Deep Thoughts,  Inventions, Creations, Experiments

Weepy Webelos

Porter heard that the local scout chapter was looking for new members. Whoever leaked the information knows how to capture a boy’s interest– Porter came home chattering about making a car for the Pinebox Derby, earning badges for shooting, and camping at the Talladega Super Speedway. Bill took both Drew and Porter to the informational meeting and they were instant scouting converts. I drove them to the Boy Scout store to purchase their outfits, which consisted of khaki shorts, olive pants, a jaunty plaid kerchief and assorted patches denoting their den and pack and so forth that must be ironed or sewn on. Porter is extremely pissed that ten days have gone by and I haven’t managed to attach the patches to the shirt yet. He has plans to earn every badge possible in record time.

Last Saturday was the first official Webelo scout outing. (Webelo is the rank below Boy Scout, I believe. Bill told the boys that it stands for “We Be Loyal Scouts” which is flat out wrong; it’s “We’ll Be Loyal Scouts” which of course is grammatically correct. Keep in mind, though, that Bill believed until law school that the Preamble of the Constitution began “We da peoples,” and you can forgive his mistake.)

We were to meet at 2pm sharp at the state park for the Top Gun competition. Because Bill would be coaching soccer and then heading to work, I was the designated Webelo parent for my crew. Porter was beside himself with excitement. The boys have been shooting all sorts of guns when they visit Bill’s parents in Auburn, and last weekend Porter proved to be adept at shooting skeet. He wondered aloud whether he’d get a patch if helped other scouts who were having trouble handling a gun.

Saturday was sizzling, and after the soccer game the boys were already red and sweating as they piled into the van. They changed into their scout uniforms as we drove down the expressway. Once we entered the park, Drew grew queasy and we had to stop twice so he could throw up before we reached the Top Gun site.

The competition was already running an hour-and-a-half late by the time we showed up.  While we waited, a Scoutmaster wearing full regalia gave us confusing instructions about what we were to do when we took our places at the range. Each boy had three large targets with circles on them. The targets were fastened on a line vertically with clothespins and the boys were to shoot at the bottom one in the prone position, at the middle one in the sitting position, and the top one in the standing position. Each Webelo also had a sheet of paper with one big target on it. The Scoutmaster told us that each boy should first take five shots at this sheet to establish the pattern of the gun, which I interpreted to mean whether it was shooting a little high or to the right.

At 3:45 our guys proceeded to the range and I saw why I hadn’t heard any shooting. In front of us were the tiniest BB guns known to man. If you thought it was a good idea to buy your four-year-old a BB gun, this would definitely be the size you’d want. They looked like they were manufactured before the Vietnam era, and may have had a small role in that war as well. I’m no gun expert, but I know a worn out gun when I see it.

No matter. The men running the range were all about gun safety, and rightly so, although it was hard to reconcile their stern admonitions with the sad weapons that lay in front of us. After we’d all been thoroughly briefed on safety goggles (TO BE WORN AT ALL TIMES), cocking the gun and chambering the BB for your Webelo (OF COURSE I CAN DO THAT YOU MORON EVEN THOUGH I HAVE TITTIES AND NO PENIS), and the fact that we had twenty minutes and no longer to shoot at the paper and three targets (BECAUSE WE’VE SCREWED UP ALL DAY AND YOU GUYS ARE PAYING FOR OUR TARDINESS) it was time to commence.

There was one snafu, which I pointed out to the Scoutmaster.  I had two Webelos to manage, while everyone else had one. The Scoutmaster was completely bumfuzzled by the fact that one mother might show up with two children, and had I been forewarned of the situation, I certainly would have dragged Bill along with me. However, there were a number of Scouts wandering the grounds with no discernible duties, and I was sure the Master would motion one over to run the drill with one of my boys. Instead, he told me I could do both twins at the same time, although we wouldn’t be given any extra time to finish our shooting. In essence, Drew and Porter would be given ten minutes each while the other scouts got twenty. Nothing I’d seen so far led me to believe the Scoutmaster had an ounce of flexibility or humanity so I took the deal.

Now is the part where I must explain that Drew and Porter and I are fabulous at working out compromises and systems. We’re way past the point where multiples are horrifically hard work all the damn time (see ages 0 to 4) and into the finer points of sharing and rotating and working things out. So having less time than the other kids didn’t freak us out immediately; we just needed a couple of seconds to create a plan to deal with it.

