THE THREE GHOSTS OF SCOUTING
- Ben Scrooge. A kid who thinks scouting is dorky Grungy plaid shirt, baseball hat turned backwards
- Adam. Ebeneezer’s friend; also a cub scout Scout uniform
- Ghost of Scouting Past. Scout uniform, old fashioned scout hat, gauze cape
- Ghost of Scouting Present Scout uniform, Webelos hat, gauze cape
- Ghost of Scouting Future Scout uniform, tinfoil hat with satellite dish, gauze cape, tinfoil backpack “jet pack”
- Baden-Powell [non-speaking role] Scout uniform, pith helmet
- Junior Military Officers [non-speaking role] Scout uniform, cloth military hat
- William Boyce Overcoat & scarf
- Scout Scout uniform, old fashioned scout hat
NARRATOR. The skit you are about to witness is called The Three Ghosts of Scouting. The main character is Ben Scrooge, the great-great-great-great-great-great grandson of Ebeneezer Scrooge, who also had what you might call a “ghost problem”. The setting is the Ben’s bedroom, which is a pig pen except for a huge 75” television hanging on one wall.
[BEN enters, looking ticked off. Addresses the audience.]
BEN. This ticks me off! I was just at my friend Adam’s house to ask him to come over and watch America’s Laziest Animal Videos with me, but he says he can’t come over because he’s going to some cub scout meeting this evening! Something called “Join Scouting Night.” I mean, who in their right mind would want to join scouting? First, they have to wear those dorky uniforms. Then they spend all their time earning patches instead of watching television all day like I do. And they march in parades and collect food for people in need … I mean, how lame can you get? I can’t believe he’d rather be in cub scouts than hang out with me!
[GHOST OF ADAM enters]
ADAM [using voice that is sonorous & spooky]. Ebeneezer Scrooge!
BEN. I hate that name! Hey, Adam, is that you? I thought you were supposed to be your stupid cub scout meeting this evening! What are you doing here?
ADAM. Adam is at his cub scout meeting. I am the ghost of Adam, and I’ve come to talk to you about your attitude towards scouting.
BEN. How can you be a ghost if Ben’s not dead?
ADAM. I have no idea – you’d have to ask the writers. All I know is that I’m supposed to come and warn you that you are about to be haunted by three ghosts. Their purpose will be to teach you about the true purpose and meaning of scouting.
BEN. Do I have to? I mean, I was right in the middle of a really good Gilligan’s Island rerun …
ADAM [in a more normal tone of voice]. Give me a break! Gilligan’s Island will be in reruns forever, but this is a “one night only” offer. So expect the first ghost when the bell tolls 6.
BEN. 6 is bad for me … that’s when America’s Stupidest Home Videos comes on. Can’t we do it at 8? No … that’s when America’s Ugliest Crooks comes on. How about 9?
ADAM. Expect the first ghost when the bell tolls 6!
[GHOST OF ADAM glides offstage.]
BEN. Okay, this sucks. Or maybe I was just imagining the whole thing? I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time I’d had a hallucination after sucking down 3 chili cheese dogs and a Super Big Gulp slurpee at the 7-11. Talk about brain freeze!
[GHOST OF SCOUTING PAST enters from behind.]
GHOST PAST. Ebenezer Scrooge!
BEN. Ack! Wish you guys would stop sneaking up on me like that! And stop calling me Ebeneezer too – my name is Ben, okay? Ben! Who are you supposed to be?
GHOST PAST. I am the Ghost of Scouting Past.
BEN. So much for the slurpee theory. Well, I guess you might as well tell me why you’re here. But if it’s to improve my attitude towards scouting, fat chance. I still think the whole thing’s pointless and dorky.
GHOST PAST. Do you? Well, then … what do you think about that gentleman over there?
[Points to Baden-Powell, who appears to be instructing several junior military types. Among other things, he points to a compass he is holding & then in different directions, clearly teaching them how to use a compass to navigate. Then he borrows a pair of binoculars, points to something off on the horizon, & hands the glasses to each officer in turn so that they can locate the object too. Pantomime continues as BEN and GHOST OF SCOUTING PAST talk.]
BEN. The one wearing the old fashioned military uniform? Looks like he’s trying to teach that other military guys how to do something.
GHOST PAST. The year is 1907, and that’s General Baden-Powell, an English military general and a big hero in his country. The men with him are military scouts. One of Baden-Powell’s jobs is to train military scouts, but he’s having a hard time of it. He’s discovered that most young boys entering the military don’t seem to have any scouting skills at all.
