Moms...Dads...and assorted other family members and friends. It's that season of the year when your boy's scout troop will start raising money for camp. Or if you don't have boys in scouts, then you will probably have kids who will be trying to raise money for band or sports or for the chess club's important trip to London to watch the 2012 World Chess Championship. Even if you have no kids you will undoubtedly have several stop by your residence asking for donations.
Fundraising is an honorable tradition that should not be neglected. I participated in several of these fundraisers as a young boy and they taught me so much about life. The first one of these that I remember was indeed to raise money for scout camp. Our troop had decided to sell candy. What could be easier to sell than candy? Everybody loves the stuff and back in the 1960's we weren't worried about all this modern 'heart healthy', 'low cholesterol', 'refined sugar' business. No, back then we were actually more concerned about keeping our dentists gainfully employed.
Anyway, at one troop meeting the candy arrived and I was sent home with about forty boxes of candy to sell. There were chocolate covered peanuts and fruit jellies and several other varieties. I was sure it would not be a problem for me to sell my quota. In fact, I was so confident that I would make enough for camp, that I opened a box of the fruit jellies and ate them. I'd still have plenty with the proceeds from the other 39 boxes to cover my camp needs and have a little extra to spare, so why not enjoy some of the fruits of my (future) labors.
Over the next couple weeks I did manage to sell a box to my mother and another one to my grandmother, but I never found time to really get out and canvas the town. Besides, other boys from the troop must have hit up all the houses in our small town during those first few days. I'd just wait until the townspeople had finished off their first purchases and then I'd swoop in for the second round.
A funny thing was happening, however, and even though I knew it was happening, it was occurring so slowly that I really didn't pay much attention to it. You see, my pile of candy boxes was getting smaller and smaller. I mean, I did have a few pieces every night before bed, and maybe a couple in the morning after breakfast, but I never took any to school. Who would have thought that in four weeks time I could eat 38 boxes of candy?
I guess it didn't really hit home until I had finished the last box. Now I had a problem. Where was I going to get the money to pay for camp? In addition, there was the small issue of paying back the troop for the money they had invested in the candy. It's unclear in my memory where this money came from. I may have blotted this unpleasantness out of the old memory banks. But I suspect that some probably came out of my savings account, which never had more than about twenty dollars in it, and the rest from my parents.
The important thing is that I learned some great lessons from all of this...although I'm not really sure what those lessons were. I still went to camp, after all, and the candy was pretty tasty.