Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life in the Wild West

In the old days in the Wild West, little boys spent their days playing in the pine forests. They carried knives, they were allowed to shoot wild game, they made their own rope to swing across raging rivers. It was great. By “old days in the Wild West” I mean at Cub Scout Wild West Day Camp recently held in Rendija Canyon.

Don’t worry. The Cub Scouts were only allowed to carry knives at the well-supervised soap carving station. Soap is an ideal material for carving. When the boys got home in the evening their mothers no doubt suggested another use of soap.

I arrived in camp in my badge-festooned District Committee Chairman Scout shirt, and the boys were very impressed. The first Cub Scout I encountered looked me in the eyes, reached out his hand, and said, “Can you put this in the garbage for me?”

I located the trash can. Then I wandered around the other activity stations where boys were braiding rope, playing marbles, making wampum belts and teepees, and one where they showed the greatest skill – eating cookies. Throwing sticks at a furry protein source was a popular wilderness survival activity, but, for the sake of PETA and because no actual four-legged protein source signed up to help, the Cubs used soda bottles as targets. Most of the soda bottles evaded the sticks.

They made telephones out of tin cans and string, like the communication devices people used hundreds of years ago in the 1950s. And they ate more cookies. Other Wild West activities included making adobe bricks (by pouring water on their socks) and milking a PETA-approved cow (part of which was made from a rubber glove).

The boys were well-supervised by volunteers who could have been at work watching training videos but who gave all that up to be outside teaching little boys how to pound randomly-spaced holes in leather to make a small, leather pouch, which looked, in the end, like a . . . Out of deference to all the steers who might read this, I’ll not tell you what it looks like.

On the first day of camp, the boys were given a yellow, Wild West Adventure t-shirt, but at the end of the day it was less yellow and more what your crayon box would call “Rendija Canyon.” This was in part because these young boys had spent part of their day crawling on their bellies toting a 30-30 Winchester rifle and shooting at buffalo. Actually, PETA, that’s not quite true. The boys, under adult supervision, shot BB guns at various targets, including at raw eggs. They targeted no actual game animals, unless you believe, as I do, that an egg is what a chicken turns back into after being forced to watch a training video.

The camp was great for little boys. It was high adventure. It taught them skills that they can use throughout their lives. Years from now, when one of our Cubs comes across a car stuck in a snow bank, he can approach the stranded family and say, “Fear not. I have a pencil, a milk carton, some string, and an empty Jell-O cup. I’ll make a windlass.”

No comments:

Post a Comment