Join 3,416 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Do A Good Turn Daily
February 26, 2009 10:54 AM   Subscribe

1965 Boy Scout Handbook
posted by Blazecock Pileon (128 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The section with patrol names and calls is classic.

Whip-picor-will!
posted by munchingzombie at 10:57 AM on February 26, 2009


Cool. As many problems as I have with the Scouts I genuinely enjoyed my time with them and wish even a decade later that I took it more seriously. I also wished that I saved my Handbook, because my girlfriend's mom just asked me to hang an American flag from her house and I know my copy had a whole chapter dedicated to properly displaying the flag from any location imaginable.
posted by Science! at 10:59 AM on February 26, 2009


Oh, and my patrol name was the Panthers and we absolutely did not have a patrol call in the mid 90s, let alone one that went "Keeook!"

More: Knots and First Aid are AWESOME!
posted by Science! at 11:01 AM on February 26, 2009


third degree burn!

Who would post this book EXCLUDING scans of the pages on nocturnal emissions? Who does that?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:02 AM on February 26, 2009


That's the one I had. Cool!

It's a surprisingly incomplete manual, though. For instance, I never could find the rule that said the Troop Leader's son gets to steal anything he wants from you without fear of punishment. Odd, that.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:02 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


btw: it's totally natural
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:03 AM on February 26, 2009


*sigh* I wish I could send my kids to Scouts in good conscience.
posted by GuyZero at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


From the comments:

At times the glands discharge part of their secretions through the sex organ during sleep. This process is called a nocturnal emission or a “wet dream”. It is perfectly natural and healthy and a sign that nature has taken care of the situation in its own manner.

There are boys who do not let nature have its own way with them but cause emissions themselves. This may do no physical harm, but may cause them to worry.

Any real boy knows that anything that causes him to worry should be avoided or overcome. If anything like this worries you, this is not unusual – just about all boys have the same problem. Seek the correct answer to any question which bothers you about your development from boy to man. But be sure to get your information from reliable sources – your parents, your physician, your spiritual adviser.

posted by Science! at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


MeFi Eagle Scouts, represent!
posted by ColdChef at 11:07 AM on February 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


I had an older version than this, I forgot how old, but I suspect the late 40's to early 50's. It was one of my favorite books as a kid, I was never a scout.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2009


Cool. As many problems as I have with the Scouts I genuinely enjoyed my time with them and wish even a decade later that I took it more seriously.

Scouts was one of the lamest experiences of my entire life. I enjoyed the Cub Scouts, which was more about getting to start fires and play with knives, but when I got to the Boy Scouts it became all about "God and Country" and how to be a good little compliant citizen. I stayed with it for maybe a year and a half, mostly just smoking pot with my friends in the woods on campouts (which I also hated - hooray, let's sleep in the fucking woods!) and tuning out the rah-rah-USA-Jebus crap. I was about 13 when I gave it up, and so were most of my friends that were in it, but my best friend's parents forced him to stay with it until he was 18. Man, there's little short of cutting off your penis that will prevent getting laid better than still being in the Boy Scouts when you're 16-17 years old.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


* worries *
posted by everichon at 11:11 AM on February 26, 2009


That was my older brother's Boy Scout Handbook, which I took possession of as soon as possible. I never got past Beeballos, since my learning disability (unrecognized by anybody back then) kept me from actually memorizing the cult prayer initiation pledge, but I used both the handbook and the Fieldbook (a book I consider more useful) to good purpose on everything from my own hikes to making knots, to rudimentary first aid.

Sure some of the advice is dated now (for instance, the recommendation to suck on a pebble when thirsty), and then there's the whole Christian morality thing. But a lot of the advice was really useful.

Now, if we can get copies of the Fieldbook posted, that would be awesome. Just awesome.
posted by happyroach at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2009


...kept me from actually memorizing the cult prayer initiation pledge...

To some the real cult was/is the Order of the Arrow.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I could have just earned a patch for masturbating, maybe I wouldn't have quit and become an ex-masturbator.
posted by orme at 11:23 AM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Boy Scouts was good and bad. I had a scoutmaster who was a real reactionary asshole. He was a dirtbag lawyer in an Ivy League town, carrying a gung-ho right-wing chip on his shoulder to every meeting and camping trip. He was like George Liquor in brownshirt.

Living through the Reagan years, everything was about instilling in us military ideals and patriotic idealism: guns, God and Scrapple. When the assistant scoutmaster's son wore an anarchist t-shirt on a weekend camping trip, Mr. Big Shot went livid and sent him all the way home. The assistant, a Quaker, had decided he had enough and left the troop shortly thereafter.

The guy was poisonous and infected me and a few other of my then close friends with a really negative view of the organization, one that I keep today, albeit for other reasons. When we moved to the next town over, I left the troop and BSA, picked up comic books, computers and music.

Still, I learned some knots, learned how to ski, how to sharpen a knife and use a compass. While I was cold, wet and tired on most camping trips, I liked the outdoors stuff and I look back and regret not sticking with it out with another troop, politics aside.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:23 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Scouts was one of the lamest experiences of my entire life.

Fair enough, tons of people with different outlooks have wonderful or terrible histories with the scouts even within the same troop. My Cub Scout group was all about "be a good student" and "be a model for other kids", and my Boy Scout troop did an fantastically excellent job of of toning that down to the point where most moral codes were almost unspoken. It was really just "be good to each other and if you mess up a lot, expect us to call you out on it". I loved sleeping in the woods and my friends did everything we could not to sleep in standard campsites with tents. We were pretty much required to qualify for the "Totin Chip" and then left alone to be responsible. There was a lot of devotion to country, which I was on board with but very little religion stuff. In fact I remember when one of my friends completed the requirements to get one of the religious patches, most people in the troop hadn't seen one before outside of books and catalogs. I was encouraged (by non-scouts) to think about quitting scouting to focus on high school.

The Order of The Arrow "Cult" was, though I didn't admit it, a big reason in me leaving the organization. Again, every troop and area does it differently, but I thought it was administered and executed poorly.

All different experiences.

4th Column, 6th Row
Hell yeah! What's up with these? A badass knight swinging a sword? No Fucking Way. Every patrol gets equally lame patches.
posted by Science! at 11:25 AM on February 26, 2009


"MeFi Eagle Scouts, represent!"

Wait, there are more than two of us?

"Man, there's little short of cutting off your penis that will prevent getting laid better than still being in the Boy Scouts when you're 16-17 years old."

Didn't stop me. In fact cultivating the "honest Boy Scout" image can help. All the bad girls like to corrupt the innocent kid.

As for the God and Country bit, sure it's there. But how much of that is crammed down your throat has a lot to do with where your troop is based and who your leaders are. For me, my brothers and my friends, scouts was a way to hang out once a week with our dads, go camping a few times a year, and once in a while do something really cool like take a week-long backpacking trip. In my case my dad was along for the hikes. It was fun just spending that much time with him. I hope my own kid gets the chance to do the same with me. If I can't carve out one night a week to spend with my (soon-to-be-born) son, what does that say about me?
posted by caution live frogs at 11:26 AM on February 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


I have the early 70s version on a bookshelf in my home office. As a kid, Scouts provided me with some memorable -- and useful -- experiences. As an adult, it afforded me the opportunity to relive some of that with my son. Both troops were very active, and went on well-run camping trips 11 months out of the year. You can't help but learn a lot.

And, no -- neither troop force-fed anyone any religious stuff, and there was none of the anti-GLB venom that people would have you believe. None. Just good times and emphasis on character building, citizenship, volunteering, mentoring, appreciation and respect for the outdoors, and developing good health habits and life skills.
posted by VicNebulous at 11:27 AM on February 26, 2009


My scouting experience was my Dad's opportunity to become The Pinewood Engineer. I stood aside and let him run with it. And by "stood aside" I mean "read books and ate crackers with cheese on them".
posted by everichon at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


After reading no end of books like Ernest Thompson Seton's Two Little Savages and Beard's American Boys' Handy Book, I really wanted to join the Scouts- but the only local troop was Mormon so I had to make do with going off in the woods and building forts. In retrospect, I think I ended up having as much fun.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:31 AM on February 26, 2009


I loved my time in Scouts. We were a little *cough* disorganized, but I had some really great times: a week hiking on Isle Royale, for instance, or sleeping povernight in an igloo during the St. Paul Winter Carnival next to that roaring Vulcanus Rex thing by the ice castle on Harriet Island. Boy, I wish I'd made it to Philmont.

Some of the stuff was a little over the top, sure, but it depends on who was in your troop. *shrug* We ignored the worst of it and laughed off other parts.

Just this past year I tracked down some of the guys who were in my troop, and twenty years later we agreed it was a great time. I've been re-teaching myself some of those skills now that my kids are getting old enough that we can have fun outdoors, and I am very glad I have those experiences.

The organization's politics are a problem for a lot of people, but I know I am a bigger influence on my children than someone outside the family.

Oh, I almost forgot: some of the very oldest outdoor guides are in Google Books. I think I first saw them here on MetaFilter in 2008.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:31 AM on February 26, 2009


If I can't carve out one night a week to spend with my (soon-to-be-born) son, what does that say about me?

busy?
posted by stubby phillips at 11:32 AM on February 26, 2009


Oh, man, I have so many bad memories of Cubs and Scouts that I had forgotten about until I read this. post.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:35 AM on February 26, 2009


I don't remember ever talking about god or sex in the scouts. It was all about tying knots, orienteering, canoeing, hiking, and other fun boy stuff. I loved it, but it was also seriously uncool. By mid high school I was torn. I loved the adventures - the week long hikes, canoe trips, and rock climbing trips in Canada are some of the few unreservedly good memories I have from teenage years.

