Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday reruns

I'm busy with all kinds of junk today, so thought I'd re-post this one. It was from the days when I was my only reader.

First, let me say that I'm an experienced hiker. When I was in residency I'd hike all over, regardless of time of year. I've hiked pretty much all terrain short of tundra. I've hiked to mountaintops in temperatures of 110 degress. I'm well aware of what precautions have to be taken, supplies carried, amount of water, and other emergency precautions.

So I recently took Craig on a Boy Scout hike. I'm not a member of the den or any of that stuff. I'm just a parent who went on the hike with my kid. They told us to bring water, so I grabbed 2 of my old hiking bottles and we each took one, and some other junk, and took off.

The hike in total was a 2 mile round trip in a well maintained, ranger-patrolled, trail area.

We got to the meeting place, and I was AMAZED at what people were carrying for this pissy little hike on a surprisingly nice day. Water by the truckload. Cases of granola. Two people had backpacks with tents in them (no, rain was NOT forecast, or even suspected). Another guy was carrying a little coleman stove with a gas container (but no food to cook on it). There was a lady dragging a cooler with wheels on it, loaded with water (even though everyone had their own water bottle). Another bozo was even packing a BB gun, assumedly in case we ran into some dangerous, aggressive fauna, like a rabbit.

The leader was a guy in his late 50's with a beer belly, wearing a boy scout uniform. I have to say that nothing could possibly look more dorky on an adult male (not to mention a paunchy one). They say women love a man in uniform, but I don't think that's the uniform they mean.

So the leader introduces himself, and says he'll take the front of the line, and his grandson, who had been an Eagle scout, will be the back of the line. At that point he gestured to his grandson, who was a sullen, glaring, teenager with multiple piercings, a few tatoos, and a pack of cigarettes in his pocket. He was mumbling into a cell phone and exuded a sense that he would rather be having his nuts chopped off than following his dorky looking grandfather around on a hike.

And off we went. 40 people and enough supplies to survive a nuclear war, for a 2 mile hike (NOT a "3 hour tour"). It was scenic and fun, and took about an hour. The only unexpected happening was when we wandered out of the grandson's cell phone range and he began screaming bloody murder. The lady with the cooler offered him a bottle of water to cheer him up.

I was walking ahead of 2 dentists, who spent the time discussing different drilling techniques, the most pus they've ever seen in a dental abscess, and other interesting topics.

And so, at the end of this, we had to fill out a form for my son to get his hiking badge. As I've learned in the last year, the Boy Scouts award badges for the most mediocre of accomplishments, such as a 2 mile hike, attending a rodeo, or breathing. I think the badges would be more meaningful if they were for more challenging things, such as swimming the Amazon, kayaking over waterfalls, and hand-to-hand grizzly combat.


Anonymous said...

Heck, *you* should get a badge for listening to the 2 dentists talk shop for an hour!

Anonymous said...

some troops are fun, and some are not. this is based on my own experience and that of my son. in general, outdoors activities=fun, scout ceremony and badges=not. tell us more about the rebel slacker cell phone eagle scout.

RehabNurse said...

But Grumpy, for those exciting badges you'd have to sign an extra liability waiver and wear a harness and/or helmet?

Do you think the guy with the 50 lbs. of granola, the Coleman stove, and the gallons of water could handle that in his paunchy uniform?

I doubt it!

What a great rerun...will have to make sure my husband, the casual scout parent, reads it.

Anonymous said...

Nobody in cammies?

cfg said...

I was the merit badge adviser for canoeing. After about one hour on the water I had to sign off on their competency, although none of the scouts were in any way able to control a canoe. It's all a sham. My son became an eagle scout so I would let him get a driver's license. He was 18.

Anonymous said...

I strongly suspect that, were the boy (or girl) scouts to offer less lame things to get badges for, most moms would probably have misgivings about hand-to-hand grizzly combat, and I'm sure you'd be told that kayaking over waterfalls is right out because little Timmy might lose his glasses. Or iPod.

-Kalieris (who for some reason can never get these comment thingys to accept her password)

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear. Maybe the point was to teach the Scouts how to handle all expeditions, not just a two hour hike? Yes, I'm grasping here.
Wasn't there a case a few years ago of a Boy Scout lost in the woods who HID from rescuers because he'd been taught to be afraid of strangers?

Kat said...

If you've hiked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you'd know that it's not hand-to-hand grizzly combat, it's how much faster you can outrun your hiking buddy! It's a sprint runner badge, not a hiking badge!

Old Rock said...

