Initiation Boy Pioneers
By Dan Beard
If you have a club to practice tomahawk throwing you should have some good form of initiation.
No hazing, no rough horse-play, but just pure fun such as any lad can indulge in without danger of parents, guardians, or teachers making a protest and thus placing the club on the black list.
The following ceremony is made for the SONS OF DANIEL BOONE, but it can be altered to fit any sort of boys' club. For instance, in the part where the candidate unwittingly chooses a name for himself, if it is a literary club he can be asked which author he likes best, Dickens or Mark Twain, etc., and his choice gives him his club name. If it should be a debating club the question can be, "Which do you like best, Lincoln or Webster? " etc. The weeping diamond from Ponce de Leon's "Spring" may be called the philosopher's stone, and the hand of Girty the mummy hand of Pharaoh.
With such changes and like changes in the titles of the officers, this form of initiation will do for a social, a literary, a debating, a church, or a nature club, and by whatever society it is adopted it will make lots of fun, and at the same time be educational in its use of names of authors, statesmen, plants, animals, poets, artists, or pioneers.
A NEW FORM OF INITIATION FOR THE BOY PIONEERS OR THE SONS OF DANIEL BOONE
WHICH, WITH ALTERATIONS, WILL DO FOR ANY BOYS' CLUB
The whole idea of this initiation is to have some mystery and fun, not to frighten the candidate or to be rude or rough with him. The more orderly the initiation is conducted the more effective it will be, and consequently the more enjoyable.
The tenderfoot candidate should be blindfolded outside the Stockade, club-room, or FORT and led by two guides (Kit Carson and Simon Kenton can perform this duty). Johnny Appleseed is door-keeper to the FORT, and he opens the door only in answer to a Johnny Appleseed knock, which consists of a rap for each syllable in his name, which makes two sharp raps, a pause, and then three more in quick succession.
In reply to the secret signal Johnny Appleseed gives the Boone call, "Who-ah!" which is answered by the guide with the same call, "Who-ah!" Appleseed, from the inside, then calls, "Who knocks, friend or foe!" The two guides reply together, "Friends."
The door is then opened just far enough for Johnny Appleseed to peer out and see the stranger with the guides. "Have you a prisoner, friends?" cries Johnny, and the guides reply, "No prisoner, but a tenderfoot who wants to join our great order."
Johnny Appleseed then opens wide the door and calls in a loud voice, "Enter, scouts, and bring your tenderfoot before the secret council!"
During this ceremony there must be absolute silence, no whispering, giggling, or shuffling of feet.
The guides now lead the tenderfoot around the council chamber three times and stop, facing Daniel Boone.
BOONE.- Tenderfoot, we have been told that you wish to join our Fort, that you are willing to promise never to betray our friendship or our secrets. Is our information correct ?
The tenderfoot, instructed by his guides, replies "yes."
BOONE.- Before admitting you to our brotherhood there are certain questions you must answer. Do you carry concealed weapons of any kind ?
ALL THE FORT IN UNISON.- This lad has no arms. SO-LET-IT-BE-RECORDED.
BOONE.- Have you a fowl concealed about you, its breast, wings, or legs ?
FORT ALL TOGETHER.- This lad has no legs. SO-LET -IT-BE-RECORDED.
BOONE.- Maybe you have got rid of the chicken's body, but it is important for us to know if you have any part of it, its gizzard, craw, neck, or head ?
FORT IN UNISON.- This lad has no arms, no legs, no gizzard, craw, neck, or head. SO-LET-IT-BE-RECORDED.
BOONE.- O headless one, without arms or legs, body only of a lad, tell me which you would rather eat, a porcupine or a pack rat ?
Or he may say a buffalo or a badger, or give him his choice between any two American animals, a timber-wolf or a coyote, etc.
The first questions are to make fun for the Fort, but the last question is asked so that the tenderfoot will, without knowing it, give himself a name. For instance, if he chooses porcupine, and his real name was Peter, then the Fort repeats, " He eats porcupine. SO-LET-IT-BE-RECORDED." Thereafter, among the Boone boys, he is known as Porcupine Pete. In this way all the new members acquire Good Wild and Woolly names.
Audubon has prepared a piece of ice which he has rolled around in his warm hands until it is smooth and about the size and shape of an egg. This has been wrapped in a piece of cloth to prevent its melting away and placed on the table. An old kid glove filled with wet sand and kept on ice rests on a plate alongside and also another plate with an ice-cold, fresh oyster and a knife and fork along side of it.
DANIEL BOONE.- O legless, headless, and armless tenderfoot, we have here the weeping diamond from Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, which stands for loyalty, truth, and honesty; also the mummy hand of the renegade Simon Girty, which stands for treason and brutality. Hold out your hands, you armless one, to receive the tests.
Simon Kenton places the ice egg in one out-stretched hand and the cold, damp glove in the other.
ALL IN UNISON.- This will test your sand and the result will be recorded. Who-ah!
BOONE.- Hold your hands steady, 0 armless one, for the steadiness of your hands indicates your character.
The tenderfoot, having his eyes covered by a handkerchief, will not have any idea what the two cold things are in his hands, and probably neither hand will be very steady. Boone, however, must make believe that the hand holding the sacred weeping diamond from Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth is perfectly steady.
Boone then cries in a loud voice, "Fellow-scouts, the headless one has proved his nerve. So-let-it-be-recorded! Who-ah!" A chair is now drawn up before the table and, the tenderfoot being seated, Boone commands him to eat the frozen eye of the fish-god of the Siwash. The fork and knife being given to the candidate, and the cold, fresh oyster set before him, he is commanded to eat.
BOONE.-O headless one, eat of the frozen eye of the fish-god of the SIWASH.
This will cause great merriment among the scouts, but all laughter must be smothered with the solemnly repeated "Who-ah! Who-ah!"
There is not one person in a hundred who will guess that the frozen eye is nothing but an oyster, and if the tenderfoot manages to force any of the morsel down his throat he is, indeed, a brave lad. But he must not be compelled to swallow the oyster. Force must not be used at all during the ceremony of initiation.
After this act the blindfold is removed, and first Daniel Boone and then the other officers of the club shake hands with the new member, call him by his new name, and congratulate him, after which all the scouts do the same thing, then all together give three cheers for Porcupine Pete, Gray Wolf Bill, or whatever his new name may be, and end up with the Pioneer or the Boone yell, as the case may be:
Wow! wow! wow!
After which the meeting is social and refreshments may be passed around.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.