Sticks of Stupidity
We recently returned from a week long summer camp with our Boy Scout Troop where I learned about the Stick of Stupidity. I went along with three other Scoutmasters to oversee our group of twenty-two scouts ranging in ages of 11 to about 16. Some of these scouts have been to summer camp 3 to 5 times, others are on their second tour, and a few are attending their first summer camp.
Some are homesick; others are having the time of their lives without a mother or father looking over their shoulder. With a fistful of dollars and a trading post willing to help part a scout from his parents’ money; some scouts have a wonderful experience at summer camp.
One thing in common all scouts (regardless of their age) have is the strong need and desire to sharpen a stick to a very sharp point and carelessly carry it around. These sticks come in various sizes ranging from the “Toothpick of Stupidity” to the “Log of Stupidity,”
To help you understand, I have created a few definitions to better illustrate brilliance in the making.
Toothpick of Stupidity: A stick slightly larger than a pencil in width and roughly 4-13 inches long, it is sharpen to a fine point, and then carried in the mouth. One might mistaken this as a useful instrument such as a spoon or fork when it is protruding from the Boy Scout’s mouth, yet upon closer inspection, it is indeed a sharpen stick being carried in the mouth. This is usually carried in the mouth to keep the hands free to slap another scout, pick up a rock, or find yet another stick.
Stick of Stupidity: This stick ranges in size from 13 inches to 34 inches. It is really useless for any given purpose because of its short size yet it remains the most popular of all Sticks of Stupidity. By far, it is the most common for a number of idiotic reasons: easy to find, can be sharpened quickly, is easy to replace with another scout’s stick in a pinch. Since many Sticks of Stupidity look exacting alike, they are a major reason for accusations of theft between scouts. Scouts forget that there are another 300,000 sticks all the same in the woods around them.
Sword of Stupidity: The sword is closely related in size to the Stick of Stupidity but as been made into the shape of a sword. The most common look is the Samurai swords of feudal Japan. The “blade” is careful craved out of the stick to resemble the shape of a samurai sword. The handle might be crave with a crisscross pattern or wrapped with twine. The Sword of Stupidity is made at the expense of one’s own personal hygiene (showers? I’m too busy making a sword!).
Walking Stick of Stupidity: While a walking stick is helpful to many people, the Walking Stick of Stupidity is not. A long stick, one would think a walking stick would be a wonderful thing to help on a hike for balance, extra support, etc. These are all great points except that this walking stick is sharpen to a fine point. With this fine point, it is jabbed into logs, dirt, in between rocks, a fellow scout’s legs, and gets stuck quite often. The owner often stops to sharpen the point, thus slowly down the whole hiking party making a five minute hike into a 55 minute ordeal.
Staff of Stupidity: The Staff of Stupidity and the Walking Stick of Stupidity are often mistaken for each other due to their same length. Yet, the Staff of Stupidity is really too thick and heavy to be an easy to use item. The owner can barely get his hand around it but will insist that they can. The Staff of Stupidity is dropped on a regular basis because of the poor grip the owner has. Sharpening the Staff is very hard and is more of a rounded point than any other stick in the Sticks of Stupidity family.
Log of Stupidity: While most logs can be used as a bench, a bridge, or support beam, the Log of Stupidity gets its name most from the use of it as a play toy, not as a useful device. It is any unstable log that rolls back and forth and you can stand on. The user of the Log of Stupidity should stand on the log with untied shoes (or hiking boots), hands deep in one’s pocket, and rock back and forth in a matter that will make the log move. You are usually done with the Log of Stupidity will you fall flat on your face and almost knocking out all of your front teeth.
I hope these definitions are helpful in identifying the various Sticks of Stupidity when you see your scout with them. Please keep in mind that all Sticks of Stupidity are called out by the Scoutmaster and the scout is told to take the stick out of his mouth or thrown into the bushes or told to get off of it. While we are tempted to see the concept of Darwin’s survival of the fittest in actions; all Sticks of Stupidity have a short life span. I have personally sent many to the campfire for their conversion to ashes. Yet, they seem to come back again regardless of how many times Scoutmaster, parents, and other concerned adults tell them to get rid of them.
As Yoda would say “Made by Boy Scouts, Sticks of Stupidity are.”
As always your comments are always welcome!