Lightning Never Strikes In The Same Pla—Ahhh! Lightning!

When I was but a wee lad, I was somehow tricked into joining the Boy Scouts.

Try to remember a happier, more innocent time. I can't either!

I think it had something to do with a free pumpkin, which is, in retrospect, well, just as compelling as it was then. I could so go for a pumpkin right now. I would carve the shit out of that thing, probably into a likeness of my favorite Game of Thrones character (may he rest in peace), and when I was done, I’d make pumpkin bread out of its sweet, sweet innards.

Oh no! Now every time I see a pumpkin I’ll think of episode nine. What have I done? Ok. Moving on. After many years of ice camping, forced marching, learning knots, forgetting knots, and sitting through brain-manglingly tedious meetings, I found myself at the National Boy Scout Jamboree. There’s a joke in there, and I’ve spent quite a while dancing around being PC in an attempt to phrase it correctly, but I’ve finally given up. Now it’s time to pawn the work off on you, with Russ’s 1st

Ludicrously Reasonable Challenge!

Take the following elements and form them into a light-hearted and negativity-free joke!

  1. The Boy Scouts of America are known for being homophobic.
  2. At the Jamboree, over 40,000 young boys spend 10 days together in cramped quarters.
  3. Jamboree is defined as “noisy merrymaking.”

Anyway, I’m in this giant camp that spans miles and miles, and supposedly we’re there to learn things, so, in the name of pretending to gain knowledge, my friend Nick and I sign up for what we’ve heard is the easiest activity: Electricity Merit Badge. We hike an hour out to this little hut that’s divided into 10 stations where some bored adults usher us in and make a halfhearted attempt to teach us something about stuff. The first and most valuable station taught us the art of positioning light switches in the most logical part of a room whilst taking into account maximum reachability and minimal effort, an important skill by anyone’s standards.

As we powered our way through the next five stations, the wind began to surge around us. The air switched speeds, whipping through the tent, tearing the canvas from the poles, and generally sparking fear in everyone. Confusingly, the rain, just a sprinkle moments before, was currently a shockingly fierce torrent pummeling the ground, and suddenly the adults in charge are generating a panic by cutting class short and conducting everyone outside. Positive that we should bolt, Nick and I impulsively decide to grab the bulb by the horns and head for home.

We start sprinting back to camp, but we’ve got a long way to go. I guess we were the last ones to get nature’s memo, because the camp is completely deserted, and by this point, every minute or two lightning strikes so close that it’s literally right there on the path with you like that annoying girl who has a crush on you who you can never quite seem to shake. You get the feeling that she’s hiding in the bushes just to watch you go by, but you can’t say anything because she kicks ass at trivia night and your team has an image to uphold at the local pub, damn it.

We finally pass a troop leader who asks us what the hell we’re doing still outside when there’s a tornado brewing and we’re this close to being blown half a drug trip from Kansas, but thankfully he’s on a mission and doesn’t have time to deal with us. Fueled by the invincibility of youth and a healthy portion of hunger, we veer out of our way to see if the snack shack is open, and hot dog, it is! Soon enough, we’re twiddling our idiot fingers underneath the overhang, waiting for burgers while a light show of death plays all around us.

We eventually get our food and resume our run, but another adult grabs us by our neckerchiefs and drags us into this little tent. It was like something out of a sci-fi apocalypse movie where the resistance sees you on the street and pulls you into a safe house then tries to recruit you. There’s hundreds of people huddled into this tiny tent which is somehow blisteringly hot, and we’re so squished that we can’t get the burgers to our mouths—a serious problem. The leader of the resistance stands up on a stool and starts this epic speech about how dangerous the world is out there, but that we’ll be safe as long as we stick together and don’t leave the tent (it’s got a lightning rod!), and the whole time I’m just looking down at my burger with salivatory sorrow as I watch it growing cold.

Nick looks at me, and  the mutual understanding of childhood friends passes between us. We nod and both make a break for it, dodging a guard and slipping out the back of the tent to freedom. Now all we have to do is run across a wide open field that’s about a quarter mile long and we’ll be back to the safety of our own camp where we’ll have both friends and playing cards, two things obviously worth risking your life for.

I remember pausing at the edge of the field, finishing the last bite of my rain-soaked burger, and wondering, for the first time, whether this idea was any sort of good, but hey, it was too late to turn back now, so Nick and I just set off into the open. As I’m running, I turn to see him panting away and realize that he’s a good six or seven inches taller than me, so if lightning’s going to hit anything, it’ll be him. I breathe a sigh of relief, which is immediately cut short by lightning striking a tree at the edge of the field.

We made it back to camp to cheers and hugs, and proceeded to play cards long into the night.

The next day, we found out that four scouts had been hit by lightning.

Don’t worry. They were all fine, but only because everyone around them knew a crapload of first aid.

Oh yeah, and remember Station 7, the one we didn’t quite make it to because of that giant lightning storm? The one that we were literally 5 minutes from completing? That’s right–it was Lightning Safety.


Filed under Stories

35 responses to “Lightning Never Strikes In The Same Pla—Ahhh! Lightning!

