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My Subculture research is on the Boy Scouts of America. I was once a boy scout and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things to see what has changed since I have been gone. Wish me luck as I attempt to get the inside scoop.







Zephrum Ellison Ellison 1
11/15/09
S. Rider
English 1A
It’s the Boy Scouts Kiddo!!!
Being an eagle scout myself, I know a bit about the boy scouts. I set out to research different aspects of the boy scouts, to try and offset the common belief that boy scouts are mommies and daddies boys. This is believed by people who were not boy scouts, that I generally run into from time to time, please understand that im not trying to say that all people think that boy scouts are Mommies boy’s, but that some people do. During my research, I had the chance to meet new boy scouts, and catch up with old one’s. I collected data, conducted interviews, observed, and reported all things that I saw or noticed about the boy scouts. Because of the insufficient time I had to work with, I was unable to report on any new or upcoming camping events, so I will rely on my memories, for the camping section of my ethnography. The boy scouts, are a worldwide organization that focuses on teaching young boys the skills needed to survive in the world. They provide a way for young boys, and their parents to go camping, backpacking, shooting, hiking, climbing, cooking, building, you just name it. The highest honor to achieve with the boy scouts is, the highest rank of Eagle Scout, I am an eagle scout. To achieve the rank of Eagle scout, you must first complete an eagle project which is essentially, organizing your own community service project, and then of coarse surpass all the other ranks, which include Scout, Tenderfoot, Second class, First class, Life, Heart, then Eagle. It takes most people until their 18 to become an eagle scout, I did it by the time I was 15, and I was ready at 14. It all depends on how gun-hoe the boy is about flying through the ranks. Some people take their time, others rush through it, me on the other hand, I was just bored. My goal was to focus on making my uniform the most decorated uniform I possibly could.
My interview with David Kashewba aka (Kashew) was one of my most revealing interviews. Kashew is a veteran boy scout, he’s like me, been around the block once or twice. We held this interview at the Alta mesa park; it was a bit nippy outside, all dressed up in our uniforms from head to toe. Kashew is a short, brown haired kid, with glasses kind of looks like an Asian nerd but pulls it off, he prides himself on being the Asian that can eat more than anyone else in the troop, seriously, he is just a vacuum with a bottomless pit. The grass was kind-of greenish, kind-of brownish. Other kids getting their energy out on the playset. I look over and remember when kashew and me first tested my new paintball gun on the billboard-sized portrait of the dude who built the playset. In loving memory of my paint hitting his face lol. Kashew and me had a previous agreement to try and out do each other with the uniforms, I of coarse the winner, I always remember having a more impressive display of aesthetic value, but he was close.
Me: What has been the most valuable thing that you have learned in the Boy Scouts?
Kashew: I would have to say Finances! I learned a lot about Finances during a merit badge and felt that it was fairly important to my future.
Me: Was it easy to join?
Kashew: I felt it was, my dad looked up the meeting place and then took me their and signed me up!
Me: Do you think that all boy scouts are parent’s boys?
Kashew: I feel that some are, but all kids are up to a certain point, I used to be, but now I’m just a teen going about life the way I see fit.
Me: What’s your favorite pastime, in the scouts?
Kashew: I would say with me and you at the camp in Sac (Sacramento) all those times, chillin in front of the camp fire singing songs and telling stories.
Me: How much time do you have to dedicate to the scouts when you join?
Kashew: Well it depends on how interested in the scouts you are, we have some people who barely pay their dues, and hardly ever come, then we have some who do it all and it seems as if they have no life. Usually the minimum is once a week we meet, other than that, we have outings during the weekends, we have camp during the vacations, and we have projects at other no descriptive times.
Me: Why did you join the boy scouts?
Kashew: Well initially I heard about it, then asked my dad what it was, when he told me I was a bored kid, so I said what the hay, Ill give it a go, then I got into it, I started to have fun, and enjoy it.
Me: What is a summer camp all about?
Kashew: Ok, a summer camp is of coarse during the summer, when all the scouts sign up for a week of the ultimate fun. You can do sooooo much at a summer camp, you can earn all sorts of merit badges, and well basically everything, rock climbing, swimming, shooting, horse riding, Smores, camp fires, skits, and Lots and lots of food, good fresh camp made food.
Me: So, we all want to know, how good IS the food in the scouts?
Kashew: Delectable, yes, magnificent, that’s all, that’s it, its awesome…Its everything a fellow American looks for in food, Large quantities, Greasy, Discolored, tasty, and cooked over an open fire.
Me: I heard of some national events what are those like?
Kashew: Shiiiit, the national events are big time, Ive never been to one, but being a boy scout for 5 years, I could tell you that Im pretty sure what happens there…It’s a much larger summer camp basically, with scouts from all over the world, and its more crowded, more complicated, more rules, more fun, more food, just more. More. More. Also at these national events scouts find it very rewarding to collect rare badges through trading, and to collect neat memorabilia.
