Apr 05

You know how you think that Boy Scouts would be just a slight cut above their peers?  Maybe a little more respectful, a little more clean?  I mean, c’mon, the Scout Law is as follows:

A Scout is:

  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.

Did you see “Clean” on there?  Of course you did, ’cause it’s right there between “Brave” and “Reverent”… in the LAW.  Yeah, you would think that Scouts would be just a small cut above their peers.  You would think that… until you go on a camp-out with them.

I have been on many camp-outs with many different Scouts, and I can say without a doubt that they are filthy little creatures.  Oh sure, not all of them.  Some of them actually follow the Scout Law… even the “Clean” part.  But a large percentage of them are dirty little grime-covered insects.  They remind me of cockroaches.  Don’t believe me?  Go on a Scout camp-out where there is a latrine or port-a-potties and call me a liar.

I went on a Scout camp-out this past weekend.  It was the annual tree plant at Fort Robinson.  This is a great service project that Long’s Peak Council has been committed to for many years.   There was a massive forest fire in this area in 1989.  It’s Nebraska, so there wasn’t much forest to begin with.  Scouting has tried to help ensure that Nebraska doesn’t turn into a desert.  Funny how the “Arbor Day State” has so few trees, isn’t it?  Well, that’s a subject for another post.

Now, this was a two-night camp.  We arrived Friday evening, set up camp, and went to bed.  The next morning, we got up at the butt-crack of dawn (which is the norm on a Scout camp-out).  I guess we get up so early to try to teach the boys something.  I have no idea what it is we are trying to teach them, but my best guess would be it has something to do with some kind of mental torture.  We are trying to break their will and make them pathetic, crabby, miserable little boys before we start building them back up to help them with their self-confidence, turning them into men… or something.  It’s kind of like basic training in the military, except for they’re just kids and not really men yet… and we can’t make them drop and give us twenty when they get all kinds of mouthy because they are in a bad mood because we made them get up so early.  I know that the early mornings are about the only part of Scout activities that I detest.  Well, the early mornings… and the inability to take a healthy poop.

After watching the stupid sunrise while trying to get Scouts out of their tents and making breakfast, we all stumble groggily over to a flag ceremony.  We watch a demonstration on how to plant trees.  We drive out over a bunch of rutted, washboardie roads to the middle of nowhere, park the cars, and then hike for like a half -mile to get some small trees to plant.  With bags of trees and these spades that weigh like 200 pounds, we start hiking and planting trees.  Several hours and a moderately severe case of spring sunburn later, we head back to camp for lunch.  We mess around most of the afternoon, and then head over to a building for a group supper.  By this time, I start to realize that I haven’t pooped since back in Terrytown the previous day.  I’ve got yesterday’s supper in me, along with breakfast, lunch and diner from today.  I’m starting to feel “the urge”.

Now, Long’s Peak Council has thought of everything.  We have port-a-potty galore.  There are a ton of those things scattered throughout the designated camping area.  Well, maybe Long’s Peak Council hasn’t thought of quite everything.  They apparently haven’t thought of the fact that a bunch of mostly 11 to 14-year-old boys are going to make a pretty big mess of every single stinking port-a-potty within hours of setting up camp.  Even though port-a-potties have little plastic urinals mounted on the inside, many of the boys are going to pee directly into the pooper; and a large portion of these boys are going to pee all over the seat.  These boys should be punished.  I want to go to each and every one of these boys’ houses and pee all over their toilet seats.  And then I want to make them sit in it… many times… over and over again.  I think this is going to be about the only way to break them out of the habit of peeing all over toilet seats.  If they are learning it from their fathers, those fathers need to be punished as well.  This goes for any boy or man who has ever peed in a public restroom without lifting the seat.  Each and every one of you should be forced to clean public restrooms.  For every peeing offense, that is one entire restroom you must clean… with a toothbrush… your toothbrush… and then you should be forced to brush your teeth with your toothbrush.  Seriously.

