Friday, February 7, 2020


When I was going through a box to retrieve my political buttons a couple of weeks ago, I came across all this stuff too -- souvenirs from my days as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout. I enjoyed being a Cub Scout and a Webelo, which are groups for younger kids, but as I got older the appeal of scouting waned for me. Still, I saved a few reminders.

These tassels were made to hold all the pins we could earn for achievement in various subjects. I have pins for forestry, nature, drama, geology and government. God only knows what I did to earn those pins. I had big rock and leaf collections, so I'm sure those were factors.

As I recall, Cub Scouts were divided into groups depending on age and achievement. The groups took the names of various animals like wolves and bears. (I have to issue a full disclaimer that I don't remember a whole lot of this and some of it may be different now, anyway. I was scouting in the mid- and late '70s.)

The doodad above (not its official name, I'm sure!) used to hang from a button on my uniform. We were supposed to collect red and yellow beads for various activities and achievements that, I think, eventually would lead to a new rank. I remember other kids having lots of beads. I must have been an underachiever.

These things slid onto the uniform belt, showing proficiency in certain activities. I earned these during a camping trip, I believe to the Withlacoochee State Forest. I remember swimming in the river and, later, lying in a tent being gnawed by mosquitoes, wondering why the heck I wasn't home in my own bed. I drew a picture of the moon in my journal, covered by filmy clouds. (I no longer have that journal, but I distinctly remember that moon.)

As I recall, the Arrow of Light was the culmination of our Cub Scout career, pointing the way to the Boy Scouts. This is my Arrow of Light pin. I don't know what that Bobcat pin was for.

And of course there were plenty of patches, of which I saved only a few.

Cub Scouts was a fairly stress-free time for me, because kids at that age are pretty harmless. But when I moved into a Boy Scout troop, scouting got stressful. I was in a troop with mostly older boys who used to torment me and a couple of other kids my age. The scoutmasters took a very hands-off, "boys will be boys" attitude toward it all, but nowadays we'd call it bullying, plain and simple. It was both verbal and physical, and it eventually drove me out of the group.

We'd been selling donuts and doing other things to raise money for a big trip to the Grand Canyon. I did my part, but as the trip date got closer my mom could tell I was stressed about going, and she finally called the scoutmaster and told him I was staying home. I'd been looking forward to seeing the Grand Canyon, but deep down, I'd never been more relieved. Mom said I was 100 times more relaxed after we canceled, and soon after that I quit the Boy Scouts altogether.

I don't know what ever happened to my scout uniforms. I think my Cub Scout outfit went to my brother, who also did Cub Scouts, but the Boy Scout uniform, I'm not sure. Scouting sure does generate a lot of paraphernalia. Before my dad died we were going through his stuff and he had a scout uniform from his childhood, also covered with patches and badges -- useless trinkets, tangled up with memories both good and bad.


  1. The metal pins on the tassels are really stylish. You could wear it now and get lots of conversations going!

  2. I'm sorry you were bullied. Did your parents know that?

  3. I didn’t suffer bullying in Boy Scouts. I don’t even remember any in our troop. But my father was scout master, which really pissed me off since I had told him not to volunteer for anything because I was NOT joining. I remember Bobcat being the first rank in Cub Scouts... but THAT was a long, LONG time ago!

  4. My husband had a similar experience with the Scouts....liked it when he was younger, then got bullied by older boys a few years later and quit. You two are about the same age, I think.

  5. My remembrance of cub scouts comes from one of my sons. He wasn't amused. Said they told him if he joined he would get to go camping and do fun, active things, but it seemed every activity was an arts and crafts event. And he hated arts and crafts. The last straw for him was a project gluing ice cream sticks together into a birdcage. He quit on the spot. :)

  6. In general, I think that Girl Scouts must have been a much more pleasant organization than Boy Scouts. My troop was absolutely wonderful in a lot of ways. I look back on it and realize that my troop leaders really put a lot of energy and time into it. We camped and did cooking classes and all sorts of projects that I loved. I got lots of opportunity through the Girl Scouts. And from what I hear, the Girl Scouts are still rockin' it.

  7. I love all of your paraphernalia! I didn't really enjoy Girl Scouts very much - unlike Ms. Moon's our leaders were pretty lame. I guess it was kind of a crap shoot since parents were usually the leaders. I remember a lot of favoritism toward the daughters of the leaders. Also, I was a shy introverted child who wanted to be left alone to read :)

  8. Yes, thee wee many trinkets in scouting but some good things wee taught.My son was in scouts but never too enthusiastic. I remember camping with 5 little beaners. One morning we got the prize for the neatest tent!!!

  9. I too have mixed memories of scouting. I was a brownie and then a girl scout. Brownies were fun and harmless but girl scouts were more stressful and more competitive. Plus, my mom was the scout leader so I always felt I had to do well while dealing with other girls who thought I got special treatment. I recognize that fleur-de-lis pin. It's become a very recognizable scouting symbol. Your post is perfect timing here in the states. It's Girl Scout Cookie season here. They are selling cookies at the front door of every grocery store around town.

