Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Scouting: a verb or a noun?

I am a girl. My husband is a convert to the church. How does this cripple us as we try to raise sons? Combined we do not posses a testimony of the Boy Scouts of America which means we cannot muster the effort it takes to even complete the application process let alone get our kid to a meeting every Tuesday. Even though we both know that Jack is totally going to love every minute of it as he has a genetic predisposition for anything that involves a uniform or a chain of command. How in the world did my husband grow up and somehow dodge this bullet? Perhaps he was too busy shining the brass on his marching band outfit. Or joining the army. Or plotting his law enforcement career. Are you seeing a trend here? The man loves uniforms. Saluting makes him happy. He is clearly the parent that should have been in charge of the Boy Scout application because I don't posses that gene.

Before I begin my tirade about how little I care if my kid can start a fire without a match or properly accessorize an outfit with an ascot (Now that I think about it, I specifically prefer that my boy not know how to do either of these things) Let me say that I am well aware of how karma works and I know that even the act of writing this exponentially increases the odds that I will be asked to accept a calling in scouting at some point in the near future. I am willing to take that risk.

My experience with Scouts consists of  badmouthing uptight parents who wouldn't let their teenaged boys get a drivers license until they had gotten their Eagle Scout. To those people I would like to say that your effort was totally misplaced and therefore counterproductive. Also, you are total cock blocks. Yeah, I said it. We were all thinking it.

I knew the day was coming when I would have to come to grips with this totally odd quasi religious/political organization and that when the time came I would need to prayerfully commit to drop my kid off at a weekly meeting and learn how to sew patches on to a sash. Easy enough. Holy crap, I just remembered the sash. An ascot and a sash? Its like they are asking to be ridiculed.

At this point we are a few months overdue to start this whole adventure and I would like to report that we are well on our way to Arrow of Light glory but instead I must report that I couldn't get through even the application without taking a break to complain let alone pay money for a uniform that I can only describe as "unfortunate". Did anyone catch the way I inserted the term "Arrow of Light" into the paragraph as if we all know what that is? Other people think you are schizophrenic if you ask another person if they are an Eagle. No. I am a human. Thats why we are not communicating in screeches and I am not feeding you to my hatchlings. Scouting is so much like the church in that there is a whole language and culture associated with it and the people who are accustomed to it throw it around like it is normal while everyone else is thinking "What the hell is Webelo?" They act like its normal to have your kid make an oath to an organization.

The application is pretty basic. Name, mailing address, email. But then you have to check a box agreeing to be "an active ScoutParent" Its a simple yes/no question but with the ominous use of capital letters and lack of space between the main words. Actually it is not a yes/no question. There is only one option. I assume that not checking the box is the equivalent of no. I checked the box purely out of peer pressure. These Boy Scout application creators managed to apply peer pressure without the involvement of any of my peers. Someone somewhere has a "subliminal manipulation" badge on their sash. This might even have been some guy's Eagle project.The word ScoutParent is obviously a legally trademarked term and less obviously a commitment to be something I can't even define. I immediately picture myself turning down an invitation to attend a jamboree (!?) and then I picture myself being grilled on a witness stand. "Is this your signature on this document dated May 7 2012  agreeing to be an active ScoutParent?" This fantasy sequence always ends with me receiving the maximum sentence allowed by law which is time in prison and/or camping. There is one other question: Are you a Tiger Cub Partner? I left that one blank because I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the way they filter homosexuals. I can't even make an educated guess of what a Tiger Cub Partner is but identifying myself as a "partner" might be the equivalent to coming out of the closet and I assure you if I ever decide that I am a lesbian I'm keeping the Boy Scouts out of it entirely. I will also leave all tiger cubs out of it.

I am well aware of the BSA's controversial history with gay rights and the huge legal battle the church had to wage. We all know that the church is totally capable of rolling out it's own program for boys and I'm willing to bet that that program is waiting in the wings. The day that happens the Boy Scouts is officially dead.                                                                                                    

When is comes to gay rights I support the Scouts wholeheartedly on this issue, I would like to point out that the millions of dollars spent in that legal battle is the price tag of outsourcing your young men's program. We saw this one coming with the Girl Scouts and avoided that headache in time to prevent our young women from becoming exploited unpaid cookie salesmen, but somehow stayed tied up with the Boy Scouts. The gay lobby could never resist a target with such deep pockets and did I mention the ascots and the sashes? Of course gay men were going to want to be pack leaders. Didn't Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have an entire episode devoted to those pansy looking hats?

