You Know What I Miss? Scouting

You Know What I Miss? Scouting

I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I thought I loathed it as a kid, but…you know what? – I miss the Boy Scouts, because as an adult I realize that scouting made me better.

When I was in ninth grade, my mom bribed me to achieve the highest rank in Boy Scouts: Eagle. It was contingency-based bribery where I got a stereo at Christmas (one of those big box ones that included CD player, dual tape deck, radio AND record player on top)  but said, “But I’ll take this back if you don’t earn Eagle by the end of the year.”

It worked.

But a far greater motivation was getting out of scouts to reclaim my cool, since at the time, it was not the case that scouting made me better; it tortured me.

I was far too obsessed with being cool in school, desperate to eschew any sense that I was “less than” – (which largely meant gay. Yeah – that was my fear – that I’d be called “fag” or “pansy” or whatever label that essentially meant “less than.”)

And being cool or at the top of the social food chain meant I wouldn’t be considered “less than”.

Being a Boy Scout was not cool – especially in junior high and ESPECIALLY in high school. And that was what I hated about being a Boy Scout. Sadly.

In my suburban Denver scout troop, we didn’t have some conservative religiously-veiled dogma. There was no cultural preaching. There was just an over-arching sense of Scouts doing “good” and the difference between right and wrong. And I found a niche within my troop that ultimately meant scouting made me better at being me.

It wasn’t a troop full of toxic masculinity in the slightest.

Tons of my favorite childhood memories were made through scouting: camp-outs (which I thought I hated, but in reality were really fun), camp (not over-flowing with with toxic masculinity and generally care-free), and a consistent community of quality guys that got together weekly to…I can’t even remember now…have meetings and…talk about stuff?

Put all these things together and I learned not to be afriad of nature, leadership, and random skills most of which I’ve forgotten but actually gave me tremendously broad experience. Further, scouting made me better at poker, shit-talking, late-night conversations and a certain amount of political arguing. Again: thanks to camping.

The Boy Scout values are, in my adult hindsight, invaluable. I paid little attention to the Scout law or the substance of the words that we recited at every turn:

A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

(I typed that without google help – it’s still ingrained in my muscle memory.)

And when I occasionally think on the significance of those words, what better brain-washing to give a kid, eh? Think about each one of those values.

What more could we ask for of ourselves, of society, and of our children?

I reflected on how scouting made me better at being adventurous when I camped twice with my kids, this summer. They were skeptical, at best, and I anticipated a high amount of whining and me kicking myself for the effort.

But when I said “we will roast hot dogs over a fire”, they were IN.

We kayaked forty-five minutes on the Connecticut River to pitch a tent in a clearing on an uninhabited island.

Honestly, it wasn’t hard-core at all. We built a fire, roasted hot dogs and ate M&M’s, hiked for twenty minutes (all the while me thinking TICKS TICKS TICKS TICKS), while I sipped a thermos of Moscow Mules.

But I know this is unthinkable for most people. Scouting made me better at thinking “Come on! Let’s just do it! It’s not rocket science. Pack a bag of M&M’s and let’s camp!”

This is for sale on ebay. It will not be warm or lightweight. So.

I bored my kids with my “when I was a kid this was SO much harder” routine as I reminisced about the shitty camping equipment I was forced to use. Trust: military quilted sleeping bags and tents from the 70’s were NOT user-friendly, durable, warm, compact or lightweight.

I don’t know how on earth my parents’ generation of wannabe John Denver campers found it remotely fun to schlep such awful equipment anywhere, let alone on their backs.

(This blog is adorably nostalgic, but none of the people in these pictures could possibly be happy schlepping the ungainly equipment.

Anyway.

At the little campground with my kids, I was all about “yes” and not setting limits. They explored, they dug around, broke sticks, and poked around in the fire. I had no reason to say “no” (the Moscow Mule helped).

At one point, my younger kid looked guilty as he made the fire flare up after tossing a pile of dried leaves on top. But I said, “It’s OK, buddy. I want you to learn about fire’s behavior. Plus, I get it. It’s fun to poke around.”

Isn’t poking around in a fire the best part about camping? (Scouting made me better at s’mores, too. Obvi.)

I mean – no forest fire are going to start in humid-ass Connecticut. And if our fire had sparked, I was prepared to quickly stamp it out.

This is all part of it – experimenting, pushing limits and learning.

I didn’t bring Swiss army knives or even an axe (the fallen wood for fire-building was plentiful…and we will carve wood next summer.)