  10. These Photos Take Me Back - Like Way Back - Boy Scouts Were An Amazing Time, An Adventurous Time, And Our Troop Took On Communal Projects - I Cherished My Medals As If They Were The Biggest Accomplishment Ever - But Damn It, I Am Ashamed To Say/Admit That I Was One Of Those Dickheads - Our "Adult" Leader Prayed On The Weak And Instilled That Upon Us - " No Room For The Piss Poor" Was The Quote I Vividly Recall - He Projected Raw Violence, Intimidation, And Belittling Behavior As If It Were The Norm - As I Write This, Sure I Was A Kid, But In My Gut Brain, I Truly Knew This Was Wrong - But It Didn't Stop Be From Falling Into The Mob Mentality - Son Of A Bitch - Another Example Of Our My Elders Letting Me Down - And Why I Am So Thankful That I Never Took On The Father Figure Role - So In Closing, Brother Steve, Please Harness Those Good Memories - Display Those Medals In Your House/Flat - And Continue To Educate - Speak Your Truth

    Stay Strong

    P.S. When You Make It Back To The States, Road Trip On Me. That Hole In The Ground Is Beautiful. The North Rim Is Like No Other.

  11. I too remember the fun of Cub Scouting. The Scouts - not so much. I was a 4-year Tenderfoot before dropping out.

  12. My my, such memories. I remember my dad making the plaques for each step up in Webelos that my brother made. And I was in the Brownies, then Girl Scouts. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  13. Here the Scout leaders are volunteers and a child's experience depends entirely on how good they (the leaders) are. Our son had a wonderful Cub leader and not so good Scout leaders, which we didn't know at first. He was happy to be out of the group eventually. I think with different leaders he could have enjoyed it, as he likes the outdoors.

    You have a LOT of pins compared to what's available here - everything here is cloth badges, pretty much, which entailed being sewn onto a sash or the shirt sleeves. Guess who ended up sewing them on. I don't think there was a sewing badge for our Scouts, lol

  14. I never joined the Girl Scouts. there was an alternate organization, Camp Fire Girls, and I guess the private school I went to offered that. I lasted about three or four meetings and then begged my mother to let me quit. I've pretty much always been an outsider, even back then. however, my sister asked me to co-lead her brownie troop which I did until my own child rearing and business got busier. my own daughter didn't join until Girl Scouts and I got roped into being co-leader of that by the leader who was the mother of my daughter's best friend at the time. this group lasted three, maybe four years before it petered out. our son was a cub scout and then Marc took over the troop when they became webelos. that last a couple of years but Marc couldn't get any of the fathers to help on camping trips and the boys dropped out one by one. I'm surprised you kept all that stuff. or maybe not surprised. my kids didn't keep any of their stuff. I did run across her sash with her badges and pins and tried to foist it off on her but she wouldn't take it. none of her 4 kids ever joined the scouts.

  15. Frances: I used to occasionally wear the pins (but not the tassels) when I was a kid.

    E: Yeah, but things were different back then. People were much more laissez-faire about bullying. I distinctly remember my mom telling me to punch those kids in the nose, which I wasn't about to do!

    Mitchell: Maybe having your dad as the scoutmaster afforded you some protection! Or maybe kids in your neighborhood were just nicer than they were in mine.

    Jennifer: I think there's a period when young Boy Scouts are vulnerable after joining the older ones, and in my opinion, the scoutmasters should manage that better.

    Mary: Well, that does sound like a dubious crafts project! I liked Arts & Crafts but you definitely don't want to do it every week.

    Ms Moon: My mom loved her Girl Scout troop. My impression is that girls are just a lot more civil to each other -- the whole "mean girls" phenomenon aside.

    Bug: So much depends on the leaders. Good leaders make all the difference.

    Red: "Neatest tent"! Ha! I think I would have won that prize if we'd had it.

    Sharon: Interesting -- you're seeing things from the other side of the coin from Dana (Bug) above, who perceived favoritism toward the daughters of the leaders.

    Padre: I think there are some scoutmasters, probably particularly in Boy Scouts, who encourage that "survival of the fittest" mentality and see it as training to be a successful, competitive adult. What many boys need, though, is a better understanding of empathy and consideration.

    Catalyst: Yeah, I was the same. Never got very far in Boy Scouts. I definitely didn't last four years!

    Edna: He got a plaque? I never got a plaque! LOL

    Jenny-O: I think that's definitely true of our group too. If I'd had different leaders who emphasized cooperation among all of us, it might have made a difference. And no, sewing was definitely not something we ever learned. Scouting at that time was very sexist!

    Ellen: I remember commercials for Camp Fire Girls. Do they still exist at all? I feel like we had merit badges, too, but I have no idea where mine might be. (Maybe I never earned any!)