I know that you may be thinking to yourself, “I’m never going to poop on this toilet, so who cares if I pee on it?”  Well, every person who may be in need of pooping on that toilet cares.  Think of someone other than yourself, you smug jerkwad.

Or maybe you’re thinking, “I’m a really good aimer.  I can get it all in the toilet bowl without touching the seat!”  You are insane.  When dealing with something that may touch another man’s (or woman’s) butt, now is not the time for delusions of grandeur.  Lift the stinking seat.

Okay, so I have checked out almost every porta-a-potty at the camp.  Those without poop or pee all over the seat that are actually clean enough to use are out of toilet paper.  Wow, there is still all of tonight and tomorrow morning to go, and they are out of toilet paper.  Then I remember that there is actually a heated restroom up by the building where we ate supper.  So, I take the hike to the heated restroom and go inside.  There is mud and water and (I’m almost positive) pee all over the floor.  I immediately want to wash my hands just from touching the door… but both sinks are occupied by young Scouts feverishly washing their hands (a couple of those who obey the Scout Law, I presume) and there are no paper towels in sight.  There are two toilets in the restroom, and one has a line going almost out the door.  The second is empty with no line.  Now, I know that there is something about that second toilet that is keeping everyone else away from it.  There is no way all of these Scouts and Scout leaders are standing in line for one toilet if there is a second toilet that is perfectly fine.  So I get in line… and I stare at the door to that empty stall.

The person sitting in the first stall is making all kinds of strange noises.  There would be a low moan, and then a grunt, and then a little plfft noise.  Just a little tiny noise.  The younger Scouts in line would giggle.  The older Scouts would roll their eyes and elbow the younger Scouts.  I was making a mental note to make sure I didn’t moan or grunt when my time arrived.  This continued for minute after minute: moan, grunt, plfft… moan, grunt, plfft. The poor dude on the toilet was making little progress, and the audience, once amused at his efforts, was becoming annoyed.  Several of the boys were actually squeezing their butt cheeks together with their hands.  One of the boys near the front of the line got an awful look on his face.  His face got all squinchy, and I heard his stomach rumble.  He squeezed his knees together and his hands went to his belly. His whole body tensed, he let out a soft “oh no”, and then he relaxed.  His face burned bright red and he refused to meet the eyes of any of the other line-waiters.  He slowly slipped past all of us, taking small, calculated steps,  and made his way out the door.

No one said a thing.  We all just bowed our heads in a moment of silence for the soldier who fell before us.

Not able to take any of this any longer, I went to the second stall.  I didn’t care how bad that toilet was, I was bound and determined to…

FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING SACRED AND HOLY!!!

Oh dear sweet Jesus, how could You let something so hideous come into Your creation?  The toilet was plugged.  No big deal, right?  I mean, we’ve all seen plugged toilets.  Of course, this isn’t your standard “plugged toilet”.  This sucker is filled to the brim with poop and pee and toilet paper.  This sucker has been flushed so many times that part of the contents of the toilet bowl have spewed over the side and onto the floor.  I quickly realized two things: that I was right about part of the wetness on the floor being pee, and that I was wrong about the brown muck on the floor being mud. With the slight taste of vomit in my mouth, I looked closer.  There, sitting on the seat, was a lone pile of poo.  It resembled the top of an ice cream cone, perfectly twisted up to a little point on top.

“How in the hell…,” I thought to myself, and then it hit me.  Some poor soul  had been so desperate that he had tried to use that plugged toilet.  In an effort to avoid getting the mess from within the bowl on his hiney, he tried using the “hover method”.  The “hover method” is… well, I think you can figure that out on your own.  Apparently, he “hovered” just fine, but his aim was a little off.  Instead of plopping his goods down into the filthy murk of the bowl, he laid it neatly on the toilet seat, ice-cream-cone-style, for all to see.

I turned from the horror in front of me and walked directly out of the restroom.  I went back to camp, crawled in my tent, crawled in my sleeping bag and went to sleep.  I dreamed of being chased across inescapably wet floors by monstrous brown ice cream cones.  The next morning, we packed up camp and headed home.

