Saturday, January 26, 2013

Frat Boys In Khaki

Scouting is supposed to build character in young men. My troop turned them into frat boys.

It's unknown how that troop, the one that met at a church in Raytown, Missouri, turned into a group that could've hung out at Delta House. I could blame testosterone. I could blame a few well-placed punks. But it's all speculation.

Doing forensics on my memories, however, I see a trend emerging: lack of leadership. Before each troop meeting, the adult leaders would stand in the parking lot smoking, drinking Big Gulps, and cracking dirty jokes, heaping the operation on the Eagle Scouts. They needed to put in some leadership time, and we were a motley crew.

After earning my "God And Country"
It wasn't unusual to see two guys get into a fistfight in a corner of the room beneath a table. Somebody would burp during roll call.  Another guy would pass gas during an awards ceremony. Somebody would throw up on the front table for no discernible reason. You can imagine how campouts went. One session had little outdoor activity; most of the guys were in the bunkhouse diddling with hand-held electronic games. Remember: these are Boy Scouts.

A rummage-sale fundraiser nearly went sideways. The gang uncovered a stack of crummy LP's and proceeded to make them into smash hits.

"Hey, I found a cracked record!" one of the Scouts yelled as he flung it into the air. It hit the church parking lot with a crackle.

Other records followed, flying into the air and crashing all over the asphalt. One Scout figured out how to make an LP perform a touch-and-go landing, throwing it so it skimmed the surface before rising back into the air. We got one stuck on the church's roof. The adult leaders were right next to us, and either they condoned this madness or couldn't stop it.

A few of us still managed to do some decent community service and earn merit badges. I shoveled woodchips for a nature trail in the miserable Missouri summer-humidified heat along the road to my God And Country honor. I'm told it's the equivalent of Eagle Scout. I felt it was the equivalent of probation by the time I got through, and someone pinned the giant red-and-white cross medal on my uniform.

When I hit puberty, my interest in Scouting waned. I only did it for the neat uniform, I figured. I should've gotten into historical re-enactment instead at that age -- if I'd only known about it.

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