The Scouts of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 have begun selling tickets for their 2017 spring fundraiser. The Pancake and Sausage Breakfast will be held at the Melrose American Legion on Sunday, April 30th. As always, it is an all you can eat breakfast. Contact a member of Troop 68 if you need tickets.

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    Holy cow! The Boy Scouts of America have announced a new high adventure base to be opened in the near feature, and only a few years after the latest one, The Summit, opened. Boy, they are really trying to get new youth into the program and retain the current membership for as long as they are able. According to the Bryan On Scouting blog:

    Fifty years, to the day, after an Eagle Scout was the first human to set foot on the moon, the Boy Scouts of America will create a permanent high-adventure base there.  Tranquility High Adventure Base — the fifth jewel in BSA’s high-adventure crown — will open July 20, 2019.

    The BSA is partnering with NASA, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX to make this sci-fi dream a reality. Thanks to their support, it’ll cost just $24,995 to spend a week at Tranquility. That cost does not include transportation.

    This article was posted on April 1st. Yes, it is an Aprils Fool joke, but just think about it if it. What if it would have been true!

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      Being a Boy Scout leader can be serious work. And it can be a lot of fun. Sometimes we can look at ourselves and have a spot of fun at our own expense. That is why I like some of the “special” awards I have seen some councils and troops develop over the years.

      A few years ago our council developed a special award for Scout Leaders, The Nap On Safely Award. After all, naps are serious business! If you need to take one during an afternoon while at camp you want to be sure you are doing it properly and safely. This is so important we took time during one of our roundtables to have a training session for this critical award. Here were some of the subjects covered to earning it:

      Remember the S.L.E.E.P. acronym.
      Safety
      Lifestyle
      Environment
      Enjoyment
      Practice

      Safety: location, equipment, preventative measures .
      Locations: shelters, cots, mats, tables prefer not, chairs, benches.
      Environment: hydration, shade, air conditioning or wind, become one with nature.
      Enjoyment: relax, timing, find your happy place.
      Practice: frequently, consistency, trial and error, repeat, more than 45 minutes is sleeping and not napping.

      Once a Scout Leader completed the training he or she received the patch to hang on the right pocket of their uniform. Does your council have a similar award?

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        I like reading the Bryan On Scouting blog. It is quite informative, and can also be quite fun at times. He recently added a post of which I was a bit skeptical at first since he posted it on April 1st, which is April Fools Day. But after doing a bit of research it looks like it is legit. The Boy Scouts of America has eliminated its Tour and Activity Plan!

        I wish they would have done this back when I was a scoutmaster. I always felt these forms were a pain in the neck. I understood the reason for them but that did not mean I had to like them. The planning of the outing usually was not the problem. The worst part run running around to get the signatures needed.

        The Bryan On Scouting blog post explains the reasoning behind the new policy. You can click on the link below. I would suggest you check it out. You can also check out the BSA’s page on the Tour and Activity Plan page for more answers. which can be found at:

        http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/Alerts/TourActivityPlan.aspx

        BSA’s Tour and Activity Plan eliminated

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          Friends of Scouting. The annual visit of a council representative to troops and packs throughout the country. The annual visit for the council to ask parents and families to help with the expenses at the district and council level. Some units welcome the council representatives with open arms. Other units, not so much.

          I do not mind the F.O.S. visits. I understand the need for the council to visit the units. Oh, there have been a few times over the last few decades that I was upset with the council for one reason or another and almost told them they could forget coming to our troop court of honor, but I never denied them the opportunity to talk to the parents.

          There is one thing I look forward to seeing whenever it is time for the Friends of Scouting campaign. I am always curious to see what the incentives will be to entice people to donate at the various levels. The right incentive could just boost that donation up to the next level after all.

          The Central Minnesota Council offered a different framed Normal Rockwell print for several years in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. I collected them all. The mugs and tumblers really did not grab my attention very well.

          This is the tenth year the the council has offered a special council should patch (csp) for meeting the first level of incentives. Each year has featured a different point of the Scout Law. This being the tenth year so the patch features the theme Brave.

          As a collector of shoulder patches this FOS patch has always had my attention. I like the look of this year’s patch. The red color will really stand out on the Boy Scout uniform sleeve, and I like the action picture of Scouts white water rafting. I do not wear these patches on my uniform. I place them in a three ring binder with the other council patches of the Central Minnesota Council and the Noguonabe Lodge that I have collected over the past 40 years.

          What does your council offer during its annual Friends of Scouting campaigns? Do they offer any special patches?

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            The Cub Scout Pack 68 Pinewood Derby is one of the highlights of the year for the Scouts. The boys and their parents work hard on their car designs. What will the design be? What colors should be used? Will it be fast enough? Could it receive “best of show”?

            When I became the cubmaster of Pack 68 a couple years ago I decided to try to make the derby more fun than competitive. Yes, the pack did award trophies for first, second, and third places, but I wanted to make the derby more than just winning. I wanted to keep the fun in the derby.