But this wasn’t glamping, either. I mean – my phone didn’t work for Christ’s sake.

But I gave them the flavor of camping. And they liked it!

(My 40yo+ body was not a huge fan. My neck and back were seriously creaky, afterward. For summer 2020: get a blow-up pillow.)

But this has all made me think my kids are missing out on these experiences I took for granted (nay: supposedly loathed). My friends found it such a big deal that I was camping, and despite being a gay tap-dancer, I wasn’t remotely intimidated to strike out on this mini-adventure. It’s in my educational background to know camping ain’t that big a deal (particularly when the weather’s perfect and you’re only 30 minutes from home) and nature is meant to be experienced.

Of course I’m looking past the conservative religious hijacking of Boy Scout culture, their leadership largely being old, conservative men, and their tumultuous history with the queer community. Let’s face it – they’ve adapted pretty amazingly DESPITE their leadership and strong rooting in conservative communities. And they’re coming out on the right side of history by including girls in the ranks and embracing children through the the queer community .

On that note, the Mormon Church, which once made up 20% of the boys in scouting, will officially separate from the BSA at the end of this year. I wonder why?

So anyway, now that my kids are growing up in NYC, I feel like they’re at the ripe age for having SOME KIND of value-laden extracurricular education.

I wish there were someone else lecturing them on the difference between right and wrong (besides me) and giving them survival skills (besides me).

When that internet apocalypse comes, the Russians hack all our phones and Trump’s tariffs stop all imports from China, all hell will break loose. And suddenly tying knots might actually be super helpful – not to mention reading a map, using a compass, and not fearing nature.

There are several NYC-based Scout troops (most of them affiliated with Catholic Churches), but none of them are convenient for us. (And by “convenient”, of course I mean within a ten-minute walk of our apartment.)

Wouldn’t it be awesome to start an inclusive troop at the LGBTQ Center on 12th Street? – ground zero for the gay rights movement?

I love the irony.

And hopefully so would the BSA.

But this is not a manifesto for me starting my own Scout Troop. I’ve got bags to sell.

Can someone else do this for me, please?

The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads

The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads

Am I titling this “The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads” and including terms like “cool” and “stylish” within the first sentence to maximize my SEO in a way that makes me seem like I know what “maximizing SEO” means?

Absolutely.

However, I’m serious – this is the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for cool dads and stylish dads.

Amanda Kloots thinks so, and she can do like five-minute-long planks:

Additionally, these folks at TTPM? They’re like deadly serious and they think the bag rocks.

So in addition to these highly-scientific endorsements, and the fact that you’re a new parent, there’s no reason you need to compromise your sense of style. It’ll help your entire parenting mojo.

Just like fashion: it’s all attitude.

Perhaps you feel like rocking a cowboy hat walking down Madison Avenue? Just own it and love yourself for it.

Living their best life. Totes jealous, ain’t ya?

Or maybe it’s your jam to sport pink platform boots with googley eyes on Main Street, (or in this case 28th Street), then dude: werq it.

And the ECKnox Carryall diaper bag is a bag new dads (and moms!) can rock with confidence and attitude.

However, “ECKnox Carryall diaper bag” – that’s a mouth full, isn’t it? I gotta get my team on that.

Quick sidebar with the team:

  • Me: Hey, Team!
  • The Voices in My Head: Yeah?
  • Me: Can we simplify the name?
  • TVIMH: Hm-kay.
  • Me: How about just ‘diaper bag’?
  • TVIMH: But then that might limit your commercial reach.
  • Me: Perhaps, but…
  • TVIMH: Or men might think “dudes don’t carry diaper bags”.
  • Me: Eh, it’s 2019. Plus, that perspective of uninvolved dads is what I’m trying to change.
  • TVIMH: And also, you can remove the liner of your bag and it becomes a cool messenger bag for when parents have outgrown diapers.
  • Me: Right.
  • TVIMH: And isn’t that one of the selling points that justify the price of your bag?
  • Me: Totes.
  • TVIMH: That and the fact that it’s a complicated bag with lots of features and super slick styling and high quality nylon and leather detailing that jacks the price up, too?
  • Me: Do we really need to highlight the pricing, here?
  • TVIMH: Just stating the obvious from the voices in your head. Apparently you have insecurities you need to work out. That’s on you, dude.

Anyway.

When I was expecting my first kid, I wanted a slick, masculine diaper bag that announced, “I’m proud to be a new dad and I want to look good being that dad.” But in all my research, I couldn’t find such a bag.

