by Joshua Alan Terry
New Merit Badges Rock BSA Faithful!

Last night as I was up watching the new "Moonlighting" boxed set, and reflecting on just how much the character of David Addison has shaped my life ever since, I got a mysterious knock at my window. I drew back the curtains and flung open the latch, and to my surprise, I beheld a middle-aged man in what looked like a forty-year-old Boy Scout uniform.

At first I thought it was my old Scoutmaster Mike, who after years of searching, had finally managed to track me down and test me on my knot-tying expertise. But the sunglasses and goatee were a dead giveaway: once again I was to be paid an enigmatic visit by my old friend and mentor, Dr. Venison Skidmore.

With a grunt, he grasped my hand and pulled himself into my room.

"What brings you here this late, sir?" I implored.

"You've got to help me save the Boy Scouts, Josh." he gasped.

I was a bit stunned. I knew the BSA had faced its share of recent controversy, but I didn't think they were on the verge of oblivion. Plus it was the first time Dr. Skidmore had gotten my name right in three years. I nodded for the Doctor to continue.

"If we don't intervene, the Scouts are going to release a line of new merit badges that will undermine the credibility of whole organization."

According to the Doctor's highly esteemed source (a bowling pal named Murray) the BSA had plans to follow a recent social ill, the trend to reward mediocrity and discourage genuine achievement. In order to avoid offending or even potentially offending all people (and even some inanimate objects), several organizations had taken to the notion of giving commendation for insignificant achievements, and making sure that everyone always gets a prize. Now, under significant social pressure, the BSA was following suit.

Their plan was to retain struggling membership by awarding merit badges for the stuff the scouts were doing anyway, with the idea that an award or two would convince a kid otherwise fascinated with basketball or girls to stay on an extra year or two. The badges were designed to attract the natural interests and instincts of the contemporary scout.

"These badges cross a line, my friend." the Doctor declared. "See for yourself."

He handed me a folded piece of paper, which when unfolded, read the following:

NEW BSA MERIT BADGE SERIES (Scheduled for May 2006 Official Launch).

Requirements subject to change upon final board of review.

PYROMANIA SCIENCE:

  1. Candidate must demonstrate ability to generate campfire with single match.
  2. Candidate must demonstrate ability to generate bonfire in less than thirty seconds.
  3. Candidate must demonstrate ability to thoroughly burn at least eight of ten items listed on Official BSA List 00517A: "Common Items Burned On Scout Outings, 1947-2003."
  4. Candidate must produce four additional items to burn not currently listed on Official BSA List 00517A: "Common Items Burned On Scout Outings, 1947-2003."
  5. Candidate must complete ten-page essay on the topic: "What I learned about starting fires in random National Forests."

GLUTTONY:

  1. Candidate must consume twelve hot dogs in a thirty-minute period.
  2. Candidate must demonstrate proper method of assembling four different international versions of S'More desserts.
  3. Candidate must generate full five-course meal for seven fellow scouts using only Dutch Ovens and no more than three MRE's.

NUDIST APPRECIATION:

  1. Candidate must streak on separate occasions at least four times in a calendar year.
  2. Candidate must skinny-dip on separate occasions at least four times (other than those used to fulfill requirement #1) in a calendar year.
  3. Candidate must perform five documented moonings in a calendar year. Moonings do not have to occur on sanctioned scout activities.
  4. Candidate must present a written account of any philosophies or life insights gained through experiences recorded for requirements 1-3.

THE WHIZMASTER:

  1. Candidate must successfully douse campfire within sixty seconds. If unsuccessful, task may be repeated later on same day for full credit.
  2. Candidate must demonstrate sufficient bladder control over the course of two separate ten-mile hikes after consuming no less than two liters of Mountain Dew. Sufficient in this case is defined as taking no more than four urination breaks over course of complete hike.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE:

  1. Candidate must demonstrate effective yard coverage in Toilet Paper drill.
  2. Candidate must hit four of ten cars with snowballs within a one-hour period.
  3. Candidate must successfully hit one bicyclist with water-weenie balloon launcher at a standing distance of fifty yards.
  4. Candidate must demonstrate six different violent uses for a common stick.
  5. Candidate must demonstrate proper assembly of a dry ice bomb.
  6. Candidate must demonstrate how to properly throw rocks at lizards.

NATURAL EMMISSIONS APPRECIATION:

  1. Candidate must repeat the following in mid-belch: A) The English Alphabet B) The Star-Spangled Banner C) The Black Knight scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
  2. Candidate must report on the basic customs of at least four cultures that observe public belching as an accepted practice.
  3. Candidate must execute a successful "blue flame".
  4. Candidate must demonstrate proper CPR to any victims of previous "blue flame".

I finished reading and handed the list back to the Doctor. He grimly accepted it and looked at me with a sadness of a man watching his childhood stolen from him.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"Well, if those things had been around in my day, I might have gotten that last Eagle Palm."

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