service-starWow. I just realized I missed the anniversary of this blog. It is hard to believe all the years that I have been sharing my thoughts, activities, and special events with you through this site known as A Scoutmaster’s Blog. How many years is that, you ask? Well, let’s see. The first blog article was posted on May 18, 2006. This blog is now ten years old! Again, I say WOW! (Do I get a ten year pin for this?)

I never would have dreamed back in 2006 that I would still be writing articles about Troop 68 ten years later. I have shared a lot of articles about the comings and goings of the local troop. I have also shared a lot of my own thoughts during the last decade. When I started this blog there were not many Scoutmasters who had one. There still are not many, but there are a few others out their nearly as old as this one, and probably much better than mine.

Here are a few statistics of this blog. There have been over 1000 articles written. Most have been written by me, but I did allow a few troop alumni to write articles about their memories of being a Boy Scout. Hundreds of pictures have been shared with you. The blog has received nearly half a million page views, which I think is something to be proud of. This blog got me into podcasting both a video and an audio podcast for several years, and introduced me to other Scouting themed podcasters. Together we formed PTC Media, a network of Scouting themed podcasts.

I sometimes think I should take all these articles and form them into a book format, but when I think about all the work that would involve I forget about it and move onto something else. Maybe after I retire and find I need something to do with all that time I will have on my hands…

After I retired as the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68 at the end of 2011, I thought about changing the name of the blog, but I decided to keep it. It is where people have come to know me and I did not want to ruin that. I figure that after spending 35 years as a scoutmaster I maybe deserve the right to keep the name of this blog as it is. Even though I do not write as often as I used to, I still write most of my articles about Boy Scouting.

Will I be writing for another ten years? I have no idea. Probably, if I am still involved with Scouting. After all, it only takes an hour a week you know.

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    Disc Golf Ribbon Cutting2

    A year and a half ago I wrote a couple of articles about how the Melrose Boy Scout Troop had inspired the Melrose city officials to think about having a nine basket disc golf course installed in the main city park. A quickly planned but simple service project activity during the city’s 2014 Night To Unite evening started the ball rolling on something I would have liked to have seen in town two decades earlier. You can read these posts Here and Here.

    It recently occurred to me that I did not write any follow up articles to let you all know how things turned out. As stated in one of the earlier posts, I thought the Boy Scouts would assist in helping the city staff assemble the course equipment and installing it in the park. Well, it did not quite happen that way. The city park staff assembled everything themselves during the winter months, and installed all the signs and baskets early in the spring while the Scouts were still in school. At least a couple of the Scouts, who happened to be working on their Citizenship in the Community merit badge, were able to assist in creating the tee signs for each hole.

    The Sauk River Park disc golf course was finished the first Monday of May in 2015. On a rainy night two weeks later, the Boy Scouts were present with various city and park officials for the official ribbon cutting. As the person who did a lot of the planning and design work for the park, I was given a scissors to cut the ribbon. Then the Scouts lined up for a picture throwing their discs at the basket for the local paper. The adults that were present also lined up for a similar picture. The newspaper did a great write up about the course.

    The disc golf course received a good amount of use during the year of 2015. The local teenagers started making use of the course immediately, and many families discovered it was an activity they could do together. Even the high school started using the course as a Phys Ed activity since the course is located across the street from the school. Both city officials and the park board were happy with the use the course was getting, which made me feel good after the time and effort I had poured into the project. Not many people get to say they brought something to their city which everyone can play and have fun doing.

    A few weeks ago we began a disc golf league in Melrose. There are about fourteen people in the league, most of them teenagers, and four of them Boy Scouts. There is even one Cub Scout and his father who play. Ages range from 9 years old to 55 years old. We have been having a great time playing and meeting the new members. I just wish I would have thrown a bit better last week, but then, we all wish to do better than we usually do when we play.

    I sometimes still find it hard to believe that this course happened because of a little project in the park one night prepared by the Boy Scouts. It just goes to show, you never know…

     

    Disc Golf Ribbon Cutting6

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      IMG_0148This year marked the eighth year that the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have handed out 4″ x 6″ United States flags before the Riverfest parade in Melrose. Once again the Scouts walked along the parade route and gave away 1250 flags, curtesy of the Melrose American Legion. People love receiving them, from the youngest toddler to the oldest senior citizen. And they are better for you than all the Tootsie Rolls that are thrown out during the parade, don’t you agree?

