Shaggy Bob versus the Raccoon

Shaggy Bob
The Nature Lodge

Shaggy Bob was the Nature Director at a Boy Scout camp. He taught twelve different classes. Each class helped campers earn a Merit Badge. Bob wasn't sure why he was allowed to be Nature Director. After all, he hadn't earned all twelve Merit Badges.

Bob was teaching Mammals Merit Badge.
"How many Merit Badges did you earn, Bob?" asked a camper.
"I won't say," said Bob.
"Mark, how many Merit Badges did Bob earn?"
"I don't know," said Mark. "He's never said."
Mark was Bob's assistant. Mark also taught Mammals.
"You must not have earned any badges!" said the camper.
"Not so," said Bob. "See this patch? I'm an Eagle Scout. You can't earn Eagle unless you earn Mammals. Now ask if I earned Mammals."
"Did you earn Mammals Merit Badge?"
"I won't say," said Bob.
"Wow," said another camper. "Maybe he's earned all of them."

Bob taught his class.
"All mammals give their babies milk," said Bob. "Name some mammals."
"Raccoons!" said one camper.
"Elephants," said another.
"Dogs, cats, and mice," said a third.
"Yes," said Bob. "And people. People are mammals too. And bats. We have some bats over here."
Bob walked to the little Nature Lodge. The class followed.
"See between the roof and the wall? That dark crack? There are bats in there. If you listen, you can hear them squeak. See the ground, this white stuff? That's bat droppings." Bob taught and taught and taught.

The class finished and the campers left. Bob laid on his back on a picnic table. Mark played rock'n'roll on his guitar.
"We ought to have a caged raccoon," said Mark.
"Good idea," said Bob. "But we don't have a trap."
"We have cages," said Mark. "Could we make a trap?"
"Hm," said Bob.
He thought about that for awhile.
"Got it!" said Bob. "All we need is a cage. And two sticks. And a string. And a hard cookie!" Bob jumped up. He started looking for string.
"Too late," said Mark. "Time for the next class."

Bob spoke to his class. "A mammal shelter is a pile of branches. It should be as high as your waist. Raccoons, chipmunks, and squirrels can live in them. Each of you must build one. Go!"
The campers went into the woods.

Bob found string, and two sticks. He put them on top of the cage. He found a box of ginger snap cookies. They were very hard. The campers came back. Bob had to look at their mammal shelters. The woods were full of mammal shelters that campers had built.

On the weekend Bob made his trap. He swung the cage door up. He tied a string to the door. He put the two sticks on top of the cage. He leaned the sticks together. He laid the string over the sticks. The other end of the string went into the cage. He tied it to the cookie. Two sticks held down the cookie.

"See!" said Bob. "The raccoon will eat the cookie. That lets go of the string. Then the door will close."
The cookie broke. The door swung shut.
"You need a stronger cookie," said Mark.
"I need less weight on the cookie," said Bob.
He made the trap in different ways. The cookie always broke.

"Shaggy Bob has raccoons on the brain," said Kathy. Kathy lived in the camp. She was always around.

"Watch this, Mark" said Bob.
Bob held up a cookie by its edges. He put a small stone on top of it.
"Now just wait," said Bob. Nothing happened. Then the cookie started to bend. After two minutes the cookie broke. "That always happens," said Bob. "Ginger snaps look hard. But they aren't. They just move very slowly."
"Maybe if you use a carrot?" suggested Mark.
"Good idea!" Bob tied the string to a carrot. It held. "The raccoon will come tonight."

The next day the carrot was still there.
"Maybe raccoons don't like carrots?" suggested Mark.
"Tonight I'll put a cookie under the carrot," said Bob.

The next day the carrot was still there. The trap was open. But the cookie was gone. "The raccoon's winning," Mark told Bob.

The next week's campers started to arrive.
"I must have taught Mammals a thousand times," said Bob.
"Same here. I could earn it in ten minutes," said Mark.
"Ten minutes? I could earn it in five!" said Bob.
"We need a judge," said Mark.
"I'll judge!" said Kathy.
"She'd be a good judge," said Bob. "She knows Mammals better than any camper. She's heard us teach it a thousand times."

Bob and Mark got ready.
Kathy held a stopwatch. "Ready! Set! Go!"
"Vertebrate!" yelled Mark, "An animal with a backbone!"
"Mammal!", yelled Bob. "An animal that makes milk for its young!"
"Name three mammals classified phylum through species," said Kathy.
"Animal vertebrate mammal carnivora canidae canis lupis - wolf!", yelled Mark.
"Animal vertebrate carnivora procyonidae procyon lotor - raccoon!", yelled Bob.
"Animal vertebrate primate hominidae homo sapiens - man!", yelled Mark.
"Give two food chains, soil through mammal" said Kathy.
"Soil rose aphid ladybug sparrow cat!" yelled Mark.
"Soil grass deer mosquito bat!" yelled Bob.
"Write a simple history," said Kathy, "of a nongame mammal."
Bob and Mark started scribbling furiously.
"Two minutes so far," said Kathy.
"Does this have to be readable?" asked Bob.
"Yes, and at least half a page," said Kathy.
"Give it up, Bob," said Mark. "I'm blessed with beautiful handwriting!"
"Never!" said Bob.
"Three minutes," said Kathy.
Bob finished writing first. He ran into the forest. He started madly stacking branches. Mark ran in after him.
Kathy walked over. "The branches must be as high as your waist."
"Finished!" said Mark.
"Five minutes, six seconds," said Kathy.
"How did you pile your sticks so fast?" asked Bob.
"I picked a spot with lots of branches," said Mark.
"Gee," said Bob. "Wish I'd thought of that."

Bob taught Mammals again to a dozen new campers.
"Normally you'd build a mammal shelter," said Bob. "But I have a different job for you. There are hundreds of mammal shelters in the woods. Most are near the Nature Lodge. Shelters attract rats, raccoons, and other vermin. Each of you should find one. Take the shelter apart. Scatter the branches. Go!"
The campers went into the forest.

Camp ended. Bob and Mark started packing.

The camp chief came to the nature lodge. He carried a glass jar.
"I've brought you a luna moth," said the chief.
Bob was amazed. "I've never seen one before."
The wings were pale green. It was as big as Bob's hand. It was beautiful.
"I expect you to mount it well!" said the chief.
Bob held up the jar. He watched the moth.

"How do you mount a moth?" asked Mark.
"I don't know," said Bob. "First you kill it. Then you pin it to something. Maybe you cover it with glass."
"Do we just stick a pin through it?" asked Mark.
"I don't know. Maybe there's a nicer way to kill it." Bob looked through his nature books. "Here it says what to do. Put a drop of gasoline on cotton. Put the cotton in the jar. That will kill it."
Bob did that. They let it sit overnight.

The next day the moth was still alive. It moved slowly. Its wings had banged against the jar all night. The wings looked bad.
"I feel awful," said Bob. "I made the moth suffer. I should have just put a pin through it. It's still alive now. I'll just let it go."
Bob opened the jar and left it outside.

The next day the jar was knocked over. There were two green wings on the ground. The raccoon had eaten the luna moth. Bob and Mark finished packing. They had to go home.

"The raccoon won," Mark said.
Bob agreed. "Next year, Mark, you'll be Nature Director. Maybe you'll make a better raccoon trap."
"What will you do?" asked Mark.
"I'm going to be an engineer," said Bob.
"I was wondering," said Mark. "How many Merit Badges did you really earn?"
"Only Mammals," said Bob. "How about you?"
"I have both Mammals and Bird Study," said Mark.
"You'll be a great Nature Director," said Bob. "Try hard!"

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