I have to admit I was loathe to let Chasey join Cub Scouts last year, primarily because I don’t subscribe to certain policies the Boy Scouts of America have embraced over time. But he was personally invited by a group of little boys in his class to join so I gave in. After all, Dave almost made Eagle Scout when he was a kid and it would be a great opportunity for Chase to learn some survival skills.

Well, my friends, my boy was faced with the ultimate survival test this weekend. Armed only with a close buddy, two reluctant parents, and a small amount of petty cash, they were set loose in the unforgiving nether regions of suburbia (a.k.a. outside Trader Joe’s). Their mission: Sell popcorn. Lots of popcorn.


The climate, I must say, was rough. It was the perfect storm working against these tough little do-gooders. Not only are we are in the middle of the country’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression but the popcorn with which they were tasked to sell was priced at three convenient levels: 1) expensive 2) costly and 3) obscene.

“Maybe we should cut the price in half? I bet we would sell more,” Chase offered.

He was right but as I explained to him we weren’t exactly authorized by corporate to liquidate inventory.

Consequently, sales were slow. But there were enough folks who weren’t totally freaked that their financial portfolios had lost half their value in the last week had it in their hearts to fork over $16 for a tin of chocolate caramel popcorn – or offer a nominal donation to make our guys feel mildly successful.

It was a gentle induction into the real world of capitalism as the negativity was largely held at bay. They got a lot of “no thank yous”, a good amount of “I bought some yesterdays” and even one “I’m totally broke little dudes.” One patron astutely noted that the Girl Scouts have it easier. No kidding.

But surprisingly, these Cub Scouts learned a valuable lesson they would never have picked up on any outward bound excursion. They learned about rejection, which is a really hard concept to teach little guys without harming their tiny, fragile souls.

“That was fun,” Chase mused as I tucked him in last night. “Can we do it again?”

I wanted to respond by telling him that starting fire from wet rocks or tying a hundred knots in an hour would probably be easier but just smiled and kissed his head and said, “We’ll see”.

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