The original Boy Scout Manual was published in 1911 and can be found on Project Gutenberg (a great resource for free e-books). Therefore, this year, 2011, is the 100th anniversary of this useful tome for boys. While Kristen and I were never permitted to join the Boy Scouts (wrong anatomy), and having realized that the Girl Scouts were a poor substitute, we now have prepared our lists of Boy Scout skills and merit badges we hope to obtain in our 30s.
Five Boy Scout Merit Badges that Kristen would like to earn:
Requirements for this badge include using an x-ray (sounds safe for kids!) and showing on a drawing where bacterial plaque can be found (sounds glamorous!). Plus then I can skip medical school to say, “You can trust me, I’m a doctor. Well, dentist. Well, actually I have a merit badge. Please trust me.”
2. Environmental Science
I have worked in this field for 10 years and I find the requirements for this badge insulting. One of the options for an outdoor study is literally an experiment I ran last summer. I think they should give these kids an Bachelor’s of Science because they’ll be just as qualified as I am to join the workforce. Or they should give me a merit badge. I’ll settle for either of those options.
3. Home Repairs
Not only do I believe we should be putting the children to work, I would like to learn and successfully badge in waterproofing a basement. There are numerous times in my life that I wish I had the home repair skills this program teaches. Also, if I can’t learn how to install insulation in a crawl space, I will have access to a team of sashed kids who can do the manual labor for me. They are our future, after all.
Having had a distinguished career playing a recorder in second grade, I think this is a logical next step for me. Plus, I would learn the bugle calls for “Call to Quarters,” “Fatigue” and “Retreat.” I would like to add music to those parts of my life. Sweet, jarring, bugle music.
I would have skipped getting my Captain’s license had I known about this program. Seriously, you learn all the same stuff in weeks of Sea School. Also, in fitting with my tough girl image, I’d like to tell people in a bar, “I have a merit badge in motorboating.” The look on people’s faces is going to be priceless.
Boy Scout Skills and Merit Badges Kristy wishes to acquire in her 30s:
1. From the Original 1911 text: “To be a good scout one should know something about the woods and the animals that inhabit them, and how to care for one’s self when camping.” I’m not sure if this counts, but while camping in Maine last fall, I dutifully recreated an animal call I had heard the night before, for someone at the Wildlife tent at the Blue Hill Country Fair. He helped me identify what was likely a fox or a raccoon, but had a difficult time translating my call-mimic (I never was good with accents, even animal ones). As a follow-up, I left the wildlife tent with resources to identify animal footprints in the woods. I have not yet identified a footprint, but it is on my To-Do list for next camping season.
2. “To be able to tell the difference between the trees by their bark and leaves is a source of pleasure; to be able to make a bed out of rough timber, or weave a mattress or mat out of grass to sleep on is a joy. And all of these things a good scout should know.” I can already predict the pleasure I’d derive from identifying trees by their bark – what glorious pleasure! And to sleep on an uncomfortable combination of rough timber and grass does sound like a real joy. A joy and a pleasure, to use the woods. What romantics, those Boy Scouts of 1911.
3. The 12 points of Scout Law (a 1911 list!):
(Let’s see…I’ll need to work on 7, 8, 10 and 12. Not even sure what 12 is referring to.)
|1.||A scout is trustworthy.|
|2.||A scout is loyal.|
|3.||A scout is helpful.|
|4.||A scout is friendly.|
|5.||A scout is courteous.|
|6.||A scout is kind.|
|7.||A scout is obedient.|
|8.||A scout is cheerful.|
|9.||A scout is thrifty.|
|10.||A scout is brave.|
|11.||A scout is clean.|
|12.||A scout is reverent.|
4. Now moving to the updated list of Merit Badges from 2011, I see that these old virtues of cleanliness, using trees to build beds, and identifying animal tracks are surely antiquated skills. Today, Merit Badges cover topics such as American Business, Nuclear Science, Composite materials, Cinematography, and Salesmanship. I feel like a failure already, a failure who is out of touch with the natural world. Therefore, to keep my Boy Scout Cheerfulness, I will choose the merit badge: Stamp Collecting. Few are aware that my childhood was full of philately. My long-term pen pal (since age eight) was a fellow stamp-collector from California. And in middle school, I was a writer and editor for the newsletter of the Junior Philatelists of America. To gain this merit badge today, I’ll need to demonstrate my watermark-identification skills and show an example of a First Day Cover. This badge is in the bag!
5. For my next badge, I’ll choose Crime Prevention. As stated above, I need to work on my Boy Scout Bravery, so this sounds like a great (if not dangerous) place to start. To get this badge, you must experience the excitement of discussing gangs, visiting a jail, and collecting crime-related newspaper clippings. I feel braver already!