Jul 08

Okay, so the boy and I signed up for summer camp again this summer.  We missed last year due to our whole family going on a cruise and me not being a doctor or a lawyer or some other rich dude who can afford all kinds of frivolous vacation expenses.   In the past, the boy and I have attended Medicine Mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Camp Laramie Peak in Wyoming.  This summer, the troop had decided to go back to Camp Laramie Peak (CLP).  At first, I was a little hesitant, because last time we went wasn’t exactly a stellar, a-plus experience.  In fact, I blogged about it.

Now, I have written a couple of lengthy posts about scouting.  They are some of my most-“Googled” posts.   I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I love scouting.  I love the leaders, I love the kids, I love what we are trying to instill in the young men.  Between cub scouts and boy scouts, I have been an adult volunteer for around 8 years (and the last two years, I have been involved in both cubs and boy scouts).  Let’s remember that I am a cynical smart-ass and I make fun of stuff (myself included) whenever I write.  Every time I poke fun at BSA, I get some militant buttmunch who comments about what a horrible example I am, how I should quit scouting and pull my kids out, and how I’m just an all-around jerk with no business posting anything negative about scouting online.  To those with no sense of humor about scouting, please leave now.  I think you may have a more pleasant experience here.

So, I somewhat reluctantly agree to follow the troop to CLP to help with the scouts.  A short time before we’re ready to embark on this journey, the Scout Master approaches me.  He tells me that he has some work obligations, and because I have been with the troop for awhile, he wants me to serve as acting Scout Master while we are at CLP.

Crap.

Responsibility, paperwork, having to be the adult that wakes up early enough to get the boys up…

sigh

“I’d be honored,” I told him, and I actually think I felt my nose grow slightly longer.

I am not the kind of person who handles stress very well.  I don’t have a high-paying job with with a large amount of advancement opportunity because those kinds of jobs usually involve a large amount of stress.  If I deal with an upset customer on the phone, I usually handle it pretty well on the surface.  I can usually make the customer happy.  However, I have the knowledge that I will ultimately die of a massive heart attack while on the phone with one of these people because I get so stressed while talking to them.  Either an upset customer — or having to deal with employees under my direct command and their issues… management material I ain’t…  So, the inherent stress involved with being directly responsible for 20 scouts is not something I am really looking forward too, but I can’t imagine another leader that I am sure all of the boys of all ages will respond well to.  Kids like me (probably because I haven’t really grown up yet myself… going to have to do that one of these days).  Besides, there are a lot of other adults going with the troop, and I know there are a few of them who are going to be great assets with the boys.

Finally, camp time arrives and we load up the cars and take off.  CLP is about 2 1/2 hours from Scottsbluff and the drive goes by quickly.  My car consists of my boy and two other scouts that are my boys age.  I’ll just call those boys Mada and Neb to protect their identities.  I have been dealing with these scouts for years now and we all get along splendidly.  I always crank up the stereo and blast some tunes when I have a car full of scouts.  They usually enjoy it.  On this trip, I got the Mumford and Sons blaring and I hear giggles from the backseat.

“What’s so funny?” I ask.

“What’s this crap?” says Neb.

“Yeah,” says Mada.  “Is this folk country or something?”

“It’s… it’s Mumford and Sons,” I say.  “It’s good stuff.”

“It’s Garbage and Sons,” says Neb.  “It sucks.”

I turn the stereo down, blinking back tears, and proceed onwards toward CLP.  It’s going to be a long week…

Our actual Scout Master did an excellent job of preparing all of the paperwork for check-in at camp, which made checking in once we arrived a snap.  We were guided through the camp to our campsite.  Every time we approached a sight, I could hear scouts mumbling, “this must be it,” or “maybe it’s this one.”  Needless to say, the sites we passed weren’t “it” or “this one.”  Our campsite was Pawnee, and it was about as far as you can get from the main activities of camp… it was always an uphill walk to get there.  I think our Scout Master requested a site on the outskirts of camp… because I think our Scout Master may actually be satan.  Old fat guys with high blood pressure and weak wills are not meant to walk long distances uphill — several times every day — for a week.