Me: You were saying about rare badges, which badge if any would you say is the rarest?
Kashew: I heard of one badge from the world jamboree during the world war 2 or something like that.
During this interview I found that I had a variety of questions, none of which pertain to some of the questionable subjects of scouting. It would appear that the boy scouts is a harmless organization to be apart of that helps raise strong members of society. But as my research continues maybe things wont be as innocent as it seems right now. Can the boy scouts be all that great? Can the boy scouts have no problems and no issues? Truly they can’t be as innocent as Kashew made them seem.
Some people who were not in the boy scouts that I was talking to seemed to have some concerns about the boy scouts that I probably would have missed had I not talked to them, an when I asked some of the fellow adult scouts, they had more to tell. Some seem to believe that the boy scouts were racist and didn’t let in African Americans or other walks of life, some had an issue with cases of sexual molestation, and other events in scouting history that weren’t the most honorable moments in scouting. In my next interview I will address some of these issue with a scoutmaster (Adult leader for a scouting troop). The setting, quite nice, his house is a valiant display of his life’s success, mostly containing things to do with his son, what a typical father. And to come next, his wife, what a surprise. I must say that if I were his dad, Ide be proud. The white walls, black house, with other cookie cutter items as a sign that he lives life by the book, he knows the best recipe, and knows that the secret ingredient is his commitment to his family. What a guy, if I weren’t such a teen I would probably look up to him. I feel almost honored to shake his hand as I enter his homes frontal display of welcoming hospitality. Mr. Gilberts is a sheriff for the Moreno Valley police department. His gray hairs only an extension of the many stories he has to tell, you ca tell he is very straight edge to its truest meaning, he doesn’t mess around.
Me: Why did you become a scoutmaster?
Mr. Gilberts: I joined the scouts as a kid just like you, and I grew to respect what the scouts were about, and what they stood for, so when I had a kid, I became involved and whala I became a scout master.
Me: What say you about some of the race, molestation, and other such incidents in scoutings past?
Mr. Gilberts: I remember some of them, surely there are always people who don’t operate things the way they were meant to be operated, but as far as I have been with the scouts even with the issues I have had, there hasn’t been much that was too bad, we deal with non conformist the same way the military does, when we find out, we throw them out, the chances of finding a troop that doesn’t work right are slim, but when you do, its simple enough to switch to another troop, one hassle free. I believe that if people are going to let the past represent the future, then they just don’t want to be a scout, they just don’t want to believe, I call these people problem people, people who have problems with things a lot.
Me: Do you know any specifics about the cases?
Mr. Gilberts: No. Nobody knows the specifics, I believe that its hard to know the truth, I wasn’t there obviously so I cant say on the record anything about the issues that I wasn’t apart of. Neither can the concerned parents, I’m a concerned parent, and I’m concerned about a lot of things, but all I can do is stay an active part of my child’s life to better reassure myself of whets happening to my kid in the scouts. Obviously when these incidents occurred something was going on that shouldn’t have been going on, and that’s why im scout master, nothing happens to my kid that I don’t know about, nothing happens to any of the kids for that matter.
Me: Being scoutmaster what would you say is the funnest part of scouting?
Mr. Gilberts: I always loved most, setting up camp on our outings with the parents better than the scouts did, so to set an example that way the scouts come wondering over to us complaining about how awesome our camp is compared to their camp, then I get to say, “well you should have set up camp a little better then huh? I also love watching my son when he’s having fun; it’s just a father thing, watching my boy become a good citizen.
Me: What issues have you encountered?
Mr. Gilberts: Well bullying comes up a bunch, there’s always a bully, but we handle bullies appropriately, we confront them, punish them and if they continue it only gets worse. Until we kick them out, problem kids just aren’t welcome in the scouts, we tolerate it, but if they just wont learn then we have no other choice. Also the occasional stupid mistake that costs our scouts big issues, like getting hurt, or stuff, but we cant get angry when that stuff happens, after all it was just a mistake, we tell the scout what he did, what he did wrong, what he should have done, and then send him on his way, we really are peaceful people, we don’t bite.
So there we have it, the scouts still don’t seem to be all that bad. Maybe im not looking in the right spot, maybe it has something to do with problem areas, maybe there just isn’t that much to be afraid of.
I encountered a scout stave, which is basically just a walking stick and I asked some questions about it. I found that a stave is much more than just a walking stick, it has decorations, of places they’ve been, it has markings of stories they’ve told, it has sentimental value, it goes everywhere the scout goes. The stave is about as tall as the kid himself, and it is a dark smooth brown, he has a leather rope wrapped around it, the stick seems very old, its chipped, and scared, slightly bent, and has been carved at other areas, this tells me that it has been through a lot, this tells me that it probably means a lot the owner. We all know what the scout uniform looks like, so Idle like to take a moment to describe other belongings to a scout.


