Sunday’s Column – Another Rite Of Passage

Dec 2, 2013 by

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Was there a man dismay’d ? 

Not tho’ the soldier knew 

Some one had blunder’d: 

Theirs not to make reply, 

Theirs not to reason why, 

Theirs but to do & die, 

Into the valley of Death 

Rode the six hundred.

Weapons — in this case, an arrow — were handed to each boy by their father. The boys, in turn, handed their moms a single rose. As each boy was called forward, they threw their old scarves into the fire. Their new leader presented them with different colored epaulets, signaling their advancement in rank.

The boys are becoming men.

Okay, so in this case there weren’t 600, only 10. And it wasn’t into the valley of Death, but rather down the hill. And no, no one died.

It was Crossover. A ceremony we have tweaked — not twerked — over the last couple of years. We — the dads — were pretty impressed with what we put together. It was a rite of passage. An initiation into a new world, so to speak.

Yes, the Webelos II of Pack 47 were now officially members of Boy Scout Troop 47. Truth be told, most of the parents of the graduates were happiest that there would be no more Pinewood Derby. That annual contest where dads took a block of wood and tried to cut it into something resembling a race car. And then the moms, after demanding said dads go to the hospital to stitch up X number of nearly sawed-off fingers, would decorate said block of wood into something.

The boys are becoming men.

Tradition holds that after the ceremony the former cub scouts — now boy scouts — join the older scouts and sleep down at the scout area. No more sleeping with mom and dad. They are now scouts.

The ceremony itself at the battleground, er … campsite, started late. Traffic was bad, the time change meant it was darker than normal. By the time the rite of passage and the following celebratory feast were over, it was really late. And really, really cold.

So instead of pitching tents, several parents just blew up their sleeping pads and slept in their SUVs. And I called “foul.” I realized this was car camping, but that definition does not include actually sleeping in a car.

One of the rules our troop has is no electronics. Cell phones are collected and kids can call home at night, but nothing else. Yeah, that always works. You can always tell some kid(s) are violating that. You’ll see a bunch of kids huddled together. Very, very quiet. You walk up and they are watching some video or game or whatever.

And we give the speech about no electronics and whatnot and threaten loss of limb if said electronics rule is violated again.

And all the parents agree and wonder why their kids can’t just enjoy the outdoors one time without electric stimuli. What is our world coming to, we ask. Can’t we just focus on God’s incredible creation and not on getting another achievement unlocked?

You learn quickly in the woods that cold air zaps battery life. And it’s not long before the adults are lining up to get their turn to charge up various cell phones. Or they head to the car to use the cigarette charger — or to catch up on the latest football scores.

This is not the intent of camping, I try to explain in a huff.

I’ve had enough. I brought books to read. Now if I can just find a charger to juice up my e-reader.

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