So my kid joined the Cub Scouts. He loves it. His pack is filled with friends from school, and the pack leader, dad to one of the kids, is warm, personable, and willing to play British Bulldog with a gang of screaming ten-year-olds. It’s good.
Luckily the local pack subscribes to none of that, and since my son has a scorching good time there with his friends, we acquiesced. My beef is with the national office.
So my son needs to memorize the Boy Scout Law, which is:
“A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”
Let’s call that TLHFCKOCTBCR for short.
This morning we chanted it in the car on the way to school to help him memorize. Boy did it get under my skin, and not just because we repeated it 3,578 times. (First of all, having kids line up and chant qualities in unison baffles me. Is that really how children become TLHFCKOCTBCR? But I digress.) It seems like BSA wants to give the kids some qualities to aspire to, some touchstones that will help them grow into men. (And by “men” they appear to mean people who can do quaint masculine things, like starting a fire and whittling wood. But again I digress.)
TLHFCKOCTBCR got under my skin because of the qualities it lists. “Kind” is good, and I suppose kindness is important to stress to young boys who are going about in quasi-military uniforms chanting things at each other. I can more or less get behind “trustworthy” and “helpful” too.
But the other TLHFCKOCTBCR qualities are whack:
Just Not a Good Idea: Brave
I suppose “brave” could be okay, but among excitable boys it is also very close to something like, “Let’s skateboard off a skyscraper.” I’m out.
Oh, the Irony: Thrifty
Nobody escapes the Boy Scout supply store without an arm-and-leg’s worth of “required” items. Any genuinely thrifty scout would immediately quit to protest the price-gouging.
Get Out of My Personality, Dude: Friendly and Cheerful
These two kill me. What if the kid is introverted? Or serious-minded? I guess we’d have to vote those losers off the island. Also, have we learned nothing about mental health? Nothing makes a depressive kid more depressed than shoveling a steaming pile of “friendly and cheerful” on his head.
The Bronx Cheer Goes to: Loyal, Courteous, Obedient
These qualities scream, “I AGREE TO BE UNDER STRICT SOCIAL CONTROL.” Who the hell wants to be “obedient” as a general principle, without an understanding of who you’re obedient to and why? Nazi Youth were obedient, for pete’s sake. “Loyal” and “courteous” are just different sides of that same coin. It pains me to hear these three coming out of my kid’s mouth, especially for the sake of an organization with more than a few whiffs of pedophilia in its history.
Worst of the Worst: Clean and Reverent
These two are heartbreaking. They were the basis of the Supreme Court case a few years back that allowed the Boy Scouts to openly discriminate. Technically, gay kids can’t be scout leaders because they aren’t “clean,” and nonreligious kids can’t because they aren’t “reverent.” (Again, I stress that our local pack includes a kid with two moms and two dads, as well as my son from our openly atheist family. Nobody gives a rat’s ass, amen.)
So, enough with tearing down TLHFCKOCTBCR. I want to prepare for the day when BSA calls and begs me to rewrite the Boy Scout Law for them. Here’s my official redraft:
“A scout is kind, inquisitive, creative, open-minded, resilient, resourceful, confident, collaborative, globally aware, honest, helpful, and just.”
I guess that would be KICORRCCGHHJ. These are the qualities I think a boy should aspire to as he grows into a man. Or a girl into a woman for that matter. Or a transgendered child into a… oh, you get the point.
Anybody want to offer another draft? Or defend TLHFCKOCTBCR?