Nov 30, 2012

Boys' Life

I lasted for about three weeks as a Cub Scout.  I didn't know about their anti-gay policies, of course, but I wasn't interested in building race cars, models of battleships, or bird houses.  It was like the agony of shop class, only with adults hovering around, insisting that I was having fun.

I didn't like the pledge, or the salute, or the song "God Bless America" that ended every session.

 But I did like the scouting magazine, Boys' Life, which offered stories, games, and comics about boys bonding with each other, usually with no girls around.  Sometimes there were interesting bodybuilding tips, and even more interesting photos of bodybuilding teens.

Or articles about scouting in exotic foreign locales.  Not as evocative as the My Village books, but still offering scattered glimpses of the "good place."

My grade school held a Scout Jamboree every spring, where you could get free copies of instructional manuals for merit badges.  There were dozens, covering everything from philately to rock-climbing, with genuinely valuable information.  And tons of beefcake photos, especially in the manuals for swimming, diving, rowing, physical fitness, and judo.

By the time I got to high school, I had three or four different editions of the lifesaving manual.  My parents found this odd, since I never took any lifesaving classes.