Be Prepared is the motto which was given to The Guide Association and The Scout Association by their founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell at the beginning of the two movements.

This particular phrase was chosen by Baden-Powell as he found life kept giving him a constant flow of suprises which needed to be dealt with. He saw many people become defeated by the challenges which life threw at them, however the ones who managed to triumph over difficulties and turn near disaster into a positive experience were the people who were prepared beforehand.

Because of this, Baden-Powell chose Be Prepared as a motto for the Guides and Scouts, and a motto for life.

Being Prepared

Being someone who is prepared can involve quite a lot of work and learning. It not only means that you should be able to deal with emergencies and prevent accidents, you should be equipped enough to deal with problems which you may encounter, or improvise to find a helpful solution. Thinking promptly and acting on a well thought out solution is also a handy skill to have.

To be able to put these skills into practise, you also have to be reliable enough for people to be able to depend on you if there ever is an emergency and able to stay calm whilst still being brave. Above all other things though, you must be able to put others first, whilst not putting yourself in jeopardy.

From my own knowledge
The Guide Handbook 1973 edition

A song by Tom Lehrer. The tune is the best part of his work- in this case a perfectly cheery mock-march. The topic is the life of the Boy Scout in the modern (i.e. 1953) era. In Lehrer's warped world, this includes drinking, graffiti, smoking, gambling, weed, pimping, and implied heavy petting. Here are the words in full:

Be prepared, that's the Boy Scout's marching song.
Be prepared, as through life you march along.
Be prepared to hold your liquor pretty well,
Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell.

Be prepared to hide that pack of cigarettes
Don't make book if you cannot cover bets
Keep those reefers hidden where you're sure
That they will not be found
And be careful not to smoke them
When the scoutmaster's around
For he only will insist that they be shared
Be prepared.

Be prepared, that's the Boy Scouts' solemn creed
Be prepared, and be clean in word and deed
Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice
Unless you get a good percentage of her price.

Be prepared, and be careful not to do
Your good deeds when there's no one watching you
If you're looking for adventure of a new and different kind
And you come across a Girl Scout who is similarly inclined
Don't be nervous, don't be flustered, don't be scared; Be prepared!

© Tom Lehrer; Appears on Songs by Tom Lehrer (1953). CST Approved. Lyrics appear with his written permission.

Graphic novel by Vera Brosgol, published in 2018 by First Second Books

This is classified as a middle-grade graphic novel, which means it's mostly aimed at kids from 9-12 years old. I only discovered it after finding it in our local library a couple months back. I remembered reading and enjoying another Brosgol comic -- the thoroughly creepy "Anya's Ghost" -- so I was definitely interested in this one.

Our story opens with a young Vera Brosgol, almost ten years old, and a bit of an outcast with her classmates. She's a Russian immigrant, fairly poor, she doesn't have the cool toys everyone else has, and she never gets to go to summer camp. But that changes when Vera learns of a camp just for Russian Orthodox kids. Her mother agrees to send Vera and her little brother Phil to the camp, and the grand adventures get underway!

But nope, turns out camp is absolutely awful in every possible way. Vera's tentmates are a couple of older girls who treat her like crap. There are no proper toilets, just bug-filled latrines. There's no candy allowed -- but her mean-girl roommates have some and won't share. Vera doesn't know Russian as fluently as the other campers, which is a problem in a camp where everyone is required to speak Russian.

She eventually manages to bribe a few people into being her friends with gifts of her art and some candy she gets from her mother's visit -- but even that falls to pieces and makes her more unpopular than ever. And because kids can be cruel, she even helps humiliate other campers, and feels worse about it than anyone else.

She does have some triumphs. She makes a friend or two. She has a few great encounters with nature. She ends up enjoying at least some of her camping trip.

But for the most part -- ugh, camping is terrible.

So how is it? Thumbs up, believe it or not! Sure, Vera spends most of the story miserable, but it's still a wonderfully told story.

Brosgol's artwork, cartooning skills, and storytelling are first-rate, and the way she blends comedy with drama really helps pull the narrative along. Yes, you occasionally have to go put the book down and think about flowers because OH GOD, VERA STEPPED IN IT AGAIN, SHE'S GONNA BE MISERABLE but you also come back over and over, partly because she does get great moments where she's having fun, and partly because Brosgol manages to make it funny even when Vera is hating life.

And somewhat off-topic, but in both of the graphic novels I've read of Brosgol's, the lead character is a Russian-born preteen or teenager who is lonely and kinda sad, and she makes friends, but the friends are actually awful people who cause her more suffering. So Ms. Brosgol, I really do hope your life is happier now, 'cause I love reading your books.

Anyway -- "Be Prepared" by Vera Brosgol. Go pick it up. Because summer camp may be legitimately terrible, but this comic is legitimately great.

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