I thought about it for another year, had another kid, and but still was confounded that such a bag didn’t exist.

So I set out to make it, myself – a bag with sophistication, super functionality, and timeless styling.

Something that made people say, “Wow. Nice bag. I wonder what it is? Oh, wait a minute! That’s that designer diaper bag for dads. Ohhhh…he’s a new dad! Ahhhh.”

And all hearts would melt on the subway/playground/street/hottest-new-brunch-restaurant-in-the-trendiest-neighborhood.

(Lucky for you, I wrote about my journey here and here but also here and moreover here.)

Do I harbor the illusion that men are going to flock to buy bags for themselves? In some cases, yes. But don’t worry, I’m not delusional – this bag is branded for men and marketed to the women who will be 70% of the purchasers.

So.

Why’s this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for stylish dads?

Form and function.

The features:

This is the best diaper bag for dads because it has 14 pockets.

How can you go wrong? This is also the best diaper bag for dads because two of those pockets are for bottles and it’s REALLY the best diaper bag for dads because one of those bottle holders accommodates a bottle of wine for those particularly tough days on the playground. (Might want to get your own paper bag to protect your assets while drinking in a playground, though.)

This is the best diaper bag for dads because there are frequently no changing stations in men’s rooms.

So I made it the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a zip-open changing station for those times there’s no changing station in the restroom. However, there might be times you can’t be bothered to leave the playground; in which case you wanna show your parenting badassery by changing your kid’s diaper on the playground like a BOSS (who’s not overly freaked out about germs. Because kids are petri dishes. Make peace with the germs. It builds character and resilience and immunity.)

This is the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a padded laptop sleeve.

Not only is there a laptop sleeve that makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads, but there are also three sleeves in which you can stow wallets, phones, pens, sunglasses and those quick-access things you just don’t feel like carrying in your pockets (cuz your ass looks better in your pants when you aren’t carrying bulky things. More on that at another time.)

The best diaper bag for dads has mesh pockets inside the liner so you can organize how you want, but see what’s in the pocket.

The coolest diaper bag for dads would have to be easy to clean, so we made it that way. The liner is removable with a hidden zipper. That way, you can wash the liner and even replace it (INSERT LINK FOR NEW LINERS, HERE. OOPS – however I need first to design and manufacture replaceable liners and THEN insert the link for purchase).

Furthermore, what REALLY makes this the best diaper bag for dads is once the liner is removed, there’s an inner liner that’s slick and black and professional, so you can continue to use the bag for years as a messenger bag after you’re done with the diapering.

You can also quickly convert the bag to a backpack (which many bags can do, but they aren’t the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads.)

Finally (and seriously, y’all…this is my favorite feature) what makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads is the instant access to wet wipes.

Through an interior pocket open with a magnetized flap, you can be friggin’ Oprah on the playground.

  • You want a wet wipe? Boom. Here ya go.
  • Need a wet wipe? Boom. Here, Daddy.
  • Ahhhh…forgot your wet wipes? Boom. Here ya go, Mommy.
  • You definitely need a wet wipe, snot-nosed kid whose mom is buried in her phone and isn’t paying attention to the fact that her kid is wiping snot and kid pink eye all over the monkey bars.
  • Oh, and you need a wet wipe, son. Yes, you do, kid. Come here. Please come here, now. Right here to Daddy. Come, right – Junior? Come here right now and make Daddy look good so the other parents on the playground don’t judge him for being just another helicopter parent whose kids don’t actually mind him at all. Junior? One. Two. Don’t make me get to three. Two and a half. Two and three quarters. Boom Here’s your wet wipe.

There ya have it, folks. The best and coolest diaper bag for dads.

And in no way is this bag just meant for dads. All my girlfriends say “why would you only make this for dads? I’d totally carry this. I never liked my stupid pink, puffy bag!”

Exactly, ladies. You’re invited, too. But I started the company to cater to, well, me.

And I’m an only-child actor. So my needs come first.

Lemme sell a few bags, establish my brand, and bring a ton of other really cool things to market to expand into a lifestyle brand, and then this bag will be all about the gender-nonspecific stylish parenting.

For now? I gotta grow my niche.

Won’t you help?

Buy a bag.

It’s an investment that’ll make you feel good inside and out for years to come.

Can any other bag do that for you?

Nope. Because they’re not the best and/or coolest diaper bag for stylish dads.