Our troop leader was a Vietnam Vet who would drink whisky all night and sleep late every morning. Eventually the good people of the town had him replaced with someone who was more into crisp uniforms and teaching us to march in order. I quit after a few weeks of that.
posted by kanewai at 11:38 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


That Order of the Arrow business was hilarious. I'd never heard of it before. "Authentic Indian rituals" included in their rites, eh? So you'll be camping under the stars, peacefully sleeping, when all of the sudden a bunch of white guys on horseback come galloping in, firing rifles at you and firebombing your tents?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:40 AM on February 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


I recall looking forward to the next issue of Boy's Life arriving.
posted by ericb at 11:40 AM on February 26, 2009


Scouting was one of the best experiences of my life, period. I'm 45, and I'm still very close friends with seven or eight of the guys I was in Scouts with. Our troop did a bunch of backpacking and hiking, and it was exactly what I needed at the time. Looking back, I can say I learned outdoors and leadership skills in Scouting I've used ever since. I wish everyone who went through Scouting could have had the sort of experiences I did. The only part that was even remotely lame was that freaking beret we had to wear with the '70's uniforms. Thankfully, we only had to wear those occassionally. I'm sure it helped that we had a bad-ass Scoutmaster who was absolutely at home in the outdoors, and who knew how to lead a group of teenage boys.

It seems like it was sometime in the '80's that Scouts took that harder turn towards the right, when they began to represent values that were less inclusive and more divisive. That wasn't part of my experience, however.

The Scouting manual we used had some different illustrations, but I think a lot of the content was the same; it was a good manual.

Present day Scouting has its problems, but it would be wrong to write off the whole experience as evil and hateful. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool liberal and progressive, and I still hope my son (now 8) will give Scouting a chance when he's old enough. Scouting introduced me to some of my best friends in the world, and allowed us to get into (and, thankfully, out of) some very hairy-but-instructive situations. I wouldn't be the person I am if i hadn't been in Scouts.
posted by mosk at 11:41 AM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, I have so many bad memories of Cubs and Scouts that I had forgotten about until I read this. post.

Just remember...

"Whatever societal problems and grudges that have been imported from your neighbourhoods into your scouting groups has nothing to do with the movement as a whole."
posted by Joe Beese at 11:42 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had fun in scouts but : our scout master was an atheist guy of jewish descent, and most of the kids were atheist too. We had maybe one guy who was actually jewish and one non-believing catholic kid who'd realized that ever becoming a politician meant feigning belief his whole life.

I see who major issues with the scouts today : first they behaved like an american corporation buying out other scouting organizations, and then the mormon hate machine conquered them. We'd have no issues today if either they didn't hold a monopoly or not for the mormons.

p.s. Baden-Powell was gay & liked boys.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:43 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was thrown out of my Boy Scout troop because I hit another scout in the head with a pipe during the plumbing merit badge.
posted by Bango Skank at 11:45 AM on February 26, 2009


Norman Rockwell's Boy Scout illustrations.
posted by ericb at 11:45 AM on February 26, 2009


I was just about the worst scout in the world, but I stayed in it for years. I don't remember any talk about God, the bare minimum talk about patriotism, but the absolute maximum number of kick ass comedy sketches around the the campfire. And dirty jokes. Tons and tons of dirty jokes. And practical jokes. And learning what would burn and what wouldn't burn.

I loved the camp-outs and fellowship, but I hated doing the work for the badges. I don't think I ever passed like second class of whatever the third rank is called. While I don't think I could survive for any serious length of time in the wilderness, I remember enough to maybe live an extra day or two and hope that the search party consists of better scouts than I.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:46 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "That Order of the Arrow business was hilarious. I'd never heard of it before. "Authentic Indian rituals" included in their rites, eh? So you'll be camping under the stars, peacefully sleeping, when all of the sudden a bunch of white guys on horseback come galloping in, firing rifles at you and firebombing your tents?"

No. And do you really believe or want to promote the idea that the first experience of horrific stomach churning violence that a Native American experienced was at the hands of white man? To pretend that all Native American nations and tribes were peace loving gentle people is an insult to their cultures, their history and what moral tribe members expect from their people in the future.

Make a real argument against the scouts, there are thousands, or leave.
posted by Science! at 11:49 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


do you really believe or want to promote the idea that the first experience of horrific stomach churning violence that a Native American experienced was at the hands of white man?

Add a "genocidal" in there somewhere and you've got a deal.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:53 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


And do you really believe or want to promote the idea that the first experience of horrific stomach churning violence that a Native American experienced was at the hands of white man? To pretend that all Native American nations and tribes were peace loving gentle people is an insult to their cultures, their history and what moral tribe members expect from their people in the future.

Good thing I didn't say anything like that then. It was a joke about the "playing Indian" aspect that I've seen more than once among the friends I've had who were Scouts, and as evidenced in BP's post.

I don't have an opinion on the Scouts one way or the other, to be honest, apart from that. Seems like it's a fun little group that could help the socially awkward make friends, help the introverted enjoy the outdoors, and help the curious explore the world around them. So take a deep breath, alright?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2009


"Don't do what Donny Don't does"...[sighs] They could have made this clearer.
posted by Skot at 11:58 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Another Eagle Scout here.

Boy Scouts were some of the best times of my short life so far. I am still friends with the majority of the kids from my troop and patrol. Our patrol was named either Staff for being the oldest and holding all the staff positions or the Evilbeans. Even when I went to college my two best friends from college were or close to Eagle Scouts. I miss those days of weekend camp outs and of summer camp, where we all spent our money at the trading post buying candy and Graveyard Slush Puppies (every flavor in one cup).

Shamless self plug but awhile ago I scanned and photographed many of my Boy Scout items so I would always have a record of them, if anybody is interested you can see them here.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:00 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I actually own this particular book (hand-me-down). I always found it more appealing than the modern BSA handbook, at least in the early 90's when I was in the scouts. There was a more empowering sense of DIY to it, I thought. If I remember correctly, there's a great big section on building campfires that gave me tons of bad ideas, being a little tote 'n chip carrying pyro when I was 14.
posted by hanoixan at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2009


"I promise to do my best
To help the Girl Scouts get undressed"

We were totally out of control in the Cub Scouts.
posted by digsrus at 12:08 PM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Eagle? That's for commoners.

I'll raise you a Cheif. Mine was presented by the next best thing to royalty itself.
posted by bonehead at 12:10 PM on February 26, 2009


About a week after Katrina hit I finally got a call from my sister in Pearl River, on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain. She asked that I try and come down from Pennsylvania to get my parents and to bring her and her community some much needed relief. On her long list of things she wanted me to bring was a Boy Scout Handbook. As I didn't have much time I just grabbed the one on my shelf which happened to be this very edition, which was mine as a kid. I figured not a lot had changed in fire-making and lean-to technologies since the Sixties so it would do just fine. She was very grateful for it and claimed it became an invaluable reference those first few weeks after the storm. Be Prepared.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:13 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed my time in Boy Scouts, mid 70s, camping and knot-tying and knife-sharpening and fire-building and what not. I learned CPR and water rescue and first aid and all sorts of big and little skills that I use today. I learned to shoot a gun (wonder if they do that anymore?), and a bow, and went to camp a couple of times.

My dad was pretty much the 60-hour-work-week-put-food-on-the-table-chill-and-watch-football-on-the-weekend kinda guy, so I would not have been able to go camping or do any of the other fun, outdoorsy stuff had it not been for scouts. everichon's reference to the Pinewood Engineer made me chuckle, as that was my dad's biggest involvement every year.

I learned some good life lessons, too, like the time the guy we always ragged on about being gay was the one who pulled me out of a freezing, rushing river when I fell in, just dropped everything and jerked me out without hesitation. Now, I don’t know if he actually was gay, but we all thought so then, and you can freakin’ bet I never called him a fag again after that, nor allowed anyone else to. I still, 25 years later, can remember the shame I felt when I saw Craig reaching down to pull me out, knowing what I’d said to him before, how mean I’d been, and how it didn’t matter to him in that moment. I can see his face. I can remember thinking “this guy is the one to save me?” 25 years later, I’m still ashamed of that.

Likewise, I got my first real lessons on how people acted under stress, who you could (and could not) depend on a long hike, or when food ran a little short, or when someone's tent blew down in the rain. Those weren't always good lessons, but they were valuable.

Like kanewai, I quit when we got a super-gung-ho leader. I think I'd amassed, like, 7 merit badges, all from camp, where they're pretty much guaranteed (yes, truly, basket-weaving, for real), and the new guy seemed to think that shaming me for my lack of accomplishment was the best way to inspire me to excellence. He was the first of many who have failed at that.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:14 PM on February 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


I am also a MeFi Eagle Scout. Never helped me get laid, though.
posted by mkb at 12:16 PM on February 26, 2009


The scouts are still great... but you need to be careful selecting which troop to join.

When I was in Scouts, the two types of "problem" troops were the Badge Factories, where the emphasis was on advancement, advancement, advancement, and the "Do Nothing" troops. The Do-Nothings troop was used as a place for parents to dump their problem kids for an evening, and the Scoutmaster to chat with his adult leader buddies... while the kids were ignored.