So we get settled in and start our camp schedule.  Up at 6am, flags at 7:45am, breakfast at 8am, merit badges at 9am… etc, etc, etc. Life at camp is supposed to be pretty predictable.   And for the most part, it was.  I had a really good group of scouts and parents.  Everyone seemed to get along.  I was very proud of the boys of all ages.  The older scouts included the younger scouts in most of their activities and fun was had by all.

I was duly impressed with the staff at CLP.  The food, although pretty much like a school lunch and very high in carbs (although not a single bagel was to be found :) ), was plentiful and none of it sucked (although I did hear some of the health freaks from Colorado make complaints like “I never eat like this — so much processed food — oh my — I’ll have to eat salad for a week after I get back to straighten out my digestive system…”, thing is, there was a salad bar served with every lunch and supper, but there was no gourmet lettuce on the bar, and Coloradans like to make themselves sound healthier than they really are…).   The counselors were all relatively knowledgeable and seemed to enjoy what they were doing.  The staff was, for the most part, friendly and willing to answer questions.  In other words, CLP this time around was a complete turn-around from when we attended in 2010.

One of the things I always find amusing at every boy scout camp I’ve been to with the troop is, no matter which camp we go to, there is always at least one cute girl serving on the staff who becomes a topic of discussion amongst the scouts.  We try to get the boys away from the normal things of this world and help them get closer to nature and developing outdoor skills, and they end up infatuating over girls, which is what a lot of them do as a normal thing in regular life.  At CLP, there were “the twins”.  The twins were two attractive, outdoorsy young women who most of the boys would go out of their way to get a gander at.  Mada in particular (one of the scouts who rode to camp with me) became very fond of the twins.  I don’t think Mada actually talked to either of the twins, but I think he had visions of dating one — if not both — of them at some point in the near future.

The week progressed nicely.  All of the scouts seemed to handle being away from home just fine, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.  Some of the boys weren’t showering quite as often as my nose would have liked, but that is just part of a week-long camp with boys.  By the time Thursday rolled around, everyone was in high spirits.  Thursday was the last day for the boys to complete any merit badges they were working on.  Friday, we had planned on taking the troop on a hike up the side of Black Mountain to the fire lookout post at the top.  It’s like a 3 mile hike uphill and it tests the younger scouts endurance.  By the time the scouts hike up, check out the awesome views from the lookout post, and stumble back down, everyone gets a good night sleep before packing up camp and heading home on Saturday.
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Spending a summer living here would be pretty cool...

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Now, we had heard that there was a forest fire in the area, but it was a long way from camp and was in no way a threat to us.  We all went about our scheduled business on Thursday.  The camp director informed us that his wife had given birth to their son the previous evening and he would be going to spend time with the newest member of his family.  He turned the reins of the camp over to one of the other staffers, and no one doubted her ability to get us through the remaining two days.

A couple of older scouts had no scheduled activities, so they decided to take a hike up Black Mountain just to say they did it twice at one camp.  Upon their return, they informed us that a new fire had started from a recent lightening strike and it may pose a threat to CLP.  Throughout the day, we were given bits and pieces of information about the nearby fire, and the stream of smoke pouring over Black Mountain grew in intensity throughout the day.  By evening, there was speculation that there may be an evacuation of the camp… just as a precaution.

Beside the Pawnee campsite, there was a hill that we figured would provide us with a cool view of the smoke coming over the mounatin.  All of the scouts and leaders took a short hike up the hill and were amazed by the ominous black cloud  that rolled right over the fire lookout at the top of the mountain.
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CLP Evacuation Smoke 2012

You can see a touch of the actual blue sky in the center. All of the dark is smoke coming over the mountain.

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Although the sky was filled with smoke, no one seemed to concerned.  You really couldn’t even smell the smoke, and the fire seemed so far away… until the sun went down.  As what little light that could be seen in the sky disappeared, the entire horizon over the top of the mountain glowed orange.  I didn’t get any pictures of the orange glow because, at this point, I am starting to freak out a little.

We have the entire troop return to the camp site.  By this time, it’s almost 10:00 pm and 10:00 is supposed to be lights out — everyone in their tents and down for the night.  Well, because of the eeriness of that orange glow, one of the other adults and I decide we’re going to make the long hike downhill to the office to see what the plans are.  We get to the dining hall and one of the staffers stops us.

