March 19, 2008
"Cub Scout Splittists"
Posted by Gordon Smith

Yesterday evening, I attended a Court of Honor for my twin sons, Christian and Conrad, who are avid Boy Scouts. Though only 11 years old, they each have earned 20 merit badges, and last night they advanced to the rank of Star. That means only 12 months, four required merit badges, and a service project stand between them and the rank of Eagle Scout (which my oldest son earned almost exactly three years ago).

We view Scouting as an important part of their educational experience, and we attempt to provide similar experiences for our daughters. The merit badges require the boys to stretch their abilities and to step out of their comfort zones. They are required to interact with adults and to learn a wide variety of new things. For example, Christian is helping his mother to create a garden in our backyard, while Conrad is learning to play hymns on the piano. Both of them are learning to manage finances from a business consultant in our neighborhood, and I am preparing to sit them down for a session on contracts.

Anyway, I had Scouting on my mind when I received this story via email from Glom-friend Don Clarke. When the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres played in Beijing last week, about 50 Cub Scouts (mostly Americans) went to the game. They were particularly excited because the Dodgers had invited them onto the field to meet the players after the game. Here is what happened next:

Just before the game, the Haidian district police barred the scouts from the field. Why? Because thousands of kilometers away, in the Himalayas, monks and others in Tîbet had launched protests against Chinese rule. The government apparently feared that the young Americans would use their moment on the grassy infield to agitate for Tîbetan independence. This fear that a pack of cub scouts would politicize a baseball game drove the government to politicize the event more effectively than any Tîbetan splittist could hope for, and disappointed a group of bright-eyed kids in the process.

Oh, well. It's not like they missed out on meeting the Twins.

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