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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      I collect Scouting memorabilia. That includes a collection of coffee mugs. Sometimes I forget what I really have in the collection so I was a little surprised to discover something the other day.

      I am a member of a few Scouting groups on Facebook, including a brand new group called Boy Scout Collectables. The group was created by a member of the Scout Patch Collectors page after a discussion started that a group was needed for things other than patches. The new group has grown slowly and has about 21 members as I write this. I have a feeling it will grow as the word gets out.

      Since this is a new Facebook group I decided to share a few of the things I have collected with the members. I decided to take a picture of these coffee mugs since they had a cool Scouting caption and picture on one side. I was surprised to discover the Viking Council logo on the other side. Since the Viking Council of Minneapolis no longer exists I guess they have really become a bit more collectable.

      I invite you to join the Boy Scout Collectables group on Facebook and share your collection. It can be found at
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/323868214332022/

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        Pinewood Derby time has arrived for many Cub Scout Packs across the country. Thousands of derby cars have been made, or are being finished. Each will be a work of art. Many will have original designs. Some will race for speed. Some will try for the Best Of Show award. A few will probably not cross the finish line. The point of the derby is for the parent and Cub Scout to spend some time together to create the car, and then have fun racing against the others of the Pack.

        Most Cub Scout Packs give trophies to the fastest cars. In Melrose Pack 68 we did something a little different this year. We awarded trophies to the two fastest cars in each den, thus giving the Scouts a greater chance of winning. Two trophies were also awarded for the Best Of Show. Of course, this means a lot of boys will not go home with an award so we gave each Cub Scout a patch for participating. The patch we choose this year is shown above. I think it is a sharp patch. The boys really seemed to like it.

        In addition to the patch each Scout also received a special “race car cookie” baked by one of the grandmothers. I can testify that they are the best race car the boys have ever eaten! The cookie pictured below did not last long after the picture was taken.

         

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          Boy Scouts love a good story told around the campfire. I do not mind telling one, or reading one, if the opportunity presents itself. Of course, the Boy Scouts love the scarier tales as they sit in the darkness with only the reddish light of the campfire embers.

          This year was my first chance to tell Cub Scouts a story around a campfire. The first time was to the Bears and Webelos in the spring. The second time was for the new Bears in the fall. Both times I told the story of The Purple Gorilla, a suspenseful and long story about a traveling salesman that has a comical twist at the end of the tale. The Cub Scouts and the adults loved it.

          As I planned the Pack’s Christmas party earlier this month I decided it was time for the boys to hear the story of The Christmas Scout. The story is about a young Boy Scout who recently lost his older brother in a car accident and wonders if he can ever be happy at Christmas time again. It does get a bit emotional toward the end but it has a great ending and moral lesson. It is one of my favorite stories.

          As the Pack’s Christmas party neared its end I picked up the paper copy of The Christmas Scout, raised my hand in the Scout sign, and asked for the boy’s attention. A few boys were still chatting as I began reading but by the second or third paragraph all 41 of the Cub Scouts, and their parents, were listening quietly. It was my largest ever Cub Scout audience.

          The story ends on a serious note so instead of signing a jolly Christmas carol to end the meeting I invited everyone to join me in signing the hymn Silent Night. The evening ended with juice and Christmas treats for all. Later on, I was talking to the Pack committee chairman. He complimented me on my storytelling skills and commented on how I had the attention of all the boys. He was a bit impressed. I was just happy that the Cub Scouts and the adults enjoyed the story.

          If you would like to read the story of The Christmas Scout go to this The Scoutmasters Blog POST from December 2007.

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            lbp002I have been more active with Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 during the last few months as our new scoutmaster gets comfortable with his new position. I have invited the Patrol Leaders Council to once again hold their meetings at my house which has given me the opportunity to assist in their training and answer any questions of the new scoutmaster.

            As the Boy Scouts planned their monthly agenda, I encouraged them to plan a different game for each of the weekly troop meetings. I also asked them to only use one game from the previous month. This adds for variety during the meetings and forces the youth leadership to think a bit more when they do their planning.

            When the Scouts were planning their November meetings during the October patrol leader council meeting they were coming up short on game time ideas as they tried to follow my suggestion. I mentioned a game I have not seen the troop play in a few years. I gave them a brief summary of the games rules and the boys quickly added it to the meeting plan for November 21st.