“Can I help you?” she asks.

“Well, it’s lights-out and we were wondering if we should have the boys go to bed or what because the orange glow on the ridge is kind of freaky and I’d hate to have them get all comfortable just to wake them up to tell them we’re evacuating and that would probably freak them out more than if they just stayed up and …” I was settling well into freak-out mode before she stopped me.

“Listen,” the staffer said, “if and when… when (she looked me straight in the eyes)… we call for an evacuation, the fire bells will sound.  Keep the boys up and listen for the bells. ”

“Okeedokee,” I said, and we started the exhausting hike back up the hill.  We made it about 50 yards before another adult leader from another troop came running by.

“Did you hear?” he shouted.  “They are going to evacuate!  Get your boys ready to meet by the dining hall!”

Then he was gone.

Crap.

The other leader and I started to run — uphill — to our site.  The other leader, being in much better shape than me (it doesn’t take much) soon had the lead.

“Screw… this…,” I barely was able to emit between grasps of breath. “I’m… calling… someone…”

The other adult kept running while I pulled out my cell phone and dialed one of the leaders back at out campsite.  The smell of smoke that had been mysteriously absent earlier in the evening started to fill my nostrils.

“Yeah?” answered the adult back at camp.

“They… are… going… to… evacuate…” I stammered.

“What?” said the adult on the other end of the call.

I took a few deep breaths to try to catch mine, and I repeated the evacuation edict.

“What do you want us to do?”

Just then, the fire bells started ringing.

“Line all… line all… of… the boys… up…,” I stuttered while still trying to catch my breath, “and… wait… for… me…”

“Will do,” and the phone went dead.

I continued my brisk jog up the hill toward our campsite at the edge of the universe thinking about how much the real scout master must hate me for having chosen a site sooo far  from everything.  As I ran, I could feel my heart trying to beat its way out of my chest as my head felt like there was a balloon being inflated inside.

“I’m going to fall over dead of a stroke right here on this stinking trail,” I thought to myself… because talking to myself would have used too much precious breath, ” while I’m supposed to be helping a bunch of scouts to safety…”

When I finally stumbled into the campsite, the smoke was hanging heavy in the air, but there was a row of scouts and adults  diligently lined up in a single file line, ready to head out for the evacuation instructions.

“Alright, guys, ” I said as calmly as I could, “they are going to have us leave camp early because of the fire.  We are in no danger, they are just being overly cautious, which is a good thing, but I don’t want anyone to worry.  We are all going to be just fine, so stay calm and let’s make sure ever one is here.”

From  a nearby campsite, I could hear another adult leader screaming at his scouts, “Would you guys hurry up… there’s a fire coming and we need to meet at the dining hall to find out what we need to do to get out of here… HURRY UP… DO YOU ALL WANT TO DIE!!!

I glanced at my scouts to see if they had overheard the other adult with the other troop — their faces all remained calm, so I couldn’t tell.

“We don’t need to overreact,” I tried to reassure them as that balloon in my head grew a couple of inches in size.   I counted the scouts… and came up with 19.

“Nineteen,” I said, calmly at first.  “There are only nineteen scouts here.  We’re supposed to have twenty.  Who are we missing?”

Everyone looked at one another and then back at me with blank faces.

“There are only nineteen scouts here… and we are supposed to have twenty.  NINETEEN IS NOT TWENTY… WHY ARE THERE ONLY NINETEEN INSTEAD OF TWENTY… WHO IS MISSING?”  The balloon in my skull felt like the Good Year blimp and my vision started to go all kinds of wacky, while I’m sure that my voice sounded like that of an 11-year-old girl.

One of the younger scouts at the front of the line looked at me and calmly stated, “Don’t you have a roster?”

Roster?  Why yes, we had a roster.  In fact, they made us have three copies of that stinking roster and I remembered thinking that was nothing more than overkill: two copies to the camp and one for the campsite.

We rounded up the roster and I performed roll call.  When we I got to the name that didn’t elicit a “here”, a tent was checked and a sleeping scout was roused.  Now we had twenty scouts and we headed to the dining hall for further instructions… all the way back down the hill.

