Unless there are extenuating circumstances keeping you from consuming any news, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ve at least heard about the Pokémon Go craze that’s sweeping the world (you can find out a little more about the game and how to stay safe while playing it in this article from Bryan on Scouting). Here at the Boy Scouts of America National Service Center, we have two Pokéstops, and the National Scouting Museum next door is a Pokémon gym.
Indeed, a number of Scouting locations around the country (and at least one overseas) have discovered they are Pokéstops or Pokémon gyms.
So what’s it like working all day at a Pokémon gym? We talked to National Scouting Museum Programs Assistant Desiree Menken, who is also a merit badge counselor, to get the scoop.
Scouting Newsroom (SNR): We’ll start off by asking if you’re actually playing Pokémon Go. Are you?
Desiree Menken (DM): Yes! I play Pokémon Go with my husband and my son. I am currently a level 8, almost a level 9.
SNR: Caught any rare Pokémon yet?
DM: I haven’t caught any rare ones yet, but I am hoping to catch my favorite Pokémon, Jigglypuff. I generally let my son check my characters since he’s the real expert in the family.
SNR: So the National Scouting Museum is a Pokémon gym. What has it been like working there and seeing this phenomenon firsthand?
DM: It’s definitely been entertaining. There will be some instances where I see teenagers right outside checking their phones, which has been funny because I know exactly what they’re enjoying! Especially when they have a huge smile on their face, so I know they just got their Pokémon to do well at our gym location. Adults have been laughing and checking their phones, as well, when they come to visit the National Scouting Museum!
SNR: Had any bizarre or interesting things happen with people visiting the Museum to access the Pokémon gym?
DM: It’s been pretty calm so far. Just the kids smiling as they win a battle or adults laughing that they can’t believe they’re having so much fun with the game, too. We also know how those of us who play the game have seen lure modules out at the Pokéstops at the National Office next door, so it’s fun to know we have other people in the organization who enjoy the game, as well.
SNR: If someone is a fan of Pokémon Go, what are some great reasons they should drop by the Museum after battling at the Pokémon gym located there?
DM: The Pokémon gym here is very active. On my breaks, I will check my phone and notice that a battle has happened and the gym’s color will change. And I can tell if someone with their phone out has enjoyed a victory. The National Scouting Museum has always welcomed every age to come and see what activities we have. It is a very interactive museum, and we are delighted that it’s also a Pokémon gym location.
SNR: What plans, if any, do you have to highlight the Pokémon gym at the Museum?
DM: As a team, we are currently working to incorporate Pokémon Go into a future version of our Gaming Merit Badge workshop course that we’ll offer at the Museum.
SNR: That sounds pretty interesting. Can you tell us more?
DM: The Gaming merit badge is mainly focused on Scouts developing and learning the basics of board game design. With that in mind, we have had the opportunity to enhance the learning aspect by adding a related lesson on evolution of gaming (which is where we will be incorporating the new Pokémon Go activity during class time). Scouts will have both chances – learning how to develop a playable board game and learning about game evolution from early beginnings of entertainment to today’s opportunities.
SNR: When do you think that workshop will be available?
DM: That class has not been released yet online for signing up, but as soon as it is, we’ll post the information online at our Upcoming Workshops Calendar.
SNR: What are some other merit badge workshops the Museum offers?
DM: When it comes to our merit badge workshops, we have various counselors who have specialties in many things. Merit badges workshops for Art, Theater, and Entrepreneurship have very interactive in-class activities, and the workshops for Citizenship, Scouting Heritage, and Family Life have great in-class discussions. All classes focus on a specific theme that can be incorporated in everyday life, and our workshops also look into career opportunities in each particular field and discuss education, experience and training that may be needed for that job.
SNR: Excellent! Any final thoughts on what being a Pokémon gym means for the future of the National Scouting Museum?
DM: The Pokémon Go game will, to me, definitely be a positive addition to our Museum. On Sundays and Mondays, museum entry is absolutely free, so that makes it even easier for people visiting the Pokémon gym to come check out the Museum. It will be very entertaining to see what kinds of Pokémon will be spotted here in the future!
The National Scouting Museum is open seven days a week (check website for specific daily times) and is located at 1329 W Walnut Hill Ln, Irving, TX 75038. Admission is $8.00 for adults ($6.00 for seniors), $5.00 for Scouts/Scouters & school groups, $6.00 for children ages 4-12 (children under 4 are free). Admission is also free on Sunday and Monday. The Museum can be reached at 972-580-2100 or toll free: (800) 303-3047.
To request that a Pokémon Gym or Pokéstop location on your private property be removed from the game, complete this online form.