Thursday, March 31, 2011

the national jamboree


One of the pivotal experiences of a young nerd's life are the three weeks in which he is allowed to attend the National Boy Scout Jamboree, held at Fort Holy Cow I've Never Felt This Kind of Heat in my Life Before and I Want to Die Now, Virginia.

For most Utahns, this is the farthest they will have ever been away from home, unless they happen to be like all of my older siblings that got to go to Florida on trips with our parents, until they decided to stop that tradition when they realized they would be stuck going somewhere with Chris "I almost drown in waters with the ferocity of bathtubs" Perry.

For two weeks prior to the Jamboree, the young nerd and the set of older bullies, known collectively as a "Scout Troop", tour the Eastern seaboard of the United States, seeing such places as "I need to pee so bad and they're going to beat me up if I use that mangy toilet at the back of the bus", and "Is that the price of lunch, because I think my parent's house cost that much", all while wearing the best deterrent to being thought sane, the scout uniform.1

One of the highlights of this trip are all of the many instances wherein you can act as an ambassador from your home state, and convince East Coasters that yes, you are all freaking crazy, and why are you wearing a sash.

Of course, as luck would have it, most Easterners aren't even aware of the existence of, let alone the names of the states in flyover country.2 As luck would not have it, the few that do have less-than-stellar appraisals of the area.

Which is okay. Being from a state whose sole reason for settlement was the complete, utter, and total desolation that was thought to prevent anyone from coming after and persecuting a religious minority,3 you sort of expect to get a bad rap in those places where people have "rain", or "the color green", or "seasons where the moisture isn't sucked out of your skin to an extent that your knuckles crack and bleed from open sores".4

At the end of those two weeks, you are allowed to go to Fort AP "Birthplace of the Tick" Hill, Virginia, wherein you spend a week being brainwashed by adults of questionable sanity as to the benefits of trading badges with other scouts, which you will then place in storage and feel physical pain when viewing in your later life, realizing how you could have gone BMX Bike Racing instead of trading for that ever-so-valuable badge from Nowhere, PA.

The highlight of the week in Holy Crap, This isn't Rain, This is a Falling Bathtub, VA, is the visit by the President of the United States. I still remember sitting there, somewhere in rural Alabama, straining over the heads of sixteen thousand scouts, hoping for the chance to boo Bill Clinton, because my self-righteous self was so enraged that he lied under oath.

Oh, how far we have come in fourteen years. If lying under oath were the worst of a president's sins, I would kiss his feet right this instant.

Which brings me to my final point: Bill Clinton, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been so judgmental. I would take your presidential terms back any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Please bring them back.5

And if you do plan on attending the jamboree, might I recommend building up an immunity to cold showers and scouts peeking in on you.

Just sayin'.

1. Seriously, whose idea was it to dress kids up in khaki and army green and parade them around downtown New York?
2. I was in my mid-twenties before realizing that term applied to my home.
3. Which didn't even work, I might add. We still got an army after us. Though I'd like to here brag that my great-great-grandfather helped build fortifications to defend against the attack by the United States army. Which we subsequently abandoned, but hey, it was something.
4. True story.
5. I'm talking about the unbridled prosperity and unprecedented geopolitical stability, of which, admittedly, you had little to do with, but still, bring it back. Do not, however, bring back anything at all related to my personal life. I'm much happier with the current millennium.

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