A small group of leaders were taken inside the dining hall while the staff led the remaining adults and the scouts in some rousing campfire songs to keep their minds preoccupied.  The fill-in camp director calmly gave us our evacuation instructions, which consisted of tearing down our campsites, getting everyone to their rides, and getting everyone calmly and orderly the hell out of Dodge.  We were all to meet at Safeway in Wheatland, WY to make sure that everyone had made it out.  There would be available locations for us to safely sleep in Wheatland once we arrived.

We went back outside and calmly gathered our troops and headed all the way back uphill to our campsite, which we promptly tore down and loaded in our trailer.  Once loaded, we hiked all the way back down to the parking lot and loaded the boys in their appropriate vehicles.  As each vehicle left the parking lot, CLP staffers stopped the vehicle and took a tally of who was in the vehicle and compared it to one of the copies of the roster that we gave them.  We then started the caravan toward Wheatland.

For the journey to Wheatland, I chose Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain as our departure music.  No one seemed to mind.  As we traveled the dirt roads leading away from camp, the orange glow on the horizon gave us perspective on why we were leaving camp near midnight more than 24 hours early.  After Set Fire to the Rain, I selected Someone Like You as our evacuation music.  I noticed that Mada seemed especially upset during the Adele ballad of broken hearts and lost love.

We silently snaked along the roads all the way to the interstate and then into Wheatland.  We arrived in the Safeway parking lot only to stand in another line while our names were once again compared to yet another copy of the roster that we had turned into the camp.  We then assembled on the sidewalk next to Safeway and awaited further instructions.  Finally, one of the twins came over to us and let us know where the city park was where we could sleep for the night.  I glanced at Mada and saw the sorrow in his eyes as the twin walked away.

When we got back to the car, Neb whispered to me, “Please don’t play any more Adele.  It reminds Mada that he may never see the twins again.”

“Okay,” I smiled gently as I put the car in drive and cranked Adele on the stereo.

By the time we arrived at the park and got everyone either sleeping on tarps on the grass or in the cars, it was around 2:30am on Friday morning.  When we awoke a few hours later, we must have looked like a bunch of vagrants littering the park to all of the Wheatland residents walking around the park… and there were a lot of residents walking around the park.  Apparently, there isn’t much to do in Wheatland, WY but walk around the park on a Friday morning :)  We received some strange looks and a few questions… and a lot of “we’re glad you’re safe” and “welcome to Wheatland”.

The drive back to Scottsbluff was a cheery one.  Everyone seemed to be in a grand mood… even Mada.  I later asked him if he was still upset about his missed opportunity with the twins.

“It’s not a missed opportunity,” he explained,” just postponed.”

The whole ordeal from our adventure at CLP gave me some perspective on scouting and the important lessons scouting teaches:

  • “Be Prepared” is not only a motto, it is a way of life.
  • Rosters are good and you can never have too many.
  • Boy Scouts of America trains it’s people well.
  • Always have some Adele on hand.  You never know when it may come in useful.
  • Never — I repeat, NEVER — select a campsite as far away from everything as possible to try to teach some sort of lesson to the scouts.  You (or your designated substitute) may actually have their head explode (which I’m pretty sure mine almost did) in case of an emergency…
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May 26

I just noticed on a recent edition of the local newspaper an article.  “United Way in need of volunteers”, the headline proclaimed.  Ahh, volunteering!  What a wonderful way to give back to your community.  I’ve been volunteering for the past several years, and it is a great way to give of yourself when giving a lot of money is not an option… unless you are a volunteer for Boy Scouts of America, in which you can give your time and lots of money, ’cause, you know, there’s actually people who make money doing this scout stuff for a living, and we gotta get their salaries paid somehow.

I volunteer as an adult leader for both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.  I started with my oldest son’s cub scout den, and progressed with him to Boy Scouts.  Now, my youngest has started Cub Scouts, so I’m helping there too.  I am also a deacon at the church I attend.  I have a little under a year left on a four-year term, then I have to take a couple of years off.  I enjoy all of the positions to which I volunteer my time, but one thing I’ve learned about volunteering is that sometimes, you need a break.

I am looking forward to the completion of my term as a deacon.  I have really enjoyed serving the members of our church and getting to know them better, but it is a time commitment that will be nice to see go away for awhile.