Well, here we are now, several days after the camp out.  I still haven’t pooped.  Apparently, holding that stuff in makes it kind of… I don’t know… compress and back-up or something.  It’s kind of neat, ’cause I have hardly any appetite.  If I could poop, I’d almost bet that I’ve lost weight!  But I haven’t pooped, so I have actually gained weight.

Anyway, back to my original point.   Cockroaches are filthy creatures.  They eat almost anything, they hide in dark, damp places, and they leave their feces all over the place in disgusting manners.  Scouts truly are like cockroaches.

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Jul 16

I recently spent a week with my 12-year-old son at Camp Laramie Peak Boy Scout Camp in Wyoming.

Laramie Peak, WY

This is the second summer that my son and I have attended a scout camp.  Last summer, we enjoyed a week in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota at Medicine Mountain (I say “enjoyed” only because it didn’t suck as much as Camp Laramie Peak).

Dead Dudes

(at Medicine Mountain, we actually set our tents right inside Washington’s nostril… who knew there was an entire scout camp inside the heads of the dead presidents?!?)

Ahh… sleeping on the ground in a tent as the rain pounds down and the winds gust up to 90 MPH, what could be more fun?

I am an Assistant Scoutmaster.  This means that I don’t want (and am far from qualified for) the position of Scoutmaster, but I like helping the kids reach their goals.  I am not an utterly complete pessimist (although I am within spitting distance), and I really do believe in trying to help young people find a measure of success.  I have been a leader in scouts since my son was a tiger cub and he is now a Second Class Boy Scout.  This means I have been involved in scouting for around six years.  Six years is far longer than I have held any single job with any single employer.  Let’s face it… I’m a quiter.  When life throws an obstacle or stress my way, I quit.  Quitting is easy, and starting something new is exciting, so there you have it.  When something starts sucking, I quit; but I have never quit scouting (although, trust me, I have been very tempted).

Camp overall was pretty good (the food kind of sucked and there wasn’t enough of it, the weather was horrible,  getting up early bites, etc.etc.etc. and all the other stuff I could go on and on bitching about) considering these camps are meant to build character in boys.  I’m old and my crappy character is beyond help, so I tend to look at these camps as a chore and not a vacation (even though I have to use up precious vacation to attend).

Something that really struck me with camp this year was the way the counselors were “looking out” for the scouts.  If you’ve ever been to a scout camp, you know that the majority of the counselors are not that much older than the scouts.  Many of the counselors are high school and college kids just pulling a summer gig.  It was easy to tell these counselors had been trained on how to make sure a kid isn’t being abused.

During this camp, many of us adult leaders went through “safety training”, which is little more than “how to cover your ass as an adult male when working with young boys”.  I’d like to throw a big thanks out to all of the stupid pedophiles and the Catholic Church for making this stinking training necessary.  Never be alone with a scout; never touch a scout; if you suspect a scout is being abused in any way, shape or form inside or outside of scouting, let the district council know (not the police, not the boy’s parents, not any kind of authoritative figure in the boy’s life whatsoever… the disctrict council; all of this is to cover your and BSA’s asses).  The training really didn’t make it seem like we volunteer our time to help the boys succeed.  The training really focused on how not to get Boy Scouts of America sued.  Ah… what a wonderful world we live in.

Anyway, back to the counselors.  Anyone who has spent a week with boys ranging in age from 17-years-old all the way down to 11-years-old knows that an 11 and 12-year-olds who are away from their mothers can have, well, to put it politely, mild emotional breakdowns.  These vary from slight bouts of teary-eyed whininess to full-blown tantrums.  On this trip, I got to deal with a couple of full blown tantrums, and during each tantrum, a counselor happened to walk by right smack in the middle of each.