I turned to the twins and told them we’d be shooting twice as fast as the other kids, but that was no big deal since they’d been shooting a lot lately and would certainly be able to hit the three targets and paper in ten minutes. I told them we’d rotate positions and showed them where the non-shooter was to stand.

“QUIT TALKING, MOM!” the Scoutmaster yelled at me.

“My boys need to know the plan if they’re going to be speed-shooting,” I told him. I might as well have been talking to the clouds.

“Scouts ready, and FIRE!” And the exercise began.

I started with Drew. He stood and fired at the paper, then got into the prone position and fired at his lowest target. I had two jobs: to cock the gun and chamber the bullet and to count his shots to ensure that he took no more than ten shots at each target. I was going to have him do all his targets, then switch to Porter, but the Scoutmaster was behind me and shouted, “ROTATE THE BOYS NOW!” so I had Drew retreat to the watching spot and motioned Porter to come up to the gun.

“My safety goggles are blurry,” Porter whispered.

“We’ll trade them with Drew’s,” I said. “Turn away from the range.”

I quickly yanked Drew’s goggles off and switched them with Porter’s. “NOT A GOOD IDEA, MOM!” the Scoutmaster shouted.

“Better idea than a boy shooting when he cannot see,” I muttered. “Ignore him and shoot, honey,” I told Porter.


I turned around. “Listen, Sir. These boys have to rotate safely if they are going to rotate between each target, and if they are going to do so, we have to have a plan, and that requires me to communicate with them. By talking.”

I turned back around.

“Ok Porter, you do the white sheet first. That’s just to see the pattern of the gun, so take a couple of shots and then we’ll get to the targets.”

He did, and we concluded that the gun was shooting low and to the right.

Porter finished his prone position target, and then I had him go ahead and do his sitting position target since the Scoutmaster had momentarily disappeared and I could save time by avoiding a twin rotation.

Then Drew did his sitting and standing targets and Porter finished his standing target. There were two other boys still shooting when we finished.

“My God,” the dad next to me said. “I don’t know how you handled counting all that for two boys, much less with the Scoutmaster yelling at you.”

I was feeling pretty triumphant myself. It was short lived.

As we stood in line to have our targets scored, I realized that the Scouts at the scoring table were carefully scrutinizing the white sheet of paper, the one we’d been told was to be used to establish the pattern of the gun. I jostled closer, and saw that the Scouts were adding the numbers on the target, and telling the kids who’d made a thirty-five or higher to take the paper to the red tent and get a badge.

I sidled back in line and glanced at Drew’s white paper. He’d hit it five times and had a forty-one. He’d get a badge. I looked at Porter’s. I remembered telling him to take only a couple of practice shots and sure enough, he had two shots in the ring right outside the bullseye for a total of eighteen.

I didn’t tell the boys what was about to happen. I let it all play out in front of the scorekeepers, who watched as Porter’s lip trembled and he wept.

“I didn’t know that was for a patch,” he mumbled. “I only shot at it two times.”

He was right. I’d encouraged him to take only two shots at it, because NO ONE had told us that white sheet of paper had anything to do with a patch. I hugged him tight while we walked with Drew to the red tent to get his patch.

It was a tough day for mothering. When we got home I congratulated Drew on earning his badge, and then told him that Porter was extremely upset that he hadn’t gotten his.

“He didn’t know that the white paper was for the badge, Mom. I didn’t know either. I just took five shots and hit it, and he didn’t shoot it five times because that man was yelling at us.”

“Well, it would really make Porter feel better if you say that when we go inside and tell Daddy what happened.”

We had a five minute pity-party in honor of Porter and the injustice of it all, and then we gorged on food Bill had picked up from the Greek Festival.

It will be a cold day in hell before I handle another Webelo outing.

One Year Ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Sexy Singers, But Can They Spell?


  • Mandy

    In the first paragraph, did you mean “khaki shorts” instead of “khaki skirts?” I was wondering what kind of Webelo uniforms you bought?? 🙂 Still, very funny!

  • joanne

    What a bummer that your first experience with the Scouts was so bad! The whole thing just screams “Poorly designed competition!” It seems like there was no purpose to the other 3 targets which means, why bother with them? What a mess.

    joanne’s last blog post..That’s a lot of Jesus stuff

  • Rebecca

    I wondered about the khaki skirts myself. LOL!