Dr. Grumpy,

Cub Scouts ( I assume, since you are using the den designation) is very much a day care of sorts.

More exciting and high adventure opportunities await in Boy Scouts. I enjoyed it and learned many invaluable skills and life lessons.

I enjoy your blog. Looking forward to more stories in the future.

Keep on, keeping on.

Dave said...

There are some (non merit badges) awards that are actually difficult. Getting your winter camping award (varies by place to place) is always "fun." The only thing I could figure with the tents is that they were prepping for a big hike? I got funny looks walking my dog around the neighborhood with my full backpack when I was preparing for philmont.

GunDiva said...

So, what you're saying is that my kids didn't miss out on much by not being in Scouts? I remember my merit badges for Girl Scouts being something of a joke, but I was a super tomboy, so I just thought the other girls were extra wimpy.

They maybe have just wussified the badges to fit a generation who thinks putting down their Wii controllers is walking on the wild side?

Anonymous said...

Here in Arizona we have the opposite problem.

You would not BELIEVE the amount of people who think that it's perfectly okay to attempt to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in flip flops and no gear or water (or maybe a single bottle). This is a hike that is difficult for experienced and well-equipped hikers.

Rescue is hopping up there every day, bailing out the truly stupid. You can buy the farm doing this, real easily.

Kristin said...

Gotta hope you're talking about Cub Scouts (guessing so based on your child's age & your description). Requirements are a tad more rigorous for the Boy Scout hiking merit badge, though plenty of parents seem happy to let their Scouts slide through w/o coming close to fulfilling requirements to the letter.

Kat's Kats said...

::snicker:: It really does depend on the troop. And that goes for Girl Scouts as well. I know this from being a Girl Scout leader for my daughter from Brownies through Juniors. She's now an Ambassador ::rolls eyes:: and would have been a Daisy if we'd been able to find a troop close enough at the time.

I was also a scout and went to Girl Scout camp for 2 weeks every summer sleeping in army tents on top of wooden platforms. We had cots and were allowed to pack trunks. There were latrines in the units & screened in areas with tables and a inside/outside fireplace to cook on (since we had to make three meals once a week while the cooks were off duty). The only flush toilets were at the shower house (by the pool), the nurse's station, and the barn (where we ate & sheltered from tornadoes). One unit was for primitive campers who built their own shelters.

My last year (my ninth) they built the Brownie bungalows (::gasp::!! Let Brownies camp!! and only a week!!). They all had nice cots and flush toilets & showers in each bungalow. Wusses. So of course my daughter started camp as a Brownie. Once she got a year past my record she quit. She wasn't impressed either. As a family we camp in a canvas tent, cooking over an open fire, etc for up to a week at a time. At least there are badges in GS which aren't gimmees... that and they specifically don't prohibit gays or pagans etc. They welcome anyone and everyone no matter what (well, so long as they can pass the same type of screen any adult working with children goes through).

J-Quell'n said...

Hahaha...I remember when you first posted this...even funnier reading it the second time around :D

pharmacy chick said...

a 2 mile hike? two MILE? good gracious...I walk a 3 mile loop in my neighborhood...What in the hell do you need a coleman stove and a cooler on wheels for?

terri c said...

Love the story! Shuddering at the image of the "man in uniform."

Wv:ablutant--a beginner in the art of bathing? Like a postulant only with soap and water??

Anonymous said...

the scouting movement was started by a man with facist sympathies and and questionable sexual orientation.
what do u expect from them all these years on?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:49, have you read Death in Grand Canyon? It's not as good as Death in Yellowstone, but still quite entertaining in a morbid way.

I was doing field work near the Grand Canyon and staying at the Lee's Ferry campground two summers ago. There was a group of boy scouts taking off on a week-long backpacking trip from the campground, and it was a terrifying experience. The leaders were all either obese or 70, and no one seemed to have enough water on them for a one day hike (it was June - I was carrying 8 liters for one day of hiking and drinking it all - they had maybe 2 each). The poor kids (most looked 14-15) were weighed down with huge antique packs, no one had the right footwear, and they had these really heavy tents strapped to their backs. It was scary. There's no way those kids did not get in trouble along the way, and while they probably suffered a lot, they most likely did not learn much about proper backpacking and basic outdoor safety.

My boyfriend is an eagle scout. He got the horsemanship badge at some point in his life, but he has been on a horse once and lasted 10 minutes before he was thrown off, at a walk. That's the extent of his experience with horses. Doesn't really know much about their care and handling either.

The Mother said...

