Outrage of the Week: Boy Scouts Forbidden to Carry Pen Knives!!

Readers — This one is so utterly insane I’ve been saving it all week as just the thing to shake us up all weekend. (Why we should spend all weekend shook up by the insanity of pop culture, I don’t know. But somehow, it just feels right.)

Anyway, here it is, from Times Online in England:

Penknives may have formed as much part of the scouting experience as badges and campfires, but according to advice from the Scout Association they must no longer be brought on camping trips, except when there is a “specific” need.

The reason is a growing “knife culture” in England — despite the fact that no one seems to have been stabbed to death by a Boy Scout on his way to a campfire. While apparently carrying a fold-up knife whose blade is shorter than 3 inches is still actually legal, the Scout Assocation nonetheless recommends that “knives should be carried to and from meetings by an adult and must not be carried around campsites.”

Maybe Scouts should be carried to and from meetings by an adult, too?

Both my sons are Boy Scouts. I love the Scouts and thank God they take kids out into the wilderness (albeit, here in New York City, by subway, ferry and taxi. For real.) Without knives would my boys feel half as loyal, brave, reverent, thrifty and, more to the point, COOL? No way. Knives are one of the biggest lures of Scouts, beckoning boys into a  culture that inculcates all sorts of great stuff, like resourcefulness, responsibility, and the ability to suck venom from a snake bite.

Free-Range Kids’ message to Britian’s Scout Association is simple: Grow up. — Lenore

Outrage of the Week: “Marshmallow Safety Tips”

Gotta thank Amy Bronee, host of the show Real Parenting on C-FAX in Canada for alerting me to this story in the National Post:

Minding your marshmallows

Katherine Dedyna, Canwest News Service  Published: Friday, July 24, 2009

There’s no such thing as being too careful when it comes to kids and camping – even for hyper-vigilant parents. But peril can take unexpected forms – including the seemingly innocuous marshmallow, if improperly handled.

For maximum health and safety, one B.C. doctor offers his wish-list of marshmallow-roasting techniques for 21st-century campfire kids:

1. Apply hand sanitizer before selecting marshmallow.

2. Sterilize the roasting twig by thrusting it in fire.

3. Remove carbon from the twig with a clean tissue.

4. Put a clean marshmallow on the clean twig with the clean hands and roast away.

“And don’t eat too many because one, they’re pure sugar, and two, all of us have burned our mouths on marshmallows,” says Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer of health for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

“If there’s a flame coming out of it, it’s probably too hot.”

And I suppose if you apply the flaming marshmallow directly to your hair, that’s not a good idea either? How about the stick? Should one poke it in one’s eye? We do hope to see some more safety tips soon.

The article goes on to discuss a revolutionary device available from MarshmallowChefSticks.com . It’s a stick.

It’s actually more like a paddle until the very end, where it gets pointy, and it’s long enough to keep your kid over 3 feet away from the fire. What’s more, according to the website, this amazing breakthrough, “makes it easy to roast marshmallows.”

At last! ‘Cause I’d been taking classes for years and just never quite got the hang of it.  And to think the stick is just $25.  Get ’em while they’re hot!

(And then wait for them to cool down, of course. Kids: Please wait till your marshmallow has solidified into a tepid mound before applying tongue. )  — Lenore