I was really hoping that I was about done with scouts.  I always figured that if I could get my oldest son through Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts, he could take it from there.  I was wrong.  Some how I was conned into helping there too.  Come on!  Can’t I finally be one of the parents who always just drops the kids off for someone else to entertain?  And I did everything I could think of to keep the younger son from wanting to join scouts.

“They eat puppy dogs on camp outs,” I said to the little guy.

“But Brother did it, so I want to too,” he replied.

“Yep, barbecued puppy dog with fried spiders,” I said.  “It’s pretty gross, and you have to eat it really fast so the smell doesn’t attract the vampires.  You can hear the vampires searching for blood outside your tent at night.”

“But, I really want to be a scout like Brother, Dad,” he said, crying now but trying to be brave and hold back the tears.

I really think I could have talked him out of it.  I was about to go into the poisonous snakes that like to crawl into the sleeping bags with the scouts at night when the wife walked in and put a stop to it.  She then proceeded to lecture me on the fact that it is only fair that we support the younger son’s decision to participate in an activity that has been such a big part of his older brother’s life.

Crap.

So, I agreed if the wife agreed to be the den leader… at least to start.  She agreed, if I agreed to be involved and do the camping thing.  I reluctantly agreed.  I love camping… in a camper with heat and air conditioning and a refrigerator and a toilet and a BED.  Any form of camping that involves a tent and sleeping on the ground is for those fortunate enough to be under the age of 40.

The wife volunteers even more than me.  She is more active in the younger son’s Cub Scout pack, serving as den leader and holding a position or two on the board.  She is also active on our younger son’s elementary school booster club.  She has volunteered for other organizations in the past, including a local MOPS chapter, our church’s AWANA club, serving on the board of a local investment club.  She is also volunteering for stuff any time the schools ask for parents to help with this or that.

Volunteering can be very fulfilling… or so I’m told.  One thing that volunteering has taught me personally is that if you aren’t willing to donate your time to a worthwhile cause, you have no right to complain about much of ANYTHING!

“But I’m just way too busy.”

What a load of CRAP!  Every single person that I know has enough free time to volunteer for something.  If someone tells you that they are to busy to volunteer, what they are really saying is, “I am very selfish and my free time means way too much to me to give it up for something bigger than my own life.”  I really want to believe that there is some sort of cosmic feng shui crap that is going to bite these selfish bastards in the ass some day, but I don’t think there is.

What really twists my tighty whiteys all up-in-a-knot is those who don’t volunteer, but who somehow think they have some sort of right to complain about how those who do volunteer are doing things.   You know, like the parent who never comes to the planning meetings and then throws a hissy fit because we planned the scout banquet for a night her son can’t come.  Or the parent who is torked off that we aren’t having the scouts participate in some parade or another, but wasn’t willing to help as an adult leader at the parade… and the only reason we didn’t do it is because we couldn’t get enough adult volunteers.

Youth baseball is one of the areas where non-volunteering parents seem to think that because they were born with a mouth, they are entitled to open it without first engaging their brains.  At my 7-year-old’s first game, the coaches were pitching.  It is supposed to be a pitching-machine league, but somebody forgot to unlock the shed with the machines before the game.  I’m not going to bitch, however, because I’m sure the person who forgot was a volunteer.  Anyway, coaches aren’t always exactly the best pitchers.  Not a big deal.  These guys volunteer their time to teach our sons how to play a fun game.  some of them take 7 and 8-year-old baseball a little too serious, and some of them take it not serious enough.  I figure, as long as the kids learn something and have a good time, it’s all good.  One of the boy’s dad on the opposite team apparently didn’t agree with me.  His kid got up to bat and the coach started throwing balls to him.  The pitches weren’t perfect.  The coach kept trying and the kid kept swinging.  Finally, the dad started to let his frustration show.  He started hollering.

“C’mon, Timmy,” he yelled after his kid once again missed the ball.  “Don’t worry about it.”

This parent and his kid were on my son’s t-ball team last year, and I remember this particular dad being overly vocal.

“Maybe if the coach could actually get one across the plate, you could hit it,” the red-faced father yelled.  “Sooner or later he’s got to throw you one you can actually hit!”

