Subject: Bishop Dad and my Boy Scout years
Date: Oct 20 09:24
Author: Stray Mutt

A memory came flooding back yesterday while I was
out walking.

Back when I was a kid, I needed to fulfill my 5-mile hike
requirement for Scouts. Since we had a lame troop that
went on very few activities, we were pretty much on our
own when it came to fulfilling requirements. And since
Dad was bishop, with no extra time (and little
inclination) to help me in Scouting (even though it was
the official YM program) I was doubly on my own.

One day the word came down from Dad that I
had to get my 5-mile hike done because it was
holding me back, and the bishop's son had to be a
shining example.

Now, in my idealistic way, I had always pictured the hike
being as depicted in the Boy Scout handbook -- striding
along in the countryside, perhaps through woods or
over mountains, walking stick in hand, on the way to
some adventure, in the company of my comrades, like
real Scouts. So I said to Dad, "But I need to go
somewhere to hike, like out in the country."

"No you don't. Five miles is five miles. You could walk
around the neighborhood, or down to the shopping
center and back."

After some thought, I decided a better route would be
around the man-made lake in the next neighborhood
over. I didn't know how far that would be, so I talked
Mom into driving the route to find out. It was more like 7
miles, but at least it involved a semi-natural feature and
took me to new territory, even if I was "hiking" on
sidewalks through the suburbs.

Though I was going to do it early on a Saturday
morning, Dad couldn't spare a couple of hours to come
with me. So it was decided my older sister's boyfriend
(who I barely knew) would come along to make sure I
didn't get lost or hurt.

What a pathetic hike. And when I was done, there was
no acknowledgement from Dad.

Subject: You were a human doing.
Date: Oct 20 09:35
Author: Breeze

That is a term relating what compulsive folks expect of
the people around them. Don't know if your dad and
family were compulsive or not, but you (and maybe
everyone else in your family?) were expected to DO. Get
things done. Check off your dance card. What you really
WERE or ARE isn't as important as what you DO.

What a bummed out story. It's like a scene from a
movie on the reality of being a teen ager. Nearly
everything is not what we'd expected.

Subject: That's a sad story, Mutt
Date: Oct 20 09:44
Author: J.

i'm sorry the morg took away from your childhood like that and also
sad they took away from your Pa's fatherhood.

really a religion which believes in quality family time, huh?

Subject: Getting back to nature
Date: Oct 20 11:04
Author: Elwood

I usually relate very well to your stories - its like we grew up in parallel homes sometimes. From what I have gathered, we even lived close to each other. Its always good therapy. Thanks for posting them.

This one, however, showed me at least one good point of my bishop father. He never pushed scouting on his kids. I think it was because he was not the scout type as a kid. He wasn't interested in anything that didn't have to do with cars or girls as a kid. I think he would have felt hypocritical pushing it on us, and good for him for that. I didn't go in for it much on my own either, so I never made it past Star in scouts, and I think the scoutmaster cheated to get me that far.

I did have a hike in the same vein as yours, though not as bad. We were spending the night at Tracy Wigwam, up Millcreek Canyon one night and we had a hike requirement to fullfil. (We may have only been cub scouts at the time, can't remember.) Did we hike on the trails through the canyon? Nah. A leader put us in his car and drove down the canyon until his odometer said we had gone the needed distance, then let us out to walk back along the road. At least there were a few of us together. Several cars stopped and asked if we wanted a ride. After a while one of the guys had had enough so he took a ride - and told the leader to stick his hiking requirement. Getting back to nature walking along asphalt - scouting at its finest.

Subject: Sometimes, I think I had it bad...
Date: Oct 20 11:39
Author: Makurosu

...and then I hear stories like that of parents who were so unsupportive. Of course, my parents dragged me kicking and screaming all the way to Eagle when I would rather have been playing Dungeons & Dragons with my friends, but that just almost makes me cry thinking of a sister's boyfriend taking you out on the five-mile hike. I just don't know what to say.

Subject: That reminds me of a similar experience I had.
Date: Oct 20 20:57
Author: Hobo Smith

I also had to fulfill one of those hiking requirements. I can't remember all the details, but because a deadline was coming up (like getting your home teaching done before the end of the month), I was manipulated into walking along the shoulder of a heavily traveled highway for about five miles. There were mile markers, so it was convenient to mark it off. Between the clouds of diesel fumes and motorists who thought I was hitchhiking, it didn't do much to promote affection for the scouting program. There were some grassy areas near the shoulder and there were ticks in the grass, so I guess that was sort of natural.

Mormons have the same bureaucratic, slavish devotion to statistics and legalism in scouting that they show in religion.

I remember the leaders in the ward pushing me to get my Eagle Scout rank by telling me that Eagle Scouts almost always go on to become successful leaders in society and scouts who fail to become Eagles would be branded as underachievers and would be rejected by potential employers.

In my adult life, I have yet to find a single employer who gives a damn whether an applicant was an Eagle Scout or not. (Most don't even know what an Eagle Scout is.)

Subject: my son's scouting experience
Date: Oct 20 21:55
Author: Gemini
Mail Address:

Stray Mutt, your story broke my heart.

