I spent this weekend with my fiance and her family at their Michigan house.
With the weather so nice last night, the future father-in-law decided to build a fire. As he was getting the fire going, he mentioned that he had spent a few years in the Boy Scouts and asked if I had ever been one.
This allowed me to share my less than favorable memories as a Boy Scout with the family.
At that age, learning different bird species or tying knots was of no interest to me. Another series of unpleasant memories were the weekend camping trips. My spoiled self had very little tolerance for the heat, humidity, and bugs that accompanied many of those trips. Nothing beat the great indoors with a running air conditioner and television. That was then. And… well, not much has changed.
My worst Boy Scouts memory was the week-long summer camp somewhere in the middle of Kentucky. My homesickness aside, I knew it was going to be a long week when the torrential downpours forced us to spend much of the first night inside the mess hall with nothing to do while also worrying whether our tents and belongings had washed away, which had happened to a couple of guys in our troop.
Things didn’t get better the next day after immediately failing my swim test. Despite having mastered the art of swimming years earlier, the evaluator in this instance determined that my inability to adequately float on my back for three minutes made me an inadequate swimmer. With swimming being one of the merit badges I was supposed to aim for, that meant I was beginning the week already one badge in the hole.
Ultimately, I survived that week long trip and made it back home. Not only was I anxious to resume my normal summer vacation activities, I was happily relieved that there were no other scout activities for the rest of the summer.
Once fall arrived and scouting resumed, one of the new “activities” within our troop was to pass out flyers door-to-door in various neighborhoods throughout the village. It soon become a regular troop activity – sometimes after school, other times on weekends. While passing out flyers might have been marginally better than learning about birds, tying knots or camping, it still wasn’t much fun.
The culmination came later that fall leading up to a Saturday morning where we were supposed to again pass out fliers. By then, even my folks began to wonder why we were repeatedly doing this. Not wanting to go that specific day, my mother allowed me to tell the scout master that I would not be going because I had a family party that conflicted. Of course, that wasn’t true.
That morning, I was with friends at the park in my subdivision when low and behold, the scout master and his son drove by and saw me. Of all the subdivisions they could have been driving through to pass out flyers that day, they just had (!) to be in mine. After seeing me, they called me over and asked that if I wasn’t at a family party, then why was I not with them? Obviously caught off guard, I don’t remember what I mumbled, but I had been busted.
It probably is safe to assume that my parents never forced me to go back after that awkward exchange because I don’t have any scouting memories beyond that point.
As I shared this story with my fiance’s family, I had no hesitations admitting that I was a wuss back then. As we sat in front of the fire, it didn’t take long for me to get uncomfortable. The bugs were out and they were biting. I had to stay out though, since everyone else was out there. Me going in alone wouldn’t look good. Thankfully after some time, my future mother-in-law had enough of the bugs and went in. That was my cue.
I got up said “I’m also going in. I still am a wuss.”