Seriously?!?  The coach is looking embarrassed and a little upset.   Finally, little Timmy connects, and his dinkweed-of-a-father erupts into cheers and applause.  Jackwads like this dad are one of the reasons I don’t volunteer for sports.  There are too many parents who I would end up telling to “go to hell” in front of a bunch of kids, and that’s not pleasant for anyone.  Meanwhile Mr. I-like-to-degrade-the-coach-in-front-of-all-the-kids-and-their-parents: why don’t you shut your pie hole and volunteer your time?  I’m guessing because you think your “too busy” and you have too many other “very important things” to do that prevent you from putting your actions where your mouth is rampantly running.  It’s just to bad that “business” and those “important things” don’t keep you away from the games as well…

So yes, in the world of volunteering (just like in the work-a-day world), you are going to be confronted with morons.  The world is full of them.

To all of you who volunteer… thank you.  Your sacrifice is not unappreciated, although at times it feels like it is :)

To all you too indifferent or selfish (I just don’t have the time) to volunteer… grow up and grow a set.  As much as I bitch about it, volunteering is worthwhile, fulfilling, and proves to the world that you are not a vain, self-serving idiot.

To all of you who refuse to volunteer but like to complain when a volunteer organization doesn’t do exactly what you want when you want it… go suck a lemon, jerkwad!

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Sep 20

I have been my oldest son’s Scout leader since he was a Tiger Cub. He is now in his first year of Boy Scouts working on his Tenderfoot.  I have been a Scout leader for about 5 years, which is almost a year longer than I have held any single employment with any single employer in my almost 40 years of existence… how pathetic am I?  Needless to say, the time of the annual “Popcorn Sales” is upon us. Oh, and how Boy Scouts of America (BSA) wants you to sell that popcorn! My oh my, it seems that perhaps the entire reason for Scouting’s existence is to sell that stinking Trail’s End popcorn!

I don’t get it… Girl Scouts sell those delicious little cookies for less than $5.00 a box. So, even if someone has already bought from a Girl Scout, they may be willing to buy a little more from another Scout; after all, who doesn’t love Thin Mints? In the past, when we have actually tried to sell this stinking popcorn, the biggest door-in-the-face we would get was, “Oh, I already bought from so-and-so,” or “my boss’s niece’s son is in Scouts and we always buy from him.” I think BSA needs to find a fundraiser where the garbage the Scouts sell isn’t so outrageously priced. I mean seriously, $15 for a box of microwave popcorn that (the last couple of years we have purchased and it) pops up like crap… seriously, there are always dozens of unpopped kernels and old maids in each and every bag; what a selling point.

After doing a little research, I have discovered why the higher-ups in BSA push for the popcorn sales. When a Scout goes out and sells (or, in many cases, the parents go out and sell) the – seriously – ridiculously priced popcorn and related crap, 30% of those sales go to the Scout’s troop, 30% goes to the Scout’s council, and 10% go to the Scout (in the form of worthless pieces of carnival-type trinket crap) .  Seriously, the council gets 30%? For what… to maintain the summer camps that cost $200 or $300 per Scout to attend (and that doesn’t include all of the extra crap the Scouts have to buy at the camp to get their merit badges).  Scouting is run by (I am under the impression) volunteers.  I volunteer my time to Scouting… and I have never spent more of my own money “volunteering” for any other cause at any time in my life!  I have to pay to go to the summer camp… and sleep in a stinking tent… and eat crappy food… and share a disgusting shower-type complex and filthy, falling apart toilet facilities with tons of other males (and there is something about many males that prevents them from being able to lift up a toilet seat when peeing… so if you have to go “#2”, which on a week-long campout, you will have to go “#2”, you are most likely going to be sitting in someone else’s pee… and when I actually catch one of these idiots peeing on the toilet seat, I will spend an undefined amount of time in a correctional facility for assault after rubbing said moron’s face on said toilet seat)… having a curfew at night of around 10:00 pm and getting up in the stinking morning at 5:30 or 6:00 am… all to help the camp manage the kids!!!  And they have the stinking audacity to charge me!?!  I should be charging them!

