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At six years old, I was the happiest boy in the world to be in Boy Scouts. Even more, after my first scout meeting, my dad told me that he was going to be Den Leader of the Tiger Cubs, which was what all the first graders were in. Life was good, for I was a good little scout.
My Pack of Tiger Cubs consisted of only myself and another boy, named Zach. But don’t you worry, this didn’t hinder our scoutiness at all, because what we lacked in numbers, we made up for in trustworthiness, helpfulness, kindness, thriftiness and all that other Boy Scout mumbo jumbo. We were the best Tiger Cubs that Pack 118 had ever seen; our ability to help an elderly woman cross a street was unmatched.
A year later, I was promoted to Wolf Cub, which doesn’t make sense to me considering that a wolf is a step in the puny direction if you’re coming from a tiger. This year our den was much larger, word of mine and Zach’s scoutiness must have gotten around. A different scout’s father had taken over the role of Den Leader this year, but this of course did not get in our way, for we continued our scoutly duties exactly like the year prior. Highlighting this year was our Pinewood Derby Race, which I came in second place in with my infamous “Duckmobile”.
Again, one year later, my rank was replaced with Bear Cub, which did make sense, a step in the ferocious direction, finally. Scouting this year turned out to be a little more hands on, no more goofing around, for we actually had to EARN our badges this year. There were badges for sports and out door activities, all the way to food drives and learning to sew. And best of all, they were ours for the taking! The pack received badges for completing activities together. Oh how I looked forward to wearing my scouts uniform to school on the designated Thursdays, for my wheel of badges grew larger and larger every week.
Finally, we were Weblo Scouts, where the real fun began. We were set loose, no more weekly check-ups. We were given an instructional booklet and good moral values to carry on our scouting. We were told that a later on in the season, we would have a huge ceremony and each of us would be awarded the badges we strove for, the ones we worked on independently! It was my time to shine, my time to earn more badges than anyone else.
I read through my booklet and found the badge page, where it explained what a scout had to accomplish before receiving a certain badge. The first appealing badge was the soccer badge. It would look absolutely magnificent sewn onto my breast pocket. It was already envisioned in my mind. But I couldn’t stop there, there were so many I could earn! Woodworking, fishing, camping, community service act, changing oil/tires, so many that I could do!
Over the next month I had my parents sign off on each accomplishment so that I could be awarded my badges, I couldn’t wait to see the look on my father’s face when I walked up to the stage, gave my Scout Leader the specialized “Boy Scout Handshake”, while he handed me my well earned badges. He’d walk around his work boasting that his son had way more badges than his coworker’s sons had. I’d walk off the stage with a smirk as the rest of the scouts’ coveting eyes burned holes into my overflowing badge-baggy.
The day had come, the day of the ceremony. I had mailed in my signed off checklist of my accomplishments a week before, so I had already been looking forward to this day for much, much too long.
The moment finally came, “Nathan Leach”. My name was called. I stood up, took my time while walking up to the stage, making sure that all my fellow scouts would recognize that I was the best, that I had earned much more badges than they had. My Scout Leader shook my hand and handed over my badge-baggy. I walked off the stage and back to my seat. The other scouts didn’t look as envious as I had previously foreseen, but that could be explained later, all I really cared about were my magnificent seventeen badges! I opened the bag and took out three badges. I was confused, only three badges? Help Fight Hunger Badge? But I had already earned that one last year! Positive Attitude Badge? What the hell? Must be some lousy badge that they give out to the boys who failed to make a birdhouse! It would bring nothing but shame to pin that on my uniform! Handyman’s Badge I did work for, but where were all the others that I had worked so hard for?
I soon realized that all of the scouts received the same three badges, regardless of the work they had done over the month. At first I was infuriated; I wanted revenge, I wanted my badges. How could they all be so lazy and careless? The Pack Leaders that I had looked up to for so many years? I was close to sprawling out onto the grass and screaming how much I was upset with Pack 118. I wanted to make sure everyone there know how much I loathed my former role models. The badges were everything, without them, no one would know that I was the best.
Later on I realized that I was just being a smug jerk, and that actual good deeds don’t need to be recognized in order for them to benefit the world. Being a good person shouldn’t be awarded with a crown and scepter, only with the self-satisfaction that you’ve done something good and just.