Upside Down Bobcats
Peter Farnham (pfarnham@ASBMB.FASEB.ORG)
Tue, 26 Sep 1995 10:43:45 EST
I've been interested in the discussion of the "ceremony" involving
turning new bobcats upside down. We used to do this in my cub pack,
but stopped the day I became CM. Without meaning to give offense to
those of you who still do it, I must say I intensely dislike this
practice, and would have stopped it in my pack anyway even if we had
not been advised to do so by Council.
We were told at pow wow in 1993 (and again at roundtable recently)
that while we are not forbidden from doing this, Council strongly
advises against it, and if something were to happen, we would be "on
our own," as it was put. First, it can be construed as an initiation
(I think it clearly is), which is forbidden in the BSA. Second, there
is a possibility of injury (unlikely, but it could happen). Third, I
know for a fact that some kids don't like it because I saw it in my
own den (they became bobcats the last year this was done in our pack).
None of them were reduced to tears or anything--it wasn't THAT
traumatic an experience-- but some of them were pretty nervous and did
not have a good time. Fourth, we are a diverse society with many
cultures, and some may take offense. However, none of these reasons
are why I discontinued the practice.
I think this practice is undignified and not conducive to the attitude
I try to inculcate in my cubs. Typically, during this "ceremony," the
other boys would all yell at the top of their lungs, "DROP HIM! DROP
HIM! DROP HIM!" This scene appalled me, to be blunt about it. Then,
afterward, the boys were expected to drink "bobcat blood," that is,
tomato juice. Does all this really convey what scouting is supposed
to be about? I don't think so.
One can come up in very short order with far more impressive and
meaningful ceremonies for bobcat inductions. Use candle logs, your
crossover bridge (it isn't just for the weebs, you know), music like
the theme from "Rocky" or "Chariots of Fire." Respectfully use Native
American regalia if you like. Set up a fake fire (logs in a pile,
with a red light bulb underneath) and do the ceremony around that.
Whatever you do, the main thing is to make the ceremony meaningful and
impressive. Write it yourself, or consult "Staging Pack and Den
Ceremonies." It is amazing what candles, flags, soft music, and some
appropriate words delivered in a quiet voice can do to make a ceremony
memorable. All it takes is a little flare for the dramatic.
Remember, it may be hokey to you, but you are not eight years old. I
guarantee an eight-year-old will remember such a dignified ceremony,
with a lot more pleasure than being held upside down with the charming
phrase "DROP HIM! DROP HIM!" ringing in his ears.
You can keep the "good turn" aspect in by having the parents pin the
badge on upside down. You explain the significance of this by telling
the story about how scouts got started in America. That is, William
Boyce in 1909 meeting the unknown boy scout in the fog in London, who
took him to where he was going and then disappeared without even
waiting around for a tip. Boyce was so impressed he looked up
Baden-Powell to learn more about scouting, and came home and started
the BSA in 1910. Now we are a nationwide movement with almost 5
million members, and tens of millions of alumni. Such is the power of
a single good turn.
The badge is pinned on upside down to physically symbolize the "good
turn," in that when you perform an unbidden act of kindness for
someone--help your sister or brother clean their room, for example
(this always gets a laugh when I mention it)--you get to "turn" the
bobcat badge over and sew it on your uniform permanently.
We have even had the webelos scouts act out the Boyce encounter (an
approach you might want to consider). Anyway, I think this story is
very moving--I have been surprised to find myself tearing up sometimes
when I tell it--and it is a good way to bring home to the new boys and
to the parents the true meaning of scouting.
Anyway, use your imaginations, write your own ceremony or modify one
from "Staging Pack and Den Ceremonies," and go for it!
CM, Pack 1515
GW District, NCAC
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City