I joined Cub Scouts in, I don't know, the second or third grade maybe. Actually, let me think about this. I think that some kids were able to join earlier than others because it depended on your age, not what grade you're in. So I think a few kids were able to join earlier but not me because I was one of the younger kids in my grade. It just depends what month you're born in and what the cut off dates are for starting school.
But anyway, I joined in the third grade, I think. I don't remember how. There may have been a sign up sheet in school.
I think that maybe a third of the boys joined. Maybe half. But those two boys who I mentioned before who didn't join t-ball and/or altar boys, they also didn't join Cub Scouts. I think. The guy who didn't join either and killed himself certainly didn't. So this was at least something that I joined.
Basically, what would happen is once a week or once every two weeks (I don't remember) you would go to the rectory (the basement under the church) and have a "meeting" where you would do arts and crafts. One of the leaders (or "den mothers") was the actual mother of a kid who would later be a friend of mine. There may have been another "den mother" too. It's a shame that I don't remember. I have a vague memory of there being a somewhat heavyset woman also as a den mother, presumably one of the other kid's actual mothers.
You also got to wear your Scout uniform to school on days where you were having a meeting. Nobody got beat up for it. Isn't that wild? We were too young to see how nerdy it was, I guess. Also, the bullies were also Scouts. They're not going to beat on their own.
I'm thinking that there were about ten boys in our troop. There might have been another ten boys in a "rival" troop from our grade (but there was never any competition and I'm not even 100% sure that this other troop even existed).
But yeah, all that we would do is go to this basement once a week or once every two weeks and paint plaster kerchief ties or plaster Cub Scout logos or a make a pretzel wreath for Christmas (which my mother used for many years after, but it must have got mouldy by some point), and stuff like this.
We'd start every meeting with a pledge. I don't remember what the pledge was but it's semi-controversial these days. I think it mentions God and the kids today don't want to pledge to deities any more.
Oh, here it is. Sort of.
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
That's from the internet but no, that's not what we said. I think it was just "I pledge to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people, and to obey the law of the pack". Nothing about physical fitness and morality.
So basically, Scouting sucked ass. It's not at all what I expected. You expect to go camping and learn about wilderness survival and shit like this. Not do arts and crafts in the church basement.
We also had some outings. We went to a Pizza Hut once where we learned how they made the pizza pies. That was exciting. I guess.
We went to the local jail where we were fingerprinted. Except me. I already the fingerprinting. My mother was looking through the Cub Scout manual looking for easy things to do (you had to do a bunch of shit from the manual in your spare time) and one of them was fingerprinting. So she just took some ink from a toy stamp and took my fingerprints from that.
So when I got to the police station, I already had these pink fingerprints in my manual, which was embarassing. The guard, a woman, says, "Oh, he already did it" and gave me my manual back.
I think it's a reasonable mistake to make but somehow, I was the only kid to have done this already.
I also learned that the prisoners get McDonalds every day, but just the regular hamburgers. They're in jail, after all. Big Macs are for freemen.
Those are the only trips I can think of. Pizza Hut and jail.
I remember one pack meeting where we were tasked to comile a list of what we wanted to do for one of these meetings. I put stupid shit like "kill a man for $5". My future friend, whose mother was the den mother, told his mother about my stupid list and she said, "Well, that's what he wants to do." So that was nice. I didn't get called out for coming up with a list that wasn't Christian or anything like this. She just recognised that it was a dumb list that kids are sometimes wont to make.
We also had a "bicycle rodeo". This was a school-wide Scouting event. So Scouts from all grades. We didn't have bicycle races. That would be too exciting. So instead we had a "race" where the SLOWEST person wins. And if you put your foot down, you have to stop. That was one event.
Another event was you had to cycle across a straight line and every time you went off the line, you were deducted a point. The jerk kid who was "refereeing" was really close to the line so at the very end, I swerved a bit to avoid hitting me and he says to the troop leader, "Oh, and he missed this one at the end too." That really pissed me off but of course I didn't do anything.