Now, there are the ultra-conservative and ultra-religious troops to watch out for as well. They tend to overlap with the Badge Factory type troops. Everything to the second is planned out by the adults, and the work and preparation done by the adults as well. They just don't trust their kids, and kick out underachiever or nonconformist kids on a regular basis.

Find a "High Adventure" troop - is there at least one campout scheduled for every month in the year, come rain or snow? Do they have at least one "50 miler" weeklong canoe trip, bike trip or hike in the summertime? Do the kids plan their own campouts, including meals, and run their own meetings? You're in the right place. Outdoorsy, easy-going types generally run the show in these troops, and they mostly can't be bothered to play politics. Any emphasis on advancement comes from a focus on merit badges as education rather than reward, and service projects that actually perform a public service. (As a result, the troop I was in graduated more Eagles than anyone in the region - including the "Badge Factories." Kids stuck with it until their late teens because it was fun climbing a mountain. In Maine. In January. Varsity football players only =think= they're tough... a Scouts in a High Adventure troop =know= it.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:21 PM on February 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Piiiiiiine Caaaaaaaar Deeeeeeeerrbeeeeeeeeee!

That shit was awesome. I made a cake for some fund raiser and put gummi-worms all over it and it won the "wormiest cake" award. And I got to sign the Declaration of Independence and recite some lines pretending to be a founding father. Everyone laughed at me when I received my wolf badge because the stupid candle refused to light.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:21 PM on February 26, 2009


Scouting was at times the best and worst part of my adolescence. i loved the camping and hiking, and would never have guessed at the time just how profound an impact it would have on my post college years, and for the skills i retained alone i look back fondly on those days. but my troop was poorly led and the assholes ruled, not the leaders. I got my Eagle badge almost to spite my father, and pretty much quit the next day; but to this day that achievement gives my father more pride than most (and i'm an ivy educated doctor), so perhaps his badgering to follow through and finish what i had started instilled in me a work ethic that has paid greater dividends.
"Be prepared" is a maxim more of us could hold.
I've got the '65 manual here on my bookshelf, and the later crappy seventies edition, but my treasured copy is the '45, my dad's, with all of his notes scribbled in the margins. my son is 4, he knows how to handle a small pocket knife, dial 911, how to respect a campfire and he's already been on the PCT. whether he goes into scouting or not, the things he learns from me will, in part stem from scouting's better ideals (non of the religious or exclusionary crap).
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:22 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, I wanted to join the Cub Scouts when I was a little girl because they got to go camping and do other cool stuff outdoors. Instead I joined the Brownies and it sucked. I didn't care about learning how to sew, how to host parties and other girly crap. I wanted to go camping and learn how to use a compass! My mother realized how unhappy I was and let me quit and my dad showed me how to camp, tie knots, use a compass, etc.
posted by govtdrone at 12:24 PM on February 26, 2009


Can I join the MeFi Eagle Scout club?

I thoroughly encourage Scouting for all the aspects except the rankings. Yes, ranking is important sometimes, but most of the work for everything was just arbitrary bullshit. It says a lot when you're an Eagle, yes, but mainly just shows you're persistent enough to put up with a ton of the bullshit badges - a lot of them were helpful, but man, were some of them completely useless.

I got to Star scout in my first year of scouting. I didn't get eagle until about 6/7 years later.
posted by Mali at 12:24 PM on February 26, 2009


Made it to Life but got distracted. I tell you though, there were years when I learned more in scouting than I did in school.
posted by The White Hat at 12:29 PM on February 26, 2009


I have an older manual that I bought in a bookstore I'm going to have to scan and post....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:36 PM on February 26, 2009


Slap*Happy: "The scouts are still great... but you need to be careful selecting which troop to join.

Find a "High Adventure" troop - is there at least one campout scheduled for every month in the year, come rain or snow? Do they have at least one "50 miler" weeklong canoe trip, bike trip or hike in the summertime? Do the kids plan their own campouts, including meals, and run their own meetings? You're in the right place. Outdoorsy, easy-going types generally run the show in these troops, and they mostly can't be bothered to play politics. Any emphasis on advancement comes from a focus on merit badges as education rather than reward, and service projects that actually perform a public service. (As a result, the troop I was in graduated more Eagles than anyone in the region - including the "Badge Factories." Kids stuck with it until their late teens because it was fun climbing a mountain. In Maine. In January. Varsity football players only =think= they're tough... a Scouts in a High Adventure troop =know= it.)
"

That's exactly how my troop was. Everything was planned by the Scouts, the adults where there to drive us around. Every year we had a pancake breakfast that paid for the majority of the camping trips, 1 a month, with a big whitewater rafting one in May and then summer camp. When I crossed over from Webelos into Scouts all the kids I crossed over (10) with obtained the rank of Eagle, while our troop history only had one Eagle Scout every couple of years.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:40 PM on February 26, 2009


I know the Girl Scouts are an entirely different kettle of camping groups...but I loved being a scout. I stayed in even after I got my Gold Award (equiv to Eagle Scout), mostly because our Senior group was chartering a sailboat and sailing to the Bahamas using our own navigation skills and sailing the boat ourselves. It was the greatest summer, I swear.

I don't remember there being a whole lot of "God and Country" in the Girl Scouts, but since it was a troop operating out of our Catholic school, it may have just been lost in the constant ground clutter noise of "God and Country".

I kinda sad that I probably won't get Boy involved in Scouts when he gets old enough. The headquarters are here, it seems to be seriously religious...and we're mostly secular humanists...and it's my understanding that the Mormons have pretty much taken over this region, making them even *less* tolerant of homosexuals and races that aren't white.
posted by dejah420 at 12:48 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Living through the Reagan years, everything was about instilling in us military ideals and patriotic idealism: guns, God and Scrapple. When the assistant scoutmaster's son wore an anarchist t-shirt on a weekend camping trip, Mr. Big Shot went livid and sent him all the way home. The assistant, a Quaker, had decided he had enough and left the troop shortly thereafter.

Yeah, it seems most of the people in this thread for whom it was a great experience were involved in the 70s or earlier. I was involved in the late 80s-early 90s, and at that time it was extremely heavy on the U-S-A!/Jebus, and it wasn't just something that the local troop leaders made up. It seems that sometime in the 80s the Boy Scouts changed from a group devoted to outdoorsy activities for boys to a group devoted to cramming religious conservative values down boys' throats.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:49 PM on February 26, 2009


I think my older brother had this book, and it might have been my Dad's. But I recall getting the "new" version in the early 70's. But we still refered to the old one.

And add me to the mix of guys who loved scouting. Not for getting badges, or learning citizenship, etc. Much of which we thought was kind of hokey. But for the camping/hiking/canoeing trips! I spent years in cub scouts & boy scouts, and never made it past second class. But had fun at every outing - even the ones where tempertures dropped, and we froze and were miserable. Oh yes, and the pinewood derby. I think I took fourth place one year, and my younger brother first or second place another. Good times, indeed! And I credit Boy Scouts for developing the "be prepared" attitude that people have mocked me for. And, at times, benefitted from.

And a final thought: I don't hate scouting for its current religious overtones and gay-hating. That's an organizational, "home office" issue. And I wouldn't discourage anyone from joining because of it.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:55 PM on February 26, 2009


For comparison purposes, I would like to see a similar manual for the Crips.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:01 PM on February 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


Mosk, I could have written your post to the letter, right down to our shared age and embarrassing experience with berets. I also have remained good friends with several guys I met through scouting, and we're heading up to the Presidentials for a winter backpacking/camping trip this weekend.

I'm always surprised when I hear complaints of heavy-handed God stuff in scouting. That's just completely foreign to my experience, and I've been involved with scouting for three decades. Maybe it's a regional thing? I'm in the Northeast and religious belief (or lack thereof) has NEVER come up in any troop I've been associated with. Neither has sexual orientation.

For those who balk at the idea of having their son join Boy Scouts: I can see how somebody with a young son and without experience with the program might be hesitant to get involved. The national office of the BSA in Texas does it's damnedest to say and do stupid things. And every troop I've been involved with did it's damnedest to ignore or circumvent the policies of the national office. If a troop is run right, it's about the outdoors, and learning trust, responsibility, and leadership. And left-handed windshifters.

(And yeah, I'm another MeFi Eagle Scout. Never prevented me from getting laid.)
posted by ArgentineBlonde at 1:01 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm another MeFi Eagle Scout. Never prevented me from getting laid.

Let's leave the Den Mothers out of this.

could...not...resist...
posted by jonmc at 1:04 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another Mefi Eagle scout here and I had the 1963 handbook, handed down from older brother. I hated the officious, patriotic, religious, militaristic aspects of Scouting and our troop (in Houston, TX, early 70's) had its share of annoying adult leaders. I remember one instance where a Dad brought a megaphone to a camping trip so he could make sure we all heard his announcements. It was mysteriously broken on the first night.

Despite that, the best friends I have today, I met in Scouts 30 or so years ago. The outdoor skills gave me a great appreciation of nature. I went to Philmont twice and learned how to backpack, a pastime I still enjoy. That is the best thing about my scouting experience.

For another look at scouting, check out the Scoutmaster blog from a progressive, buddhist Scout leader.
posted by jabo at 1:09 PM on February 26, 2009


When I was a kid, Cub Scouts was where it was at. There were enough boys in my town that we had an active Cub Scout troop. Half the times the troop met at the home of my fourth grade nemesis. These trips were always fascinating to me as he had to behave himself when guests were over, so I got a full view of how exactly this enemy of mine lived with only a minimal risk of being slugged or otherwise tormented when Mrs. H. wasn't looking. It was reconaissance and it was exhiliarating. (Plus he had an Atari 5200, the lucky sonofagun, and Mrs. H. graciously made him let us all play sometimes after meetings.)

