Friday, July 11, 2014

Bored Scoutmasters and the Tale of the Wampus

As I have written before, I was a member of the Boy Scouts of America for roughly 12 1/2 years.  That's counting the years I was a Cub Scout, Webelo, Boy Scout, Assistant Scoutmaster, and employee at Philmont Scout Ranch.  So when I write about my time with the BSA, I can remember it anywhere from being an eight year old kid to an adult leader.

The BSA like any organization is going to get it's good and bad people, whether they are kids or adults.  Looking back, I know there were a few things I shouldn't have done that made life hell for my Scoutmasters.  And likewise it was paid back to me by a few snot nosed brats that needed a good paddling. 

Believe me, they don't all look like this:

The problem with being a Scoutmaster is that you are either bored to death while the Scouts are off doing their thing, or are inundated by 20 to 30 youths with too much energy.  So, it comes to the point where payback stops being a bitch and starts being a demonic force that will scare the pants off of any camper.  Case in point:  The Wampus. 

Now I live down in Florida and when it comes to the woods it means lots of wild hogs.  I have actually run into a pack of them while out on a trail with the rest of my troop.  They are big scary looking things that have a bad attitude.

I remember being told to take safety precautions around camp.  Always use the buddy system.  Make sure trash is in it's place.  Don't go off the beaten path.  Why?  Because of the wampus.  That's right, it was an animal that was off the wild pig line, but had broader shoulders like a bear, and bear like claws.  It also made a lot of noise, and squealed.  It liked to eat Scouts, so make sure to mind your Scoutmasters. 

Really, before South Park came out with Manbearpig, there was the wampus.

Really, it was a great scare tactic for bored Scoutmasters. 

But here's a fun fact.  What does a wampus sound like?  Well, it sounds a lot like a ghost howler.

I preferred using the metal baked bean cans, but they have a good overall method.  And why not make good use of them?  Those little bastards have driven me to drink before.  And I don't even drink.

But back to the point.  The wampus.  It turns out however we were wrong all along.  I searched google, and found out a few things.

Wampus cat

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The Wampus cat is a creature in American folklore, variously described as some kind of fearsome variation on a cougar.

Oops.  It turns out the tale of the wampus kind of got twisted by the time it got to our ears.  Here's the Wikipedia description:


The wampus cat is often compared to the Ewah of Cherokee mythology, in that it was a woman who disguised herself in the skin of a cougar to spy on the men of the tribe, as they sat around the campfire with their wolf brothers, and told sacred stories on a hunting trip. When the woman was discovered, the tribe's medicine man punished her by transforming her into a half-woman, half-cat, who supposedly still haunts the forests of East Tennessee.[1] In folklore, it can be seen as one of a number of fearsome critters. In some sections of rural East Tennessee, the legend of the Wampus Cat takes on a more sinister tone. It is said that the Wampus Cat is a spirit of death and the earth, and when her cry is heard, it means someone is going to die and be buried within the next three days.

So that's my tale.  The truth is once the kids get to be Boy Scouts it gets to be a little harder to scare them.  However, it's the Cub Scouts, Webelos, and first years Boy Scouts that you can really scare.  I recommend it to bored and angry Scoutmasters.  It's just a heck of a lot of fun.  I'm sure all the campers will find it funny after years of therapy. 

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