This was taking place in the school playground. My hillbilly neighbour saw that we were doing this and went home to get his bike. Then comes back and asks the troop leader if he can join. The troop leader (a guy, so I'm thinking that this was Weablos) said, "Yeah, of course you can join."
This hillbilly neighbour didn't go to our school and wasn't a Scout. But whatever. I guess it was the right decision.
Every two or three months, I'd guess, we had troop-wide meetings that took place in the school cafeteria. I can't remember what was discussed or what went on.
But at one of these events, I was there not as a Scout but as a member of the local tae kwon do dojang. This was the one activity that I did as a kid that was really worthwhile and I was good at.
But nobody from my school was a member. So it was just me. And I'm there in front of my fellow Scouts having to do this tae kwon do demonstration. Fortunately, it was a group demonstration. I didn't have solo it.
When we took our shoes and socks off, a bunch of the Scouts started making noises like they could smell foot odour. That sort of childish humour. But yeah, I don't remember much about this. It couldn't have been too eventful.
One time, we went on a big hiking trip to some beach. A ten mile hike. I nearly died. I only vaguely remember it but I know that I was having difficulties. I don't think that I had any sunscreen, which was the first mistake. My mother never put sunscreen on and I can tell you as an adult that I need sunscreen whenever it's even slightly sunny or else I burn. But she never figured it out. And I didn't know what sunscreen was. I didn't know that it worked. So I got seriously burned numerous times. Fortunately, I rarely went out.
Anyway, once a year, we had to do a big project. You might be familiar with the Pinewood Derby through popular culture wherein you build a little wooden car and race them.
Well, we didn't do that. Instead, we had to make little wooden sailboats. Then you'd race them in duels where you blow on the sail across a little gutter of water. Really disappointing.
The next year, we had to make and race little wooden airplanes. These were powered by rubber bands and you'd race them 6 at a time across fishing line. I won the first heat but didn't win the second so I was out. As for the boats, I lost the first match.
I skipped over perhaps the most important part: building your boat and airplane. It's because I didn't build them. My sister did.
Traditionally, it's the father who builds these things but my father was too busy working and drinking to take an interest.
So my sister built it and that was about it. I painted some of it. I mean, you had to sand a block of wood for some considerable time. I'm not sure if I had the arm or the upper body strength to do that. So it could have been a good father/son project or even sister/brother project but we'll never know.
The third year would have been the Pinewood Derby but I was out of the Scouts by then.
After you finish Cub Scouts, you go to Wolf Scouts (or something) and then you graduate to Webelos. Theoretically, it's based on earning merit badges and shit like this for doing stuff in your Scout Handbook but in practice, it's based on how old you are.
Let me check the internet. Yeah, Webelos are 10 years old.
I was a Webelo. The den mothers were out and a den...father, I guess (I don't think they were called that) was in. It was the actual father of one of the kids.
We wore a different uniform and this was the big leagues. There was a guy leading the pack (actually, I don't think we were called "packs" any more). Finally, we can go hiking and shit.
But these Webelo meetings were on the same day as my tae kwon do classes. So I had to make a choice: Webelos or tae kwon do. I chose the latter, which was the right move.
I wonder when people stopped going to Scout meetings. When I quit, that was the last I heard about Scouting.
According to Wikipedia, Boy Scouts are for boys 11 to 17. Did anybody make it that far? Who was the last one in Scouts? By the end, do you have to combine Scouts from different schools because there aren't enough to make up a pack?
It seems that Boy Scouts is when the camping and whatnot starts. I've not heard of anyone doing that but they may have been. People stopped wearing the uniforms to school at around Webelos.
So I guess that I did it for about two years. Was it worthwhile? Well, I guess it's better than sitting at home watching television. I didn't make any friends but I talked to other kids while I was there and had some fun. So whatever.
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