When I was a young Boy Sprout, one of my chief pleasures in life was the arrival of Boy’s Life, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America, in my mailbox. Chockfull of articles, short stories, tales of scouting lore and jokes, it even had a great letters to the editor section, in which my fellow scouts wrote about any number of subjects, including the racial tensions facing America at the time – letters containing both more wisdom and command of the English language than I myself possessed at the time.
After I left he world of Scouting I stopped reading Boy’s Life, though occasionally I’d run across an anthology of short stores which might contain a story or two that had appeared in BL first. Often issues featured stories by the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Jack London and Isaac Asimov. And, of course, The Space Conquerers, a long-running SF strip: https://planettom.livejournal.com/294248.html
Sitting in my doctor’s office last week, I discovered a copy of BL among the periodicals offered up to fidgeting patients. I slipped it into my bag and took it home to read.
Yes. I stole it. How’s that for irony?
At any rate, imagine my surprise when I sat down to read my stolen treasure, only to find that that it has been dumbed down beyond belief. The cover proclaimed, “Inside: Gadgets, Gizmos and Games!”
It had a nice cover, pushing the special feature “A Scout in Helpful.” Inside, though, the magazine I once loved now makes People magazine look like the The Atlantic by comparison.
I’m not one those who gets his cookies by mocking Scouting. The truth is, I learned a lot from Scouting, and am firmly convinced that learning Semaphore will no doubt save my life in the future.
I do think that Scouting has suffered at times at the hands of the adults in charge – who often have their own agendas – and this has hurt scouting’s reputation. But leaving aside meddling adults (God, don’t we all wish we could do that!) Scouting is good for every young boy and girl, and I wish more young people were involved with it.
No, it isn’t Scouting which merits my Internet Outrage today, but how far BL has been allowed to fall. It is now simply a magazine for Cub Scouts, because that seems to be about the reading level it is aimed at, I suppose. Though it has been my experience that even kids as young as Cub Scouts can handle more complex reading material than this.
Dumbing down the official magazine of a young person’s organization does the members no service. And it is no reflection on the Scouts themselves, but on the dimwits (who probably don’t see much value in reading for their own part) who make corporate decisions like this.
I don’t think that today’s BL will introduce young people to the likes of Jack London or Ray Bradbury, or feature a letters column in which the issues of the day are discussed. And that’s a real disservice, to both the Scouts and to society as a whole.
Quote of the Day
It should be clear to any student who might be considering a career of humor that after he has written his arm off, for funnier or for worse, even his best friend will still ask, “When are you going to do something really important?” – E.B. White, “Every Day is Saturday