When a young boy throws a tantrum, one of the first things he tends to do is try to stomp off on his own to show how mad he is.  Of course, at scout camp, the boys are required to use the buddy system.  There is to be no stomping off.  A boy eaten by a mountain lion wouldn’t be good for BSA’s image.  So when the boy with the attitude starts stomping off, you must stop him.  Of course, you can’t touch the boy, so, at times, you have to raise your voice to get the boy to understand that he seriously can’t stomp off by himself.  This is exactly what was happening with the first instance.  A group of scouts was heading to a merit badge class for the afternoon and I was escorting them.  One of the boys started getting, well, kind of tantrumy, because he wanted to hang around camp instead of going to the merit badge counseling.  The more I told him he needed to go to his counseling, the less he wanted to go… until he got pissed-off and started stomping off.  Of course, I couldn’t let him stomp off by himself, so I told him to get back with the group.  He kept walking and the further he got away, the more I had to raise my voice.  Finally, I ran to the boy and stood in front of him.  “C’mon, man, get back with the group,” I told him.  At this point is when the teen-aged counselor was walking by.  The counselor stopped right beside us and looked straight at the scout.

“Are you okay?” the counselor asked.

“He’s fine,” I responded.  “He’s just doesn’t want to go to his counseling and he thinks he needs to stomp off by himself.”

The counselor completely ignored me.  He continued to look at the scout, “Are you okay?”

The scout finally responded, “Yeah, I’m fine,” to which the counselor simply turned and continued on his way.

As I watched the teen get farther and farther away, it popped into my head to yell, “Thanks for the help; couldn’t have done it without you,” but I thought better of it.  It still took some time and effort to get the upset scout to rejoin our group, with no help from the interfering counselor.   I figured that the counselors were trained to do exactly what this one had just done, which made me feel a little like a turd clinging to the side of the toilet bowl of scouting… but that’s why I volunteer my time, right?

Second instance was similar.  One of the scouts wanted to borrow some money from me to buy some crap at the trading post.  I have made it an official rule of mine that I do not lend money to scouts for unnecessary items.  I have seen other leaders get burned in the past by lending scouts money and never receiving that money back.  I volunteer my time… because time is more precious than money (and I have more time than I do money).  Well, the fact that I wouldn’t lend the scout cash so he could buy an energy drink (yeah, just what I needed was a hopped-up 11-year-old to watch after for the afternoon), apparently was enough to send him into a stomping-away tantrum.

Right, crap, here we go again.  I start hollering for the boy to rejoin the group right as a counselor is walking by.  The scout is crying and whatnot because that stupid energy drink is so flipping important to him at that moment in time.  I jog up to the scout right as the counselor is asking “Are you okay?”

For crying-out-flipping loud!  These guys probably report all of this crap back to the “district council” and I’m gonna look like a child beater or something.  “He’s just mad because I wouldn’t lend him money to buy a stupid energy drink,:” I explain, feeling a little stupid for having to explain the situation to an acne-faced teenager.

The counselor doesn’t acknowledge me at all, never taking his eyes of the boy.  “Is there anything I can do?” the counselor asks the scout.

By this time, I’m getting to the verge of throwing a tantrum.  I feel like I’m very discreetly being accused of doing something wrong.  I spent my own money to “volunteer” my time to go to camp and help BSA accomplish it’s mission.  I was not spending my time and money to be ignored and accused.  I’m getting pissed.

I sooo wanted to say, “I’m glad your offering assistance, ’cause it’s so much easier to smack them silly if someone holds them… can you grab his arms?” just to see what kind of response I could get out of the counselor, but I didn’t.  The scout finally shaped up and we all went our separate ways.

So, I guess the moral of the story is counselors at scout camps are trained to cover the ass of the camp, adult leaders are trained to cover not only their own asses but the ass of BSA, and the whole stupid thing makes me wonder if it’s really worth having to cover my ass to volunteer my time and money to an organization that apparently a lot of people want to sue.

You know, maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong angle.  Maybe I should be looking for a reason to sue.  You know, all of the stupid bagels they served at the mess hall did tend to go straight to my ass… making it that much harder to cover.

barf
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.FatAss

I could sue for that, couldn’t I?

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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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