My son is now on a mission (sigh). He excelled in academics, athletics and church assignments. However, he never got involved in scouts after he earned the rank of first class scout at about age 11 or so. When he was about 16, he asked me one day if I would be disappointed in him if he didn't get his eagle. At this point, I knew that wouldn't happen and, frankly, was glad he didn't have any more on his plate than he already had. He shared with me that some of his friends were being denied their driver's licenses, ability to go on dates, and other "punishments" until they got their eagle. This troubled me, but didn't really surprise me,given the (IMO) unhealthy emphasis put on this award in mormon land (especially in Utah).

My son thought scouts was lame. His scout leaders really didn't do that much to encourage them, but assumed the kids would get it done somehow. He then told me that if the scout didn't have his eagle by about age 13, "they forget all about you."

Subject: Thanks for that story Mutt.
Date: Oct 20 23:32
Author: TLC

I think I've come to realize that growing up with a non-mormon dad was a blessing. He was gone working most of the time when I was a kid but he did always manage to take us on adventures during the summers to Greece, Turkey and most of the other Mediterranean countries where he worked. He wanted nothing to do with the church and as a result, wasn't locked into a certain way of doing or being. He just went out there and lived his life and took us along when he could.

He wasn't affectionate or demonstrative in any way and sometimes he seemed like a stranger to me. But when our scouting assignments involved raising rabbits, he made sure we had lots of rabbits, helped us build the cages and then made sure we took good care of them. And our five mile hikes were always out in the woods where there were streams and rocks and lots of nettle and poison ivy to get into.

He has never said a word about god that I can remember and I've never discussed politics or religion with him. He never had much to say - he was the strong and silent type. But without the church pulling on him, he was free to be with his sons in the best way he knew how to be.

I wouldn't say that mormonism produces lousy fathers - I just think it distracts a lot of fathers from being as involved with their sons as they might otherwise be. I know my twin brother who's a bishop, struggles to find the time to be at all of his son's ballgames and other activities. But he's a workin' on it because I think he remembers how great it was to have a father who was interested and involved to the extent that ours was.

I think it's really sad that a church that is so known for its devotion to families, does so much harm to those families by keeping the dad's so busy and apart. Sometimes I wonder if mormonism even has the faintest clue what being a family really means. FHE is a joke - boys need their dad's to go hiking with them.

Subject: THANK you stray muttfor bringing this up, its part of how I escaped
Date: Oct 21 03:07
Author: astu

My son wanted to join cub scouts, and so I took him to the school for the meeting. But it turned out that it wasn't the school troop his friends were in. HORRORS!!! the friends were in a buddhist sponsered troop. What to do, what to do. He was only seven, and as all you good mormons well know- MORMONS know that scouting should only start at EIGHT. So unbeknownst to us of the doom that lay before us, and even though i was in the bishopric and in charge of scouting--we thought "what's the harm" for just ONE year....

Well it was so odd, the mormons were the family people, yet this buddhist troop had the whole family involved, and in really FUN, father son activities, and many whole family activities too. They had this weird idea that OUTING was the main idea of SCOUTING. And weirder yet, they actually went into really neat wilderness areas to hike and camp and make lashed TOWERS and bridges and dutch oven cook offs, and twisted bisquits on a stick over the camp fire and tracking animals and EVERYTHING a kid (I REMEMBER WELL-Godf'ingdammit) I'm getting madder as I remember it.

All the while the church people are telling me I have to get him into the ward's troop-- a normal dysfunctional stupid lameass, statistic concious, all show NO GO, no activity, no time for the kids, in name only troop.

So the cognitive dissonance began. Hmmm, we're the family centered troop yet we ignore the kids and go to stupid waste time meetings all the time. The church troop camped out at the church grounds alot. HOW FUN WAS THAT? Not to my son.

When my son was ordained a deacon he really wanted to fit in and so he asked me to take him to the ward troop for scouts one night. I did-and waited for a half an hour for an adult to show up, none did but there were older boys, so finally my son said "dad go" i did, and then came back in a couple of hours. No adult ever showed, so the boys played basket ball and then the older boys said they would get pizza if the younger boys had money, so the younger boys sent them off and the older boys ate all the pizza. (this is not my "why i left the church disgruntled" story)

Contrast this to the next week at the other troop. The dad's all show up, some in charge, some just there for support. They bring other kids with them to play outside giving hte moms some time off. They have an organized supervised activity and planning and.....god, I gotta shut up....ANYWAY, it was really hard to explain to my son that god wanted him to go to the mormon scouts. (even though at the beginning I was totally conflicted because I beleived the church was true and were totally super TBM active.

Life is just so much nicer and easier and SANER without the bogus church. I will never get over how stupid it was and how long it took to see. I'm so glad we have real true happy memories not just statistical acheivements.

ps our ward crammed their hikes all into a saturday, hiking along the hiway too. We did ocean hikes, mountain hikes, so much fun.....but we DID miss church sometimes. (I actually would grab the boys and make them change in the car and rush into church when we were on the late schedule) that was sooo nuts. I'm so glad we finally saw the light.