Future Scouts—Forging A Preferred Future

Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot      August 20, 2021

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Future Scouts—Forging A Preferred Future
Topanga-raised Future Scout mentor Ishan Shapiro helps a group of Alaska Native youth learn about mapping networks.
Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouts Movement, said, “We must change boys from a ‘what can I get’ to a ‘what can I give’ attitude.” Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, said, “We must accept the fact that transportation and communication will bring the world in close relations, and the youth of the world should have standards and ideals in common.” Powell and Low said these things at the turn of the 20th century. Classic remarks that ring true to this day. We need an up-to-date platform from which to teach those enduring values. Fast forward to the 21st century. Low’s prophecy of a closely networked world has become reality beyond her wildest imagination. We still are charged, however, with the timeless task to develop good people. The technologies of today open a way to new opportunities to support character development, skill-sets and civic participation. Hence, the emergence and growth of Future Scouts, a next-generation youth service organization. Future Scouts is designed to develop good 21st Century humans using 21st Century skills. A Little History I first wrote about Future Scouts in 2017, as they entered their second year of programs. The project started with a question, “What if?” What if there were a program for people to learn 21st century survival skills, asked founders Ishan Shapiro and DeKoven Ashley. Born and raised at the dawn of the digital age, Shapiro and Ashley saw a need for different kinds of “wilderness skills” to negotiate new, uncharted digital and physical worlds. The new millennium demanded the development of new kinds of abilities to handle a constantly evolving set of interfaces, platforms, social norms and social expectations. They formed Future Scouts as a fresh scouting platform and set out to prepare a new generation to meet the challenges that lay before them.
Future Scouts is releasing their Handbook of 21st Century Survival Skills at the end of 2021.
Future Scouts originated right here in Topanga Canyon. They began in 2016 in the form of two-week summer camps, creative intensive weekends, and in-school and extra-curricular workshops. They expanded to the entire west coast, then Alaska, Europe and S.E. Asia. Future Scouts has conducted workshops with thousands of youths all over the world. Like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts, Campfire Girls, etc., Future Scouts has become a movement. They have developed their own handbook, “Scouting the Future…the Handbook of 21st Century Survival Skills.” Their organization provides knowledge, experiences and tools to help people become authors of their own future.

The Handbook
After five years of running programs with “youth,” ages 5-75, Future Scouts have harvested, analyzed and synthesized their experiences into a handbook, soon to be available digitally and in hard copy. It is a practical reference guide to self-directed, lifelong learning. The handbook is also the foundation for joining or starting a Future Scout Phyle, a Greek word meaning a community, like a clan, or, in this case, a troop.

Examples of 21st Century Survival Strategies covered in the handbook are:
•Metacognitive strategies. Teach people to understand how they learn, with the understanding not everyone learns the same. Learners are exposed to methods of studying their own processes and then effective ways of directing their own learning.
•Literacies of the Imagination. Includes vetted learning resources that increase tech, media and cultural literacy among other emerging and evolving fields of digital and systems literacies. This section encompasses everything fromknowinghow to use the hot new social app to understanding how credit works to your rights and responsibilities as a citizen.
•Sensemaking. Helps ask the question: How can we upgrade the quality of how we make sense of complex issues, topics, and systems? Scouts learn how to identify meaningful signals amid the noise of information flooding us from all sides. They learn hands-on, practical strategies like “how to identify a bot,” and techniques and methods for research, analysis and synthesis, like mind mapping! They learn how to dig deep through information and synthesize meaningful insights.
•Creative Production. Teaches youth that they have so much at their fingertips in terms of materials and mediums that can help them express their vision, and tell the stories of their preferred futures.
•References. Future Scouts is meticulous in its research and keeps an up-to-date database of relevant links, books, videos and resources related to self-directed, lifelong learning. They provide tools, tips and tricks for just about any learner and it’s never been more possible to learn anything you set your mind to. Future Scouts provides access to links and tools that help learners unlock their potentials and shine.
•Intellectual Self-Defense. This is the critical thinking component of Future Scouts. Scouts learn principles of logic, how to recognize bias in others and themselves, how to recognize cultural differences and find ways to bridge those differences. This part just rocks. It helps develop skills in communication, conflict management and team building strategies.
Harper McDowell shows off a prototype of a prosthetic arm.
How It Works
As Future Scouts develop 21st century skills they can earn Merit, crypto-tokens that represent their progress and achievement in their own learning and service to their community. Group activities occur online as a regular meeting with their Phyle online and offline in all kinds of spaces, indoor and outdoor, and range from spaceship prototyping to bouldering to storytelling to yoga in collaborative, quest-based learning. Future Scouts are directed into a relationship with those around them, their natural environment and their community. The ultimate goal is to nurture a beautiful network of people who develop into good human beings who can survive the modern challenges of the new millennium.

Get Involved
At this point, Future Scouts is recruiting world-wide facilitators to establish Phyles in their own communities. I established one of the first clubs for NASA’s Young Astronaut program back in 1984, and it was so much fun being on the ground floor of that movement. I would definitely have started a Future Scouts Phyle in my community. It’s an activity where kids and the adults facilitating them can learn the skills necessary for the new millennium together.
If you are interested in starting a Phyle or getting your family involved, contact Future Scouts through their website at futurescouts.cc, where you can check out their short video. You’ll see the organization in action. It’s so cool.
Beyond…
Giovanni Murray (l) and Miles Burkes (r) in character while presenting their prototypes.
Humanity is on an incredible journey. At the moment, we are surrounded by a media that fills us with pages and images of a dystopian future. We live in a world moving forward at warp speed, leaving people floundering, trying to find the ground under their feet. Traditional education has been deeply disrupted, a process that started before COVID-19 and has been accelerated by the virus.

Future Scouts is a next-generation service organization that helps youth of all ages create their own, preferred future. Future Scouts equips its members, joyfully, playfully and thoroughly, with the evolving skills, competencies and literacies required to create a positive, thriving 21st Century world.
Vamos a ver!
Paula Labrot

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