I liked the neckerchief and neckerchief slide the best.

I dutifully worked my way up the ranks from Bobcat to Webelos (oh, Tiger Cubs weren't even around back then.) I earned Wolf and Bear arrowheads and only years later realized they were a fine precursor to collegiate electives. Did the Pinewood Derby every year and made it to our state finals with one of the aerodynamic popsicle cars designs. My memories of the road to the finals have all congealed into one big blur of racing heats in local Community Centers and, once we made the big time, shopping mall food courts. You could always see when your time was up, though. Some hotshot kid with a super car would start tearing through the competition. Everybody'd start nudging each other and the whispers would fly. Who the hell is he?! My car is better than that, but I lost. I bet his Dad (is an engineer - made the car for him - got it professionally made - etc.) And then it was your turn up against him, and you half-heartedly accepted your place ribbon afterwards.

Read lots of Boys' Life. If, when you received a new copy, you didn't turn immediately to the back page for hilarious Boy Scout jokes ("Why did the tenderfoot throw his clock out the window? He wanted to see time fly!") then you weren't a real reader. The other awesome parts of the magazine for me were the model railroading tips, though I didn't even have a model railroad, and the science-fiction stories they used to run.

Got my Arrow of Light at the Blue & Gold Dinner. I think we even had one of those Footbridge rituals to go through. What a feeling that was, eh? Such accomplishment. Never mind the fact that we must've fudged the last few requirements.

Then we moved on to Boy Scouts. My town couldn't carry its own troop, so we had to go to another town about 15 miles away. That commute didn't make the prospect very appealling. Neither did the first meeting, where the Scoutmaster handed us a copy of the manual, told us to "memorize Morse Code" and slunk out for a few with the fellows.

Don't think I went back. Ah well. We were rural enough that I could enjoy camping out or hiking or riding my bike without any kind of boy's organization pretense. Don't remember a single knot, but I sure as hell can tell you that Webelos stands for We'll Be Loyal Scouts. And considering the questions they asked me at my Arrow of Light ceremony, that's what really counted.
posted by Spatch at 1:09 PM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Brings back memories. I was a horrible Scout, but I loved Scouting. I loved camping, I tolerated hiking, I totally dug the merit badges and skill awards, summer camp was a blast, and I learned things that have stuck with me all my life. I still have my "Totin' Chip", with all the corners intact. I always wanted to go to Piedmont or one of those Indian-named summer camps they advertised in Boys Life.

Why did I quit? Oh yeah, I was an adolescent. Same reason I quit piano lessons, and my parents were right, I do regret it.

I wish I could go back in time and smack the shit out of myself sometimes.
posted by Xoebe at 1:22 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


LOL Philmont, not Piedmont. I told you I was a horrible Scout.
posted by Xoebe at 1:23 PM on February 26, 2009


And a final thought: I don't hate scouting for its current religious overtones and gay-hating. That's an organizational, "home office" issue. And I wouldn't discourage anyone from joining because of it.

My wife went to our local troop. She asked, point-blank, if gay parents were welcome to come with their kids. The answer was mealy-mouthed, but was basically "no". They were welcome to come if they didn't, oyu know, be gay.

So what kind of example are we setting for our son to take him there? That it's OK to look the other way? I rarely act on principle, but a few camping trips in exchange for tacitly accepting bigotry is a bit of a devil's bargain.
posted by GuyZero at 1:25 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, this takes me back. It was reading my dad's handbook (which I think was the edition before this one) that got me excited about scouting.

If you have a kid that is thinking about joining the Scouts, go back and read what Slap*Happy said, as it is 200% true. Scouting is about teaching leadership as much as anything else. The kids should run the troop. The adults are just there for support. And getting Eagle at 12 is not a positive thing.

Another MeFi Eagle
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 1:38 PM on February 26, 2009


Be Prepared!
posted by Graygorey at 1:41 PM on February 26, 2009


Read lots of Boys' Life.

All I remember about Boys' Life were the ads for Grit. Not having internet back then, all I could think whenever I saw the ads were "What the fuck is Grit?" I imagined it to be a daily newspaper filled with the events of boy scouts across the country. "Jimmy Barnes Scores Upset at Pinewook Derby!" Way to go, Jimmy.

It all seemed like this happy world that was totally different from my world. I don't even know why we got that magainze. I guess no one was printing Dysfunctional Delinquent Underachieving Boy's Lives yet.

As safe and happy as that world seemed, I was afraid to join the scouts because I thought that the camping and jamborrees were mandatory. Having read Bless the Beasts and Children at far too young an age, I naturally understood that camping was an excuse for high school teens to sexually humiliate younger kids.

Then I saw Wargames and started reading 2600. It dawned on me that you could be smart and a criminal at the same time!. Well, that opened up entire worlds of possibility to me, and the thrill of skinning a dumb rabbit just couldn't compete with stealing long distance service from the courtesy telephones at Sears.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:47 PM on February 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


The scouts are still great... but you need to be careful selecting which troop to join.

When I was in Scouts, the two types of "problem" troops were the Badge Factories, where the emphasis was on advancement, advancement, advancement, and the "Do Nothing" troops. The Do-Nothings troop was used as a place for parents to dump their problem kids for an evening, and the Scoutmaster to chat with his adult leader buddies... while the kids were ignored.

Now, there are the ultra-conservative and ultra-religious troops to watch out for as well. They tend to overlap with the Badge Factory type troops. Everything to the second is planned out by the adults, and the work and preparation done by the adults as well. They just don't trust their kids, and kick out underachiever or nonconformist kids on a regular basis.


Absolutely. Somehow all my elementary school chums and I got split up when we graduated from Webelos - kind of like going away to college. My friends got stuck in "do nothing" troops, and I got stuck in Rich Kid/Pushy Dad hell.

So our parents got together, pulled us out of our shitty troops and formed one troop with just us and all our friends. All the resources and structure of the BSA, done our way. Countless 50 mile canoe trips, backwoods Yosemite hikes, and one Eagle Scout award later, I feel like it was one of the most important and influential experiences I've ever had growing up. (I even married a Gold Award girl!)

It makes me profoundly sad to see an organization that can do so much good making asshole choices. But then again, I'm Catholic, so I'm used to it.
posted by mdaugherty82 at 1:50 PM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


So what kind of example are we setting for our son to take him there?

You are teaching him how to get along with people who do not think as he does, and how to change an organization by being part of it. You are teaching him engagement is better than confrontation.

Political grandstanding at this level does nothing but draw a sharper line between "us" and "them". Running for a Council position as an adult leader can do a great deal more.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:55 PM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Eagleman since '86, OA since '83. Those were some of the best times of my childhood.

That said, I disagree with the more reactionary decisions by the Boy Scout's BoD, and am not active locally as the troops are little more than extensions of the local churches, and are not very friendly to geeky atheists.

I no longer list my scouting awards and honors on my resume.
posted by Blackanvil at 1:55 PM on February 26, 2009


You are teaching him engagement is better than confrontation.

yeah, remember how I said I don't usually act on principle? We're not exactly sitting on our hands at home. My kids have homework, sports, friends and we go on our own camping trips as time allows. I don't have the time to try to change the beliefs and policies of our local scout troop. One is know by the company one keeps and sometimes the simplest course of action is simply to walk away. You're right, but it's simply not practical when there are other things to do.

I was never a scout but I certainly knew kids who were and I have a lot of respect for the organization and what it gives kids. But it has changed from when I was young and not for the better, IMO.

And it is, honestly, a trivial change for our local troop and for the BSA overall to make. I don't actually think the people at our local troop are particularly committed to this particular bigoted policy. But if they, who are far more committed to the ideals of the Scouting movement than I am, cannot be bothered to stand up to it, why should I?
posted by GuyZero at 2:07 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This Cub Scout (only got to Wolf) got his kicks building the Gismo 3 remote-control robot. His eyes lit up, man! His head was transparent!
posted by infinitewindow at 2:13 PM on February 26, 2009


MeFi Eagle Scouts, represent!

Woo! Class of 2002 here. My troop, compared to many of the stories I've read here, was not particularly religious or paramilitary in nature. We had at least one weekend camping trip a month, a weeklong summer camp excursion, and various other hikes and volunteer projects throughout the year. I barely made Eagle because during the last few years I became distracted by school, girls, applying to college, etc. Fortunately, my father encouraged me to finish since I was so close, and I submitted the final paperwork on my 18th birthday.

In retrospect, the Scouts were both a great experience and a miserable one, but overall I'm glad I did it. I'm especially grateful to my Scoutmaster, who led the troop for several years in spite of not having any children himself. (And no, he was a perfectly ordinary married man -- he just wanted to give back to the Scouting community what he received when he was a Scout himself.)

Order of the Arrow was amusing, looking back on it -- I recall being led through the woods at night under a new moon, with no path or lights. At the time it was disorienting; later, I realized you could see the clearing where they held the ceremony from the road into camp. I made it to "Brotherhood" rank (IIRC), but Vigil was invite-only.

