Today I started my own Boyd Scout group and decided to go on a nature hike. Actually, I tried to join a special activity group in town first but I kind of accidentally stirred up some trouble so that didn’t work out.
You see, I went to the group meeting hall and met the leaders but wasn’t sure if they would take a boy like me. Since I’m a character from a story book it makes me somewhat different than the other boys in the community. It always comes up when I try to join a baseball or hockey team too. The coaches never know what team and age-group I belong with. They have big debates about whether I might be 5 years old since I’m about that tall, or whether I might be 105 years old since that’s roughly the time period of the story I come from.
I knew this would be a difficulty for the group leaders too so felt nervous as I tried to explain my unusual situation, “I’d like to join sir…but there is something about me that you might need to know…I may look like a regular boy…I don’t know how to say this but…I’m different.”
The head leader interrupted me before I could finish explaining why I have difficulty knowing my age, “Say no more Otter, you don’t need to explain a thing. I know exactly what you’re getting at. You’ll be glad to know that our organization nowadays is totally inclusive, accepting, tolerant and sensitive to the needs of all kids. We accept boys, girls, people of any race, religion and culture. We also accept people who can’t decide, are a little bit of everything or none of the above. All are welcome here!”
I looked around the meeting hall and saw all the kids in uniforms sitting in groups and working on pieces of paper while listening to an assistant leader give a presentation on fundraisers. I felt concerned that it looked a lot like school so I asked the head leader if the kids spend much time outdoors. He beamed and answered enthusiastically, “Yes! There’s always fundraising that needs to be done and a lot of that involves going outside!” He handed me a stack of membership application papers and told me to have a parent look them over, sign them and return everything along with a certified check made payable to the organization’s national office.
When I saw it was going to cost over $200 to join, and then the list of mandatory gear to buy, uniforms, weekly dues, activity and camp fees on top of that, I asked why it was so expensive. The leader said that it’s really a good deal. If it wasn’t for all the fundraising we’d have to pay twice as much for everything!
I said it was still a lot of money and asked why the costs were so high. The leader answered, “We have to pay for our building and the rest goes into paying staff to run the organization.”
“But sir, it’s supposed to be an outdoor program and run by volunteers. Why do you need a building or any staff at all?”
“Poor little Otter, allow me to explain. We need that space to organize and run most of our fundraisers of course, and we need the staff because they tell us when to do the fundraisers. Then they take on the difficult job of handling and spending all our money for us.”
“But sir, what about being enterprising, thrifty and wise in the use of our resources? We could do all this without a building. We could invent our own fun. We wouldn’t have to force children into part-time jobs just to support adults. If we did all that then this would be pretty much free and fun for everyone!”
“Enterprising, thrifty and wise in the use of our resources Otter? What language! That sort of talk is far too old-fashioned and radical for a modern and progressive organization like ours!”
“I’m sorry about those profanities sir, but think about the kids who can’t afford to do it this modern way! Those kids barely get by and can’t be expected to support adults too.”
“Oh dear Otter, our organization clearly isn’t for those kids.”
“But you just told me that the organization nowadays is totally inclusive, accepting, tolerant and sensitive to the needs of all kids.”
“It is Otter! But only for the ones who can bring in those checks.”
I decided there must be a better way to have fun with friends outdoors so I left the meeting and rode my bike home. During the ride I realized there is a very easy and obvious solution. All anyone has to do is invent their own program and do it for free. So that’s what I did. I invented Boyd Scouts! In this new movement my age-group is known as the “Otter Cubs” and the Boyd Scout section is for everyone big enough to give an Otter Cub a shoulder ride. The rules are simple: Play outside, be nice, make friends, have fun!
Everyone subscribed to this site is an automatic life member of the Boyd Scouts, and any new people can join anytime they want. All are welcome, and in this group that really means something. You don’t even need a uniform. I just wear one sometimes because it makes me look like there’s a chance I’m not up to ordinary mischief. I’m up to the special kind now!
If you don’t want to be a Boyd Scout or Otter Cub that’s OK. It’s your program too so you can invent any name you like for yours!
On my first day as an Otter Cub I did a hike and earned my Nature Hiking badge. Now when I click “publish” I’ll have earned part of my Publishing Stuff Online badge. Next I am looking forward to working on my “Reply to Posts” badge. So far this new Boyd Scout program has been a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what badges I earn tomorrow. See you all on the trails!
Official Otter Cub and Boyd Scout Life Member