            For the last couple years we ran the derby as a double elimination. We have a two lane track. Each car had a chance to run a race on each lane in each heat. The best time would determine who moves up the bracket. The nice part was that each Scout was given a minimum of four times to watch their car race down the track.

            That worked very well when we only had 17 Cub Scouts in the Pack. Last fall our Pack grew to nearly 50 Scouts. Most of them planned to participate in the derby. The double elimination plan of the past would not work well this year. It would take too long to conduct all those races.

            The derby was a major topic at the committee meeting in January. Ideas were given and discussed before were decided on a derby suggestion based on how the council conducts their derby. This year’s derby would be done by “dens”. A first and second place would be given for each level, from Tiger Cub to Webelos Scouts. Each car would race twice per heat, once on each side of the track. The best time would move up the bracket as in past years. We would also try to use the computer program that came with the track for the first time.

            We decided to award two Best Of Show trophies since the Pack had grown so large. We also decided to present one trophy for the overall fastest car in the Pack, based on time. In all, the Pack would award 13 trophies instead of the usual four. I thought this number would increase a Scout’s chance to take home a trophy but after doing the math I discovered it actually remained near the same as the last two years, if all the Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts participated.

            Well, that January derby has been held and is now history. The plan worked out well and races moved along without much delay. The boys and their families had a good time. We even had a little time left over for the boys to race against other Scouts, their brothers, and in one case, his father. It was a good day and I went home pleased.

            How did your Pack’s Pinewood Derby go this year? Leave a comment.

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              It is winter in Minnesota. That means it is time for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 to spend a weekend at Camp Stearns for their annual winter outing. It is a tradition that began over 15 years ago.

              Seven Members of Troop 68 attended the weekend outing near Fairhaven this year, along with two adult leaders. They left Melrose January 20th, a foggy Friday night, and returned on a much less foggy Sunday morning. The forecast for the weekend was for the weather to be damp and above freezing, which was not the best forecast for a winter activity.

              The Troop had reserved the Whitewater Lodge which allowed them to have a warm, dry place to sleep and relax. Their schedule would keep the Scouts outside for a good portion of the weekend. Their are plenty of activities at Camp Stearns if a troop decides to take advantage of them.

              Once the Troop had checked in with the camp master, and the Scouts had unpacked the gear, it was time to do a little exploring. The first stop was at the quartermaster’s building to check on gear. The next stop was the sledding hill. Camp Stearns has a great sledding hill which has lights for evening fun. The Scouts were hoping that there would be enough snow on the hillside after the warm weather we had had during the past week. There was plenty of snow. The boys went back to their Lodge, changed clothes, and had fun sledding before calling it a night.

              The Troop had a full schedule Saturday morning which included time older Scouts helping the newer members work on their advancement. Most of the boys participated in an orienteering course and hike. Then it was back to the sledding hill for another hour of racing down the hillside.

              Camp Stearns has two nine-hole disc golf courses so you can probably guess where the Troop spent a portion of the afternoon. They discovered it takes longer to play a round in the winter time because it takes longer to find the thrown discs in the foot deep snow. The Scouts did not mind. They were having too much fun playing the game and talking smack at each other.

              After supper, the boys had a short religious service and relaxed with a game of Catan and a movie. They also had the chance to surprise their Scoutmaster on his birthday with a song and cupcakes baked by one of the boy’s mother.

              The Troop was on their way home by 9:00 Sunday morning after a quick breakfast and cleanup of the building. Plans were already being discussed for next year’s trip to Camp Stearns.

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                Like I stated in the previous post, I collect Scouting memorabilia. A large portion of the collection is books: handbooks, merit badge books, Fieldbooks, training books, and fictional novels. Most of the fictional novels are from the 1910’s through the 1920’s.

                Last year I found a set of four books in a comic book shop in Alexandria. I almost looked past them. After all, you do not expect to see Scouting books in a comic book store, but the edge design of the books happen to catch my eye since they are similar to other fictional Scouting themed novels from the early 1900’s. The dust jacket on the one book gave a clue that this could be a Scouting series. I was right. This Dan Carter, Cub Scout series, written by Mildred Wirt, was printed from 1949-1953.

                I looked them over, thought about the price marked on the books, and decided they would make a nice addition to my collection, especially since the one book still had the dust jacket, which I have since discovered makes a book more collectable to some collectors.

                Later, I took a look in the iTunes store to see if these books were available as digital versions. They were! A six book mega-pack was available for a very reasonable price. Yes, you read that correctly. There are six books in the series which means I am missing two of them. Oh well, I have the digital versions so I may read all six books, when I find the time to do so. I have too many books sitting on my bookshelves waiting to be read, and more on my iPad.

                Do you collect old Scouting themed books? Which ones do you have?

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