More about Prostate Cancer, Boy Scouts and Wood Badge.


It takes time to be comfortable in your own skin. Or as Modest Mouse said-

Get sucked in and stuck in late nights
with more folks that I don’t know.
The good times are killing me.

So when we left off the natives were getting restless. An over extension of scout power had dismissed a well meaning adult scout and had riled all the other adult scouts. I in particular observed with extreme interest. I noted the dynamics of it all as it developed. Again what you have are career adult scouts in scout’s uniforms and taking it a bit too seriously but have been waiting a year to be in the position they were in and unfortunately the head guy had taken his power and influence to far. I mean the whole essence of the Wood Badge process everyone thought was to encourage participation and learning…all for the benefit for the “Children.” So in the broad daylight of the Dog Days of Summer at Scoutland and in the view of all the participants the poor fellow was sent a packing.

I guess it was supposed to send a message to all of us. “If you are late you too will be dismissed.” In retrospect, maybe it was a set up. Maybe it was all staged. You know to both scare us and at the same time to bind us all together to form a unit against a common adversary. You the military wants you to have an intense sense of loyalty to your company and in this case your scout patrol. Well it is a thought. Anyway it got everybody’s attention, but it did not scare anyone it just pissed everybody off and be suspicious of the people who chose these people to be our leaders. Remember all of the “scouts” had responsible jobs during the week so treating them as “know nothings” did not jive and more importantly did not “fly.”

Okay at this early morning event around the flag pole there would be reports from the various patrols, interesting events that occured like the guy who lost his hat in the out house hole, and there were announcements. I never really paid attention to the announcements about the mundane. I never have listened to that stuff anywhere-school, church, school, college, or medical school. I still don’t. Minutia, BS minutia created for the guy making the announcement to give him some sense of importance. Well there was an announcement in particular that I missed that affected the morale of the entire Wood Badge participants.

“On Saturday the latrine and shower will be available for Scouters from 530Pm to 615Pm,” was hidden in about 15 other announcements about hats, uniforms, courses on ropes and fires and etc and ect. I obviously missed it. I was thinking about drilling tiny holes in Viagra tables in order to make a necklace for the head guy. I had in mind presenting it to him at the flag pole meeting and letting it serve as the “Bear’s announcement” for that particular morning.

“The Bears want you to have this Viagra necklace for being so erect in the face of a very hard job. We want you to finish the job you have started and we don’t want you to end it too prematurely.” More on this later and concept of making fun of people in power and how they like it. Like when I sang “I’m in the mood for love” to the most feared Pathology professor as a sophomore  at the Medical College of Georgia in pink boxer shorts. More on that later.

You have to understand the mindset of the “people in charge” in the military sense. You see I have some experience here having been a cadet at North Georgia College. The first week of school is called Frog Week. During this time the freshmen cadets are “immersed” into the military way. You know the push-ups, surprise inspections, eating with a straight back looking forward and in only square movements of your arms to eat. All that.  You see the people in charge know when everything is going to happen and the cadets or in this case the adult scouts don’t. This is a huge advantage as it has the effect of making the people in charge look really good and in control and the “controlee’s” look unprepared and disheveled.  For example a surprise inspection at six in the morning to the guy who got up at five and meticulously prepared and dressed, had something to eat comes across different than the guy who is awakened at six unbeknownst of what is happening has a whole different demeanor and reaction to this situation. It is all staged and is staged to make the guy in charge look good and to make the other look bad and all intended fluster and stress him.

A bit of this phenomenon was going on at Soutland and having been through this type of thing in 1973 allowed me to see it for what it was and actually allowed me to observe and enjoy. I actually did see grown men become intimidated by the scout leaders and once the leaders sensed this intimidation the more they gravitated to that particular type of adult scout.

Okay so you have some of the dynamics of this situation. You show up at six on a Friday, you spend all day Saturday in a Boy Scout uniform doing scout stuff like building fires and playing with ropes all in the hottest month of the year in North Georgia.  And man let me tell you it was hot and all the  scout uniforms were dirty and soaked with sweat.

At flag pole meeting as part of all the announcements must have been one about when you could shower. The real restrooms and showers were at the Scoutland pavilion and this was the area where the leader scouts were camped. Get it…they did use the outhouse things they had running water. See what I mean, the deck is stacked against the lowly scouters just like it is to this day that first Frog week at North Georgia College.  Now here is the thing, I don’t begrudge the system I just see as it is. Anyway the announcements made mention that you could use the real showers at a particular time and that this time changed every day.  I was told later that the times the Scouters could use the real showers was posted on a bulletin board. All of this was lost on me, I did not hear it and maybe subliminally did not want to hear it.

I cannot go to sleep sweaty. So it would be no good to have privileges to shower early in the morning or mid afternoon because you would only get sweaty again. The time for a shower is after it is hot and as close to when you go to bed.  Of course it is refreshing to take a shower in the morning before breakfast and be all nice and clean to greet that most taxing day of tying knots, sweating in a scout uniform and building fires and getting to only use one match and do it in a predetermined time frame. Get it…to stress a situation you add time limits.

Anywho… I go up at about dusk and take a shower on Friday Pm and then take another one at about 7Am on Saturday. Very refreshing. Sleep like a baby in my tent and was refreshed for making pancakes to be on the table and ready to eat precisely at 8 am for the adult scout to come by and grade us on our breakfast. Again…the 8 o-clock time was a time thing and added stress to the situation. Have you ever done all the things necessary to start a grill with coals and then when you back to check on them and they have died out. Well if that were to happen for breakfast with a fire necessary for the pancakes to be done you are done. You have missed your window for them hot enough to cook and now the leader scout shows up and there is only measly smoke emanating from your fire and not hot enough to cook. Just what he was hoping to find. You can imagine how good the leader feels and how bad all the adult scouts feel.

So back to the shower thing. The two times I take a shower which were timed to be just right for me were not the time assigned to the Bear Patrol. I remember on both occasions after my shower walking by the leader scouts all about in lawn chairs eating what looked like gourmet food looking at me as if I was either crazy or totally misplaced from where I was supposed to be. When I get back to the campsite after the Friday Pm shower I tell my whole group how nice and refreshing it was. I mean I look around and all of them are hot, sweaty with the evidence of the afternoon sweat markings all over their uniforms. One of them leaves immediately for a shower concurring it was an excellent idea, the rest said they would go and do the same in the morning. The Bears were clean and as fresh as a whistle for breakfast and the subsequent flagpole meeting on Saturday morning. Little did we know that we would be the topic of conversation or what the ramifications of our showering would mean to the rest of the entire Wood Badge group.

To be continued….

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