Boy Scouting, once a nearly ubiquitous part of the American landscape, has today shrunk to a mere fraction of the all-encompassing child and adolescent lifestyle it once was. The reason? Obviously rap music, and those terrible video games kids are ruining their eyes with, have both sunk their poison fangs deep in the formerly Wolf Scout Uniform-clad buttocks of our youth, who no longer wish to earn merit badges and sing around campfires. But this was not always the case. There was a time when Scouting was so powerful a force that it even invaded the trashiest, least responsible media known to parents - the comic book.

Combine the two squarest icons of mid-century childhood - Classics Illustrated and the Boy Scouts, and you get Boys' Life Comics, a compendium of comics and cartoon material reprinted from the official magazine of the Scouts, Esquire. Wait, that's the official magazine of MAN Scouts. Boy Scouts were supposed to read Boys' Life. And sometimes they did! Boys' Life was full of camping tips, uniform guides, news of the various Scout Jamborees, and most exciting of all, True Stories of Scouts In Action!

Who among us hasn't tightened their Cub Scout neckerchief and dreamed of rescuing that annoying neighbor kid from a mud pit and earning one of those Certificates of Merit? And what homeowner among us doesn't shiver in despair thinking of the water bill resulting from this broken main. I hope it's on the city side of the meter!

But Boys' Life isn't all about rescues and action. It's also about selling things to Scouts. Which really means it's about selling things to the dads of Scouts.

Just think! You can teach your son to be a crack shot with both a rifle AND a shotgun - and you can get rid of those terrible rock and roll singles at the same time! But let's get back to those Scouts In Action.

If it wasn't for those little kids falling into mud pits or wandering onto thin ice, we'd be handing out a lot fewer Certificates Of Merit, lemme tell ya.

Now who would think of turning their pockets inside out so they didn't fill with water? Not me, that's for sure. I'm gonna sink like a stone.

"Sorry, I can't stop what I'm doing and call the police for you, I'm trying to drag this kid out of the freezing water here!"

Didn't even wait until they were dried off and warmed up, wham, there the National Council was, awarding him that gold medal. Do YOU want to get in on all this adventure and fun? You can either write to Boys' Life, or just hang around your neighborhood frozen pond. Sooner or later a kid's gonna fall in.

It's not all life-saving feats of Scout heroism, though. Sometimes Boys' Life delivered frontier tales of pioneer excitement!

Like for instance, the time Kit Carson found himself in the path of some very understandable buffalo vengeance!

Turns out if you have a buffalo problem - any buffalo problem - the answer is "shooting them"

And if shooting some buffalo doesn't work? Try shooting MORE buffalo.

Thankfully, these marauding monsters were soon hunted almost to extinction, and we can walk the Great Plains without fear of being trampled. Or we could, if the Great Plains weren't another thing being erased by our so-called "progress."

Speaking of extinction, remember when alligators were endangered? Not endangered enough for little Gerry here!


The next time some clunkhead starts complaining about "helicopter parenting" and waxing nostalgic for the "good old days" of "free range kids," just remember these stories of mud pits and frozen ponds and hungry alligators, all of which are still out there, waiting for those unsupervised kids, which are very tasty, so I'm told.

Parker was awarded the Gold Medal for Lifesaving. Also some really smart shoes, and a belt, and a suitcase, and a wallet, and a fine meal that tasted surprisingly like chicken.

But it isn't all life-saving and buffalo-shooting. No sir.

Baby-sitting isn't just for girls! It's one of the best ways for teenagers to earn money. And if I have to put on a coat and tie to tell giant-sized scissors and matches to get out of the house, there'd better be money involved!

(So did the Girl Scout magazine run a big "paper routes and lawn mowing isn't just for boys" feature?)

Not even being the slightest bit subtle about the lack of parenting choice available here.

And while we're delivering news of interest to teens, here's the latest in music news!

Why yes the Beavers WERE headed for bigger things, after they grew out their hair, moved to the States, found some kilts and changed their name to "The Great Scots."

But enough pop music, it's back to Scouts In Action as Scout Kingston finds out that his little "stop" paddle means nothing to two tons of skidding Detroit iron on an icy Detroit street!

Watch as the car hits George and the kinetic energy is transmitted from the car, to George, to Mary Kathleen. This is a helluva way for George to earn his "applied physics" merit badge!

Scouts or non-Scouts, if there's a phrase that sums up the lifestyle choices of most 13-year old males, "total disregard for his own safety" would probably be it.

Just look at all the adventure you'll find in Scouting! Hiking! Climbing! Canoeing! Meeting astronauts! Square Dancing! Dressing up in culturally appropriative garb and insulting the rituals and traditions of indigenous peoples! And paper-bag masks, can't forget the paper bag masks. Still salty that my own personal Scouting experience included all this stuff... EXCEPT meeting astronauts. Where's my astronaut, Baden-Powell?

Here's an interesting fact about Roseneath Ontario - their fairgrounds features a classic carousel that dates back to 1906. And maybe if the Rylance parents had taken their kids to the carousel that day instead of letting them wander around the pen where they kept the vicious 200 pound ram, this tragedy might never have happened.

Sometimes you look at how fewer and fewer people are choosing to carry on with the family farms, and you think "what, and miss out on the chance of being mauled by two hundred pounds of rage-filled ruminant?" and you don't blame them one bit.

Well, that about wraps it up for our true stories of Scouts In Action. Remember, if you see someone in danger, ask yourself, are you gonna let some nine-year old hog all the glory? Get in there and start rescuing everybody, everybody!

One last thing, here's a poll for all our Canadian Scouts circa 1964, a vital issue that needs your input!

The correct answer is, of course, "None Of The Above."

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