July 10, 2011

Scouting memories, lessons flooding back

When my kids first began playing youth baseball, it struck me that virtually everything I knew as an adult could be traced back to Little League.

When my kids signed up for Cub Scouts this year, however, I realized how wrong I had been. Somehow I'd lost those scouting memories, but they've all come flooding back.

Now I realize that I learned 44 percent of everything I know in Little League, 44 percent in Cub Scouts and 12 percent in the gutter and/or from my grandpa's stash of Playboy magazines.

As for the Cub Scout portion, this is what I learned as a boy, and what my boys are hopefully learning now:

I learned that fire is what separates us from the beasts. Fire provides warmth, light and protection, and keeps us from eating squirrels raw. Fire burns things. Fire is cool. Fire is good. Burn, fire, burn.

I learned that a Swiss Army knife can cut off an insignificant tip of your finger, and shouldn't be used until you're older than 7 or have been trained in safety by a responsible adult. Also, the corkscrew is really effective at poking an eye out.

I learned that there is no problem that can't be solved by putting a roasted marshmallow and a chocolate bar between two graham crackers.

I learned that it doesn't matter what your (Pinewood Derby) car looks like. As long as it doesn't scrape the road or contain illegal lubrication, it can get the job done without earning the ire of the judges (or police). A serviceable car doesn't need fancy paint … or a suspension system, brakes, power steering, an engine ...

I learned that real men don't have to be embarrassed about wearing a neckerchief.

I finally learned what the odd word "Webelos" — the level between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts — actually means. It's short for "We Be Below" the Boy Scout level. What? No?

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