Parker AnniversaryMy good friend Bob recently send me a photo of a new patch available from the council office. The patch celebrates the 75th anniversary of Parker Scout Camp, our council’s camp. Of course, I needed one for my collection. He picked one up for me and dropped it off Friday afternoon.

I have a lot of memories from Parker Scout Camp. I attended summer camp there for three years in the 1970’s. Our troop has used the camp for many weekend outings during the last three decades, including winter camps and district camporees. The Naguonabe Lodge holds most of their Order of the Arrow functions at the camp.

While the camp closed as a summer camp after the 1970’s it is still used a lot for weekend Boy Scout outings, Cub Scout day camps, and youth and adult training sessions. In fact, I heard it once said that the camp probably gets more use now than it did during the summer camp years.

The camp was established in 1941 by Clyde Parker. It is located north of Brainerd on North Long Lake.  The camp has gone through a few names changes over its 75 year history. I think its first name was Camp Clyde. When I went there for summer camp it was called Parker Scout Reservation. Now it is simply Parker Scout Camp. The camp is unique in that it has a castle on the property, with modern conveniences of course. The castle is popular with the Cub Scouts during day camps. Troops can rent it for weekend outings.

Information about the camp can be found at http://www.bsacmc.org/parker-scout-camp .

parker-castle

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    Troop Record BookOctober 29th was a busy Scouting day for me. It began with the troop’s roadside cleanup service project, followed by a trip to the council Scout Shop, and ending with the troop’s spaghetti supper fundraiser in the evening. The trip to the Scout Shop was with the new scoutmaster who needed a new uniform. While we were there I decided to pick up a few needs for the troop also.

    One of the items on my list was a Troop Record Book. If you have been a reader of this blog you know that I am not a happy camper that the Boy Scouts of America did not come out with a new record book when the new rank advancement requirements began in January of 2015. A few weeks ago I finally broke down and made some charts on the computer. I still wanted another record book though because they are a good place to keep basic Scout information and attendance records. Even though we can not use them for rank requirements we could still use them to keep track of  merit badges.

    I saw three record books on the shelf at the store and at first planned to grab all three since I thought the BSA supply division might plan to drop this item from their inventory. After opening one book and looking through its pages I quickly changed my mind.

    I was shocked! I was surprised! I was actually excited! It was an updated Troop Record Book featuring the current rank requirements! I could not believe it at first. It took our Scout Shop nearly a year and a half to get them, but I was finally holding one in my hands.

    A question came to mind. When did these new books become available? Has my council Scout Shop been holding out on me for the last 18 months? Why couldn’t I find it when I did a search on the scoutstuff.com website? I looked for a printing date on the inside cover and discovered they were printed in 2016. Okay, so they only started printing them this year. After inquiring about it, I discovered they became available this summer.

    I bought two of the Troop Record Books, one for myself as the troop’s advancement coordinator, and one for the scoutmaster. It will be nice to once again know where the Scouts are in their advancement progress. (Our troop does not yet do online advancement. I have not been successful getting into the online program.)

    My goal is to now get the information from the old record book, along with the informations in the Scouts’ handbooks, to have an updated record book. It is going to be a challenge but it will be worth it when it is completed.

    Scout Rank record

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      angler awardI was in the local Scout Shop last weekend and saw something new posted near the merit badges. There is an award called the Complete Angler that can be earned by Boy Scouts who love to fish. The requirements seem fairly simple. Earn three required merit badges and earn this special patch. What are the merit badges, you ask? They are a) Fishing, b) Fly-Fishing, and c) Fish and Wildlife Management.

      I know that a few Scouts in our troop have earned the Fishing merit badge. Several of them have earned the Fish and Wildlife Management badge at summer camp. I do not recall any of the Scouts earning the Fly-Fishing merit badge. We do not see very much fly-fishing done in central Minnesota. Of course, that does not mean the Scouts cannot earn the badge.

