Generally speaking, I had a pleasant childhood. I would say that I have no real complaints at all, but that is simply not true. There are always exceptions to the rule, and how I came to be a Boy Scout is one of them.
I was a pretty shy kid growing up. I didn't have many friends, and preferred to be alone most of the time. Because of that, and probably because they didn't want me to grow up to become a serial killer, they enrolled me into Boy Scouts. A lot of kids that I went to school with were in the local Pack, and my parents thought it'd be a good way for me to come out of my shell and make friends, and have fun. In theory, they had the right idea. As you will learn, though, I proved them wrong.
I remember being nervous on the ride to my first Scout meeting. I was wearing my brand new uniform, had my handbook and weekly due money, and my father in tow. I reluctantly got out of the car, and my fathers firm grip on my shoulder convinced me that I truly wanted to go. Upon entering the room where my fellow Scout's were, I noticed something was horribly wrong. My parents unwittingly had bought me the wrong uniform and handbook. Not only was I embarrassed to be the newcomer to the group, but I was also forced to sit through my first meeting wearing the uniform of the junior class of Boy Scouts. I wasn't ridiculed for wearing the wrong uniform, but it made me want even less to go to the next meeting, despite eventually getting the correct uniform.
There were a lot of kids there that I didn't know, but as young boys are wont to do, I quickly made friends with most of them. As much as I hated to admit it to my parents, I eventually came to look forward to going to Pack meetings each week. It was fun, and I learned a lot about nature, tools, and other stuff that I can't now remember. I was always a bit behind when it came to merit badges, because my dad didn't have much spare time to help me with things. He was going to college and working, both full-time, and I knew it hurt him to have to say "no" when I asked for help on the weekends.
I don't remember much about most of the kids in my pack, but I remember quite clearly the Pack Leader. His kid was the over-achiever of the group, always having the most badges, always completing new assignments first, and the first to have rumors spread about him becoming an Eagle Scout. I didn't mind the kid so much, but his father was very creepy. He was short, and not quite skinny. He had a beer gut that looked like he was hiding a party balloon under his shirt. He always wore a plain Hane's t-shirt with a pocket, and blue jeans with suspenders. He wore large, slightly tinted glasses, and had very bad teeth. He rubbed his stomach when he talked, his laugh sounded like an emphysema patients last dying breath, and he stood too close to you when talking. I always wondered how someone so uncomfortable to be around could have been appointed to a leadership position.
My pack never went on any camping trips or field trips. We didn't do much at all, actually, short of our weekly Pack meetings and monthly regional meetings. Sure, we did pinewood derby racing and we learned how to make birdhouses, but there was never any trips anywhere. I was always disappointed by that. When it came close to the end of the year, I was the furthest behind in my Pack. My Pack Leader sat down with me and basically went through my handbook and scribbled in completion dates so it looked like I was caught up with everyone. Even though it appeared that I was a model Boy Scout, all I knew how to do was carve a block of soap and tie a few knots.
I ended up dropping out of the Scouts before the next year began. I didn't retain the few things I did learn, and I didn't actually do most of what was required to pass on to the next level. It had become more work than fun, and my parents let me decide whether or not I wanted to continue. I can't say that going to Boy Scouts as a kid helped me become who I am today, because nothing I did while in the program helped me in other parts of my life. Unless you count learning how much fruit punch and cookies I can consume without getting sick as vital life knowledge.
Since I've had a few people ask, I'm going to explain Twitter. To quote their FAQ section verbatim:
"What is it? Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: 'What are you doing?' Bloggers can use it as a mini-blogging tool."
"How do I use it? Tell us what you're doing in 140 characters or less! Send your thoughts, observations, and goings-on in your day. Whether you're "eating an apple" or "looking forward to the weekend" or "Heading out of town" it's twitter-worthy."
When you have your own Twitter account, you can "follow" other people you know who have Twitter, and they can "follow" you ("following" means that their updates are shown on your Twitter homepage). You can send updates via the Internet, or via txt message from your cellphone. So if you're walking down the street and see two homeless people making out, you can let the world know about it by txting in from your cellphone. If you're at your computer at work and your cubicle neighbor just farted and it smells like skunk-meat tacos, you can tell the world how bad it smells.
It can be an interesting tool. I use it to make quick statements about things I'm thinking about currently, or if I'm going to be away from my computer for a few days I can still let people know what I'm doing.