This is a map of how the usual scout meeting is assembled, why I show this particularly because its like this throughout all of scouting, all scouts know this, even during summercamp, the kids assemble in this pattern, we keep it organized, it shows that we are sort of military based, we discipline appropriately and we keep all things structured so to build a direction, a path, a foundation to propel your life to a greater status. Each patrol, which is a sub unit of the troop itself lines up in single file line horizontally, and with the VIP patrol up front, which include the SPL (Senior Patrol Leader), the ASPL (Assistant Senior Patrol Leader), and the Chaplain, which is the troops religious upkeeper. Some times the VIP patrol is larger with other such scouts in various positions such as the scribe. Each patrol has their own name, such as the badgers, or the panthers, everyone else just sort of stands around behind us so to try and look like their apart of the troop. First we go into the formation, then we conduct the pledge of allegiance to the flag, then the weekly announcements, followed by the dismissal of the scouts who need rank requirements signed off, or other such business the individual scout feels he is ready to complete. After that the scouts disassemble to play games, or wash the troops gear, or stand around. At the end of the meeting we reajourn and we update, we close down, and sing the ending song together as a whole, as a team.
You must be wondering about the outings by now? Surely you must be falling off your seat wondering when I’m going to tell tale about our wondrous adventures. It was a cold morning, as all the dirty, scrungy scouts awoke, inside their various sleeping bags, to the enticing smell of breakfast in the morning, bacon, eggs, hash browns, water, and pancakes. Smoke rising over the campfire with early birds huddled around it toasty and cozy as they look, I see through that down to their shivering bodies, but that’s not the matter, we have a long day of rowing down the Clamath river with the canoes that we rented for a week. This was a weeklong 50-mile canoe trip, down the Clamath River and we had the time of our lives, exploring, and picking berries, and telling stories, or playing games. Some of our outings are big, such as the one described above, and others are just weekenders, up to Idlewild, or wiskytown, or up to Eureka for the oyster festival. I remember at summercamps over in Catalina Islands were I would get all my merit badges done ahead of time so I could spend the rest of my time at camp fooling around and having fun, and I do say that they were fun indeed, all the water skiing, and snowboarding, and late night hikes through the bushes, or my personal favorite waking up at 4 in the morning to hop in the lake and swim a mile, then spend the rest of your morning bragging, that you swam a mile and now have endless cuts of hot chocolate and a mile swim badge along with the polar bear award for swimming it in the lake at 4 in the morning when it’s the coldest, I will tell you that hypothermia is not especially fun, but it was a new experience, and I felt every degree of it.
So sad I must come to an end, this journey into the past has been good and well. And as for my final findings, I came into this project looking to prove that not all boy scouts are mommies and daddies boys but, I instead learned that no matter who you are, you are a parents kid, and that they are the funniest years of your life, so enjoy it while you still can, and that it is never dorky, never nerdy, and never uncool, to have fun. I hope your views of the boy scouts is not skewed any more, I know that mine isn’t.
Glossary
Uniform Inspection - A step in the rechartering process, which encourages good uniforming and grooming and determines the unit's uniform status. Inspection sheets and awards are available through the council resource centers
School Night - An annual Scouting program conducted in cooperation with local schools to inform youth and their parents about the Scouting program in their neighborhood. An opportunity to join a local unit is also provided .
Quality Unit Award - Based on 10 items (requirements are listed elsewhere in this resource catalogue), this national award recognizes outstanding packs, troops, teams, crews and ships for providing quality programs for their youth.
Pow Wow - An annual day-long training and social event attended by parents, pack committee and den and pack leaders featuring program ideas, songs, stunts, skits, ceremonies, puppets and crafts.
Philmont Scout Ranch - A 137,000-acre national high adventure base and training center located at Cimarron, New Mexico. Philmont offers older Scouts and Explorers the experience of a lifetime in activities that include rock climbing, archaeological excavation, black powder riflery, fishing, panning for gold, and horseback adventures.
National Youth Leader Training - This rigorous training course is conducted annually by the council. Sessions are offered at Onteora Scout Reservation (August) and Schiff Scout Reservation (July). Scouts learn and reinforce skills and are presented with opportunities to develop leadership qualities that they can use with their troop, and outside Scouting, all year round. The program is called Bear Claw NYLT.
Board of Review - A review held to determine if a Boy Scout has satisfactorily completed rank requirements. A review may be held also to encourage Boy Scouts who are not advancing. For the first five ranks, the board of review is conducted by the troop committee. For the Eagle Scout rank, the council decides whether the unit committee or the district or council committee responsible for advancement conducts the board of review. At least one district or council advancement representative shall be a member of the unit board of review.
Den Chief Training - Den Chiefs introduce your troop to the Webelos and Cub Scouts who are your future. The participants of this training will gain knowledge to assist den leaders and make their dens and packs more productive and successful.