      The picture shown contains interesting information about each of the three merit badges so I invite you to read it. Has anyone in your troop earned the Complete Angler award? Or is this the first time you have heard about it? What do you think about the patch design?

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        scoutmaster_patchJim announced at the May court of honor that he would be stepping down as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 at the end of August. His son had already turned 18 years old months before and he felt it was time for someone else to take over. The troop had a light program schedule over the summer months so unfortunately most of the families did not give the upcoming vacancy much thought.

        When the month of September arrived Troop 68 was a troop without a scoutmaster. A couple committee members, including myself, stepped in to fill the void and help out the assistant scoutmasters during the troop meetings. Since this was the month of the troop elections I held a training session for the junior leaders, and helped out with the patrol leader council meetings.

        It has been nearly five years since I retired as the troop’s scoutmaster. It was a little scary how easy it was to partially step back into the role as I helped out during the last two months. I better be careful, I thought to myself, or I will end up in that position once again. In fact, a couple parents did ask me if I would take the role again, but I politely refused. Thirty years was long enough.

        Toward the end of the September court of honor I brought up the subject with the parents. I explained that rechartering was coming soon and that a name needed to be on the paperwork or we would not have a troop on January 1st. I was not surprised when no one jumped up with their hand in the air to take on the position, but I hoped it would get them thinking about it.

        On the morning of October 29th, the committee chair held a meeting with the parents who were at the American Legion to prepare for the troop’s spaghetti supper fundraiser to be held that evening. The main subject was about finding someone to take over as the scoutmaster. Almost everyone had a valid reason for not taking on the role. Unfortunately, it was not bringing us any closer to solving the problem.

        Then Dave spoke up. Dave had recently become an assistant scoutmaster after serving for a year as a committee member. He has been attending most of the troop meetings and many of the troop outings. He had previously stated that he was happy being an assistant scoutmaster and did not want to take on the role of scoutmaster. Well, I guess he and his wife had been taking about it during the last few weeks. Dave brought a smile to everyone’s face when he agreed to become the scoutmaster of Troop 68.

        We spent the next several minutes of the meeting talking about the duties of the scoutmaster, and what the committee and parents need to do to help him in his new position. We also discussed that the troop needs to find another assistant scoutmaster to fill the void created if we were to continue to have two assistants.

        Since there were still a few hours before the supper fundraiser officially began, Dave and I, along with his son, decided to make a quick trip to the council Scout Shop to pick up a uniform, scoutmaster handbook, and other literature Dave would need. We also bought a few other items needed by the troop.

        Scoutmaster Dave was in uniform as the supper began at four o’clock. The Boy Scouts have already accepted him in his new position. Dave attended the district roundtable on Tuesday night. I wish I could have gone with him but I had a Cub Scout meeting to attend.

        I believe Dave will be a good scoutmaster for Troop 68. I look forward to working with him over the next few months as he learns more about his new duties. If things go well, I would think Dave could hold the position for four to five years, until his own son turns 18 years old. Who knows, maybe he will enjoy being a scoutmaster so much that he will stay on for a few more years.

        Congratulations Dave! Thanks for taking on the role of scoutmaster and showing your dedication to helping form new leaders within our community.

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          img_6109I have a lot of photo albums. Scouting photo albums, that is. Most of them include pictures of troop meetings, weekend outings, summer camps, and courts of honor. There are also albums of the trips to Philmont Scout Ranch, the High Knoll Trail, and the 2001 National Jamboree. In total, there are 39 albums of Boy Scout Troop 68, covering activities from the mid 1970’s through this year.

          The reason I am posting about this is because I just finished putting the last photograph in the 39th album this week. This brings me up to May 2016, the troop’s Camp Watchamagumee outing. It is time to start another album. Or is it?

          As I was placing photos into the page sleeves I began thinking to myself, maybe this should be the last photo album I create of troop functions. After all, the only time they get viewed in when I use them for in displays for Scout Week in February or at one of the troop’s meal fundraisers.