One last thing: while things at the troop level were fine, the council tended to be incompetent and too bureaucratic, in my opinion. After I left, they changed the name of the council due to outside pressure; while I was there I had difficulty getting support for my Eagle project. This was in spite of the fact that my dad was our troop's advancement chairman and was always dealing with them. I think the national council folks began to exert more control over the local councils.
posted by armage at 2:20 PM on February 26, 2009


I remember that very edition. I especially liked the part where they teach you how to be sneaky. Kind of fills in the part before you have to dispose of the body, but we've got that part covered elsewhere.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:21 PM on February 26, 2009


Pastabagel - I just chose not to see skinning a rabbit and stealing long distance as an either/or proposition. I got my Eagle and went to a 2600 meeting that got busted by the Secret Service in the same year.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 2:30 PM on February 26, 2009


I was in Brownies for, oh, three weeks or so in 2nd grade, but I quit because the troop leader was this creepy chain-smoking woman who lived in a trailer and had a missing front tooth and the only activity she knew was sewing "sit-upons" and she wouldn't let us go to the Ft. Worth Zoo (which was much cooler, because it had rides) and we had to go to the Dallas Zoo instead because there was a monkey there that she liked.

I really just wanted to play with knives and fire out in the woods, but the Brownies weren't very good at that sort of thing.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:33 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are teaching him how to get along with people who do not think as he does, and how to change an organization by being part of it. You are teaching him engagement is better than confrontation.

Yeah, seriously, GuyZero. And you should totally take him to Klan meetings too, because even though their platform is kinda screwy, they have pretty good bonfires and -- hey! -- change doesn't happen all at once. Be the change you want to see, is what I'm saying.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:36 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remember reading a very old Scouting manual, which I believe was written by BP himself. As far as funny, outdated advice, I recall a bit about how scouts should leave their window open at least a little bit all year round. This helped one resist the urge to masturbate apparently.

Also, I was personally in Scouting for ten years & I attended the World Jamboree in Australia back in the mid-80s. USians here may be tickled to learn that the US Scouts were pretty much universally despised there, by all the other nations of the world so far as I can tell. The main reason for this was the way the US Scouts flashed their money around & kept trying to buy everything.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:39 PM on February 26, 2009


Tons and tons of dirty jokes. And practical jokes. And learning what would burn and what wouldn't burn.

that was my experience. And then a scout mom starts walking up the path and you decide to stomp out the burning hand sanitizer...

and that's when things got interesting.
posted by saul wright at 2:43 PM on February 26, 2009


...some of these reminisces are making me wish I could run off and join the Boy Scouts now. Huh. Maybe I shouldn't have dropped out of Brownies?
posted by Neofelis at 2:46 PM on February 26, 2009


Looking back, I recall that Jewish lads joined a Jewish scout group...that is, we met at the nearby Jewish Community Center, so that oddly enough (ho ho) all the boys were Jewish; other groups met at churches. But then, our town also (like most)had cemeteries for Jews; cemeteries for Catholics etc---did we all go to a different heaven or hell?

Our scout master got yanked. Seemed he was member of what was then a bad other group: the communist party...

Went into the woods and cooked a steak. I noted that there were no girls around. Quit. Joined Sea Scouts...no girls around. Quit that too.

Now I learn scouts anti-gay. Ok. But why not have some girls out there in the woods when you are rubbing your sticks to get something going so you can have fun?

Girls scouts: girls are smarter than boys. They join and last for two years and then decide that such stuff sucks. and they want guys so not even lesbians want to hang with other young girls to bake cookies.

The nice thing about Eagle scouts: when a few kill on the spur of the moment, the papers always point to their early medals as Eagles, eagles that will fly no more. Non-scout killers have nothing truly worth noting in the papers.
posted by Postroad at 3:09 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joey Michaels : I was just about the worst scout in the world, ... And learning what would burn and what wouldn't burn.

I don't want to play "who was a naughtier scout," but back in my misspent youth, we certainly weren't saints.
posted by quin at 3:12 PM on February 26, 2009


i wanted to wear lederhosen like the Hitler Youth.
posted by lemuel at 3:21 PM on February 26, 2009


Seconding the Field Guide over the Handbook. In my troop, it was supplemented by the Air Force survival manual...as my troops were always on the air bases where I spent my youth (most of those bases and troops are long gone now...those troops' shoulder patches are exceedingly rare and currently fetch $300 on Ebay)...

Being in Scouts on a military base was regimentation squared...we drilled like soldiers, the uniform inspections were brutal, the scoutmasters hollered at us like recruits...but our camping gear was all GI issue, which made for some funky tents but awesome foul weather gear...

I made it to Star, got my 50-Miler and Historic Trail patches, made into the Order of The Arrow and then dumped it all the first time a chick said it was uncool. Should note that one of my scout masters was a predatory pederast and totally messed up some guys for life.

Favorite scouting thang: baking in a Dutch Oven!
posted by bonefish at 3:22 PM on February 26, 2009


Also, I was personally in Scouting for ten years & I attended the World Jamboree in Australia back in the mid-80s. USians here may be tickled to learn that the US Scouts were pretty much universally despised there, by all the other nations of the world so far as I can tell. The main reason for this was the way the US Scouts flashed their money around & kept trying to buy everything.

Ha! I was at the Australian Jamborree in 1992, and this was my exact memory of the US scouts. Trying to buy our friggin merit badges off us as souvenirs! The nerve!

Scouts really is a pretty broad, diverse organization. As an Australian Scout from age 7 to 18, my experience definitely didn't involve the militaristic, homophobic God and Country stuff that I see people who experienced Scouts in the US talk about. You wanted militaristic and homophobic? Go join the Boys Brigade or the Army Cadets. Patriotism was limited to the pledge we said to the Queen, and God was approached in a very, very subtle way. We used to have "Scouts Owns" when we were away on camping trips - a few hours of spirituality, where we were just as likely to be told an Australian Aboriginal creation myth, or taught about Buddhism, as we were to be read to from the Bible.

Scouts in Australia has also been mixed-sex since 1990 or so (making Guides doubly lame and pathetic), and so I can proudly say the Scouting movement introduced me to sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Some of my best memories of my teenage years were getting stoned out in the forest, listening to the Violent Femmes on someone's battery-powered stereo...

And for all that, people I met in Scouts, and am still in contact with, are generally all wonderful, active, creative, inspired people, who seem to know just a little bit more about the world than others.
posted by Jimbob at 3:24 PM on February 26, 2009


Another Eagle Scout representin'.

Nobody can deny that there are serious problems which the BSA needs to deal with, but I myself didn't ever really come in contact with them. Reading this thread, I beginning to wonder just how unbelievably singular my experience was, but:

1.) God and Country are for certain in the materials, but were never to my knowledge mentioned outside of the stuff from National. At least the God stuff. My troop in Houston was very multi-cultural, our long-time Scoutmaster (my best friend's dad) was quite conservative, but also an agnostic/athiest, and he wasn't concerned so much about making us all "good little citizens" as much as just making sure we were all cool to one another. My own dad was the district chairman, and would've quickly dealt with any religious discrimination or persecution that came his way. AFAIK, none ever did.

2.) First column, fourth row. My patrol was a bunch of hell-raisers (actually, the whole troop was, in a way. The dad's involved were - with the exception of one phenomenally Ned Flanders-ish character - cocktail dads who used the camp-outs to hang out amongst themselves, while us boys found our own crazy dangerous shit to do in the woods. The flaming arrow in that patch? Those were actually a part of our cliff-jumping, trap-setting, prisoner-holding capture-the-flag games. Looking back, it was more than a little like Lord of the Flies. We, however, in the interest of "creativity" used that patch to name ourselves the "Pyro Archers." But nobody else ever called us that. We were referred to by all, including the dads, as the "Anarchy Patrol." This was not always said in a negative light, mind you.

I've been a Senior Patrol Leader in two different troops (having moved to Oklahoma when I was 15) and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow (I can attest, yes, Fuck That Shit, it is cult-like and only exists as a way for Scouts who take things WAAAYYY too seriously to be needlessly exclusive. It's lame at best and shouldn't be a part of the program, really.) Obviously the ban on gay leaders should be dropped, and with great force. Scoutmasters who use the organization as a tool to promote their own religious beliefs should also be kicked the fuck out, for the health of the group. But there are great things to be gleamed from Scouting, and it's the sort of thing where the crisis of conscience can be averted by finding a good, secular troop and getting involved enough to change the group's policies, which will just move more steadily rightward when good people exclude themselves by choice.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:38 PM on February 26, 2009


I got my Eagle and went to a 2600 meeting that got busted by the Secret Service in the same year.

I so wasted my teenage years.
posted by weston at 3:55 PM on February 26, 2009


Atheist Eagle Scout here:

I am really glad that this thread is filled with reflection, and not disdain. It does really depend on the troop you get saddled with, and I should know, I went through four of em. Thanks to the scouts, I was able to canoe down the Rio Grande, summit Mt. Hood, 50 milers, and the like. Unfortunately, my last troop was an ultra religious, car camping troop that at one point wanted to halt my advancement because I would not admit to belieiving in any form of God. I think that one mother was very much responsible for this, while another was rooting for me. In the end, I gave a vague answer that alluded to the universe being vast, and that something had to be up there. I did recieve my Eagle award, and to this day, I am still proud to tell people that. The troop wanted to put my picture and bio in the local daily paper, only I declined. I wish I could take that decision back. At the time, I was well aware of how "uncool" the scouts were percieved, but today, I would like to have that press clipping.

