Posts Tagged ‘folklore’

Celebrating Imagination AND Tradition

October 31, 2013
Batman: The Long Halloween

Batman: The Long Halloween (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Halloween is among the more popular holidays with the Scout-age crowd.  Its not just the candy.  Its a time of year when imagination runs wild.  Forget about what you are, or what your peers think you are.  You can be a pro-baseball player, or an NFL quarterback, or a super-fast goalie.  You can be a soldier or a sailor, Superman or Batman, warlock or web wizard.  Icabod Crane or the Headless Horsemen, Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, Charlie Brown or Snoopie, pick your hero or villain.  You can be anything you can think up.

I’m not a Halloween guy myself.  The roots of the “holiday” lie in ancient pagan celebrations of Celtic spirits, which became incorporated in All Hallows Eve.  I have a hard time reconciling the tradition with my faith (A Scout is Reverent) but that’s me.  However, it reminds me that one kid’s harmless fun can be another kid’s offense.

I’m not talking about being politically correct.  I am talking about respecting tradition and different perspectives.  History is full of a variety of stories–my post on Tall Tales & the Bear Cub achievement activity is the #1 all-time post I’ve written anywhere.  These stories bind us to those who have gone before.  Our ancestors deserve to have their stories told unvarnished.

At the same time, Scout leaders must be sensitive to perspectives we may not share.  We grow by learning and welcoming new ideas, and figuring out how to incorporate those ideas into our traditions.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  And our Packs and Troops and Crews will grow by letting our imaginations run a bit wild, without scaring off boys… or their parents.



Tall Tale, the movie

November 22, 2010

My post about the Bear Cub Folklore achievement has been fairly popular this year.  Not sure if I just hit on a SEO strategy with the ample Tall Tales name-dropping (Paul Bunyan, Casey Jones, Hiawatha, and all their friends).  Anyway, I really enjoyed this den activity.

One of our previous Pack leaders bought Disney’s movie Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill (with Patrick Swayze) and donated the video to the Bear Den.  (John Henry’s even brought into the story.)  I split it up into two den meetings, between talking about the characters in the handbook.  I didn’t get the feeling our boys had been exposed to these stories in school, which kind of made me a bit sad.  This stuff is Americana, not just our shared history but our shared imagination.

Now I’m not usually a fan of TV-as-baby-sitter programming, but in this case none of my cubs had seen it, and they really seemed to enjoy it.  Maybe you can find it on sale this holiday season.



Tall Tales

January 27, 2010

Come one, come all!  Join us on the Cub Scouts’ Bear Trail, in the Country group, as we tackle Achievement 4, Tall Tales.

“What we mean by ‘tall tales’ in the Bear Handbook are stories, customs, songs, and sayings from our American past…. American folklore is told in stories and songs, some true and some told in a way to make the story better.”

Requirement 4a: Tell in your own words what folklore is. List some folklore stories, folk songs, or historical legends from your own state or part of the country.  Play the Folklore Match Game on page 48.

Who wouldn’t want to read or hear or sing about Bigfoot and the Pony Express, Minnesota’s Paul Bunyan and New Mexico’s Pecos Bill?

How about Rip Van Winkle, Hiawatha, Charlie Parkhurst (who?), the Lost Dutchman mine, Johnny Appleseed, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and John Henry?

What IS the story with Zorro and El Dorado?  Barbara Fitchie and Old Stormalong are new to me.  But I’ve heard many a tall tale starring Ichabod Crane, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, King Kamehameha, and Casey Jones.  Why, we’ve even got a trail here in Minnesota named after that brave engineer of the Old 638.

Requirement 4b: Name at least five stories about American folklore.  Point out on a United States map where they happened.

Requirement 4c: Read two folklore stories and tell your favorite one to your den.


After 100 years of Scouting, the founders of this great movement have also entered into the realm of folklore.  Scouting magazine this month has some great short profiles of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Daniel Carter Beard, Ernest Thompson Seton, William D. Boyce, Green Bar Bill and more of the men who have made Scouting what it is.  I hope that in the next Centennial our own Scouts live on among the stories of their sons and daughters.

Have fun, folks!


Update: Fixed the map. This post still gets many hits off Google search. If anybody has ideas, feel free to comment!