BEN. What do you mean, scouting skills?
GHOST PAST. Well, in the military, scouts are critical to preserving the safety of their whole unit. They have to be able to locate passable routes and sources of food and water. They need to be able to find the enemy and alert their unit to where they are so that they aren’t ambushed. This means that scouts need to be able to be physically strong, mentally alert, and possess skills such as navigating by compass, building fires, tying knots, and surviving in the wilderness. Without competent scouts, an army can perish.
BEN. Okay – I guess that’s kind of cool. But you’re talking about military scouts, not boy scouts.
GHOST PAST. Funny you should mention that, because an interesting thing happened when General Baden-Powell got back to England. Turns out young boys had found his manual on military scouting and were training themselves to be military scouts! They thought that learning to camp & tie knots & navigate sounded cool too. So Baden-Powell wrote a scout training manual that was more appropriate for boys, and eventually the boys formed themselves into groups and began calling themselves boy scouts.
BEN. No kidding? Boy scouts were originally … like … junior military scouts?
GHOST PAST. No kidding.
BEN. But all this happened in England. Why did boy scouts end up in America?
GHOST PAST. What do you see over there, Ebenezer Scrooge?
BEN. I see an old guy stumbling around like he can’t see where he’s going.
GHOST PAST. The year is now 1910 and that gentleman is William Boyce, an American businessman visiting London on business. Watch as the past unfolds …
[BOYCE enters, waving arms through the air as if he can’t see where he’s going]
BOYCE. Confound this fog! They told me that London fogs could be thick, but this is ridiculous! I have no idea where I am, nor any idea of which way I should be going! We certainly don't have fogs like these back in Chicago, where I come from!
[SCOUT enters, approaches BOYCE.]
SCOUT. Good evening, sir! You seem to be a little lost. Can I help you find your destination?
BOYCE. Goodness me -- what are you? You seem to be a boy, but you’re wearing a military uniform.
SCOUT. I'm a Boy Scout, sir. It would be my privilege to assist you.
BOYCE. Boy Scout, eh? I never heard of such a thing back in America! But I certainly do need some assistance. Tell you what – if you can get me back to my hotel, I’ll give you a dollar.
SCOUT. I’ll be glad to help you sir, but I won’t accept your money. Scouts don’t require any reward for doing good deeds.
BOYCE. Boy scouts … what a great idea! You know, I think I’m going to have to start one of these boy scout organizations as soon as I get back to the United States!
[BOYCE & SCOUT exit.]
GHOST PAST. And that’s exactly what William Boyce did – returned to the United States and founded the Boy Scouts of America. We’ve come a long way since 1910, but today’s scout uniforms are still modeled after military uniforms, and the activities and patches that scouts earn are still geared towards teaching scouting skills like camping, physical fitness, orienteering, how to use tools and administer first aid.
BEN. Okay, okay. I get it. I guess the uniforms and patches aren’t as dorky as I thought. But I still wouldn’t have turned down that guy’s dollar. I mean, that was enough money to buy a soda AND pork rinds!
GHOST PAST [sighing]. Clearly you’re going to need another ghost … I’ve done all I can!
[GHOST PAST glides offstage.]
BEN. Well, I am definitely having a weird night! Maybe Mom’s right – maybe I shouldn’t have watched that 72 hour non-stop Spook-a-Thon on the Horror Channel. Though I have to admit that while I remember seeing ghost dogs, ghost horses, ghost dollhouses, ghost cars, ghost hospitals, ghost witches, ghost pirates, ghost soldiers, ghost zombies, and ghostbusters, I don’t ever remember seeing anything about ghost scouts.
[GHOST OF SCOUTING PRESENT enters from behind.]
GHOST PRESENT [sonorous & spooky]. Ebenezer Scrooge!
BEN. Ack! You guys have GOT to stop doing that to me!
GHOST PRESENT. Scaring you? Sorry, bub, but it’s in our ghost contract that we have to scare people.
BEN. No, I mean you have GOT to stop calling me Ebeneezer! For the last time, I hate that name!
GHOST PRESENT. Fine! Have it your way, Ben. Can we move this along? Busy night, lots of people still to haunt ….
BEN. I know, I know -- you’re here to tell me more about scouting and show me why it’s cool, right?
GHOST PRESENT [sarcastic]. The Ghost of Scouting Past warned me that you had an attitude. Let me ask you a question: what sorts of people do you look up to in your life? Who are your heroes?
