When I was but a wee lad, I was somehow tricked into joining the Boy Scouts.
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!
- The Boy Scouts of America are known for being homophobic.
- At the Jamboree, over 40,000 young boys spend 10 days together in cramped quarters.
- 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.