      Last year we had a shortage of Boy Scouts attend the service project so this year we invited the Cub Scout to help out, hoping we would get enough Scouts to break up into four teams. The plan was to have two teams start on each end of the parade route, each team taking one side of the street, and meet up somewhere in the middle. Hopefully, by the time we would meet, we would be out of flags.

      We ended up with plenty of Scouts. Six Cub Scouts and five Boy Scouts showed up for the project, in addition to five parents and Scout leaders. About 30 minutes before the parade was scheduled to begin, we split up and began handing out the flags. My team consisted of three Cub Scout brothers who were excited to participate in such a project. They were all smiles as they handed out the flags one by one, receiving smiles in return from the people who accepted them.

      My team was starting to run low on flags by the time we met up with the Scouts who had started at the other end of the route. They still had a few hundred flags due to many people not being seated yet for the parade as they walked by. I had noticed a lot of people coming in after we had walked by a our route so my team took the extra flags and started retracing our steps, handing out flags to people who had recently arrived along the parade route. We even had a couple kids run across the street to get flags from us.

      By the time we got to the spot were the Cub Scout’s parents were sitting for watching the parade, we had handed out all the flags. And just in time. The honor guard that was leading the parade was marching only a few blocks away from us. The parade had started. The only thing the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and leadership had left to do was to sit back and enjoy the parade. And eat the Tootsie Rolls thrown to us, of course.

      IMG_0156

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        roundtableThe District Roundtable. That once a month training meeting for all Scout Leaders. They are a good meetings for all Scouters to attend, filled with lots of ideas and knowledge, but in reality only a small percentage of Scouters attend them. It is really a shame.

        I began attending roundtable about the time I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68 in 1981, thirty five years ago. During most of those years I was a regular attendee, maybe missing one or two a year, usually to weather issues, like snowstorms. I thought I had a very good attendance record, especially when you consider that I live 35 miles from the council service center.

        I was recruited as an assistant roundtable commissioner in the late 1980’s, and continued through the early 1990’s. For a couple of years we even held junior leader roundtables for senior patrol leaders, patrol leaders, and other youth officers. I finally stepped away from the roundtable staff because I needed to clean my plate of a few positions. I did not want to burn out after all. I did continue to attend the monthly meetings, just not as a staff member.

        A few years ago I decided to offer my assistance once again to the roundtable commissioner. Al had been running the roundtables himself. I know from experience that a helping hand not only makes things easier, but it also makes it more fun. He quickly accepted my offer and I became an assistant roundtable commissioner once again.

        In May I finished my third year as Al’s assistant. May is also the month that Al and I decided to retire as the roundtable staff. It was a good run, and we both had fun, but we both felt it was time for new leadership to take over.

        I had an additional reason to step down from the position. I currently serve as the Cubmaster for Melrose Pack 68. The committee has decided to try moving den and pack meetings from Monday nights to Tuesday nights during the 2016-2017 program year. The Scenic District roundtable are held on the first Tuesday night of the month. I have not yet discovered how to be in two places at one time. This coming year could be the first Scouting program year that I will not attend a roundtable meeting since 1980. That is going to bit a little weird for me.

        I do not know who will take over the roundtable staff positions this fall but I wish them the best of luck. It is a great experience and can be a lot of fun with just a little bit of planning.

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          bookstandI have been on the Melrose Area History Museum board of directors for a little over a year now. I have been finding it to be interesting. I have a feeling that if I am still on the board when I am old enough to retire from work I may spend quite a bit of time there helping out with various projects. Unfortunately, since I am working full time I do not get to spend very much time with the museum, other than going to board meetings.

          Since Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting are such a big part of my life, I have been trying to do little things at the museum to improve the Scouting display and make it look better. I do mean little things. A year ago I built a little Scouting coffee mug stand for the display case and provided enough Scouting themed mugs to display on it. This past winter I printed and framed a photo of each of the troop’s Eagle Scouts (of the last thirty years) for the museum. Previous articles to this blog describe these projects in more detail.

          My latest project is more of an experiment. The Scouting display has a few handbooks and other misc. books that people can only see the edge binding of because we really do not have good way to display them. I have decided to try making a book display using some odd jamb material found at the lumber yard I work at. The moulding gives the backboard a slight back tilt which should help display the books, but yet keep enough weight at the bottom of the rack to keep the display from tipping over.

          The picture above shows the display before I painted it white this past weekend. I am thinking of looking through my Scouting collection to find doubles of Cub Scout handbooks since there is not very much Cub Scout related material in the display yet. If this display works well, I plan to make one or two more for the cases. After all, the museum display already has some books that need to be shown off better then they currently are displayed.