I really hope some young man in my life does go into the scouts, achieves eagle, and subsequently invites me to the ceremony. I would gladly take the oath again. You are eagle for life.
posted by captainsohler at 3:56 PM on February 26, 2009


i graduated to the Sea Explorers in the 60's. we had a 38' work boat, converted but not glamorous but very functional, accommodated about a dozen people. we went from Ma to Me one summer, another type of hiking and camping.

i think some of the leaders were in it for a cruising and sports fishing boat they couldn't otherwise afford. for what it was it was the smartest, best maintained boat in the harbor.
posted by lemuel at 4:00 PM on February 26, 2009


Wow. I am moderately outraged. Girl Scouts didn't even compare. Rafting? Hiking? Canoeing? The most exciting thing we did was camp out in somebody's backyard. I remember I missed the memo that we could only bring a stuffed animal as big as our hand. Mine was the size of a small goat.
posted by changeling at 4:03 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Troop97 website features a historical overview of all eleven editions of the Boy Scout Handbook, including a content comparison chart and scans of all the covers.

Additionally, this website has similar overviews of the various editions of the Scout Master Handbook, the Patrol Leader Handbook, and the Boy Scout Field Book.
posted by fairmettle at 4:15 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I second what Navelgazer said, 100%. For every regimented, weird, racist, homophobic, etc. troop out there, there are another three that are otherwise normal and welcoming to all. (Though lately the ratio seems to be the other way round, unfortunately...) The "uncool" stigma of being in Scouts tended to keep a lot of folks away, but for the kids who needed structure and were otherwise ostracized at school or not into sports, Scouting was it.

One day I'll have to do as captainsohler hopes to do, and attend someone's Eagle ceremony. Although I've been away from Scouting for a while, if some of the national people can loosen up and stop being a bunch of pricks, then I think it would be a great organization. As it is now, it's rather hit-or-miss as to how your local Scouting experience is.

Incidentally, any other former SPLs out there? I did my time (6 months) but I enjoyed just being a regular member. Especially when I got older (most SPLs were around 15-16, and past that you were expected to be working on making Eagle) and could walk around being cynical and bitter and teenagey. Good times.
posted by armage at 4:16 PM on February 26, 2009


I feel sorry for all the former Girl Scouts who didn't get to camp and play with knives. My GS experience was awesome. We learned all kinds of crazy stuff--how to set a proper table one week, desert survival the next, first aid and CPR at the meeting after that, then tissue paper flowers. It was schizo and wonderful.
posted by padraigin at 4:25 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


merit badge
posted by jeffburdges at 4:25 PM on February 26, 2009


Raises hand on SPL (Senior Patrol Leader). Our masters had the idea to put all the misfits from the other patrols into one patrol and then chose me, the most recalcitrant anti-authoritarian in the troop, to manage them. That would teach the misfits to work together and force me into the leadership role that was my supposed destiny. From the meager selection of available names/patches, we chose Cobra Patrol, the most bad-ass totem we could find. Cobras ruled, mainly through our unorthodox approach to problem solving and generally thinking outside of the box, the qualities that made us misfits in the first place.
posted by bonefish at 4:30 PM on February 26, 2009


I soured too quickly on the Scout experience. My older brother was a Cub Scout, then a Webelos, then Boy Scout, and my mother was Den Mother. So I went to Scout meetings even before I was a Cub Scout. By the time I got to Webelos, the whole scouting thing was pretty boring, and the thing was we almost never went out in the woods to camp. And this was in the rural South! We finally got to go camping, but the leaders were so nervous about liablity or something that they insisted that each boy bring a parent with them when we went camping. We all thought this incredibly lame, and en masse...we all quit. Every single Webeleos in my pack just up and finished the Scouts forever. At the time I was glad to let it go, but I wonder if I would've had more fun as an actual Boy Scout.
posted by zardoz at 4:36 PM on February 26, 2009


I didn't care about learning how to sew, how to host parties and other girly crap. I wanted to go camping

To all you girls who quit Brownies because they were too girly, I am sorry. I joined as a Junior in '67 and stayed in until the first year of high school in '73-- I only quit because I couldn't get to the meetings. It was camping heaven. My troops always camped a lot-- at least a weekender a month and longer during spring break. And in the summer there was Camp Skyland. Some of the best memories of my childhood are from my summers at Skyland, like folk dancing in our hiking boots to get in shape for our back packing trips.

I don't know about the Boy Scouts, but in the Girl Scouts we had hundreds of songs. One of the few things I have my childhood is a notebook that I put together of several hundred songs, chants, and rounds. Each one painfully typed with a few guitar chords noted. Many, many years later when my daughter was a little girl, I taught her some of the rounds so that we could sing them in the car together.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:53 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was young I wanted to join the cub scouts. Somehow, the wires got crossed and I ended up a campfire girl instead. What a crock.
posted by stet at 5:04 PM on February 26, 2009


Any real boy knows that anything that causes him to worry should be avoided or overcome.

Not really setting 'em on the path to success there, are we?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on February 26, 2009


For some other good scouting lore, try looking up "Scouting for Boys" by Lord Robert Baden-Powell - this is the foundation of scouting in Canada and most other countries. I've seen it in Chapters, so you can still buy new copies even though it has been updated many times - its a great piece of history.

I've championed scouting in other spots on metafilter here before, and I've mentioned that Canada has gay scout troops so I don't really don't consider the movement discriminatory. At all.

Like some others upthread, I had some bad leaders who liked to place an emphasis on teaching us how to stand at attention (and to this day, I want to show artsy kids the proper way to wear a beret) but for all those bad things I believe it was a very good experience. My family is orginally from a neighbourhood designated Canada's worst, my dad isn't a high school graduate, and my mom was in her 40's the first time she set foot on an airplane. In some ways I was an at risk youth... but through scouting I got to go camping and hiking, travel to jamborees - including Prince Edward Island where I saw the ocean for the first time at age 12, and I learned about the world outside my neighbourhood by serving in Francois Mitterand's honour guard. My troop had set a (since broken) world record for the biggest food bank drive ever; I knew I could do big things because of Scouts. Not only that, I usually came home from scout camps with a sore face because I had been laughing so much. My Chief Scout's award was my first major accomplishment, and it gave me the confidence to get through high school (which remember in my frame of reference was a hard thing), university, technical school,and two stints in International Development work when it probably would not be out of the question for me to fall into a negative lifestyle.

I used some of my scouting background to prove I could survive in adverse conditions when I was applying to be an International Development worker, and one of the people asked me if I thought the movement was still relevant... and I could not answer but I have reflected on this: Scouting was founded by Baden-Powell because the youth that entered the British army were sickly, didn't know how to take care of themselves, and couldn't survive outdoors... Baden-Powell wanted healthy, strong, independant and vital youth who were able to take care of themselves (yes, so they could be better soldiers for the empire - I won't sugar coat that) and survive away from home. Show up at your local University on frosh week, and tell me if Baden-Powell's mission is really outdated.
posted by Deep Dish at 5:15 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


*jealous*

Yeah, I was a Brownie and a Junior and I never got to play with knives or shoot anything even though there were pictures of Girl Scouts with bows and arrows on our badge workbooks.

All I remember is making yarn "God's Eyes" and the fact that the girl whose dad was a doctor always sold the most cookies every year.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:28 PM on February 26, 2009


BP's last message to Scouts from Wikipedia:

...I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have a happy life too. I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness does not come from being rich, nor merely being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man. Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one. But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. 'Be Prepared' in this way, to live happy and to die happy - stick to your Scout Promise always - even after you have ceased to be a boy - and God help you to do it

posted by Deep Dish at 5:30 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


This one time, at Scout camp, one of my troop's leaders punched a thirteen-year-old in the face for calling his kid a faggot. It was awesome.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:36 PM on February 26, 2009


I was a scout in the mid 1980s, made it all the way up to Life Scout. My troop had a reputation as "The F Troop," while Troop 80 the next town over had a reputation as a "merit badge mill" or an "Eagle Machine" (the words we used for "Badge Factories"). We had aspiring metalheads who just wanted to hang out and listen to Led Zeppelin in the woods, rednecks, skatepunks, dorks, pyromaniacs, aspiring pyromaniacs, the chubby kids, the hyperactive kid who acted like Pee Wee Herman on crystal meth, the prissy guy who insisted on doing all the cooking and probably came out of the closet 10 years later, and a junior assistant scoutmaster who so closely resembled Adam Sandler's "Canteen Boy" character that he should probably sue. You get the picture.

Scouting could be a great place for kids like myself who were not the alpha dog in the junior high school pecking order, but then again, when people extol the Boy Scouts for strengthening the moral fiber of the youth of Amurrica, I just have to laugh my ass off. Boy Scouts was not only where I had my first exposure to pornography, but it's also where I learned every single joke I know about the traveling salesman and the farmer's daughter.

Can't have gays in the boy scouts? Do you have any idea how homoerotic Boy Scouts can get? The guys in my troop not only used to moon each other all the time, but we used to give nicknames to our butts (e.g., Twin Peaks, Grand Canyon, etc.).

I was in Order of the Arrow too. I actually liked the secret ceremony hoo-hah, but then again, the people in my local council weren't too dickishly exclusive about it. I've since learned that they have more regulations about the secret ceremonies now, because I guess too many boys were getting molested there. Yikes!

Unfortunately, the relatively low number of people in Order of the Arrow means that I have few people I can share the secret code words with. Navelgazer, have you seen the arrow?
posted by jonp72 at 5:52 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


A boy should wake up each morning feeling like a fighting cock.
posted by jonp72 at 5:56 PM on February 26, 2009


In the body of every boy who has reached his teens, the Creator of the universe has sown a very important fluid.
posted by jonp72 at 6:01 PM on February 26, 2009


Yeah, I was one of those Brownies who had no desire whatsoever to go camping, ride horses, or shoot things. I was, however, a cookie-selling force to be reckoned with.

