I set up my Scouting Village today and decided to share the flyover video. (It takes a small drone to video this. lol)

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    roundtable_4350Once a year the roundtable staff of the Central Minnesota Council,  Scenic District, invites the Eagle Board chairman, the district advancement chairman, and other key people to attend a meeting to discuss Eagle Scout projects, workbooks, and board of reviews. Boy Scouts are invited to attend and encouraged to ask questions.

    When this meeting was held in the fall of 2014 we were surprised with once of the best attendances for a roundtable that we have had in many years. We had to set up more chairs and almost remove tables to create enough seating. I would guess that maybe 12 to 15 Boy Scouts came to the meeting with their parents or troop leaders. We were very pleased with the turnout and many questions were answered.

    As the room was being set up for this year’s Eagle meeting, which was held Tuesday night, only two tables were set up at the front of the room for the Eagle speakers, and a few tables were left set up in the back. We were hoping for a turnout as good as last year’s, maybe even better.

    As the clock approached the 7:00 starting time we realized more chairs would be needed then were set up. Boy Scouts, parents, committee members and troop leaders filled the room. It was a good thing the tables had been removed. I counted thirty Boy Scouts in attendance. I think that could be a new record.

    The meeting went very well. The three member panel talked about what they expect from the Scouts, what the Eagle Scout process includes, and the common mistakes to avoid. A lot of questions were asked by the adult leadership and the Scouts. Everyone seemed to be pleased as the meeting came to an end.

    I was expecting a decent turnout so I thought it might be nice to have a door prize for the Boy Scouts who came to the session. I had grabbed a 1965 Boy Scout handbook from my collection to use for the drawing. Near the halfway point of the meeting we drew a winning name from my cap. The Boy Scout who won was grinning widely as he came forward to collect the handbook. He seemed quite pleased to be able to add it to his collection, or maybe it was the start of his collection.

    I noticed several young Boy Scouts mixed in the crowd so toward the end of the meeting I asked for a show of hands of the the Life Scouts in the room. Most of the boys raised their hand. I asked the Star Scouts to raise they hand. Several hands went up but I noticed a few still had not lifted theirs. When I asked for the First Class Scouts to raise their hands the last four or five Scouts were recognized. I could not help myself. I commended these young men for thinking ahead as they plan to reach their goal of attaining Boy Scouting highest rank.


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      booIn my last post I wrote I mentioned a story I used to end the roundtable meeting. It was about two Boy Scouts who were best of friends and who had made a promise to each other, I promise they kept even after death. I am not sure were I found this story but it is a good one. Here it is for you to read and use within your own troop or pack.

      “Tom and Paul were best friends. They went to the same schools, right from kindergarten. They were best friends right from the beginning. Tom was a little bigger, not afraid of anything. Paul was smart, inquisitive, and ready to try whatever Tom came up with. 

      Their families got used to seeing them together, more like brothers than friends. They were Cub Scouts in the same Den, and they both got their Arrow of Light at the same ceremony and crossed over into Boy Scouts together. They joined Troop 17, it met at the Methodist Church and had a reputation as a Troop that did a lot of camping.

      They were active Scouts, picked up rank, went on almost all the camp outs. Tom was a Patrol Leader when he made Star, and Senior Patrol Leader as a Life Scout. Paul was Quartermaster the same year, 1965. 

      They weren’t just Scouts, of course. They had school and girlfriends, family, part time jobs. Tom worked summers on his grandfather’s farm. Paul lifeguarded at the community pool. The summer they graduated from high school, class of 1966, they both decided to work at Scout Camp. Tom got assigned to the Camp Quartermaster, drove the camp truck and worked maintenance jobs. Paul had his Red Cross certifications, and he worked at the waterfront.

      They had a great summer, and promised each other they would come back the following year. Well, more than promised, really. They swore an oath, on their honor, that they would come back to camp together, that nothing, not girlfriends or jobs or anything, would prevent them from coming back to camp.

      Promises like that are hard to keep. 

      Paul went to college in the fall, he had decided to study engineering, and joined Navy ROTC. It would help pay for school, and in those years, it meant he had a sure deferment from the draft. 

