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40 T/D/Y #10: Cub Scouts

The third organized activity I joined during elementary school was Cub Scouts. Again, I think of this as something I started in third grade, but it may have actually been second grade, I don’t recall for sure. (Apparently in my mind everything started in third grade. Maybe that’s because second grade was kind of lousy and my teacher very unsympathetic, whereas third grade was great and my teacher was very cool.) Once again, my best friend Andy joined Cub Scouts too, as did several of my other friends, but in this case the packs were definitely grouped by neighborhoods and we were in different dens, though we still were in the same overall local pack, based in our elementary school.

I don’t remember a lot about Cub Scouts. I know we had regular meetings at one of the other kids’ houses, whose mom was our den mother, and I know I didn’t always get along with that kid but overall it was okay. I know we had activities as we worked our way through the Cub Scout badges, but don’t really remember much about them. I made a couple cars for the pinewood derby, with a fair amount of help from my dad. I wanted to have cool ones but never put that much thought, and didn’t really want to put a lot of work, into the design, so I was always a little disappointed in what I’d done when I saw some of the other cars. I also remember participating in a chuckwagon derby, which involved a few of us pulling a wooden wagon around some kind of park—I think it might’ve been on the high school campus, I forget—and trying to solve challenges at different stations.

One summer I also went to day camp for Cub Scouts; I believe it was a one-week program but that I went two weeks in a row, maybe it simply was a two-week program. I had to take a bus up to Manchester to Camp Carpenter, which seemed pretty far away. My impression is that I didn’t really know anyone else, although I believe in fact a few other kids from my troop also went, just none of my real close friends. The activities I most remember are shooting BB guns and participating in the “space derby”, which involved making a wooden rocket/spaceship model that flies along a wire and is powered by a twisted rubber band driving a propellor. The other thing I remember is getting caught up with a bunch of older kids, probably regular Boy Scouts, playing some kind of game of tag or football or something. There was an older girl there, who must’ve been a counselor, and a couple of the other older kids (who, again, may also have been counselors) had taken her shirt and tossed it in a barrel. Thinking this was just fun and games, I taunted her that I knew where her shirt was, and she chased me; but when she caught me, she held me down and shook me, demanding to know where it was, so I told her and she angrily stalked off to retrieve it. At the time I was hurt, I felt she was mean to me and I hadn’t done anything; now I wonder how they could’ve taken her shirt in the first place, it’s so wildly inappropriate even for ostensibly fun roughhousing.

I liked earning badges and rewards, but lost some interest as I got older. I know I earned my Bobcat and Wolf badges, but don’t remember if I earned the Bear badge; I know that I did not earn the Arrow of Light, which is the highest badge for Cub Scouts. At my final pack meeting at the end of fifth grade, as a bunch of my friends participated in the Arrow of Light ceremony and symbolically crossed over to being Boy Scouts, I could not participate in the ceremony, I just joined the group as one of the kids who would be moving on. And I did go on to join the Scout troop with my friends… but that’s another topic.


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