That time of year has arrived! Hallmark has released their holiday ornaments for 2017 and yes, there is another Beagle Scout Snoopy to add to the collection!

This year’s ornament features Snoopy, Woodstock, and friends folding the United States Flag. Written on the Hallmark website: Known as the Beagle Scouts in the long-running Peanuts® comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, troop leader Snoopy and his small yellow bird friends show their patriotism. Scout families will really “flock” to this Christmas ornament that shows the lovable characters in the middle of a flag-folding ceremony.

As you know, if you have been reading this blog over the years, I collect these ornaments. I think they have nicely captured bits of the Scouting program. I plan to pick up at least two of the ornaments, one for the tree, and one to store away. Maybe I will even buy another one or two to give as gifts.

One little extra note this year is that Hallmark will donate $1.00 to Toys For Tots for each of these ornaments purchased this year. A win-win situation!

It can be found online at  http://www.hallmark.com/ornaments/keepsake-ornaments/peanuts-snoopy-flag-folding-ceremony-ornament-1595QXI3295.html  or at your local Hallmark store.

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    Camp Watchamagumee is one of the favorite camping spots for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. It is forty acres of private land located about ten miles north of Melrose. The troop began camping there in the late 1980’s and have planned an annual trip there every year since then.

    I would guess it was maybe 15 years ago when I suggested a new activity to the Scouts for this weekend. It became so popular that it has now become an annual tradition. I had no idea the Egg Drop Competition would become so poplar. The Scouts really enjoy the challenge and trying to come up with a design to create the best package of the year.

    The Egg Drop Competition is actually quite simple. Each Scout, or two person team if a lot of Scouts attended the outing, receives a raw egg. They have 15 minutes to create a package for that egg using only natural materials found in the wooded area around the camp. No man-made materials are allowed, not even string. The Boy Scouts become quite inventive as they use grass, bark, stick, logs, mud and moss to create their packages. A few packages over the years have even used dried cow patties. The packages must be easily opened so that the egg can be retrieved to see if it has survived.

    The first round begins with the egg packages being dropped from waist high. If the egg survives it moves on to the next round in which the eggs are dropped from chest high. Each round gets higher which eliminates more eggs, of course. The drops continue until only one egg remains unbroken.

    Some of the Scouts have gotten pretty good at this. There have been years I have stood near the top of an eight foot tall step ladder throwing the packages down unto a concrete patio block trying to break the egg. Of course, you can probably imagine the excitement when the competition get to that point, and the smile on the face of the Boy Scout when his egg survives the throw.

    I was not able to attend this year’s Egg Drop Competition. Yes, i missed the egg drop. This may have been the first time. I heard that the nine Scouts had an excellent time again this year, including the four new Scouts who had just crossed over from Webelos a couple months earlier. The picture shows Luke, this year’s winner.

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      I was never a member of the Order of the Arrow as a youth. I became a member in the mid-1980’s when I was a scoutmaster, along with two Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. I enjoyed being a member and saw the value of it for the youth so I promoted it during the next 25 years. Since it is a youth based program, I only was as active in the Order of the Arrow as the Scouts in the troop were active. Some were busy years, others were not, but we always had a couple members of the O.A. in the troop.

      I stepped down as the scoutmaster at the end of 2011 and although I still tried to get the boys to participate I was not very successful. It has been a few years since the troop has held an Order of the Arrow election so I was pleased this year when the patrol leader council decided to have one this spring. I talked with the new scoutmaster and the youth membership trying to drum up interest again. The election was held on February 6th during our troop meeting.

      The former lodge advisor and his son, who is a former lodge chief, live in Melrose so it was easy to have a lodge representative stop by for a visit. Chris and Chuck gave a short talk about the Order and had the troop watch a short video. Scoutmaster Dave and I found that four Scouts qualified for the election. I was surprised when it was announced that all four Scouts had been elected. I should actually say nominated since a Scout does not become a member until he has attended a conclave.

      I did not realize that our small troop could have all four Scouts be nominated for membership. I though that only a couple would be allowed since we only had ten members. I guess the rule has changed about how many Scouts of a troop can now be nominated.

      Following the election we looked up the dates of the Naguonabe Lodge conclaves for the spring and fall. I was a little surprised to discover the date of the spring outing. I remember it was usually held early in the month of May. We discovered it would be held later in the month, the same weekend as our scheduled troop camping trip. This was not an ideal situation.

      As the weekend approached, only two of the four nominees decided to attend the conclave. A third is still deciding if he wants to be a member, while the fourth has decided he does not really want to be. He says he is busy enough with other things, like a job. I was going to attend the conclave with the boys, but the scoutmaster had something else come up that weekend so I decided to help with the troop outing.

      Our two new Arrowmen enjoyed the conclave and seem to be proud to be members of the Order of the Arrow. They are already talking about earning their Brotherhood at next year’s spring conclave. I am happy to hear that. And hopefully, we will have a few more nominees ready to at that time.

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        Six Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 are now attending summer camp at Many Point Scout Camp in northwestern Minnesota. They left Sunday morning with Scoutmaster Dave and Jason, a father of one of the Scouts. They were all pretty excited about going to camp again. The older Scouts are hoping to get to spend a night in one of the two tree houses found at Many Point. (I found out earlier today that they would get their wish Thursday night.)

        I am planning to go up to camp Thursday morning and spend the rest of the week with the troop. During every year that I was the scoutmaster I spent at least one week on a long term camp with the Scouts, either a week at summer camp or two weeks at a high adventure camp like Philmont Scout Ranch. I may not be the scoutmaster anymore but it just does not feel like summer if I do not go to summer camp for at least one day. I have to have fun for at least one day, if not two.

        Unfortunately, I see the weather forecast says I may get a little wet once I arrive at camp but, oh well, that is a part of what camping is about. I will pack my Gore-Tex rain gear and umbrella, and make the best of it. It is not like it will be the first time it has ever rained while I was camping. And it probably will not be the last.

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          This poem from circa 1964 was posted in our Naguonabe Lodge newsletter this spring. It is a good fit to remind us to take an active part as members in the Order of the Arrow and not “just belong.”

          What Are You?
          (Author unknown)

          Are you an active brother, the kind that would be missed?
          Or are you just contented that your name is on the list?
          Do you attend the meetings and mingle with the flock?
          Or do you stay at home and criticize and knock?
          Do you take an active part to help the work along,
          Or are you satisfied to be the kind that “Just belong?”
          Do you ever go visit a member that is sick?
          Or leave the work for just a few and talk about the clique?
          There’s quite a program planned that I’m sure you’ve heard about
          And we’ll appreciate if you, too, will come and help us out,
          So come to the convention and help with hand and heart,
          Don’t just me a member, but take an active part.
          Think this over, member, you know right from wrong,
          Are you an active member? Or do you just belong?
          We all have something we can contribute and when we work together amazing things can happen. I believe even more could be accomplished at conclaves and other events if we take this to heart. Just remember W W W “The Brotherhood of Cheerful Service.”

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            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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