      Tom got drafted. He went to Army basic training and shipped out to Vietnam. He wrote letters home, even sent a couple to Paul. He had been there eight months, and his unit had seen a lot of action, when he sent on a patrol as part of a larger operation. His platoon got ambushed. The after action reports pretty much told the tale, they got hit hard, and in the effort to set up a defense and bring in the wounded, Tom had gone out under fire three times. On the way back that last time he was shot and fatally wounded.

      There was a military funeral, and a small collection of ribbons, including a Silver Star. Paul spoke at the funeral, and told everyone of the promise they had made and how now it could not be kept, of their adventures, and the trouble they got into now and then, and what it was like to have a friend like Tom. 

      Paul graduated from college in 1970. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, and selected for flight school.

      He wanted to be a fighter pilot, just like everyone who goes to flight school, and he came close, but didn’t make the cut. He was assigned to A-6 Intruders, and excelled at that. He qualified for carriers, joined up with a Squadron and went to war. The Vietnam War was in it’s final years, but there was still a lot of air support missions being flown, and his carrier was off the coast of Vietnam most of his first year at sea.

      He was on a close air support mission, trying to protect South Vietnamese troops and their American advisors when his plane was hit. He came up off the target, but before he regained control, his plane crashed into the jungle. The plane burned, he and his copilot were never recovered.

      Now that’s just a sad story from the past, I suppose, two good men, two Eagle Scouts, both lost in the Vietnam War, but there’s some more to this story. Because they had made a promise, an oath, on their honor, to spend at least one more summer at this camp, and they didn’t give themselves an out just because they died. 

      The first I heard of it was in the 80’s, an 8 year old Cub Scout on a family overnight got lost on the trail out to the Wilderness area. All the Scout troops in camp and the local Sheriff’s department had started a search. A Scoutmaster found him walking out of the woods up on the hill by the horse barns. The kid said 2 adults in Scout uniforms had walked him up there, only when they asked him to describe what they looked like, he described the old green uniforms that were used in the 60s.

      The next time was a Scout on wilderness survival overnight on the ridge. He had built his shelter and was bedded down when he saw 2 Scouts walking along together. Same description, young adults in old time uniforms. They looked over at him, but didn’t stop, just continued their hike out on the ridge trail. He was pretty spooked by it, being alone overnight and trying to tell his Scoutmaster the next morning. That time the word got around and it turned out some of the Staff at camp said that they had seen them too.

      Now, I never saw them, but the camp ranger says he did, winter before last, right after that big snow in February. He had walked into camp late in the day, going to the dining hall and the bath house to check the pipes. He said they were in front of him on the main trail, in those same uniforms, walking along like it was a summer day. He was bundled up against the cold, crunching through the snow, and started to speed up to catch them. He said he wasn’t thinking about it too clearly, just wanted to know who the heck was in camp when they weren’t supposed to be.

      He stopped when they turned around. Because when he saw their faces, well, the camp ranger used to be a Boy Scout, too. A Boy Scout in Troop 17, and when he made First Class in 1965, his Senior Patrol Leader was named Tom and his Quartermaster was named Paul. He still had Troop pictures, but he wouldn’t have forgotten what they looked liked, especially in their summer uniforms. He said they smiled, and Tom waved, and then they turned and hiked down the trail toward the waterfront like they were on patrol.

      The night the ranger told me this, he didn’t expect me to believe any of it, and I don’t expect you to believe me, either. But he stood there for a few minutes as dusk gathered, and when he looked down, there weren’t any tracks in the snow. He looked back and his footprints were right there in the snow, but only his, and none on the trail in front of him.

      He told me he believed that they had kept their oath. That they were here in camp, and that they were content, that they had come back to the camp they had loved. 

      So when you’re out on the trail in the evening tonight, or on an overnight somewhere remote in the Wilderness, remember those two Scouts and their promise, and how maybe, just maybe, they managed to keep it after all.

      Good Night, Scouts.”

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        roundtableplanningI had received a couple emails this summer from Bob at the council office asking if I would be on the roundtable staff again for the 2015-2016 program year. I really did not feel like being on staff for a third year so I sort of ignored the messages. When Al, the roundtable commissioner called me, I knew it was time to make a final decision. Al made a comment that this would probably be his last year so I agreed to to one more year. After all, we seemed to make a pretty good team.

