Friday, June 6, 2008
Friends of Scouting
So, let's talk about Scouts. Specifically, let's talk about Cub Scouts and their upcoming summer camp in our area.
Because I love the full disclosure bit, I should take this opportunity to remind everyone that I am Mormon, or LDS, or belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or any other respectful way you would like to refer to my religion. It comes into play here.
Next week, I have the pleasure of attending Cub Scout Day Camp for the 5th or 90th year in a row. It certainly feels like 90 years, but since we mostly wander after boys making sure they don't poke arrows into soft places or walk in front of a loaded BB gun, it's not the end of the world. Hot, tiring, a wee bit on the boring side, but hey. I can do anything once a year. Except for this particular camp, ever again. Because these guys are a little nuts.
Silly me, when a mandatory meeting for everyone attending CS camp as adult volunteers was announced, I figured I could handle it. Little did I know the other side of scouting. And for those of you who are lifelong avid scouters, congratulations. I do believe it takes a special someone to have this kind of passion. I do not posses it. And don't bother trying to talk me into it. Not gonna happen.
There were around 50 of us at the meeting, at least half of whom look like the typical soccer mom, doing her LDS duty of attending CS camp with her 2 age- appropriate sons once per year. The other half of the crowd had on uniforms. Complete with green calf socks with red bands around the tops. They mean business, dammit. And they most certainly prefer the "traditional scouters" over the "LDS scouters", as they referred to us in the packet. I call religious discrimination! But hey, I can't really blame them. By and large, the Mormons like scouting, but we just don't do so well at the rules and regulations. We don't wear the exact uniform. In fact, most of us can't find any pieces of the uniform when it comes time to deck the boys out. We just have too many kids to effectively process laundry between the monthly pack meetings, and scouts is more about the fun than it is the badges. Which is not to say we aren't avid badge grabbers. We do love the belt loops and beads and pins and plastic flappy things (I just made half the scouting population in the world cringe. The other half are Mormon and don't care what things are called if they can just freaking find them and tack them to the uniform before the kids has to be seen in public) as much as any other scout. We just don't get hung up on it, as we are also carting kids to church, piano lessons, sports, the pool, and all other childhood functions.
Well, I'm not, but I have a therapy fund. So I don't have to try and be the perfect mom.
This meeting begins, basic rules are spoken of, we are told all of the kids will be expected to wear the same thing. I knew I was in trouble when we were handed a 6 page packet and the first paragraph states that there will be around 300 boys, 150 adult volunteers, 20 staff members, and 20 boy scout helpers. In case you don't add so fast, that's 300 boys and 190 "helpers". Which seems like overkill. Even better is the paragraph regarding attire.
"In the event that a person is seen in the camp area without a camp shirt or nametag, they will be assumed to be an intruder. . .This includes anyone who is dressed in part or fully in an official BSA scout uniform. . .Contact should not be made with the person by anyone other than the Camp Security Director unless he/she becomes a clear and immediate danger to campers, staff, or guests." Listen people. Boy scouts get kidnapped and/or dismembered at cub camp ALL OF THE TIME. By perfect strangers dressed in scouting gear. But do not approach these random dangerous strangers while they are rational . By all means, wait until they open fire on the crowd, and then take one for the team. Get in there and disarm him before Cub lives are lost! We're the Navy Seals and we expect. . . wait. Sorry, a little flashback there.
Then the "Camp Security Director" stands up. And he had all of the charm of a prison guard trying to give up cigarettes.
After going on for a moment about not getting in the middle of boys fighting, because that undermines their den leader, he draws attention to the person we should go and get if a fight breaks out. Of course. We all know that 6-10 year olds are a rough crowd and must be handled professionally. Apparently by someone who was once a boy scout in a fight. A fight that wasn't broken up until a parent could haul butt across a city block, find the only person in a light blue shirt and haul butt back before death occurred. It must not have ended well for him since his front tooth or three was missing. Because if 2 boys are trying to kill each other it is always a great idea to leave them alone and wander among 490 people to find the solitary person "allowed" to break up the fight. Right. Not so much my style. Plus, I really don't need my kid to lose any permanent teeth. His baby teeth are in bad enough shape.
But, all of that said, things happen when you have 300 boys in the same place. Especially when you add another 190 adults trying to steer clear of violent strangers and dangerous cub scout fights. So it's reasonable that, "All accidents will be brought to the attention of the Health Officer on-site and the Camp Director" But, just to be sure, let it also be said that they are serious about their accident policy. Because:
"Any accident resulting in major injury or death must be reported to the Camp Director immediately."
What?!?!? No fair! I was planning on bringing my shovel so that if one of those fights ended badly, I could just bury the poor kid and continue on with my camp experience. I mean honestly, reporting a death would just be such a downer for the other scouters, why bother? But sadly, my back hoe is not allowed. I cannot say such things to my son as, "You'd better knock it off with the fighting or you're gonna regret it. I'll just bury you with the backhoe if you keep it up. . ." because that is against the rules. The packet says. (Also against the rules is "physical closeness, flirting, pinching, kissing, suggestive letters, lewd motions, obscene language, etc." Which totally sucks because I was also intent on reciting the Margaret Cho skits I have memorized, complete with hand motions and a dry-erase board. In addition, there is "no physical contact suggesting enamored feelings between staff/leaders." Which ruins my plans for hooking up with the gap-toothed wonder. It's just crap. A raw deal. Nor will they allow me to gamble, be under the influence of a controlled substance, intimidate others, fight, drive drunk, shoplift, use a weapon, or sell the kids drugs. What the hell good is Cub Scout camp?)
It is at this point, that we get the lecture on "missing persons". And here is an excerpt from the packet:
"Upon determining that a group has a lost, missing, or runaway boy, the leader shall conduct an immediate search of camp," (presumably looking for the back hoe or a freshly dug grave) And, "the leader will give a description of the boy, including what he is wearing." Umm. . . come again? Didn't you just tell us they're all going to be dressed alike? I'm pretty sure there's a flaw in that plan. Which I'm loving. I see the shovel idea right back on. When one of those crazy dangerous aggressive 6 year olds comes up missing, I just grab the nearest kid and say, "Here's one that matches the description. Same approximate age, close in height, same hat, and look. . . his t-shirt matches the description exactly! That's uncanny how well his leader remembered what he was wearing!"
It's all coming together now. Except that "in the event of a flood, leaders shall prepare the campers to evacuate immediately." They aren't going to turn a flood into a swimming lesson? What kind of crappy permanent Boy Scouts are they anyway? A stupid little flood might ruin camp entirely? Maybe I should just cancel now. Frankly, I'm a little worried about how Tyler will fair against the prison inmates he will be mingling with. Yes, those 6-10 year olds can be a rough crowd.