January 7, 2002

boy scouts

Way back in the day I was in Boy Scouts, which seemed a fit place to put strapping young lads that enjoyed the outdoors. The trips were usually a pretty good time, setting fires, cutting fingers and drinking Hyper-Juice. Perhaps too fun, as I dropped out after reaching First Class with a pitiful number of merit badges.

Our scout meetings were pathetic, and of course the meetings occurred with a much greater frequency than the actual trips, which were the attraction to Scouting in the first place. Meetings would go as follows: Parents and Scouts would drift into the rec room at a local church. Parents would mingle and pretend to be proud as their uniformed kids ran around and raised a truly Dionysian ruckus. Fights would break out, usually between my tribe and Big Headed Urkle, a nerdy, older scout that had earned utmost contempt from the noble Wolverines. The funny looking Boy Scout scarves often made strangulation a popular attack. Skirmishes would also erupt between regular scouts and the Webelos, who could be likened to high school freshmen if only they received that much respect from the older scouts.

After fifteen minutes of chaos (during which most parents would skulk out the door), the scoutmaster would call us to order and a flag ceremony would be attempted, followed by announcements. After our attention spans were completely maxxed (usually about ten minutes), each tribe would be sent to its own classroom to work on merit badges. This gave us an excuse to practice unsupervised violence against each other until the adults arrived to keep us on task. Usually we were expected to trace topographic maps or some damn thing.

The night would always end in the reverse order it started; an antsy ceremony followed by more intertribal warfare. Soon parents would show up and shuttle all the little savages home. Peace falls over the room until next week’s meeting.

Looking back, the campouts were quite silly as well. We’d sleep in heavy canvas tents and cook in cast-iron pans over stoves prone to exploding. Days would be spent working on merit badges that obviously had not been updated in fifty years and had no bearing on everyday life.

“If you come across a rock that appears to be a meteor, DON’T TOUCH IT! It could be crawling with space germs, or may be a cleverly disguised Communist orbital spying device.”

It appears that Boy Scouts was established as a warm-up program for enlisting in national defense. Why else does it cater to boys exclusively, teach survival skills, have a ranking system, stress your duty as a citizen of America and kick you out right when you turn eighteen? Girl Scouts learned sewing and such so they could stay at home and still help the war effort. Sew those uniforms, girls!

Strange, as Boy Scouts even had a rabbit raising merit badge, for those boys that couldn’t get enough rodentia. What do rabbits have to do with the Army, of all things? Plenty. Rabbit raising was the dreaded sissy profession, suggested to every man that couldn’t cut it on the front. It implies the deepest of failure to yourself, your comrades, your country.

“Private, we’ve got no place for ya here. Take the next ship back home and help cook up hell for Hitler from afar. Raise some rabbits or something.”

The last words any red-blooded man wants to hear.

No boy is actually expected to earn the rabbit raising merit badge, nor even consider pursuing it. It is merely a mocking suggestion of what your future could be if you don’t work hard enough. The voice of rabbit raising whispers threateningly in the head of every Boy Scout. Work, boy, or I am your fate.

If you happened to experience a troop that didn’t understand true leadership, I’m sure what you say is true. However, let me tell you that the Girls Scouts don’t just do “sewing”, my sister’s troop went on several hiking trips where they carried everything on their back for a week, setting up a different site every evening. Even the BSA troop I’m affiliated doesn’t do that. I’m sorry you have such a dim view of Boy Scouts, but don’t think that just because you experienced a lack of true leadership that the rest of the organization is as bad. By the way, have you ever looked into the background of many of our “heroes”? Presidents, senators, corporate presidents, all were Eagle scouts. I’d say the military is usually the last place most Eagle scouts land, because they have achieved enough honor and recognition of their leadership skills that they end up in top colleges and universities and come out on top. I think most people in the military probably never were in scouting at all. By the way, how are your rabbits?

Everything I say is true. Everything I always say is true.
My rabbits are fine, thank you. More importantly, how is your grasp of satire?