        I did not have much to do during the September roundtable since Al and I had not sat down yet to plan out our meetings. That was fine with me since I still was not really feeling like I wanted to be on staff again. When we got together in late September to plan for the next several months something clicked into place and I was back into roundtable mode.

        As the October roundtable began I was ready with plenty of handouts for my session, and ropes for the knot relay. I also had a Scouting ghost story for the end of the meeting about two Scouts who were best friends, and the promise they made to each that they would keep, even after death.

        My favorite part of the October meeting was when we broke for the knot relay. I separated the participants into three “patrols” and gave them a few minutes to practice the three knots they would need for the relay. These three groups immediately started acting like a Boy scout patrol. The more experienced “Scouts” began helping and teaching the less experienced. During the rely, all three patrols did their best to win the competition. It was fun watching “Scouting in action” with the adults leaders.

        Like I stated, I am back in roundtable mode for a third year. I am looking forward to the next several meetings. I think the troop leaders who attend for find them to be informative and fun.

        This will be my last year on roundtable staff though. Yes, I have had fun and think I brought little something to the sessions, but it is time to hand it over to some new leadership and see what they can bring to the training.

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          2015villageIt is that time of year. Time to think about Christmas! Well, the retail community wants us to think about Christmas and the holidays. After all, they have lots of things they would like to sell us and they seem to think they need the last three (sometimes four) months of the year to convince us of that. Buy your decorations! Plan your family meals! And make sure you get your Christmas shopping done early!

          For the last few years the Boy Scouts of America has created its own Scouting Village Collection. It started with a Ranger’s Cabin, Trading Post, and Church and has expanded nicely over the last two years. A person can set up a very nice Christmas Scouting Village (summer camp) scene with the pieces, if you have them all. I combine the Scouting pieces with some accessories from the Department 56 Village to create a rather cool Scouting scene.

          I was looking forward to see if they would continue offering new village pieces this year. Last time I walked into the local Scout shop a couple weeks ago the clerk pulled me off to the side to show me what would be coming out. Cool, I thought when she said there would be new pieces. Unfortunately, I was not thinking it was so cool after seeing what was offered.

          First, there is the Resident Camp Tents “lighted house” piece. This one does not look too bad but I have a feeling it is going to look out of proportion when placed with BSA Wall Tent from two years ago. I may have to use this new item as a background piece to gain a bit of perspective to the village scene. I will find out after I spend $16.99 to buy it.

          The second piece offered is the Philmont Trek Accessory. When I first saw the picture for this piece I thought it would make an excellent addition to the collection. After all, it featured three Scouts climbing to one of the mountainous peaks of Philmont Scout Ranch. When I saw the piece for the first time I lost my enthusiasm for it. It is very small, only 4″ high and 3″ long. I have a feeling its scale will look totally out of place with the rest of the collection. The cost is only $6.99 so it is not a big investment at least.

          The third and final piece for this year is the Villa Philmonte Lighted House. It is a nice looking addition to the series. My main concern is the cost. The nice thing about the Scouting Village set is that the pieces were very affordable. Lighted pieces usually sold from $12 to maybe $20 each. The Villa Philmonte breaks this tradition is a big way. This piece sells for $49.99. Wow. Last year’s eight piece starter set was only $80, and that included four lighted buildings. Granted, this new piece is 13″ long and nearly 8″ high, making it one of the largest pieces of the collection, but I have a feeling the price is going to turn a lot of people off of collecting the set. I cannot help but remember that $50 used to be able to buy all the pieces for each year’s set. Looks like that price point will no longer be carried on.

          I am not sure yet if I will buy this year’s collection or not. To tell the truth, I think it is the weakest of the four year’s sets so far. What do you think? Do you plan to purchase any or all of them?

          Residential Camp Tents: http://www.scoutstuff.org/house-lighted-camp-tents.html#.ViWrzdY-AUE
          Villa Philmonte Lighted House: http://www.scoutstuff.org/house-light-villa-philmonte.html#.ViWr0NY-AUE

          Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.50.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.50.19 PM


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            Nuguonabe2015RedNOACTo tell the truth, when I wrote about this year’s Naguonabe Lodge’s National Order of the Arrow patch sets last June and July I thought the three part article would be all there would be to write. Surprise! This last month the lodge came out with its fourth patch set option. I did not see this coming, but then I am not very involved with the lodge these days since Troop 68 currently does not have any OA members other than for myself.