... and the fact that the girl whose dad was a doctor always sold the most cookies every year.

Let me tell you how to best that little cheater. Full uniform and leg work. No one turns down a Brownie with the sash, beanie, jumper, blouse, tie, kneesocks, and tassels. Too cold on "go day" you say? Put on your Brownie sweater and suck it up. They'll buy more if you shiver a little.

That's ABC. Adults. Buying. Coookies. I sold 1,500 boxes last year, how many did you sell? You see pal, that's who I am. And you're nothing.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 6:03 PM on February 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


I think I've mentioned this in a previous link about the Boy Scouts that ended up in everyone reminiscing about Scouts, so if I've said this before, forgive me.

I ended up an Eagle Scout but I mostly did it because my parents made me stick with it. My troop ended up being me by time I was 15 or so (yes, I was the only person in my troop) and meetings devolved into my grandpa (well, my stepdad's dad) rambling for an hour and a half about how communists control Congress (mind you, I was a Scout not very long ago), how we're selling supercomputers to the Chinese and that will somehow aid in some communist plot to take over America, how Joe McCarthy was right, how Nixon was framed by the liberals, and how the greatest US presidents were George Washington, George W. Bush, and Richard M. Nixon in that order (Reagan is probably up there as well). I swear to almighty God in heaven, that is what most of my meetings were about.

Furthermore, my other scoutmasters were pretty lazy ass about doing anything. We'd go camping but they never wanted to do hiking or anything. Despite the fact I'm an Eagle scout, I've never gone on a proper hike - when it came to some requirement where I needed to take a hike, they settled for me telling them what I'd do on a hike. Most of my Scouting would involve the scoutmasters telling us all the great things they did when they were Scouts, like canoe trips, summer long hikes, etc. but when we asked to do things like that, they'd say "Oh no, can't do that, it'll take too much planning, time, and money."

The religion thing really bothered me. Outright, my troop wasn't overly religious but my Scoutmaster gave me a hardass time because I was a Catholic who didn't go to mass, and he said he'd refuse to sign off for my Eagle because I didn't think going to mass was a big deal. I remember saying to him "I don't see why going to the same place every week makes me a better person" and he's like "But you HAVE to receive communion and it'll give you peace of mind." Fortunately, I went to mass with a Scoutmaster who I'll mention in a bit to show I'm not an atheist or anything and that ended that.

However, I still learned a lot. I had one Scoutmaster, who was with Scouting ever since he was a boy, and he was pretty much like, Mr. Rogers. He managed to make Scouting at least remotely fun, and I did learn stuff like how to use a pocket knife, first aid, knots, and how important it is to have dry socks and how if you want to stay warm at night, change your socks before you go to bed and if you're out hiking, how important is is to change your socks and how you can tuck your socks in the back of your pants to dry them.

I did Order of the Arrow and it really wasn't a cult. To me, it's mostly dorky guys who want to pretend to be Indians. I was on the election committee, so I got to travel around with the aforementioned scoutmaster and this other guy from another troop and hold elections for OA, which was fun. OA is about getting to meet other people, wearing an awesome sash, doing a secret handshake with a secret code word to enter meetings, and being able to go to togethers at summer camp for OA members only. OA is entirely run my Scouts, and probably the only place I ever got to go somewhere it wasn't about the Scoutmasters running the show (ideally, the Scouts run the troops but in most instances, it was all the Scoutmasters who did the work).

Anyways, Scouting was an alright experience for me. I hate camping and probably will never go camping again because of it, mostly because whenever I'd go camping with Scouts, it would rain and be like, 50 degrees in early August during summer camp. I mostly liked Scouts because I got to meet people, and I'd frequently meet the same people at every campout I'd go to. For instance, I got to know the fellow who played some Indian fellow during the OA ceremony who wears a whole headdress and shoots an arrow into a fire. I met my share of my pyros, atheists, and other assorted characters during my Scouting days.

So yeah, that's my experience with scouting.
posted by champthom at 6:19 PM on February 26, 2009


When my son was "tapped out" for Order of the Arrow, I was so disgusted with the ceremony that my husband had to hold my arm to keep me from leaping to my feet and making a scene. Flaming arrows and Indian chanting and dancing. Crazy shit that was. He seems to enjoy it though, mostly because it's a big secret that his mama must not ever know.
posted by justlisa at 6:27 PM on February 26, 2009


I'm willing to bet that I have the most Scouting street cred on MetaFilter. I was an Eagle Scout, a Vigil member in the OA (twice serving as Lodge Chief), I attended the 87 World Jamboree in Australia, the 88 NOAC in Colorado, the 89 National Jamboree (and the 89 Philmont Trek, thankyaverymuch), the 90 NOAC in Indiana (staff), the 91 World Jamboree in Korea, the 92 NOAC in Tennessee (senior staff). I was trained at the National Junior Leader Instructor Camp in Philmont (one of five trips to Philmont), and served on the national training committee for the National Leadership Seminar. I served as the Senior Patrol leader for five Brownsea training camps.

I completed five 50 miler backpacking and canoeing trips, including Philmont, Bisset, and Atikokan. On one of my canoeing trips in Canada, we found a wounded eagle nearly dead and nursed it back to health. I was made an honorary Canadian citizen, with commendations from the government, and an interview on the BBC.

I served on local, national, and international Scouting committees and count past national chiefs and vice-chiefs as close friends.

Scouting was, at one point in my life, the most important thing I could imagine. I remember one summer, the one between my Freshman and Sophomore years in High School, out of 90 days of vacation, I only had 9 non-consecutive days of rest where I wasn't involved in some sort of Scouting activity.

And yet, despite all of the fun and the activities and the achievements, and friendships I made, I walked away when they kicked out my gay friends. There's just no call for that.

I wish they'd change their shitty policies, so one day I can support them again. I'd love for my little girls to be Venture Scouts one day. But not under the current administration.
posted by ColdChef at 6:39 PM on February 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


Also: little known fact--some college girls are perversely attracted to Boy Scouts in uniform.
posted by ColdChef at 6:41 PM on February 26, 2009


I just remembered that I know of at least one National Vice-Chief of the Order of the Arrow who is a MetaFilter member, Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor, many jamborees...I withdraw my claim as MetaFilter's Super Scout.
posted by ColdChef at 6:45 PM on February 26, 2009


I got OA, and it was mostly White Stag without the plastic three-ring binder. The Adults were largely in the background, and SPL-types ran the ceremonies, which were more Masonic Rite dressed up with some native american folklore. Maybe it was different for the Vigil... wasn't selected for that because I was a chubby know-it-all.

Speaking of White Stag, it sucked. They tossed our tent off the trail, and said, "Make a campsite where it landed." Ordinarily, this would be swell... I like a challenge. It landed on a poison ivy thicket wedged between two enormous boulders. We made to move the tent back a few paces to level ground that was only covered by bull-briars. No go, we got yelled at. What's worse, I was paired with another chubby know-it all from a rival troop. We hated each other with a wild, Mac vs. Amiga passion. The instructors loved him, but hated me. I daydreamed and didn't take notes and answered all of their "gotcha" questions, which they interpreted as defiance. Complete Badge Factory mentality... I came from a camo-pants and T-shirt-with-troop-logo troop, and they were all parade-dress formal. We just didn't click, and they made me miserable for it. Then I aced the exam, and that was the last straw. They flunked me for not taking notes, and told my Scoutmaster that I didn't shower all week, didn't bother to learn anything and mouthed off.

Then the jerk I was sharing a tent with all week, who grew to hate me more with every day, overheard that conversation, went to my Scoutmaster, who knew we hated each other from when our troops got together for camporees and service projects, and said, "A scout is honest. He showered everyday, helped other scouts with the coursework, didn't speak unless spoken to, and answered every question politely."

And both our troops didn't send any more scouts to White Stag for a while.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 PM on February 26, 2009


That's ABC. Adults. Buying. Coookies. I sold 1,500 boxes last year, how many did you sell?
You just reminded me of one of my worst experiences in Girl Scouts. That cold Saturday morning when I stood in front of my assigned bank trying to stay warm while I attempted to sell Girl Scout Calendars. No luck. One kindly person finally thought to tell me that they were giving away free calendars in the bank.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:46 PM on February 26, 2009


Hey! I'm a progressive, buddhist Scout leader (but not the Scoutmaster).

Eagle in 1985. Brotherhood in OA (never bothered for Vigil), four years of summer camp staff, held every troop leadership possible. Got out when I aged out, but got back in when my son wanted to join cubs. I've been Den Leader, Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, and will probably become Scoutmaster in the fall. I've served on my district training team, helped run roundtables, and am heading up this years Friends of Scouting campaign. I've been to Philmont twice for training (but have yet to do a trek there). I'll be serving as an assistant Scoutmaster for our district's troop for next year's National Jamboree.

I don't like the anti-gay and God-or-go policies National holds, but I'd rather fight them from the inside than turn my back on the program entirely. I look at the skills my son has learned and see there is still good at the core of Scouting, and try to remember that B-P wanted scouting to be for all boys, regardless of race, color, or creed.