Okay, wait a minute. Does no one in your council read the RULES?

The Hiking Badge requires 5 ten mile hikes and one 20 mile hike.

I know this because I hiked every single one of those 10 milers with my kid. Dad got to do the 20, since it was too far from a bathroom.

Damn. I'm gonna move to your council for the kid's Eagle project. Maybe we can just shovel some leaves.

Bibliotekaren said...

Too funny, or pathetic, depending on the moment.

Before my neurowonk days, I used to do a lot of hiking, off-trail exploring or climbing.

It never failed, the most pathetic groups I encountered were Boy Scouts. They were almost always led by some paunchy, clueless fellows who were getting the kids into one bad situation or another. Timeless classic.

Matt said...

Finally had to say something...

As an Eagle scout who started scouting at a young age, I can tell you that (done right) the scouting movement has A LOT to offer. My father is the scoutmaster of my old Troop, and I would bet his scouts outdoor skills against almost any adult. People like Bear Grylls excluded, but he is Britain's Chief Scout.

For those who have already guessed. Dr. Grumpy is talking about Cub Scouts, not Boy Scouts. The programs (should) are VERY different. Cub Scouts is about providing an environment for young boys to experience new things WITH their parents. Boy Scouts is about turning young boys into men without (or in spite of) their parents.

Yes, sometimes a group of cub scouts and their parents can be a little funny, but these are parents of YOUNG children. Who are often very over prepared as a group.

Sorry for the long post, but I do feel an obligation to defend the men who represent the BSA to me and helped to shape me into the man I am today.

stacey said...

2 miles in an hour? Was it uphill both ways?

Anonymous said...

This is sure funny, as well as the responses.

After a couple years in a mineral engineering college my dad joined the army and learned a few things which he took to his teacher's training (on GI Bill) and eventual teaching career, starting out in jr high science and as a PE coordinator implementing the school's skiing, basketball, etc. programs. In last years of teaching he was teaching primary grades as the school district needed more 'male role-models' in the primary grade levels. He took his PE programs with him to the younger kids, and I'm sure he had a Dr. G time with some of the transplanted families, moving to the area from the hinterlands.

Anyway, his own oodles of kids skied out the backdoor (literally we could ski off the roof) and at a young age we were all outdoors-types; some of us bushwhackers, mountain-climbers, swimmers, and shooters (for marksmanship--not game hunters), marathoners, long-distance cyclers, etc.

Some of us ended up in very sedentary health careers and have trouble crossing Wal-mart parking lot.

The main reason for difference among family members is that while we grew up in the 'wilderness', we moved away making our adult lives in urban sprawl.

If more kids lived in places like Angoon, or Chevak, Y, or even Chugiak, Alaska, this sort of tale of greenhorn experience would not be as ironically funny for the kids as well as adults involved.

My giant leap of logic? Let's get high-speed rail going in the lower '48 so we have time and places to walk about. (Instead of insatiable dependence on personal autos.)

Anonymous said...

Den/Pack=Cub Scouts, Patrol/Troop= Boy Scouts. As an Eagle Scout and someone who the aquatic director at a Boy Scout summer class, I can tell you that getting the canoeing MB takes more than an hour. However, in many cases anyone with a little bit of experience or none can become a MB counselor. Especially in Eagle factory troops.

EDNurseasauras said...

Funny, funny, funny.

Anonymous said...

My son went into Boy Scouts when I was 50. I went on a hike--where my legs cramped so bad that for months after they were still sore, I vowed never again, so I started riding a bike and got into shape, now my 60 year old body and my 60 year old friends will go and hike the hills or ride 50 miles on our bikes without too much of a second thought. I thank the Scouts for teaching me the importance of being prepared for the task ahead.

Alexicographer said...

Can't speak to the boyscout aspect, but was amused some years back when camping in Mammoth Cave Nat'l Park with family. They like to fish, I like to hike. Sounds do-able, but we found most of the places there from which you can fish without needing to walk 3+ miles are on one side of the river, the hiking trails on the other; we had one vehicle. So one day I was hiking, having swum across the river from the fishing spot du jour ... boots, socks, my swim suit, a water bottle, and a shirt. Hey, I hadn't packed a dry bag and the river has enough current it wasn't easy keep that stuff (except the suit and bottle) dry. I came across another hiker with a full, packed, daypack ... food, blankets, no tent that I was aware of, but probably a flashlight (this was the middle of the day in the peak of summer).

I think I was as amazed by him as he was by me. I hope he enjoyed his hike as much as I did mine.

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