At least our troop doesn’t keep the whole 30% that is designated to the troop (at least they better not, because they don’t pay for squat).  I  believe the troop gives part of the troop’s profits back to the Scouts.  The troop’s contribution, along with the 10% earned by the Scout, go into a fund that the Scout can use to pay for all of the camps and camping (our troop has come to the realization that the overpriced crappy trinkets that BSA tries to con the Scouts into redeeming their earnings for… which I’m sure is just one more way that BSA is trying to pilfer funds for unknown purposes; maybe BSA is building a secret underground facility for a refuge for all Scouts for during the 2012 phenomenon… are garbage)  which are required for advancement in Scouting.  At least, I’m assuming that our troop is giving a large percentage of their cut to the individual Scouts, because our troop seriously doesn’t pay for squat!  All expenses for any activity that we do as Scouts are split evenly and paid by the Scouts and participating volunteer leaders… well, except for gas which is apparently solely the responsibility of the volunteer leaders.  I’ve started charging every kid that needs a ride in my vehicle to any function a small fee (that never comes close to covering the cost of actual fuel used), which I feel is looked down on by the other leaders, but if they don’t like it, they can fire me.  Seriously, I have no idea what our troop pays for, except, of course, helping those “down on their luck” pay for all the Scouting crap that the rest of us can barely afford (seriously, if my wife quit her job… and she ain’t making a physician’s salary… our family would qualify for all kinds of free crap: we’d get free school lunches for our kids, we’d get food stamps, we’d get free medical care at the “community service” clinic, we’d get scholarships to the YMCA [among many other places, I’m sure], and we’d get all of our Scouting costs paid for by the troop… and we wouldn’t have to sell a single canister of $50 chocolate popcorn that offers like 5 servings).  Wow, I just really thought about what I wrote.  Maybe my wife should quit her job… we’d be money ahead.  Either my wife needs to quit her job… or she needs to leave my sorry rear-end and find a guy who makes above a free-school-lunch income :)

I am formulating a new life-philosophy.  My new philosophy is: “If you can’t afford to pay for it completely out-of-(your)pocket, you shouldn’t assume that anyone else gives enough of a crap about it to help you out through fundraisers, so you probably shouldn’t do it.”   I don’t mean to sound cynical or anything (yeah right, me not cynical :) ) , but seriously, $25 for an 18oz bag of stinking trail mix?!? How are we supposed to sell this crap? And you want me to buy what: $15 for some sub-par enchiladas and crappy, Play Doh – tasting cookie dough to help send your kid to the private school that I can’t afford?!?  Well, I guess if you buy mine, I’ll buy yours… but if you show up at my door trying to sell me some worthless crap, you had better be willing to buy some worthless crap in return!

If I could actually sell stuff that I thought was a complete screw-job without any sense of remorse, I’d probably be a successful Schwan’s Man or be selling endless amounts of Kirby vacuum cleaners.  Is this what BSA really wants us to prepare our boys for: tedious, non-gratifying jobs in door-to-door sales?  I don’t have the courage or confidence to sell crap door-to-door; how in the name of everything sacred and holy can I expect my 11-year old to do something that the thought of which makes me nauseous?  I can’t… so it falls on my and my wife’s shoulders to help our son sell this garbage to people we know.  Needless to say, a large portion of the people we know either have health conditions that prevent them from enjoying the benefits of ridiculously-overpriced popcorn products (diabetes and the like), moral stances against eating anything animal-related (and in their obscured minds, popcorn is not a vegetarian treat but an unholy monstrosity concocted of various animal fats and pelts… yes, these friends did far to much “experimenting” in their youths), have sons of their own in our troop, or know those friends of ours who have sons in our troop and have already purchased from those sons!  Once again, if stinking BSA would find a fundraiser that wasn’t outrageously priced… you know, like Girl Scout cookies, where people are willing to buy more than one… it might not be quite so difficult for an average dude with an aversion to selling door-to-door to sell the stuff and save money on all of the crap BSA charges to be in Scouting!

Wow, now that I am almost done with my rant, I would like to say that, overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with my son in the Boy Scout program.  After all, I don’t want anyone to assume that I’m not appreciative of the spot reserved for us when meteors strike the earth and Yellowstone explodes in December of 2012 :)

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