Home Movie The movie star’s comments remind us why Boy Scouts still perform in front of each other to this day

The movie star’s comments remind us why Boy Scouts still perform in front of each other to this day

The Cubs perform at the campfire. Photo by Randy Piland

One of the most recognizable and iconic action movie stars of our time was not born comfortable performing in front of a crowd.

It was at Cub Scouts that Bruce Willis first honed his craft.

In the comments to an older interview that resurfaced last month, Willis says his time with Cub Scouts was when he caught the acting bug.

Q: When did you first play?

A: A Cub Scout show. I did little sketches that you’ll probably find in the Cubs handbook. Little things, like a vaudeville gag where you pretend to show the audience that you’re mixing something up, and then at the last minute it’s like you’re going to throw it at the audience, but it’s just the flour of oats – not oatmeal and paint and all that. It got a lot of laughs and I thought, “This is it.”

Performing in front of others – whether it’s performing in a skit, playing a musical instrument or putting on a puppet show – has been a part of Scouting for decades, and for good reason: it’s is another thing that helps children prepare for life.

Sadly, Willis recently made headlines due to his family’s announcement that he had been diagnosed with aphasia, the loss of the ability to understand or express speech caused by brain damage.

(Coincidentally, Willis was once in a movie called Moonrise Kingdom which featured a fictional Boy Scout troop on a fictional island off the coast of New England. He was also in a movie called the last scout it really wasn’t about scouting.)

Actor Bruce Willis credits Cub Scouts with sparking his love for acting. “I thought, ‘this is it,'” he said. Photo by Shutterstock

Why we do it

“The Cub Scout years, I had a terrible stutter,” Willis continues. “But then I did theater somewhere…and when I memorized words, I didn’t stutter, which was just miraculous. This was the beginning of the gradual dissipation of my stutter.

Just as completing an epic hike can build confidence, so can a skit or magic trick that elicits cheers from the crowd.

“Hearing the audience applauding at the end of the show is an incredible feeling,” said Brian Olkowski, director of a children’s theater club in California, in a recent interview. “Kids are like, ‘Hey, this is for me!’ This instant positive feedback is truly gratifying.

Plus, performing in front of a live audience helps kids learn to think on their feet. It’s not going to be 100% smooth 100% of the time. Making mistakes as a child in front of a room full of happy, positive Scouting families will help prepare them for that presentation they have to make in the company boardroom 30 years later.

A Cub performs a magic trick. Photo by Brian Payne

How performance is incorporated into the Cub Scout program

Tigers in the Wild adventure requirement #5 is to sing a song or perform a skit with your Tiger den as part of the campfire program.

“Sketches are fun little scenes you can act out to tell a story to the group,” explains the Tiger Handbook. “Singing songs and telling stories in a circle of Tigers are fun ways to entertain your pack.”

Requirement 1 of the optional Tiger Curiosity, Intrigue and Magical Mysteries course is to perform a magic show in front of an audience.

Beat of the Drum Bear Elective Adventure Requirement #2 is to build a diorama, write a story, or present a skit related to the history and culture of American Indians or others Indigenous Peoples.

Things get serious in the elective adventures Webelos and Arrow of Light, which includes Maestro! (playing a musical instrument) and filmmaking (creating a film and sharing it with your family, den or pack).

Do you know a Cub who is nervous about performing in front of others?

The Tiger Handbook has good advice: “A Scout is brave. … Acting can seem scary. Do your best and have fun with your friends.