Be prepared

The quote for the day comes from Kelly Link’s “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” (from Magic for Beginners):

“Be prepared. It’s just like the Boy Scouts, except you have to be even more prepared. You have to prepare for everything that the Boy Scouts didn’t prepare you for, which is pretty much everything.”

This brought to mind my own Boy Scout experience. I know many guys got a lot out of scouts, and as long as they’re not equating being a good American with believing in God and not being queer, I don’t have a problem with them. I love all that outdoor stuff. But my scout troop in Irving, Texas pretty much sucked. We went on a total of one campout the two years I was in the troop, going to Lake Grapevine for a long weekend in November. The scoutmaster was a retired Air Force colonel who didn’t like kids and glared at you if tried to engage him in conversation. I guess he thought we were being insubordinate. He housed himself in a ginormous tent big enough for a MASH unit, complete with a heater and a cot. It was cold and getting colder. We all slept crammed into moldy tents in cheapo sleeping bags. He started his fire each morning with a cup of gasoline. You could hear the big whoomp all over the camp, as the pillar of flame went up into the treetops. The guy demonstrating the proper way to sharpen an axe cut his thigh pretty badly and had to go to the hospital, but the rest of us were stuck there. The big event on Saturday was a tracking exercise. The rather large scoutmaster and his equally rotund assistants were supposed to mark a trail with rocks and twigs and other crap, and the rest of us were supposed to track it. A buddy of mine and I, who were more or less willing outcastes, happened to spot the scoutmaster and co. across the lake piling rocks and breaking branches and watched them through binoculars. When they were done, we high-tailed it back to the starting point to participate in the competition, which we easily won by heading straight for the place where the fearless leaders had ended up. We each got an official Boy Scout flashlight without batteries. The next day it snowed, and everybody’s parents drove out to rescue us. This was Texas, after all, where nobody was really prepared for snow in November. It was years before I discovered on my own that camping could be fun, though I always forgot to bring the gasoline.

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