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            CubScoutComicsI have just finished my second year as the cubmaster for Melrose Pack 68. It was fun and I enjoyed it. The Cubs have such a different view of life then Boy Scouts. I am still getting used to working with them. I must be doing a decent job because the committee wants me to stick around for another year.

            As the cubmaster, I try to talk to, and listen to, each of the boys when they come to me during a meeting. I try to give each of them at least a couple minutes of my time, which I fell is quite important. A year ago, I caught a quick comment by one Cub Scout who mentioned that he has never had a comic book. I collect comic books so the next time I went to the nearest comic book store I asked the owner if he could give me a good deal on some comic books I could give to the Cubs at the next pack meeting. He gave me enough for the pack free of charge, of a few varieties. The Cub Scouts thought they were great.

            I decided to do it again this year at the end of the May pack meeting and graduations. The first Saturday in May is free comic book day. I went back to the store a few days later and talked to the owner about doing the same thing again this year with the Cub Scouts. He still hand some comic books left over from Saturday. We went through which ones would be appropriate for the age group, and once again he gave me enough to hand out to the Cub Scouts. The Cub Scouts were quite excited to pick out their choice of five different books I had brought to the meeting, which included SpongeBob, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Captain America.

            What kind of extra little things have you done in your pack to make things more fun and special for your Cub Scouts? Leave a comment and let us know about them.

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              PackBridgeI am constantly amazed by Cub Scouts and the way they look at life. I love the way everything seems to bring a sense of wonderment and excitement to them. The are full of energy and fun, always looking for a good time. And they seem to have a hard time standing still for more then 15 seconds.

              A month ago, I talked to one of the Cub Scout fathers about building a small bridge for the May graduation ceremony. We took a quick look through Pinterest for a few ideas before settling on a nice simple clean design (seen in the picture.) The rail boards for the rope railing store inside the bottom of the bridge when not in use. We left it unfinished for now because we have an idea for later. He was able to finish building it in time for the pack meeting. The cost of materials was only about $40.00.

              When they Cub Scouts arrived at the May meeting it did not take them long to notice the bridge. In fact, they all wanted to walk across the new bridge. I had to tell them that no one crosses the bridge until the graduation ceremony. You could just see the anticipation build in their eyes.

              When the time came for each to cross the bridge all 17 Cub Scouts seemed excited. Yes, they were graduating into their next level of Cub Scouting, but they also were able to walk across this new construction which had not been part of previous graduations. The boys were grinning ear to ear as our committee chairperson removed their old neckerchiefs, turned to me (who was standing on the other side of the stage), and walked across the bridge for the first time to receive their next neckerchief . It may have been a small bridge, but it was a big thing to these Cub Scouts as they moved on to the next phase of their Scouting careers.

              Next fall we plan to remove 12 of the 14 floorboards of the bridge. Each den will receive two boards, along with two points of the Scout Law. The dens will decorate their boards based on their two points of the Law and return them next April in time to be added back to the bridge frame. I know we are going to end up with a very unique bridge design. And the best part is that the Cub Scouts will have a stake in the final design, making the bridge truly theirs.

              Does your Pack use a bridge in its graduation ceremonies? Leave a comment and let us know if it adds to their excitement like our bridge did for the Cub Scouts of Pack 68.

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                CubScoutDrapeAs I stated in the last post to A Scoutmaster’s Blog, Boy Scout Troop 68 owns a Boy Scout drape that it has used for many years. When I became the Pack 68 cubmaster I noticed very quickly that the pack did not own a flag or anything decorative for its pack meetings. It did not take long for the pack committee to approve the purchase of a Cub Scout flag. I had an extra U.S.A. flag in my house and two old flag poles. The Cub Scout dens love taking turns at being the honor guard and presenting the flags at the beginning of the pack meeting.

                The flags added a little color to the meetings but I wanted more to decorate the ceremonies. I recently talked to the commander of the Melrose American Legion, the sponsor of the Cub Scout Pack, and asked him if it might be possible for the Legion to buy an eight foot long Cub Scout drape for the pack meetings. He liked the idea and told me to write a letter requesting the purchase. I need to do that one of these nights.

                I really wanted to have this drape for this month’s graduation ceremony, so even though the Legion will probably pay for the drape after they approve it, I already went out and bought one. Yeah, I know I may have bought it a bit early, but I really did not want to wait until next month. If the Legion decides not to reimburse me for it, well, I just hope they do.

                Does your Cub Scout Pack use one of these for its pack meetings? How do you display it?

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