Monday, June 19, 2006

Boy Scouts

So all in all, my first father's day in the role of father was pretty kickass. Me and the Ash and the Henry went to church that morning, and had a big fat parents and babies dinner with some friends in the evening...but in between all that action, I had lunch with my old friend Kenny and his son Trevor. Kenny and I met back when we were teenagers working on staff at El Rancho Cima, which is a Boy Scout Camp and one of the most gorgeous chunks of acreage in the Texas hill country in an area known as The Devil's Backbone. Kenny and I both came up in scouting, we're both Eagle Scouts, we both spent some of the best summers of our young lives working out there, and now we're both fathers to boys. His son is about ten years older than mine, but whatever. Naturally, our conversation eventually came around to reminiscing about those summers, about all the crazy shit we did, some of which one could argue was not exactly scoutlike, but what do you expect from teenagers in the woods hundreds of miles from their parents? Toss in some scouting skills (you know, firebuilding, knot-tying, road sign theft) and you've got yourself the ingredients for some serious troublemaking.

Scouting's one of those things that I'm sort of torn on, especially now that I'm a father to a boy. I know that anybody who read or saw the really fucking dark play that I wrote about Boy Scouts might think that I've written the entire organization off completely, but that's not the case. I didn't write I Am Alpha as some sort of "Wake up America! This is what Boy Scouts really do!" warning message. I was just an Eagle Scout with some fucked up ideas sitting in a black office with a laptop.

But Scouts, yeah.....on the one hand, I had a great time in my years in scouting. I learned a lot of cool stuff and had a lot of truly amazing experiences that I never would have had if I'd not been involved in scouts. And I'm not just talking about the mischief we got into, I mean the actual B.S.A. sanctioned activities too. And earning Eagle Scout, well hell, I may talk some shit, but it meant a lot to me when I earned it, and it still kind of does. I mean, I still have the medal.

On the other hand though, I take serious issue with some of the stances that the B.S.A. has taken, specifically their stance on gays. In case you don't know, the Boy Scouts exclude homosexuals from their ranks, either as members or leaders, a policy that is based on the idiotic belief that homosexual = child molestor. So I have to ask myself, if I put Henry into the Boy Scouts, am I in some way endorsing this idea? Will he somehow pick up this lesson?

Fortunately, I doubt that's the case. It's certainly not a lesson I ever picked up on, and in fact, some of the best staffers we had working at El Rancho Cima were gay (surprise B.S.A.!). And when it comes down to it, a kid's experience has less to do with policy set in a national office and more to do with parents who want to make something really cool for their kids. And the really nagging question is, should I let my politics get in the way of Henry having the kind of opportunities that kids like me and Kenny had, especially if me and (hopefully) other like-minded parents are around to counter the bullshit?

Father's Day. Parenthood. So many questions. And we've barely even got time to do laundry.

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