BSA introduces Virtual Reality Scouting

VR-Scouting-deviceApril 2 Update: See an important message about VR Scouting at the end of the post.

Love Scouting but hate getting out in the fresh air?

You’re in luck! Today the Boy Scouts of America introduces Virtual Reality Scouting, a revolutionary alternative to regular Scouting that lets you experience all that the BSA has to offer without ever leaving the house.

The new program, debuting this fall, already has a catchy slogan: “Bring the Great Outdoors to the Great Indoors.”

To experience VR Scouting, families will want to purchase the Complete Home-Based Virtual Reality Scouting Starter System — or, simply, the CHBVRSSS (pronounced just like it’s spelled). It’ll go on sale this fall.

The CHBVRSSS will retail for only $1,999.95 — a bargain when you consider it’ll pay for itself after just six years of staying home while everyone else in your unit experiences outdoor Scouting adventures.

David Wilson, a Scouter from Michigan who got to test VR Scouting last month, said he’ll buy a device as soon as it goes on sale.

“I love going camping with my Scouts, but I’m not a fan of fresh air, warm mountain breezes or being outside in general,” he says. “So VR Scouting is perfect for me.”

I bet it’ll be perfect for you, too. Just imagine:

Instead of waking up to morning dew outside your tent, you can sip a Mountain Dew as you watch the sunrise on bright high-def screens placed inches from your eyeballs.

And haven’t you always said the best part about Dutch oven cooking is the incredible smell? Why go through the hassle of preparing food, eating it and cleaning up when you can slip on your CHBVRSSS and, through patent-pending Aromatic-II technology, experience a smell that’ll make your mouth water?

Add-on smell packs (coming January 2015) will take your nose’s taste buds to new heights. At just $4.95 each, you can enjoy all of Scouting’s signature scents: Springtime Blooms, Friday Night Campfire, Fresh Mountain Morning, Peach Cobbler and Post-Trip Laundry. (Warning: That last one’s only for those looking for a truly authentic Scouting experience.)

The bottom line is this: Instead of overwhelming all five of your senses by going outside, sink into your favorite recliner and let the CHBVRSSS stimulate just three of the five.

Oh, the places you’ll “go”

Where will VR Scouting take you? That’s up to you to decide. Your CHBVRSSS (the name gets catchier every time I hear it) ships with a number of pre-installed destinations, including:

  • Generic state park, eastern U.S.
  • Generic state park, western U.S.
  • “National Park”
  • Beach (exact beach to be determined)
  • Top of mountain (exact mountain to be determined)

You’ll also want to consider purchasing the High-Adventure Add-On Pack ($39.95).

This pack re-creates the once-in-a-lifetime experiences in store for Scouts, Scouters and Venturers who visit the BSA’s iconic national high-adventure bases. Save your vacation days (and start saving your money) because the CHBVRSSS gives you a high-adventure experience in a fraction of the time and for roughly three times the cost of actually going.

This pack includes:

  • Philmont: Move your head to the left and right as you get a 130-degree view from the top of Mount Phillips — all in air-conditioned comfort.
  • Florida Sea Base: Breathe easy as you experience the wonders of scuba diving and snorkeling while staying completely dry. I’m told they’re even trying to add animated fish by 2016. (Warning: Do not use CHBVRSSS near actual water.)
  • Northern Tier: Float the gorgeous lakes of Minnesota and Canada without lifting a finger. Or use the optional the VR gloves ($399.95) to paddle along and see your canoe move with each stroke.
  • Summit Bechtel Reserve: Feel the wind in your hair as you speed down the Summit’s awesome zip-lines. (Note: fan attachment coming summer 2015.)

Advancement and merit badge work

The activities Scouts enjoy during VR Scouting can’t be counted toward advancement, merit badges or existing Scouting awards.

But don’t fret! Only Scouts with the CHBVRSSS can earn a brand new award: the 500-Hour VR Scouting Award. Because it’s always watching you, even when you turn it off, the CHBVRSSS knows exactly when you’re using it or not using it.

Once you reach 500 hours of VR Scouting, do nothing. The device will automatically contact the BSA to submit your award application.

Eight to 10 weeks later, you’ll get your patch — and a sheet listing the names and phone numbers of optometrists in your area.

Built-in safety features

Speaking of, safety is a top concern of any Scouting activity, even VR Scouting.

And Richard Bourlon, the BSA’s health and safety team leader, is pleased the new VR Scouting device has built-in safety controls.

“When kayaking down rapids, for example, the CHBVRSSS won’t let you go over that waterfall no matter how hard you try,” he says.

It also will shut off every 45 minutes “to prevent eyestrain,” Bourlon says, “and you can’t turn it back on for at least 15 minutes.”

In other words, you’ll want to keep your iPad or Kindle nearby to make that mandatory rest period a little more bearable.

But if your family owns multiple CHBVRSSSs, parents shouldn’t try borrowing their son or daughter’s machine.

“CHBVRSSS also has built-in parental controls,” Bourlon says. “That makes sure mom or dad can’t use their kids’ device.”

The CHBVRSSS launches this fall

Though the BSA is announcing the CHBVRSSS today (April 1, 2014), you won’t be able to buy your Complete Home-Based Virtual Reality Scouting Starter System until this fall. Start putting away money now!


April Fools!

April 2 Update: As many of you guessed, this was my April Fools joke for the year. Thanks to everyone who played along yesterday and allowed me to have a little fun.

Truth is, no machine could ever truly replicate the magic of being outdoors, visiting a high-adventure base or experiencing Scouting with friends. Virtual reality? Not for me; I’m more than happy with actual reality.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.