How do you decide which movies are appropriate for your Scouts, Venturers?

Parents decide which movies are OK for their children and which contain too much violence, bad language or sexual content.

But what happens when that guardianship temporarily transfers to you, the Scout leader? How do you decide whether it’s OK to watch that PG movie on a Cub Scout overnight or a PG-13 movie with your Venturers?

That becomes even more complicated when you realize that 12 parents may have a dozen different definitions of inappropriate movie content.

Side note: Watching movies isn’t a common Scouting activity, of course. We Scouts and Scouters prefer to have most of our fun outside. But there are times during camporees, summer camps, training courses or unit trips when I think they’re perfectly fine.

I have fond memories of seeing a movie with my Philmont crew on the way back from New Mexico. After hiking in the backcountry for 10 days, we felt we earned a couple of mindless hours at the movie theater.

For moviegoing Scouters, trouble starts when you try to interpret those MPAA ratings. For a time, the Motion Picture Association of America only provided the rating: G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17. And those ratings included some head-scratchers: Did you know Jaws was rated PG?

These days, we get a rating along with a few descriptions of why the movie received that rating. Helpful stuff.

For example, you might be OK taking Scouts to a movie that’s PG-13 for “Intense Sci-Fi Action” but leery of one that’s PG-13 for “Crude Humor.”

Resources to help you

Some great online resources take it one step beyond what the MPAA gives you.

Check out Kids-In-Mind and Common Sense Media for some easy-to-interpret guidance on a movie’s appropriateness. They give the facts and let you decide.

Kids-In-Mind rates movies from 1 to 10 in three categories: sex/nudity, violence/gore and profanity. Ratings range from 1 for almost none to 10 for an obscene amount. They get really specific, even bothering to count the number of obscenities used. (I’d like to meet the person who does that job.)

Common Sense Media gives a recommended minimum age for a movie — very helpful for a Scout leader. It also uses categories but includes both positive and negative ones: Positive messages, Positive role models, Violence, Sex, Language, Consumerism and Drinking, drugs, & smoking.

Share your policy

How does your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew handle watching movies? Do you inform parents of which movies you’ll be showing to get their consent? Have you ever had a parent react negatively to a movie you showed your Scouts? I’m interested to read your comments.

See also

Boys’ Life‘s list of the 100 Best Movies for Boys