Sunday, June 23, 2019

Believe it or not, I had some camping experiences with Fundamentalist Christians when I was a teenager

I am thinking about this experience after reading the news about The Firs Campground near Bellingham and it's firing of Jace Taylor for being gay. Some people were surprised when this happened as, I guess, the Firs seemed pretty mellow. A stricter theology lies underneath the fun.

I grew up in a very liberal church that is now pro gay rights, but when I was in 6th grade, a friend invited me to join the Boy Scouts. He was in the Mormon Scout Troop; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Being good liberals, my parents said, "we don't necessarily believe the theology in that church, but if your friends are there, have a good time."

I enjoyed the first few camping trips and scout meetings.

By the time I got to 7th grade, it was becoming evident that I wasn't motivated. Scouting was kind of like a para military organization. Maybe too macho for me? I wasn't motivated to achieve any ranking beyond second class; a badge in scouting. They also have a system of merit badges and my merit badge count was zero. One other badge I did get, come to think about it, was something called "Order of the Arrow."

I still hung out in the troop mostly as a social outlet. Friends were there, it was a place to go.

By the time I got into high school, I was beginning to realize that it was politically more conservative than my own upbringing.

Still, as a teenager, I had mixed feelings. Part of the time, I was drawn to the more liberal leanings of my parents and siblings. At other times, I was sort of rebellious toward my own family so I trended toward conservative. Military service both inspired and frightened me. The Vietnam War and the military draft were hanging over people's heads.

Another one of my friends, named Jeff, who was in that troop, got Eagle Scout; the highest rank in scouting, I guess.I was somewhat inspired and also intimidated as I wasn't motivated to climb that ladder. My mom pointed out a nice thought tho. When a picture came out in the local paper about the scouting awards. My mom noted that the picture showed a Methodist scoutmaster pinning the Eagle Badge on a Catholic kid who was in the Mormon Troop. She thought that was a statement in ecumenical-ism.

Later in high school, during one of my liberal leaning phases, I decided to write some kind of statement and pin it to the bulletin board in that church. It was some kind of rambling theological essay. The only part I remember, today, was a statement I made that went, "if a stick doesn't bend, it breaks."

I tacked that essay to the bulletin board on the main entryway of the church outside the scout room. It felt like Martin Luther tacking the poster to the church doors.

I left it up a few days and then must have gotten nervous as I eventually took it down.

It was a bit surprising, to me, that no one paid any attention to it. Life in the church and the scout troop went on as normal. No one said anything to me about my essay. Maybe they couldn't read it as the writing wasn't the best.

Eventually, I decided I was in the wrong pew; so to speak and I quite the scout troop.

More stories from my scouting days and other memories to follow.