I recently had the chance to talk with Steve Belkin one of the brilliant minds behind Scouting Thomas, a Scouting & camping related mobile app.
What is the Scouting Thomas App
Scouting Thomas is an animated app geared toward elementary school aged kids approximately 4-12. The app is intended to educate and entertain kids about the respect and enjoyment of the great outdoors, teamwork and safety. It features the fictional "Campout Scouts" and the character members of the Campout Scout group the "Otters". The characters are Thomas (Scouting Thomas) and his friends Buddy, Devon, Mouse, James and Ernesto. Each with their own personality and skills.
The app features several different "mini" programs within the app. There’s a jokes and games section with a great game we call Scrambl’dcross, a “how to” section” where kids learn to build something , an animated skit section, old fashion style comic stips, “toon tunes” with an easy to remember music video about safety called “The Buddy System” and a section called s’more Thomas that includes a “brag rag” where kids can earn patches for completing the different sections of the app.
I know you said your both Scouters, but can you tell me more about your Scouting backgrounds?
Both Bryon Carson and I are asst. scoutmasters with our current Boy Scout troop -Troop 92 in Northridge, CA. We were both leaders for our sons cub scout packs as well (441 Northridge). I've written songs for the kids and Bryon has created a few designs for the pack and/or troop. Our company name (and logo) Flying Monkey Pie Productions, LLC comes from our sons Webelos patrol Flying Monkey Pie Patrol. The other partners of our company are also leaders at Pack 441. Neither of us were involved much as young men in scouting. But we both got involved when our kids joined their school pack. We appreciate a lot of what scouting brings to our kids.
How long did it take you to create the app and what challenges did you face?
The app was developed over a couple of years. We had a few technical challenges early on, as well as defining and redefining what we wanted the app to look like and how we wanted it to work. Doing this on a shoestring budget and working on it in our spare time was probably our biggest challenge.
Why did you guys create the app?
As scouting dads, when our kids were in youth programs, we noticed that there wasn't a lot of material or activities for young kids in a form that would speak to them on their level and that touched on the subjects of scouting or outdoors. We really want this app to be for kids whether they're in scouting or not. There are some wonderful organizations out there beyond the BSA and we hope that kids get involved in these youth organizations across the globe. Hopefully we can deliver content that is educational and entertaining and gives kids a more confident role in exploring and appreciating the outdoors, teamwork, etc.
Is there a rough idea when the android version will come out?
Our hope is before the end of the year.
What are your plans for the future?
We are a small grass roots company. Trying to build this in our spare time. We feel we have a good start of something and hope to see it grow into new content for the app and different platforms such as video or webisodes.
We plan on continuing to develop the Scouting Thomas app and the characters and eventually we would love to see this evolve into something bigger, maybe a cartoon series, merchandise, who knows. For now we're hoping that kids enjoy the app and that parents know they have a safe option in this new digital world of smartphones, tablets and computers.
If you would like to know more about the Scouting Thomas app checkout http://www.scoutingthomas.com/.
Thanks Steve for taking the time to talk to me.