Friday, February 25, 2005

Is something rotten in the state of 'Scout-Land?'

Who'd have thought some scout troop leaders would abandon their oaths and principles and massage their membership numbers in order to receive a bigger slice of the 'hand-out' pie. Surely this scandal can't be true...and in a red state, too. Though, by all accounts according to one high-ranking official I saw interviewed, it's been an open secret, a problem, for quite some time.

Of course, we've got scouts in Ireland and Britain too, but I must admit when I first arrived in the United States, I found it most peculiar to see so many grown, mostly middle-aged men traipsing about in scout uniforms, their khaki sheathed chests adorned with rows of pins and medals. Some of these sights, I must add, were sore on the eyes. I spied these people in supermarkets, in hardware stores, in all sorts of places--and I'd never seen such a thing in Britain or Ireland. It was just plain bizarre.

As I observed them, I'd ponder what it is about these men that compels them to cling to the vestiges of their boyhood, that makes them want to proudly strut about in a uniform the vast majority of boys demote to closets in parental homes once adolescence kicks in. What do their spouses really think about them strutting about regularly in these uniforms? I wondered. I have no doubt these men desire to train young male minds, but surely there's only so many years of teaching about lighting fires with flint, tying assorted rope knots and surviving in the wild before burn-out sets in and it's time to think about contributing to society in another way. I'd put that age at about thirty, tops.

In any event, by all accounts, rot appears to have invaded the monolith. What I'll be most interested to see when these uniforms are washed and hung out to dry is how many of their owners are Eagle Scouts and/or corporate leaders. Equally important, I'll be anxious to see what the monolith does about these people. Will they receive the same treatment as, say, the young Eagle Scout from a few years back who just also happened to be gay? Stay tuned.

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Debra Hamel said...

At least the Boy Scouts learn to start fires. The Brownies are completely lame. My daughter's in her second year, alas. She's really only in it for the snacks, and she'll not be doing it after this year, happily. While in practice it hasn't been extremely objectionable, I really dislike the organization in theory--the implicit regimentation, the uniforms, the really very stupid initiation ceremony (involving as it does the girl whirling around a few times and looking in a mirror to see herself), the cookie sales that make it all possible (I refuse to sell cookies), and the fact that their pledge involves vowing to serve God.

There is a mother who helps out the troop leader who, we were told, has in some way or another been involved in the Girl Scouts for more than 20 years. My reaction to this was something like hearing that a person had spent twenty years of his life building a replica of the Statue of Liberty out of toothpicks. Why? Actually, no, the Girl Scout thing is far worse.

When I've had to sit in on events a couple times I've probably managed to keep from shaking my head in disgust at the proceedings, but I can't swear to it.

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