            The meeting arrived. It was time to play the game. I soon discovered that not one of the Scouts attending the meeting had played this game. I thought that a few of the older boys had played it when they were younger but I was wrong. I was surprised that it had been a few years since the troop had used this game during a meeting.

            I explained the rules of the game, and also told them it was a game that they would probably never play in school because it can be a pretty rough and tumble game. I had them take off their uniform shirts to prevent any damage, and told the boys who were wearing boots to remove them. We did not want anyone getting hurt after all.

            It was time to begin. The Scouts had a blast! They also had quite the workout. Most of them were breathing hard by the end of the game. I have a feeling this game will start getting used more often in the upcoming months.

            Have you guessed what the game is yet? It is called British Bulldog, a game played by Boy Scouts since the start of the program in the early 1900’s. I would bet Lord Baden-Powell watched a few games of this being played. This old game had become new again to another group of Boy Scouts in central Minnesota.

            Does your troop play British Bulldogs? Does the game wear them out?

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              t68smallYou may have noticed recently that you were not able to access this blog or the troop’s website. The site was offline for a few days to transfer everything to a new server since the old server was having issues. It was an older server and was wearing out.

              David, an alumni of Boy Scout Troop 68 who hosts our website, put in a fair amount of work getting everything transferred properly. The reason it took awhile was due our troop’s website being huge. In fact, he set me an email telling me how big it was. How many troop websites do you know of that have 17 gigabytes of data!

              There are two reasons for the size of the site. One, there are thousands of photos posted in the galleries. Two, there are over 100 videos posted to the site featuring the Boy Scouts performing skits and songs, interviews with former members adult leaders, old Scouting promotional videos I have come across, and plenty of videos featuring the puppet known as Buttons, the radical Boy Scout. Many of these videos were posted in the early 2000’s.

              Everything was successfully transferred and is view-able once again. Some day I am going to have to go through the site and start revising and deleting certain things that are sort of obsolete these days. Maybe when it gets cold this winter and I have nothing better to do.

              http://www.melrosetroop68.org

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                discsI bought my first digital camera in 2004 for a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. It was great! I was able to take many more pictures than I would have with a film camera. It was very easy to share the windows once we returned home. Every participant of the trek received a disc with the photos allowing them to print whichever photos they wanted to for their own photo albums.

                A tradition began with that trip. At the end of the year I would burn compact discs with all the photos I had taken during the year at troop meetings, courts of honor, and troop activities. Each Boy Scout received a disc of photos for Christmas. I also made slideshows of each troop event. I burned those videos to DVD’s and gave one of those to each Scout. I would do the same thing of pictures taken at family events and give one to each of my family members at our Christmas gathering.

                Even after I retired as the scoutmaster I continued the tradition of giving each Boy Scout a photo disc of troop events. When I became the cubmaster of Pack 68 I decided to do the same with the Cub Scout pack. Each Cub Scout received a photo disc, but I did not burn DVD’s of sldieshows of pack events.

                When I awoke last Saturday morning I realized I only had a few days before the Pack’s Christmas party. It was time to make the photo discs. I would need to create a lot of discs. The Pack had grown from 17 Cub Scouts to 49 Scouts, including the Lion Cubs. I needed to make 50 discs. The pressure was on! The Pack’s Christmas party is on Tuesday, December 7th.

                I began working on the discs Saturday morning at 7:30. The first step was to go through all the year’s photos, toss out the blurry ones, and sort them by date and event. Once I had a master file it was time to start burning the discs. Since the file was nearly 2.5 gigabytes I ended up use blank DVDs. I soon realized that one computer would not be enough. I set up a second older computer to also burn discs. I soon ran out of sleeves for the discs so I had to make a trip to the store. The discs I use are have a printable surface on them so I was able to print a nice picture on the discs along with a label. I finished the project close to 7:00 that evening, just before company arrived.

                The Cub Scouts and parents seem to appreciate receiving the discs. I enjoy giving them. After all, it is a special gift that shares the memories of the year in Scouting. The Scouts and parents can look back on these photos for the rest of their lives.

                Now it is time to start working on the discs for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. I was able to burn the slideshows to DVDs on Sunday but I have not started on the photo discs yet. When those are done it will be time to start the family photo discs.

                My computers are really going to get a workout this month.

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