I seriously heard banjos in the background!

Yesterday, while I was walking the 10 K with Michelle, running some errands and then off to wine tasting yesterday, my nephew and kid brother were at a Wal-Mart south of us selling Boy Scout popcorn.


Their annual fund easier event.  Whenever this starts, I remember the evening that ended the Mathmajors scouting career.

Now just for the record I am NOT slamming the scouts.  My dad was the pack master when I was a kid, and I made it all the way to Webelos.  I had fun at the pinewood derbies and my Den Mother Mrs. Hills was great.  I learned a lot.

Even my kid brother Michael was a scout. (he is the one with the eyes closed)


I certainly do NOT agree with all of their policies and rules, but with the right people in charge, it can be great for the kids.

So, when Mathmajor was old enough, we signed him up for Tiger Cubs. (There weren’t any Tiger Cubs when I was little, we all started with Bobcats).  This is sort of like training wheel scouts for both the kids and the parents.  All the Tiger cub parents take turns hosting the den meetings, so it’s not an inconvenience for one family.

The hope, I believe, is that one of the parents will like it enough (or barring that, be guilted enough) to take on the responsibility of the kids full-time the next year.  I decided early on that would NOT be me.  (Guilt doesn’t work on me) But I am getting ahead of myself.

Mathmajor had a good time that year.  I let him use power tools for the pinewood derby car, he got to build and race his rain gutter sailboat.  Our pack master seemed like a nice guy, with the last name of Freeman.  I also think we joined AFTER the popcorn sales events so we missed this fun.

One thing you may not know about me, I HATE fund-raisers  I would much rather be told “Here is your share, please write a check.”  I was SO glad when my kids got past the “Christmas Crud” stage of school.  Over the years I developed a following of people who would order Christmas wrap  every year, but I hated it.  Since I do NOT like popcorn, this would have been torture….

As a Tiger parent, I was expected to attend the monthly den leaders meeting at Mr. Freeman’s house.  It lasted about an hour, and though I know I went to many of these, I only remember one.

This was near the end of the school year, and therefore the end of scouting season.  I am not sure how the discussion around the group got to this point, but suddenly I heard my pack master say, in no uncertain terms, “Anyone who does NOT go to church on a regular basis should NOT be a scout leader of any type!”

OK I was torn…  Being the self-professed heathen who only goes to a church for weddings and funerals (and that’s only when I can’t get out of it) my first reaction was “Hell yeah!!  NO leadership for me!  I’m out!”  But then I processed a bit more.

At the time I was hiking every weekend getting ready for Mt Rainier.  I had always thought of Scouts as a learn the outdoor skills,  hiking and camping, which I could pass on to kids easily!  Who cares about church?!?  So I reared back, about to go off when (for once) reason took over.

Did I want to be a scout leader?  Nope.  Was this a way to get out of it? Yep.  Did I really WANT to say anything at this point?  NOPE! So I let it slide.  My thought was I could still help like I did when they played baseball (without being a coach) so I was good.

Then things went downhill….

The pack leader started rocking in his chair, and said “Mr Freeman needs to go to the scout store for some patches, so if any of you need some, you better let Mr Freeman know (His voice seemed to age 30 years when he said that.)

Now I SUCK at names, so leaned over to the guy next to me and said “Hey, I thought HE was Freeman?”  He looked at me weird and said “He is?”  OK speaking in that voice and in the third person was creepy but no one else seemed to even notice.  Folks, I swear banjo’s started playing in the background, I was starting to believe I was stuck in a Cub Scouts version of “Deliverance!”  I left as SOON as I could that night!

Well, the first meeting of the fall happened, and there was no one for the Wolf cubs (the year after Tiger).  Somehow people got the idea it was going to be me, and I let them know quickly and adamantly that was NOT gonna happen.

And the end of the meeting, Mr Freeman came up to me and asked why I wasn’t stepping up.  I told him, “Well one, I don’t want to, and two, I don’t go to church, ever, so per y’all I would not be qualified.”

I tell ya, I swear the man started rocking right there standing in front of me and his voice aged!  He said, “Well Mr Freeman thinks we could make an exception this time.  Mr Freeman thinks you would be ok…”

Over the summer, Mathmajor had heard me tell this story more than once, so when he heard the creepy voice himself, he looked at me and shook his head.  I just smiled, said “No thanks” and made a beeline for the door!

Thinking about it, it’s a good thing I did!  Otherwise by now could have ended up pack master, and could right now be rocking in the chair saying “Mr Valente thinks we need to sell some popcorn….”

Like I said, over all the scouts are a fantastic organization.  One of my best friend’s sons recently made Eagle Scout and I am DAMN proud of him! (I know she is too!)  I also know how much the nephews like it, it’s been great for them!

For me though, I have no regrets getting him our and keeping Manchild away.  I’ve always found that running far FAR away from banjos is always a good thing to do!



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