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Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Another Kid Who Makes Me Feel Inferior

James Calderwood managed to get all the Merit Badges there are in Boy Scouts.

We'll get back to the bugling in a minute. Earning one merit badge -- much less 122 -- is no easy task. A scout must prove he is proficient at the task and is then quizzed by a professional in the field before he gets to sew that badge on his sash.

"Boy Scouts doesn't have a sash that holds all the badges, so I had to engineer my own sash. So I took three sashes and sewed them together so there are three parts to it," Calderwood said.

However, this is an excellent opportunity to tell of my one moment of glory as a Boy Scout. I was about 12 years old and it was May, when all the troops in the surrounding area got together for a Camporee. Our troop, Troop 59 of Allendale, New Jersey, was one of the great troops of all time. We had about 150 boys in the troop, a huge number compared to the other towns around us who were lucky to muster up 50 or so.

As the Camporee approached, our Scoutmaster, John Cebak, told us that there would be competitions in many events. We would be expected to compete in tasks such as knot-tying, map-making, and a host of other events.

Our patrol, the Apache Patrol, was, shall we say, not exactly made up of high achievers. We knew that our chances of winning things like map-making and knot tying were remote at best. But there was one competition that we thought we could win: Human Pyramid.

As the name implied, six scouts were expected to form a pyramid of their bodies. Three got down on their hands and knees on the ground, while two others got on hands and knees atop them. The final guy had to climb up to the top and hold up his hands in the Scout's Honor position and recite the bit about how "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly.... etc. This last part was not timed, but was simply a requirement to show that the pyramid was stable.

We drilled and drilled and drilled again. I was one of the middle guys, while the smallest and skinniest kid got up top. I think his name was Steven Hoek. Anyway we come up to the competitions and as predicted we did not do well in map-making or knot-tying. So we were definitely keyed up as we came up to the guy judging the Human Pyramid. What was the record? we asked and laughed when the answer came back that it was 3.6 seconds.

So the guy holds up his stopwatch and says, "Go!"

We did it perfectly and in no time at all, Steve was saying "A scout is trustworthy...."

And the guy looks at his stopwatch and does a classic double-take. "You're going to have to do it over," he says. "Why, what was our time?" "One point eight."

So we did it over again, and this time he clocked us in 1.6 seconds, and finally had to admit that we really were that far above everybody else.

But the best part was when the awards were handed out. We obviously won, no surprise there. But the guy running the awards noted that an Explorer Patrol (Boy Scouts in high school) had performed all the contests as well, and they beat us younger kids in every event.

Except the Human Pyramid. :)


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