            This new two patch set is an all red “ghost” set that features the same design as the previous wold head design that also includes the 100th anniversary logo. Our lodge has not created many ghost patches in the past so it kind of makes this a little more special. I am not sure why the red color was chosen, but if I find out I will post an update to this article.

            The patch set costs $25.00, and I understand that only one set per person is allowed since only a small quanity was printed. The lodge is using this as a fundraiser. I am not quite sure if the funds raised will help to pay off current bills or if the lodge is preparing for a future activity or project. I guess I really do not care what they use the money for. I just want the set for my collection! I usually will not pay that much for a patch set, but I do want to support my lodge.

            What do you think of the patch set? Did your lodge create a ghost set for this year’s National Conference?

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              homepageIn some ways it is hard to believe. It was in May 2006 that I began the website for Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Over 11 years ago! I spent a lot of time posting to the site. Too much time some months. The site has grown to over 200 pages and features thousands of photographs from the last three decades.

              That was then, and this is now. I do not spent very much time updating the site since I stepped down as the scoutmaster a few years ago. In fact, it has been nearly four months since I have updated anything. Until today. I had a little free time this morning so I decided to work on a few pages. First was the home page. I updated the meeting schedule, posted a current group picture, and made a note that the annual popcorn sales have begun. Then I went to the yearly program page and posted the recently approved program for the 2015-2016 year. Last, I updated the Order of the Arrow patch gallery with the 2015 NOAC patches of the Naguonabe Lodge.

              There is still a lot of work to be done updating various others pages but that is enough for this morning. I wish I new more about the current way to create awesome photo galleries and pages but I am stuck in the 2000’s. I have not had, or maybe should say taken, the time to learn the latest and greatest in web design. Maybe some day.

              Or maybe some day I will just pass this site off to someone new and let them manage it. It could happen.

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                derbyBoyScouts(I just found this article on my desk. I guess I forgot to post it. It might be a little late, but what the heck.)

                Cub Scout Pack 68 of Melrose held its 2015 Pinewood Derby on Sunday, January 25th. As the current cubmaster I asked the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 if any of them would be able to help with the event. Five of them took me up on the offer.

                Adrian was the first Boy Scout to arrive. His brother is a Cub Scout. Since he was the first I gave him my camera and made him the official photographer. His job was to take pictures of the Cub Scouts holding their derby cars before they turned them in. I also took him to take plenty of pictures during the event and of the award presentation at the end. I am not sure if he had ever been a photographer before, but he had plenty of practice during the derby.

                Alex and Daniel were the next Boy Scout to arrive. They also happened to be the troop’s senior patrol leader and assistant senior patrol leader. I had Alex work with the two Tiger Cubs who were to do the flag presentation. The Tigers would count this toward one of their Tiger Cub requirements.

                I put Daniel to work as our official time keeper. He would keep the time of each car in each race. Each “race” would actually consist of two races so each car would race on each of the two lanes. If a car did not win both races we would take the average time from the two races to declare a winner. Unfortunately for Daniel, we did not need to check the race times but his job would have been critical if the races would have been closer.

                Jacob and Carter were the other Boy Scouts to help during the event. They became out derby car handlers. Their job was to take the cars from the table and place them on the track. They would then receive the cars from the end of the track and replace them on the table, or the track again for the second heat. These two guys definitely had the most exercise of the five Boy Scouts.

                All five Scouts did an excellent job with their assigned duties. Each participating Cub Scout received a derby patch. Since we had purchased enough of them we also gave each Boy Scout a patch for their help.

                After the award presentation, we opened the track for exhibition racing, or what we called “racing for the fun of it”. Three of the Boy Scouts had brought their derby cars with them. The Cub Scouts had a blast racing the Boy Scouts and the other Cub Scouts they did not get to race against during the competition.

                As the event came to an end and the track was packed away for the next year I think I can honestly say that everyone had a good time; the families, the Cub Scouts, and the Boy Scouts.

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