Winter Warlock delivers a broadside, after reflecting on his childhood of camping, canoeing and backpacking compared to the feeble offerings of his boy’s Cub Scout troop.

My best camping recollection from those days was always the January campout — in the days between Christmas and New Year’s our Scoutmaster would gather the unsold Christmas trees from the area and dump them off at a wooded area where we had our troop camping location. Then one weekend in January we would go out there, drag the trees for about a mile and half to the campsite, and pile them up. In teams of 3 or 4, we would strip the branches off with machetes, and use the trunks to build lean-to frames in the woods, and the branches to seal in the lean-to’s. The first time I did this, I remember we built a traditional top-only lean-to, and we woke up with our sleeping bags covered with snow. In subsequent years we learned to build full shelters, to the point where our problem was not snow, but the fact that we had actually built Indian-style sweat lodges!

February always meant Klondike derby, where we would build dog-sleds, with wheels, and use boy-power to traverse a course thru the woods. The goal was to use orienteering skills to get to the right place at the right time – at which point you should have found various skill stations where you would be tested. This was a contest between the troops of our district, and was a high point for the year.

My son had joined the local Cub Scouts a couple of years ago, and I was as excited as he was at first. It didn’t take long to see that something was different from when I was involved. First, the emphasis was not on the Scouting principles I had learned, but rather on how quickly one could get their books signed off to move onto the next rank. Outings were few and far between – admittedly these were only Cub’s, but with no associated Boy Scout troop, there also seemed to be nothing to look forward to. The drop-out rate among the boys was high, and I am still trying to convince my son to get involved again but with no success.

I’m still fairly convinced a main issue is those goofy shirts with obnoxious patches Scouts are expected to wear. As each year passes these Infantry-Circa-1919 outfits look more and more ridiculous. Heck, I felt silly in mine in 1973.

But anyway, I wonder what the Scoutmaster thinks.