    Also, I’m a full fledged Scout mom, so I know exactly what you’re dealing with. Seems to be pretty standard with Scouting events. Some of these men… well, let’s just say they shouldn’t be working with people, let alone children. My advice would be to let your Council know about this. It doesn’t matter if you got the Screamer’s name or not – they’ll know who he is. Just let them know how poorly run the whole thing was and what a disadvantage your TWINS were at. Always be prepared? Um… not quite. It won’t help your guys, but maybe next year things will be better organized and other boys won’t have the same experience.

    Hang in there, Anne… Scouting is FUN! *eye roll*

    Rebecca’s last blog post..Awesome hand me down from big brother!

  • lake lurker

    I ditto what Rebecca says.Let the Council leadership know what happened and maybe this won’t happen again.I’ve been involved with Scouting most of my life and it can be a very positive experience for young boys.Give Porter a big pat on the back from me and tell him he’s a winner in my book.

    lake lurker’s last blog post..Weepy Webelos

  • Katherine

    The instructor definitely should have sent one of the Boy Scouts over to help you so each boy could shoot properly.

    I hope this doesn’t kill their enthusiasm for Scouts. I have one Boy Scout and one Webelos and Scouting is great for them. And yes, I get harassed about sewing badges on too. Luckily Webelos earn pins – much easier than sewing!

    Katherine’s last blog post..New Car!

  • Loth

    Sounds like both of your boys are better Scouts already than Mr Screamy there has ever been or will ever be! Good for them and good for you for not killing him with the BB gun. Slowly, obviously.

  • SuSu

    Did you think about targeting the Screamer Peemer? I have no patience with events like that, and usually my conclusion is that a woman is needed to keep things on schedule. You may be the one, Anne!!

  • Scout mom

    It appears the program is not being done correctly. Ask you Webelos leader if he is trained or not. Hope things improve with him sooner.

    It is Khaki Shirts. Webelos can wear either a khaki shirt and olive green pants or the cub scout blue shirt and blue shorts.

    Joining scouts is a great and a wonderful program!

  • Kelly

    I salute you for allowing your son to go through an unfairness and learn the valuable lesson from it. SO many people these days would have gone to those in charge and either demanded their son get a badge or wheedled it out of them. You let him learn a lesson that lots of kids are being sheltered from. The adult “real world” is just like you let him experience and he will be better prepared for things he has to face from now on. Good mothering there!

  • Wendy

    I’m so sorry you and your boys had such a bad experience. What a shame. And someone as arrogant as that guy probably doesn’t even realize what he’s doing.

    I personally hate scouts. I tried to sign up my son and we went to the informational meeting. We were told that because he was 6, both parents have to participate in all activities. Both parents have to go camping with the boys – and sleep in the same tent. Boys with only one parent cannot participate in the events or camping trips. Considering I am a divorced mother who would never be able to sleep in the same tent as my ex – let alone get him to come to an event, I just about cried. It was all I could do to leave the meeting in a composed manner. Believe it or not, my son understood and wasn’t sad. I couldn’t say the same for myself. Some felt I should have fought that decision with higher ups in Scouts. I didn’t want to be a part of an organization with people who clearly didn’t want us. So…no Scouting for this family!

    I hope your next event goes much better.

  • Anna See

    Wow! What an experience. You handled it beautifully! When my son was at the raingutter regatta (like pinewood but with boats) last year, I could see him start to stand up a little each time a design award was announced. He was sure he was going to win because he had done it all by himself. He made it into a little pirate ship with a trapdoor and treasure underneath. When a plain khaki one won for design, he was crushed. I was, too, and I was so proud of how he handled it. I do admit he and I still talk about how the judges thought it was “too good” to be done by an 8 yr old!

    Anna See’s last blog post..Aaah, the Joy!

  • Charro

    I hate that you had such bad experience too . I have an Eagle Scout and it was alot of hard work on everyone’s part (mine..driving and patches) but in the end it definitely was worth it. I could not believe, when my son applied at colleges and then jobs, how much respect being an Eagle Scout got him. The key is to have a great Scout Master , which we did. After webelos, there is Cub Scouts, which I was a lone leader for a year. Then it was a shared job with three moms which was great. Ps… I took my patches to the cleaners to be sewed on as I remember. Good Luck !!

  • Charlie on PA Tpk

    For the record: I was a Cub Scout, Webelo, and Boy Scout, spending 10 years in Scouting as a youth.