BEN. That’s easy. Steven Spielberg, man – he’s a genius! Made those Indiana Jones movies, and then went on to produce Anamaniacs and those American Tale movies, Back to the Future, Men in Black, Jurassic Park … did you see those dinosaurs? I’ve watched every movie and television show he made about 50 times.
GHOST PRESENT. I can believe it. But here’s something I bet you don’t know – Steven Spielberg’s a boy scout.
BEN. No way!
GHOST PRESENT. Way.
BEN. Okay – well, how about Walt Disney? I’ve watched those movies about 50 times too!
GHOST PRESENT. Scout.
BEN. No way! Okay, well, what about my favorite baseball player, Hank Aaron?
GHOST PRESENT. Scout.
BEN. President Bush? President Clinton? President Ford? President Kennedy?
GHOST PRESENT. Scout, scout, scout, scout. You got any more for me?
BEN. Neil Armstrong, the first guy to set foot on the moon?
GHOST PRESENT. Please, that’s an easy one! He explored the most perilous and unknown territory in human history. Of course he started off as a boy scout. In fact, over half of U.S. astronauts started off as boy scouts.
BEN. Well … geez! That’s kind of impressive! All those guys are really boy scouts?
GHOST PRESENT. Darn tootin’.
BEN. Okay – I’m just wondering here … don’t think I’m really interested or anything … but what do scouts actually do at these meetings that they go to?
GHOST PRESENT. Learn scouting skills. Play games. Sing songs. Tell corny jokes. By the way, did you hear the one about the scout who kept spinning around in one place?
BEN. Definitely not.
GHOST PRESENT. He wanted to do a good turn. Get it?
BEN. Guess you weren’t kidding about the corny jokes.
GHOST PRESENT. If you think that’s corny, you should see the skits.
BEN. I guess that sounds kind of fun. Maybe I was wrong about scouting. I suppose I should thank you for dropping by, Ghost of Scouting Present.
GHOST PRESENT. No trouble, I was on my way to Join Scouting Night anyway. See you there?
BEN. I don’t know – I haven’t decided.
[GHOST OF SCOUTING PRESENT glides offstage. GHOST OF SCOUTING FUTURE glides on from behind]
GHOST FUTURE [excited, not spooky]. Ebeneezer Scrooge!
BEN. If one more ghost calls me Ebenezeer Scrooge I swear I’m going pound him!
GHOST FUTURE. You can’t pound ghosts, you doofus. We’re transparent. Anyway, I’m Ghost of …
BEN. … Scouting Future. Yeah, yeah, I know. Well? What have you got for me? Not long ago I though scouting was lame, but since then I’ve learned a lot of interesting stuff about it. I suppose you’re going to show me something that’s going to change my mind for good?
GHOST FUTURE. Are you kidding? I’m way too busy to sit around and argue with a stiff like you! Come on, we’ll be late!
BEN. Late for what?
GHOST FUTURE. Jet packing, of course! Today our troop’s off to the beach to jet pack across the ocean and camp on the most recently formed Hawaiian island. There’s about 200 of them now, you know.
BEN. Jet packs?
GHOST FUTURE. No – Hawaiian islands! Are you coming, or are you going to spend the rest of your life watching television?
[GHOST FUTURE races offstage. Ben looks towards audience.]
BEN. I give up – that has to be about the coolest thing I ever heard of! Scouting is awesome! Wait for me!
[ADAM reappears, catching BEN’s attention before he can race offstage.]
BEN. Adam, is that you? Or is it just the ghost of you?
[Pokes Adam to determine if he’s solid. Adam, indignant, shoves him in return.]
ADAM. Stop poking me! What are you talking about? Of course it’s me.
BEN. Shoot! Does that mean that Join Scouting Night is over?
ADAM. No, it’s still going on. I’m just taking a walk while they talk to the parents.
BEN. You’ve got to take me to Join Scouting Night! I want to be a cub scout too!
ADAM. Are you sure? I thought you thought scouting was kind of dorky.
BEN. Turns out I was way wrong. Sorry about that.
ADAM. Okay then, if you’re sure. Let’s go ….!
NARRATOR. I hope everyone in this room now has a clearer understanding of where scouting has come from, and how far it's come over the past 94 years. This Blue & Gold Banquet celebrates the 94th birthday of scouting. In other words, it’s been 94 years since William Boyce started the Boy Scouts of America. So when I say go, let's all yell "Happy Birthday Scouting!