My Son the Boy Scout

Does he belong to a bigoted organization?

I had a brief but calamitous career as a Boy Scout. When I was in eighth grade my family moved from Connecticut to Ohio. In an effort to integrate us into our new community, my brother and I were enrolled in the Scouts. We had never been Cub Scouts; Little League baseball and other organized sports filled most of our spare time. I don’t remember much about my initiation into scouting, but I do remember one soggy weekend wandering around smoky campfires among hordes of other scouts, all of whom seemed to have mastered the arcane knowledge needed for survival far from the baseball field and the television set. During my brief scouting career, knot tying proved utterly baffling, building fires was something I associated with delinquents, and the idea of spending the night in a leaky tent rather than in my comfy bed seemed like a step backward in evolutionary development.

Happily, we moved again within the year, and I resumed my career as a ballplayer and never again had to worry about building a campfire. Besides, there are too many bugs and the sanitation facilities in the great outdoors are appalling.

However, I’ve changed my mind about scouting, if not about the great outdoors. My son, Nick, is on the verge of becoming an Eagle Scout, scouting’s highest rank. Nick likes nothing better than cooking over an open fire, forging up the side of a mountain, or paddling a canoe hour after hour. He found the...

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About the Author

Paul Baumann is the editor of Commonweal.