− 1 –
Streets and Avenues
The Infamous Ratsos are leaving the Big City . . . temporarily.
“We’re almost there, Big City Scouts!” says Big Lou.
“All our Scout meetings and activities in the city have been fun, but it’s going to be nice to get away for a while,” says Ralphie. “I’ve never even been camping, and I know I’m going to love it.”
“I’m going to love all the badges I’m going to earn on this trip,” says Louie, admiring his vest. “We’ve only been Scouts for a few months, and I already have Organizing, Leadership, City Smarts, Cleanup, and Good Neighbor, not to mention my Avenue pin.”
“I wish I wasn’t just a Street,” Ralphie says. “It’s going to take forever for me to be old enough to be an Avenue, like you and Sid and Kurt.”
“I think I just saw a sign for the Friendly Woods Campground!” says Millicent.
“Exactly the distance I predicted,” says Velma Diggs, consulting her calculator.
“I can’t believe she brought a calculator on a camping trip,” says Kurt Musky. “Typical little Street.”
“Typical nerd,” says Sid Chitterer.
“Actually, I think it’s cool that Velma’s into numbers,” Ralphie informs them. “I’m terrible at math.”
“I wish Fluffy had come with us, and Chad,” Tiny says with a sigh.
“I even brought bags of Happy Puffs for him, since I know how he loves his snacks,” says Ralphie.
“Fluffy said something about a ‘rutabaga emergency’ in her garden,” Millicent reminds him. “And Chad has allergies.”
“Well, he’s missing out,” Ralphie says.
“We’re missing out, too. This trip won’t be the same without them,” says Tiny.
“That’s the truth,” says Millicent. “Though I think Velma has potential.”
“Here we are!” says Big Lou, steering the van into the parking lot.
“Wait. That truck next to us looks familiar,” says Louie.
“The guy next to the truck looks really familiar,” says Ralphie.
“Greetings, Big City Scouts!” says Grandpa Ratso.
“Grandpa!” say the Ratso brothers.
“Grandpa was my Big City Scoutmaster when I was your age,” Big Lou explains. “He’s here to show you all the ropes.”
Grandpa Ratso clears his throat. Then he starts reciting:
“We’re Big City Scouts.
We’re brave and we’re true.
We’re here to serve others;
that’s just what we do.
No matter the problem
we’ll solve it ourselves;
we know we can fix it
without any help.
We’re here for our families,
our neighbors, our friends.
On the Big City Scouts
you can always depend.”
“That was really nice,” Tiny says. “I love poetry.”
“It’s more than just a poem; it’s the Big City Scouts oath,” Grandpa explains.
“It’s not in the Big City Scouts Handbook,” Velma notes.
“It won’t be in that newfangled handbook, little Street,” Grandpa explains. “The oath is from back in my day.”
“What’s an oath?” asks Ralphie.
“An oath is a promise,” Grandpa says. “The Big City Scouts oath is what we live by. Got it, Scouts?”
“Got it, sir!” everyone says.
− 2 –
Instructions are Help
So, what do we do first?” Louie asks. “I’m ready to start earning badges.”
“First we need to put up our tents,” Big Lou informs the group. “And by ‘we,’ I mean you all.”
“How do we put them up?” Ralphie asks. “Don’t we need instructions?”
“Duh, little Street,” says Kurt. “The Big City Scouts oath says we’re supposed to solve problems without any help.”
“Instructions are help,” Sid adds.
“We’ll also need to unpack the van,” Grandpa Ratso says, clapping Big Lou on the shoulder. “That can be your job, sonny boy.”
“What are you going to do, Grandpa?” asks Louie.
Grandpa sets up a folding chair. “Why, supervise, of course,” he says.
“Now I know where you get it from,” Ralphie tells his brother.
The Big City Scouts attempt to put up their tents. It does not go well.
“Why can’t I get mine to stay up?” Millicent asks.
“Because you’re just a little Street,” says Sid. “We had no problem putting ours up.”
“Except you set yours up on low ground,” says Velma. “If you’d read the Big City Scouts Handbook, you’d know —”
“You heard Grandpa Ratso. We don’t need books,” says Kurt.
“Or nerds telling us what to do,” says Sid.
“I’m not telling you what to do,” says Velma. “I’m trying to help.”
“We definitely don’t need help from little Streets. Us Avenues can do it ourselves,” Kurt says.
“Maybe we could ‘do it ourselves’ together,” suggests Millicent. “What do you say, Streets?”
“I’m in,” says Velma.
“Me, too,” says Tiny. “Mine looks like a wrinkly pancake.”
“Speaking of pancakes, where’s the food?” Big Lou asks Grandpa Ratso. “I thought you said you were taking care of it.”
“I am,” says Grandpa Ratso. He picks up two fishing poles and hands one to Big Lou. “Or, shall I say, we are. All the food we need is right here, in the great outdoors!”
“Sounds pretty fishy to me,” mutters Ralphie. “If you help me with
my tent, Louie, I’ll share my Happy Puffs with you. Deal?”
“You’re on your own, little Street,” says Louie. “This Avenue’s on his way to earning his Master Camper badge.”
“Sounds like a dead end for both of us,” Ralphie says. He runs off to join Tiny and Millicent and Velma.
Copyright © 2020 by Kara LaReau. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.