I am proud to say I am an Eagle Scout. I am even more proud to say I survived scouts. I learned a lot of skills being a scout and many of them were completely unrelated to merit badges. I have listed some of my unexpected lessons below.
(By the way, just in case anyone is wondering we did have leaders, and I am sure they were around somewhere. In one case I know for sure they were taking another scout to the hospital for an injury unrelated to all the things listed below.)
1. With luck, 3 boys, a 1lb river rock, and a water balloon launcher can cut down a 2 inch sapling with one shot.
2. In a single day half a dozen boys can turn a small stream, some logs, and several large rocks into a pond a beaver would be proud of.
3. A bb to the back of the ear hurts waaaaay more that you would expect it to.
4. A 2 ton boulder is surprisingly easy to dislodge from its hillside home but they don't roll like they do in the cartoons, it is more of a terrifying, grinding slide of doom.
5.When dislodging said boulders it is best to warn fellow scouts on the hill below that you intend to do so. This way they don't have to dive out of the way to survive.
6. You can survive swimming in mountain lake water so cold, it has ice floating in it. (you won't be able to stop shivering for and hour and your lips will literally turn blue, but you can survive)
7. Skunks and slingshots do not mix.
8. No matter how funny it might seem it is not a good idea to let an older scout convince several younger scouts to ride in the trunk of the car. (I wasn't involved in this one personally)
9. If you throw an Can of bug spray in the fire do not look back to see what happens (it will violently explode and on a side note it sucks up all the oxygen and puts the fire out as well).
10. If you could harness the energy of a group of scared scouts, the world would have a very good source of free clean power.
This is just a short list but it brings me to Number 10 which thinking back is one of the funniest things I have ever been part of. When I was 15 or 16 my troop was camping in Utah's South Willow Canyon. While exploring, we found an old mine entrance hidden within the trees. The entrance was carved right into the red rock wall of the canyon and the whole area was covered in a layer of red dirt. Being the adventurous scouts we were, we decided to explore the mine. There were about 6 of us and I had the only flashlight. We used a rope to tie each other together "just in case" and slowly made our way in.
Now to understand the story better you need to understand Glenn. Everyone has a friend like Glenn, he was a nice enough kid, but he tried so hard to be liked he ended up separating himself from the group as being weird. This experience cemented his position as "weird" friend in the group. As we ventured in at the head of the group was Glenn. I was second with a death grip on the flashlight and I was followed by a cluster of boys of all trying to see what was ahead. As we crept into the mine it got darker and darker, and soon the only light visible was the small beam of my flashlight. We passed a branch of the mine to the left and not half a second later, Glenn let out a blood curdling scream "Dead Body". He then turned and ran squarely into my chest and knocked me flying and kept running out of the cave. (no small feat considering I had at least 50 pounds on him).
When I went down the flashlight went with me so the scream was joined by instant blackness. The rest scouts predictably panicked and made a frenzied retreat to the cave entrance. Unfortunately in the commotion everyone seemed to forget we we "tied" together and I was stunned from being knocked down and the darkness to think straight or say anything so the next thing I knew I was being dragged head over heals down the dirt floor of this mine by screaming scouts. In reality it didn't take long to exit the cave, even with my weight dragging behind them. For me it seemed like an eternity. Soon enough, I was lying in a heap outside the entrance with the rapidly clawed off rope scattered on the ground around me. I stood up to regain my bearings and dust off the red dirt that now covered me from head to toe, when I realized I was alone. Now, I didn't see anything in the cave before or after the scream, but not wanting to stick around by myself in case anything followed us out I made a quick decision to head back to camp as well.
When I got back all the scouts except Glenn were OK. He was white as a sheet, and looked like he had seen a ghost. We informed our leader what Glenn said he saw and after talking with him he went up to take a look (unfortunately he wouldn't let any of us go with him). Anticlimactically, it turned out that Glenn's "Dead Body" was just a pile of sticks. Glenn later said that he thought it was the dead body of his cousin. Which confused me a bit seeing as how he said his cousin died in California. For the rest of the trip we teased him about the "Dead Body". The funny thing is, it wasn't just one scout that dragged me out of that cave, and I sure as heck didn't stick around to see what was in there either.
My own son is getting older and will eventually be scout age. When I think about my experiences and the craziness I got myself into, I am torn, should I let him experience the thrills and chills or would it be safer to just throw him in a tank full of hungry crocodiles...... I think I'll let him join. Maybe I can tag along and get into trouble with him.