  1. Miriam Joy

    Brilliant post – I love it. And I love the artwork, especially the light show of death! How ironic about the lightning safety.
    I remember on my first ever school trip, in year one (I’d just turned six), we went to Godstone Farm and also to the village of Godstone. Unfortunately, there was a massive thunderstorm when we were just about to see the village after we’d been to the farm, so we had to go home early. The coach was soaked. I don’t remember details, it being almost ten years ago, but it certainly made for an interesting trip.
    I guess learning all that first aid at scout meetings does come in handy occasionally…

  2. Blake

    I look forward to you blog every week Russ!

  3. corlosky

    Your posts always give me a much needed laugh. And the artwork is hilarious. Thanks for posting such great stuff!

  4. Jim Hagen

    That joke challenge is a tough one.

    Q–How do you confuse 40,000 Boy Scouts at a Jamboree?
    A–Have Lara Croft pay a visit.

  5. Don’t be Joffrey, he’s a prat. Though, dressing up as Joffrey for Halloween would involve minimal manliness standards. Free idea. You’re welcome.

    I’ve been nearly-struck by lightning twice. ^_^ I realize it’s not quite as impressive as knowing 4 kids who got struck by lightning in one night.

    Nice pics! ^_^

    • Thanks for the idea, Amber! I’m so used to having to pay for them; this is a nice change. Then again, Halloween is the one day a year when I can pretend to be manly and no one has to know the truth…

      I’m glad you’ve never actually been struck!

  6. Haha makes me laugh, but I think I’ve only seen lightening like twice in my stunted little life :/

  7. Great story. I love the part about the hamburgers. So hilarious!

    ps. I have no boy scouts jokes yet.


  8. derekberry

    I am part of the Boy Scouts. Eagle Scout, YEAH!
    But also… I checked my e-mail all day to see when your blog post came up. Exciting stuff!

  9. dekeboo

    I have never been struck by lightning but I did stick something metal in a live socket – luckily only a mini shock and THEN it dawned on me. I once went to a girl guide camp and on an evening orienteering type treasure hunt,I couldn’t see a thing and ran down a hill and into a rope barrier – if you’re wondering it left me with rope burn around my neck! Yes, I am aware that I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer!

  10. writingandrecovering

    i love this post. I always enjoy your writing and the illustrations. I was in girl scouts for two years before deeming it ridiculous and I’ve heard many a story about about my boyfriend’s “fun” experiences in boy scouts.

  11. You only kept your mouth shut because I kick ass at Trivia Night? O.o

  12. Was totally baked when reading this, so I was getting a bit confused with what was going on. Still I put together a good picture of what was happening it my head and it made me laugh!

  13. Six Things That Every Boy Scout Should Pack for The Jamboree:

    1) An extra blanket- incase they run out of sleeping bags and people have to share… like last time….

    2) A picture of your favorite local priest for them to sign when they visit (because you know they will)

    3) Your homophobia merit badge

    4) Your rainbow colored poncho… you know for when it rains…

    5) Your collection of the best Elton John songs…. for campfire sing-along of course.

    6) Gaydar- to steer clear of any overly “happy” scouts.

    Great post, I’m looking forward to reading more!

  14. msperfectpatty

    Hilarious as always lol I find such amusement in this!

  15. asha

    Hilariously good stuff! I agree with Anne about a merit badge being involved. AND there’s gotta be a lisping camp counselor with a bedazzled neckercheif and shorter than necessary shorts trying to get all the boys to do a coordinated dance routine featuring ‘jamboree hands’—a riff on ‘jazz hands’.

  16. Amazing words and art once again! I am no good at this joke making, but I certainly see the humor and innuendo in there. I’ll keep thinking.

  17. Nick

    This is awesome razzo

  18. following on from what Russ wrote and being completely innappropriate as I go about it….I found myself at the National Boy Scout Jamboree…For the uninitiated, these Jamborees are a cramming of 40,000 boys into close, intimate quarters for noisy merrymaking. If the ‘Egg’ were such butch activities as these, one wonders how the ‘Chicken’ of requiring an anti-gay policy ever hatched for the Boy Scouts? Surely subjection to such conditions would keep any boy straight? Alas, many an egg goes unfertilsed as a result.

    Great post Russ. Loving my weekly fix of your outlandish stories 🙂
    J x

  19. Great post. This reminds me of once upon a time when I joined girl scouts and then promptly quit after a camping trip. They made us sleep in the troop moms’ SUVs because it rained and we could get “sick”– lame. Noisy merry-making sounds like a lot more fun.

  20. …Holy crap, that light show of death pic is terrifying. 😐

  21. And boys will be boys. I guess things don’t ever change, not much thought goes into things- not even dangers. LOL, you guys are crazy.

  22. Either this kind of thing happens often at scout jamborees or we were there the same year. 2001?

  23. Goddamn it Russ. You made me laugh again. Keep it up man.

  24. Pingback: I Am a Nature God! | Reasonably Ludicrous

  25. Amazing post! Boy scout tales is one thing. Also, I really liked your sketches! Keep it up 🙂

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