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Duce's Wild: Cub Scout Chronicles: Lessons learned in the library

Many of the requirements for Cub Scout patches are enhanced with suggested field trips to significant spots in the community.

The

boys appreciate the history of their neighborhood by visiting a museum

or the newspaper office. For them, nothing is more impressionable than

hands-on safety demonstrations by a firefighter or police officer.

Our

latest excursion was to our little hometown library, housed in a

100-year-old brick building where the front stoop literally beckons

boys to slide down the swift railings.

Each

Scout wore his uniform, which seemed to help in heeding stern warnings

about quiet voices and being a good example. With a little advanced

organization, our youth services librarian was more than prepared to

make the most of our 45-minute visit.

One

librarian took the Bear Scouts on a quest to find their favorite tall

tale so they can each share a story at our next pack meeting. They also

had an assignment to read something about our local history and find a

book about American Indians to enhance a future activity.

The

Wolf Scouts eagerly followed another animated librarian on a tour of

every corner of the library. They learned how to fill out library

cards, how to search for books by their favorite author and where to

return a book after browsing in the colorful corner full of lounging

kids on bean bags.

They

marveled at the section of non-fiction books where all their favorite

topics came to life in slick-covered extra tall pages.

They

giggled while descending downstairs to forbidden lairs where librarians

patch and repair ripped pages with magical glue and powerful presses.

They gathered around a computer where our tour guide introduced them to

a Web-searching site with perfect parameters for children.

I

knew the boys were paying attention, but doubted their retention on the

cumbersome path of links to the Web site, until later that night when I

found my 8-year-old son searching for facts about dinosaurs on the site she had briefly introduced them to.

We

gathered back together in the youth section and the boys had five

minutes to find and read a book of their choice before it was time to

go home. I helped some fill out applications for library cards and felt satisfied that we had survived a public tour without incident.

But of course, I spoke too soon.

A

quiet giggle turned into obnoxious howls of laughter as one boy found a

picture book on potty training. Of all the thousands of books

available, it was as if a magnet led the boy to something that could be

construed as slightly inappropriate.

Of

course potty-training toddlers would find illustrations of bare-bummed

children helpful in their quest to understand bathroom expectations.

But one simple illustration was a true-to-form frontal view that sent

my Scouts into shock.

"This is so inappropriate," said one through his laughs.

I

couldn't snatch the book away fast enough and felt pangs of angst as I

imagined the boys telling their parents about the nude drawings they

found at the library.

While

it was impossible for them to stop talking about the book, my only hope

was to head for the door and pray for a distraction.

My

husband was helping load them into the van when he spotted some feral

rabbits that love to feed on the lush lawn of the middle school across

the street. The boys ran after the rabbits, and I thought

it was OK until one bunny darted into the street surprising a passing

driver who screeched to a stop and just sat there holding her chest

while watching the boys run and scream.

The

bunny made it to the other side safely, but all of a sudden, I wished

those Scout uniforms would suddenly disappear. By the time I got close

enough to make sure the driver wasn't having a heart attack or wasn't

cursing the Cub Scouting program, she started to drive away.

Lucky

for me, the bunny chase became the new topic of conversation, and I

returned the boys home safe, sound and with new bookmarks in their

hands.

Ideally,

I'd like to have a Scouting field trip once per month, which is just

enough time to forget all the mishaps and selectively remember the very

best benefits.