As many of you know, the Cub Scouts have been thwarting MojoFiction’s nefarious schemes since last October when, coincidentally, we signed our son up.
First they made us sell their popcorn. We just thought they had a popcorn surplus they needed to get rid of, but it turns out it was a fundraiser to bankroll their local office (they call them packs, but whatever). Kind of like how taxpayers fund the NSA to spy on them.
Then they held a “Pinewood Derby,” where they tricked families of scouts into unwittingly building a fleet of futuristic vehicles for their organization’s operations. We’re pretty sure we’ve seen a few of those things following around on weekends as part of their black-ops surveillance plans.
The final shoe dropped this last weekend when our son trounced us in an epic game of Space Fluxx, which we’re sure he won because of his intensive Cub Scout training. He unknowingly tipped us off when, after winning, he gave the Cub Scout salute before asking if we had any popcorn left.
Thankfully, the Cub Scout campaign season is over and we can go back to plotting our next moves. At least that’s what we thought last week. But then we found out that we had to endure the crossover.
Like any top-secret organization, the Cubs Scouts rank their agents based on accomplishments in the field over the previous season. Then they hold ceremony where they give out awards to top brass, promote the scouts to the next level, and induct new scouts into the family. Not only did we have to watch this (in direct violation of the Geneva Convention), we had to RECORD it.
The crossover happened at top-secret safe house deep in a forest preserve code-named Fel-Pro RRR (this is totally true). In a large, enclosed shelter the scouts cooked up hot dogs and there were chips and desserts and apparently some vegetables hiding in the corner where they belonged. Outside, along the gravel path to the shelter, family members set up a semi-circle of folding chairs to watch the scouts cross over a small bridge (really just a couple of wood posts and connecting ropes) and receive their new neckerchief, a marker of their transition to the next level of scouting. (We’ll call it a scarf because neckerchief is too long and we’re lazy.)
The scouts lined up on one side of the bridge, in order of their rank (Tiger, Wolf, Bear, etc.). The pack leader called out their names one at a time. Each scout, upon hearing their name, crossed over the bridge to the waiting scout leaders on the other side who tied on their new scarf for them. As the next lower level of scout crossed over, the scouts at the higher level tied on the new neckerchief for them, officially welcoming them to the next level. For example, Bears who had moved up to Webelo welcomed in the new Bears by tying on their scarf.
Our son was a Bear and now he crossed over and became a Webelo. At first he didn’t understand that the older scouts were supposed to tie the scarf for him and he got a little flustered, but then he figured it out and he eagerly tied on the scarf of the next scout who had crossed over to Bear. He also casually mentioned something about a tracking microchip, but he realized we were eavesdropping and he clammed up.
Of course, any event starring a horde of little kids has to have at least one “aw shucks” moment. That happened at the end, when the lone Tiger scout (Cub Scout code for agency intern) crossed over to officially become a Wolf. As the older kids tied on his new scarf, his mom asked him to keep his hat on so she could take a picture in his full uniform. The kid replied, “But Mom, I’m not a Tiger anymore.” His Tiger cap had an orange tiger symbol on it, while the new Wolf caps had a red wolf on them, and he didn’t have a new cap yet. In one swift move, the scouts welcoming him to the Wolf pack huddled around him, flipped his old cap away and quickly replaced it with one of the other boy’s Wolf cap. Then they all peeled away for his mom to get her picture.
Life has its many rites of passage. Some are more monumental than others. When you’re a kid, everything is pretty monumental, and these kids got it. To the parents, it was one of those little events that they get to share with their kids while they’re still young. One of those moments that they’ll suddenly bring up, pictures and all, shortly before their son goes off to prom or college or something. But for those kids, crossing over was an accomplishment. Tying on the next scout’s scarf, the creation of a bond of friendship and community. A moment that, even as their parents looked on, was all theirs.
As we walked back to the car with our son, he was strangely silent, with a far-away look in his eyes that, for a nine-year-old, is kind of weird.
“What’s up, buddy?” we asked. We just assumed he was mentally reviewing his next secret Cub Scout mission.
After a moment of contemplation, he said, “That really felt good.”
Yeah, he got it.