Happy Camper Club

by Inlander Staff

Scattered throughout our small editorial staff are one former Camp Fire Girl, two ex Girl-Scouts and at least one Boy Scout. Of course, you'd never know it from looking at us now -- we're all a bunch of drinkin', swearin' unrepentantly cynical alt-weekly writers who probably couldn't perform CPR or start a fire to save our lives. If we were forced to survive in the wilderness, we'd most likely just sit around silently sizing each other up, trying to decide who would be tastiest and least likely to fight back. "Kevin's new," we'd conclude. "Let's eat him."

Still, we surprised ourselves with our own enthusiasm when it came time to come up with the theme for this year's Summer Guide. Partially inspired by a recent book review of a Merit Badge handbook for grown-ups, we started talking about the Sashes, the Honor Beads, the Insignia and the Merit Badges of our pasts. Even the most burned out of us -- the ones who stare out the windows or draw Hello Kitty on their notepads during meetings -- had ideas.

And thus it was born, the "Happy Camper Club" approach to Summer Guide 2005. Throughout these pages, you'll find real Merit Badges to cut out and award yourself, as well as ideas for how to get there. Looking back, however, it was never really about the badge, or the beads, or any of the other assorted bits of childhood "brass" one could sew onto a uniform. What was most fun -- what comes back to us most in memory -- was just looking through the handbook and seeing long lists of cool things to do. That's our guiding principle in this Summer Guide and what we're hoping to provide: If you follow this handbook, we guarantee you'll have a great summer. And if you earn all the merit badges in here, we'll even give you a T-shirt for your trouble. (See page 80 for a scorecard and details.)

So have fun. Make it a family project. And send us pictures of your Happy Camper accomplishments. Who knows? They might turn up in a season wrap-up issue of The Inlander. Check out the badges under our Arts & amp; Culture Section. -- SHERI BOGGS

Publication date: 06/09/05