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Nathan Kitzmann column: No Scout badge earned for candy bar sales

In spite of the fact that I hadn't been an active member of the troop for quite some time, I was recently asked to participate in the Boys Scout Troop's annual fund-raiser, a turkey dinner.

Simply put, I had in recent days been a terrible Scout -- not showing up for meetings, not progressing in my "Boy Scout Handbook" and failing to attend even one campout. Because of this, I was rather apprehensive about helping with this function.

I knew they would consider me a disgrace to the Boy Scout cause, and was quite confident I would be shunned, and perhaps even conspired against by my fellow Boy Scouts. I pleaded on very reasonable terms with my mother, and tried to convince her that coming to the turkey dinner could be dangerous to my health, and that I wouldn't be much help anyway, but she insisted upon my presence at this event, so I complied.

I arrived at the location of the event, ready for anything, but prepared for the worst. (Maybe I wouldn't be such a bad Boy Scout after all!) That being said, the experience was not nearly as horrific as I first imagined.

While I stood in line waiting for my job assignment, I quickly glanced at those around me. Most of them had grown since I had last seen them (if that tells you anything), but even more surprisingly, they all seemed comfortable with my being there. I was told that, because I am the official troop grinner, as well as a terrible dishwasher and table-setter, my task would be selling $3 candy bars on a small table strategically positioned next to the exit of the Event Center.

There was still two hours before customers would begin arriving, so I used my spare time and natural architectural ingenuity to construct a massive tower of candy-bars. I spent much time on this creation, perhaps more time than I should have, but I was very pleased with the result.

My tower stood between 2 and 3 feet high, and could be seen from any point in the room. I figured that it would attract people to my booth and thus greatly add to my day's sales, so I considered the time I had spent building this tower worthwhile.

Finally, customers began to arrive. I was not to solicit passersby to purchase my commodity, but rather "let them come to me," so I sat at my table and did what I do best: grinned.

Despite my sales tactics, I sold relatively few candy bars during the fund-raiser, although I did manage to sell two to my brother, three to my brother's friend, and one to myself.

Somebody working at this affair gave me some very interesting advice to increase my sales. He told me to tell my customers this: "Sure, the candy bars are ridiculously overpriced. But, you see, you are not simply paying for the candy bars. You are paying for the adventure!"

Despite the fact that my sales were slow, I managed to break the monotony by observing people in their various approaches to the art of eating. This made for some very interesting people-watching. I noticed some people kept the different types of victuals separate, while others formed everything on their plate into a giant, self cohesive ball.

There were those that used their slab of turkey as a seat cushion, while other people found it, in combination with everything else on their plate, made an excellent drum set. So, as you can see, even though business was slow at my particular booth, I had much to keep me entertained during the fundraiser's duration.

It has occurred to me that fund-raisers are quite common these days, as almost every successful organization has one. I realize they are generally thought of as necessary evil, and they take a considerable amount of effort on everybody's part, but they help all types of clubs and societies continue their causes, causes that are usually philanthropic.

In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, it is probable that thousands, if not millions, of lives have been bettered, or even saved, because of fund-raisers. So next time a grinning lad in a Boy Scout uniform comes up to your door and innocently, perhaps pleadingly, asks you to come to a turkey dinner or buy popcorn, at least consider his offer. Your business is always appreciated.

Nathan Kitzmann is a freshman and is homeschooled.