    My oldest started in Tiger Cubs, where I was his Den Leader through the end of his Webelos. Now I sit on Troop Committee, holding the position of Troop Training Coordinator, where my son has been a Boy Scout for over 18 months.

    So I am pretty much ‘into Scouting’.

    #1: you were right.

    #2: Scoutmasters can make mistakes (or in this case, most like a Cubmaster – Cubmasters generally lead Cub Scout Packs, which Webelos belong, but there are exceptions). In this case, he was wrong.

    I have seen MORE than my fair share of ‘well intentioned’ moms AND dads interfering with Scouting programs, often to the detriment of the program and sometimes causing a hazard (i.e. BB guns).

    I recommend speaking to the Unit Committee chairperson. The Cubmaster/Scoutmaster is governed by the Committee (the CM/SM attend the meetings, can speak, but have no vote on Committee matters). There ought to be monthly Committee meetings, open to all parents. That they did not properly explain the patch can easily lead one to ask what OTHER safety rules were ignored. Apparently there were none, but Porter missing his patch on this ‘technicality’ is an affront to the spirit of Scouting.

    Charlie on PA Tpk’s last blog post..Offline

  • Charlie on PA Tpk

    I sent that too soon…

    when I said I saw parents interfering with the program, I didn’t mean YOU were. I mean I have seen it happen far too often, so I understand the overall point of the Leader trying to encourage you (cough-cough) to back off. However, he *was* wrong.

    Charlie on PA Tpk’s last blog post..Offline

  • jackie

    Holy Crap–The scout leader (if he deserves to be called that) is lucky a small twin did not turn and “acidentally” shoot him with the menasing BB gun.(am I a good mom or what?!?) I am so sad to hear poor Porter and Drew’s experience!

    jackie’s last blog post..It’s a sock thing

  • justashley

    You are a much better mom and person than I am. I probably would have turned my back and poked three more holes in Porter’s target with a pen while we were standing in line. But two wrongs do NOT make a right, and I think you helped him learn a valuable lesson!

  • baseballmom

    Whoa, obviously that guy didn’t know that you don’t mess with a mom who’s got a system…he didn’t get his badge for that yet, I guess. I would complain too, but that’s just me…I like things to go the way they’re supposed to. I think we’ll stick to baseball, which doesn’t always go as planned, but doesn’t have jerky leader guys yelling at the moms.

    baseballmom’s last blog post..Wake me when it’s over

  • kate

    to add a bit of levity to a tough situation:

    Which president was the first boy scout?

    Woodrow Weeblo (my 3rd grader loves this one, sorry)

  • jean

    My husband insisted that our son become a scout. Insisted. So I signed him up and quickly learned that men should not be in charge of little boys. Ever. It took 3 years before I was able to convince my husband we had to quit. Actually, it took 1 year of me refusing to go to the meetings, refusing to help out and just generally refusing scouting. Good luck. Boy Scouting is nothing like the Girl Scouts – those cookies make up for alot of bad things!

  • Shawn

    I am glad you stood your ground, and I am sorry that Porter didn’t get his badge.

    Spencer is a Wolf cub this year, and he was a Tiger cub last year. Jay goes to all the meetings, and I occasionally buy snacks. I went to the Pinewood Derby.

    He loves it and has made some nice friends in his class.

    Since it’s largely a volunteer organization, I would imagine it differs from location to location. It sounds like yours sucks.

    Shawn’s last blog post..Palin Live

  • momumo

    wow… I was really thinking “accidental shooting injures scout leader” was the coming headline — I think you handled the entire thing with terrific dignity and grace — you were a wonderful example to your boys!

    momumo’s last blog post..part VI

  • Danielle

    Yep, this reaffirms my view of the boy scouts. I never have liked them ever since an eagle scout troop leader flipped me the bird. Here’s hoping my little guy doesn’t decide to join.

  • Charlie on PA Tpk

    At the risk of starting an angry thread, I must stand in defense of Boy Scouts. Yes, leaders are volunteers, and while there are standards set by the National Council, your mileage may vary. That does not take away from the very good things the organization does deliver, fairly consistently, across the board (this BB instructor being an exception).

    I happen to know there are many instances when Eagle Scouts have had their award stripped from them because of their dishonorable conduct. While it is unquestionable the ‘flipping the bird’ issue was above rude and dishonored the rank and BSA overall, such instances should not tarnish the overall organization.

    OK, I won’t belabor the point any further…

    Charlie on PA Tpk’s last blog post..Halloween, Scarecrows, Wedding Receptions