And don't get me started on the fundraising. Once a year the church devotes a session of combined Relief Society and Priesthood just to tout the virtues of Scouting and to remind everyone what a worthy cause it is for their charitable dollars. They stretch two minutes of actual information into a very long hour. By the end of the class even the homosexuals are pulling their wallets out just to make it stop. But anyone who has actually sat through this meeting knows that even a huge cash donation will not make it stop. Because there is some fine print ACLU bull crap somewhere that prohibits the church from actually accepting donations on behalf of the Boy Scouts during a church meeting so instead they pass out these forms that request your consent to discuss Boy Scouts on a different occasion at a different place. They go on and on about how there is no pressure to check the yes box and it will all be kept confidential. At this point I am usually trying to push a blank check onto any adult male that will make eye contact with me. This is when everyone acts like my check is hot lava and if they touch it the church will lose its tax exempt status. Then I find myself apologizing for offering money which strikes me as odd every single time. Then just in case there are hidden cameras with direct feeds into the offices of the American Civil Liberties Union, I loudly announce that no financial transaction has occurred here and thank everyone who may or may not have placed an American flag on my lawn for holidays which I am aware is a free service offered to all citizens and will be performed for anyone submitting a written request regardless of their tax deductible donation equal to the suggested $30.00 or sexual orientation. We communicate in a complicated code that involves semaphore and honeybee pheromones and eventually we all understand that if anyone happens to find a blank check under my doormat I will not alert the ACLU. The memo on the check will however include a snarky comment about ascots. I hope there is a merit badge awaiting all of these brave men.

Which brings me to my next point. Why is this organization for boys run almost exclusively by women? Who's idea was it to seek out the only demographic in the church that is very unlikely to have no scouting experience and tap them run things? Probably the same person who first attended an Enrichment meeting and realized that Mormon women have a penchant for getting crap done even if it is completely pointless. I swear that floral centerpieces and den mothers originated in the same meeting and that meeting probably involved handicrafts. My guess is toll painting. Okay, maybe blogging falls into the pointless category. Guilty.

And what is with camping? I have another term I like to use to describe a situation where my family must sleep on the ground in the wilderness: Failure. Have we become so spoiled rotten that we consider it recreation to crap in the woods? Its almost offensive. I like to think my ancestors were fighting wars and crossing plains specifically so that I could sleep on a sweet memory foam mattress with high thread count sheets. They were probably hoping that the day would come when we didn't have to even think about the possibility of wild animals eating our babies. And what did those guys do for fun? Pretend to have typhoid fever and force themselves to use only animal skins for a weekend? The cotton gin? Thats for wimps that can't handle roughing it.

Around here we consider it a hardship when we discover that our Internet purchased plush Angry Birds are counterfeit. Where is the merit badge for putting up with spotty WiFi or waiting longer than thirty minutes for a pizza to be delivered? I like to think of my great grand children not even knowing what an open flame is. I want them to be be capable of calculating the cost of gas and camping gear versus two nights at the Ritz Carlton and I hope they end up at the Ritz every time. I hope someone gives them a merit badge with a little abacus on it for that. I hope they don't know what an abacus is. I could go on forever

So basically I am hoping that when the folks at the BSA see that I have contractually agreed to be an active ScoutParent that they don't google it. The signature line of the application includes the fine print that by signing you are affirming that you have read or promise to read in the future a document about how it is everyone's responsibility to prevent Child Abuse. (I wish I were making this up) Sign here to confirm that the above stated address is correct and that you have no immediate plans to molest boys. If your address is incorrect or if you are concealing an impulse to fondle youngsters under the guise of placing flags in yards for free, please inform your attorney that we strongly advised you against both of these behaviors. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law the penalty of which is a maximum sentence of 50 years to life camping in the wilderness.


The Lamb's said...

Oh Staci, you always make me laugh! You think cub scouts is crazy, wait until your boys are 12!! I must say it has been quite an adventure for us. I had to learn it all as I went. I was a cub scout leader for 2 years, so that helped get me into the swing of things :) Scouts is exhausting! But I must say, my boys love it and it is a great program. Getting used to it is the tough part. No worries you won't need a sash until boys scouts :) If you ever have any questions, just holler. I have learned a ton in the past 4 years!

kristencgartner said...

Brilliant! Rob, who is also a convert to the church, got put in as scoutmaster in our ward when Emma was little. I informed him that he will not be going on any campouts, as my religion believes that we should try to spend time together as a family. Boo-yah! Also, he went to one of those regional meetings(I can't remember what they're called)and was very disturbed by "Those...freaks." Just sayin. Im sure I will change my tune when the boys get old enough for it... as long as they don't call me to be a den leader.

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