited he was when his dad taught him to solder at Metrix with an electronics kit from Spark Fun.
Seeing parents and kids working together at our Open Labs has been hugely rewarding. While the program may not be right for every kid, any kid who is motivated and interested can find support for their ideas and help along the path to their goals.
We are currently holding bi-monthly Open Labs at Metrix Create:Space in Capitol Hill before we begin the formal Hacker Scouts program, and having a few off-site activities this summer.
The program is geared to kids ages 8 and up, but we have activities available for younger kids, and the Hacker Scouts are in the process of putting together a program for kids 5-7 called Sparks, which is expected to be released this fall. Because there has been so much interest, we are also planning on expanding to the Eastside and North of Seattle soon.
We had a great time meeting local families at the Seattle Mini Maker Faire last year, and are looking forward to meeting more this year. Families that are interested in learning more about Hacker Scouts can stop by our booth to meet some of kids and parents involved, and make a fun hands-on project.
Hacker Scouts Home Base:
Seattle Hacker Scouts Blog:
Seattle Hacker Scouts Facebook Page:
Seattle Hacker Scouts email: firstname.lastname@example.org