My summer experience as a cringy memelord

October 10, 2018 — by Jeffrey Xu

While some might say that the highlight of my summer must be the 6-week research program I participated in at the University of Iowa or a vacation to SoCal, for me, it will always be my week in the mountains of Oregon at Boy Scouts summer camp at the end of July.

Prior to the trip, I was voted into the role of senior patrol leader, making me the de facto leader of the troop. This was likely because I was one of the older scouts in the troop, and people seemed to think I had experience.

Despite being an older and expectedly more respectable scout, I did some of the cringiest things in my life during that week.

As our troop of mostly middle schoolers and high school freshmen assembled in front of the San Jose Amtrak station prior to our departure, I saw a group of 15 uncoordinated, unmotivated and frankly, unfriendly pubescent boys.

Having been part of the troop in a non-leadership position for the past five years, I knew that our troop had a reputation for being lackluster in almost all aspects — spirit, brotherhood and organization, among them. I assume this was due to some not getting along with others, creating an inability for scouts to work together as a unit.

Somehow, I would have to whip these teens and pre-teens into shape if I ever wanted our troop to win any awards or recognition at the camp awards ceremony among around 10 other troops.

Soon after arriving at camp, however, I found that yelling orders at my subordinates failed to gain their respect. If I could hardly force a pair of tent buddies to pitch their own tent, how was I supposed to lead this group of scouts to perform campfire skits and clean the campsite for inspection as a unit?

After some deep thinking and a couple of moments of existential crisis, I finally came to the epiphany that I would have to connect with the tweens through a medium other than barking commands: in other words, through understanding their interests, which included Fortnite and obscure internet memes.

And thus the transformation from being a somewhat respectable senior scout into a “memelord” began. Everytime I walked the troop throughout the campgrounds, I would “T-pose,” acting as the mother bird to all my chicks. Of course, I proscribed everyone else against T-posing, since I felt like I was the only one worthy of asserting my dominance over my troop.

During a campfire, instead of performing a traditional skit, our troop performed a skit-song hybrid, in which all of the scouts played satirical or humorous roles, including a Fortnite player who had been diagnosed with “ligma,” pop culture stars such as Lil’ Pump and classic stereotypes such as the football player who couldn’t do addition.

I played Big Shaq, the artist of the hit song “Man’s Not Hot.” I lost a bit of self-respect during that skit as I yelled the iconic line “the ting goes skrrrrra,” but I suppose it was worth it as our audience was in hysterics by the end of our performance.

At the end of the camp, I felt like our excessive “memeing” really helped to improve brotherhood within the troop, allowing us to work together as a unit and win awards, such as one for having the cleanest campsite.

To my disbelief, other troops began to respect our troop, even chanting our troop unit number, 888, when we encountered them in passing. We were also occasionally referred to as “tryhard,” but I didn’t really care. I was ecstatic. By the end of the week, our troop was clearly the most closely bonded troop.

And even though I behaved more like an 8-year-old throughout the camp, people seemed to think I was “alpha material.”

In retrospect, while I do consider this summer adventure to be a massive success, I hope to leave the T-posing and pop star material part of me behind when take on future leadership roles.

 

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