ColdChef - you've got quite a scouting resume there. Ever do Woodbadge?
posted by jazon at 9:45 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. All this Order of the Arrow and Vigil and whatever stuff...completely confuses and intrigues me because we had none of that in Scouts Australia. The only sort of special, above-and-beyond award is Queen's Scout, and that doesn't involve any secret clubs or Masonic-style ceremonies, although it does come with a letter from the head scout, Queen Elizabeth II, if I recall correctly.
posted by Jimbob at 10:46 PM on February 26, 2009


I was a scout for a year or two, but the jingoistic nonsense was too much to bear. Then I joined the Woodcraft Folk, which was far superior. There were girls, there was no saluting of flags and you were encouraged to think about the world, not just your next achievement badge.
posted by asok at 4:19 AM on February 27, 2009


ColdChef - you've got quite a scouting resume there. Ever do Woodbadge?

No. I left the program before I ever became a troop leader. I miss Scouting. I really do.
posted by ColdChef at 5:23 AM on February 27, 2009


"Unfortunately, the relatively low number of people in Order of the Arrow means that I have few people I can share the secret code words with."

At least you can share them. A few words mumbled quickly into my ear after the Ordeal weekend? I honestly didn't catch the words then and I still don't know them. Got the meaning, not the phrase. Still have my OA sash though.

Funny thing, on the way back home from that weekend my brother, friend and I got pulled over for speeding. Cop looked in the window to find all three of us looking tired as hell, in full Boy Scout uniform, with our shiny new OA sashes. He laughed, asked if it was our Ordeal weekend, told us we had a tail light out and to drive safe.

ColdChef, I can't compare with your resume there. Wow. I've only done two 50 milers, both hikes in Pictured Rocks, which was a great experience. I did hit Nationals in 89 (still have my red jacket with the Space Shuttle patch!). I recall it being a lot of fun, if a little too big to do everything. Spent a lot of time trading patches; my brother and I were the envy of our group because we both started Scouts while living in Montana, and after moving to Michigan we used our Montana connections to get the new state council patch at the jamboree. Our own council patch was lame, but the Montana Council redesign was awesome, by patch standards. Everyone else wanted one, but there's no way we'd trade. In a box somewhere in my basement it sits, waiting, for me to impress my kid with once he's old enough...
posted by caution live frogs at 6:27 AM on February 27, 2009


There are boys who do not let nature have its own way with them but cause emissions themselves. This may do no physical harm, but may cause them to worry.

Any real boy knows that anything that causes him to worry should be avoided or overcome. If anything like this worries you, this is not unusual – just about all boys have the same problem. Seek the correct answer to any question which bothers you about your development from boy to man. But be sure to get your information from reliable sources – your parents, your physician, your spiritual adviser.


Wow: these two short paragraphs are so rife with ambiguity I honestly can't figure out what the author's position is. To wit:

There are boys who do not let nature have its own way with them but cause emissions themselves.

How many of these boys are there? Few enough that they can reasonably be considered not to be the norm? Also, masturbation is not nature having its way with a person?

This may do no physical harm, but may cause them to worry.

What - "This might do no physical harm, but might cause them to worry"? Or "This should do no physical harm, but should cause them to worry"?

Any real boy knows that anything that causes him to worry should be avoided or overcome.

So if it does not cause the boy to worry, should it still be avoided or overcome? (Not to mention the True Scotsman fallacy.)

If anything like this worries you, this is not unusual – just about all boys have the same problem.

Just about all? Not so far from the norm now, eh?

Seek the correct answer to any question which bothers you about your development from boy to man.

But... we're not giving it to you because we don't really know if we're against masturbation?

But be sure to get your information from reliable sources – your parents, your physician, your spiritual adviser.

Who, obviously, will all agree and settle this matter once and for all.

Good luck, young man.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:12 AM on February 27, 2009


(pssst...it is only right!)
posted by ColdChef at 7:24 AM on February 27, 2009


Favorite scouting thang: baking in a Dutch Oven!

Does the badge for this get sewn onto the blanket?
posted by permafrost at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only sort of special, above-and-beyond award is Queen's Scout, and that doesn't involve any secret clubs or Masonic-style ceremonies, although it does come with a letter from the head scout, Queen Elizabeth II, if I recall correctly.

Same in Canada, although the "Queen's Scout" was dropped in favour of the "Chief Scout" and the award comes from the Governor-General rather than Her Majestry.
posted by Deep Dish at 7:53 AM on February 27, 2009


ColdChef, that is quite a Scouting resume you have there. Well done, sir!

Just wanted to add another "meh" to the whole OA thing. I made Eagle and shortly afterward was tapped out for OA. I was really looking forward to it, as Scouting and camping were such important parts of my life at that point. Unfortunately, my Ordeal weekend was pretty miserable, and I found the whole experience far too elitist and "clubby" for my tastes, so I never pursued Brotherhood, and just sort of let OA drop. Maybe I just didn't get it, or maybe the leadership of the local OA council were just a bunch of dicks. It's sort of comforting, all these years later, to see that my OA experience wasn't exactly unique. One of my best friends, who has a Scouting resume only a little less complete than ColdChef's, never made Vigil solely because he was on the wrong side of a couple of key guys, and it still rankles him 25 years later. As a club-within-a-club, OA seemed to me to be oddly orthogonal to a lot of the Scouting ideals.

Also, it's really cool to see so many MeFi members who had similarly positive Scouting experiences. Our community, too, had two troops: our troop, which was mainly run by the scouts, and the other troop, which was run by the parents. Their uniforms looked a lot better, but we had significantly more fun.

We had a troop reunion back in October (we were Troop 47, and some in our group had turned 47, so it seemed an appropriately auspicious time for a reunion). In addition to the seven or eight of us who see each other pretty frequently, we rounded up a few more guys who lived further away. I think there were a dozen of us that night, and it was just incredibly fun -- even though we're now all in our 40's, the camaraderie and ease with which we interacted spoke volumes for just how close we still were, and the years just seemed to fall away. By contrast, I went to my 25th high school reunion last year, and the mood was nowhere near as fun or carefree -- but then, I never spent two weeks backpacking with my high school class through the Sierras, glissading down glaciers during the day and chasing bears away from our food at night (which was properly hung according to the standards in use at the time, TYVM).

I know that Scouting isn't the only way for a teenager to have fun outdoors and challenge themselves, and that, especially now, the Scouting experience is a mixed bag, but when it works, it works really, really well.
posted by mosk at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2009


Same in Canada, although the "Queen's Scout" was dropped in favour of the "Chief Scout" and the award comes from the Governor-General rather than Her Majestry.

It's a total cop-out, too. We swear an oath to the Queen, not to whatever television personality is holding the rubber stamp this week.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:59 AM on February 27, 2009


(I just remember the GG yammering on and on to an audience of thousands of Boy Scouts who didn't know who he was and couldn't care less that he was there, as we all stood shivering, ankle-deep in mud, while the rain poured down on our jamboree. My faulty memory may have compounded some of the misery, however.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:11 PM on February 27, 2009


I was a cub scout and webelos in Troop 2 in ct. I enjoyed what we did, more because it was father / son bonding weekends and stuff like that. However, being Greenwich, CT it became more about parental politics and all of that, so I was not all that let down when I decided to stop.

And at that point, I had starting going to a summer camp in maine, sleeping in an open air platform tent, canoeing daily and pretty much having an awesome time. I remember when one of the up and coming boy scouts was in the campcraft course and obviously had the overly protective parents, because he couldn't make a fire or chop wood, but he could tell us how to mark off the wood chopping space safely and prep the fire pit for the adults to do the work.

But then some of the guys there were Boy Scouts and Junior Maine Guides, and I have no gripe against them. I stopped going before I could start the program to get my JMG, but it was something a lot of us held in higher respect than the Eagle Scout badges (even among the counselors who went on to have JMG's and Eagle Scout badges). I did take pride in the fact that I was nicknamed Big Chop for my ability to split wood and have some of the fastest wet day water boil times. From the sounds of it, Summer Camp for me was 8 weeks of a jamboree.

I was ashamed of my old Troop with their issues over gay members, and my parents church decided to no longer allow them to use their space as a consequence of them taking such a stance.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:47 PM on February 27, 2009


changeling said: Wow. I am moderately outraged. Girl Scouts didn't even compare. Rafting? Hiking? Canoeing? The most exciting thing we did was camp out in somebody's backyard.

Really? Man. We hiked the Appalachians, we canoed the entire Flint River (which rose about 12 feet one night one night... that was an adventure, I can tell you), we went camping at least one weekend a month, we learned how to sail, and how to build fires, and built log cabins at the GS Summer Camp that are still standing. And by built, I mean we cut down the trees with hand axes and saws, stripped the bark, cut notches and grooves and fit them together...built log cabins. It was insanely hard work, but we had a blast. (Plus, we were some buff little girls, I tell you what.) And our Senior year, we all sailed a 65' Pilothouse Cutter from Tampa Bay to the Bahamas and back again, spending the better part of a summer dancing, tanning, drinking things with umbrellas in, and surreptitiously working on our Ganja badge.
posted by dejah420 at 9:33 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


When this was first posted I wasn't sure if I still had my Handbook or not. Then like a day later I was hunting in the basement for something else entirely, and there it was: Sixth Edition, with typical adolescent doodles.

Remember those 3-ring binders we all had in highschool in the 60s--covered with a light blue denim fabric, which we would draw and write on with ballpoint pen? Anybody?
posted by Restless Day at 7:41 AM on March 2, 2009


« Older Ten years ago, a guy started collecting undevelope...  |  Bob Boorstin, Google's Directo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments