Thursday, September 24, 2009

Merit Badges

I was in the Boy Scouts when I was younger, although I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't much of a Boy Scout. I only went to den meetings because there were snacks, I never learned any cool knots, I can't start a fire with sticks, my pinewood derby cars usually came in last place, and my idea of camping is a Holiday Inn.

One of the things Boy Scouts proud themselves on is earning merit badges. There are more than 100 merit badges a scout can earn by learning something new or performing some sort of community service. There are merit badges for obvious Boy Scout activities like archery, wilderness survival, canoeing, woodworking, first aid, and rifle shooting. Then there are merit badges for activities that I never thought a Boy Scout would be involved in; railroading, salesmanship, lifesaving, and bugling for example. I don't know how many bugle playing train conductors there are, but like I said - I wasn't exactly a model Scout.

Tonight while I was out on a bike ride, I rode through a neighborhood intersection. There was a little boy standing on the corner, he was maybe 5 years old. As I rode by him I said, "Hi buddy!" He looked at me, and then shortly after I passed him I heard him exclaim, "I need help!" I stopped my bike and turned around to ask him what was wrong. He explained (in five year old speak) that he was at a friends and he was supposed to call his mom when he wanted to come home, but he kept calling and she didn't answer because she's always on the computer playing games (which is another topic in itself). So, he was trying to get home but he wasn't allowed to cross this particular street unless a grown-up helped him across. He probably didn't know that I don't qualify as a grown-up, but I asked him if he wanted me to help him across the street, he shook his head yes. As we crossed the street together I asked him where he lived. He pointed to a house that was kitty corner to where we had started this adventure, there was a dog in the yard. He told me the dogs name and then said that it was as wolf. I was confident that I had gotten him home safely - I wasn't so confident that this dog was actually a wolf. He went running inside and I continued my bike ride, happy to have helped a little boy across the street.

I don't remember what I earned merit badges for when I was a Scout, but this kid deserved one for street safety, decision making, and asking a grown-up for help. I don't think he's quite earned the Mammal Study merit badge however - because that was no wolf.

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