          I also began thinking about the cost of each album, not just the book but also the cost of printing the pictures. Each finished album runs about $40-$50 by the time it is done. When you stop to think about it, I have a lot invested in these albums.

          Then I thought of a third point. Most people, including myself, are more into looking at photos on their phones and tablets than they are to picking up an physical album. That was the main reason I bought an iPad. Not to play games but to carry my photos with me. Add to this that we all share digital photos so easily these days it begins to make little sense to create physical photo albums.

          Finally, what is going to happen to all these albums when I am done with Scouting? No one is going to want them. Our troop does not have its own hut or building. (We meet in a school gym for meetings.) The only place that may want the books is our local historical museum. Yeah, they would probably love to have over 36 years of local Scouting history to add to their collection.

          So there it is. In this digital age I really do not see a reason to create any more Scouting photo albums for Troop 68. What do you think? Am I wrong for thinking this way?

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            2016holidayFor the last few years I, along with many other Scouters and Scouts, have been buying the Scouting Village collection pieces. Last year my village filled an area larger than two foot by four foot. That was without all the 2015 pieces as part of the display. It would be a fair size larger this year. The Villa Philmonte piece, which is the larger piece of the collection, takes a good chuck of real-estate by itself.

            I have been waiting for the B.S.A.’s holiday mailer to arrive to see what this year’s pieces would add to the collection. The mailer has arrived. Disappointment has arrived with it. There are no new pieces shown in the flyer. I always wondered how long there would be new “buildings” to add to a Scouting village. After all, the village seemed to be based on a summer camp theme. There are only so many buildings found at a summer camp. While last year’s Villa Philmonte building was nice, it really did not fit well with the rest of the collection.

            So, did the people in charge of the collection finally run out of ideas? Or did last year’s collection not go over very well. (I know the Villa piece was rather expensive.) Is the collection done, or could there be more pieces next year?

            It got me thinking. What other pieces could be added to the Scouting Village collection? Here are a few suggestions. How about a nature center, or a handicrafts lodge? A first aid/health lodge would be a good fit. A climbing tower, with climbers , would be something I would buy. How about a sauna for the beach area? We already have some larger wall tents, but how about some smaller backpacking tents? A summer camp needs an administration building. How about a horse stable and corral? Gosh, there are enough ideas for any other two or four years worth of buildings! And don’t forget the Scouts and leaders figurines.

            Maybe it is a good thing for this to come to an end. The village would just start taking up too much room in the house if it kept going. But then, I could really just change things up from year to year. The are no rules saying I have to put up all the buildings up every year, but knowing me I would have to try. My house is not that large which means a fair portion of my living room would get used.

            I may not set up the village this year. I have volunteered to have the troop’s Christmas party at my house so I think I will need all the room I have for the Scouts to use, especially since the patrol leader council has decided to invite the 5th grade Webelos Scouts to join us. The living room will already be a bit crowded as we gather to watch the movie. I would have to find somewhere else to set up the village if I do set it up.

            How do you feel about the lack of new Scouting Village pieces this year? Have you been collecting them?

            By the way, if you would like to see my set up from last year I do have the video posted to Youtube. It can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ2_xh_acto .

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              img_1049The Bears Den of Melrose Cub Scout Pack 68 had fun last weekend. They had their first overnight camping trip. It was held a couple miles south of Melrose in the backyard of one of the families. With a nice big backyard, and hiking trails nearby, it was a good spot for this fun activity. Eight of the ten Bear Scouts were able to attend the outing. I believe they each had a parent in attendance.

              The Bears were kept busy with several activities. They assisted in setting up the tents and laying out their gear. They took a hike to a nearby gravel pit, watching for animal tracks along the way to complete an award requirement. They learned about pocket knife safety as they earned their Whittling Chip badge. And, of course they played games. It is amazing how much noise eight third grade boys can make when they are having fun together. After it got dark, it suddenly grew very quiet, like someone had turned off the volume switch. It did not take long to discover the boys had decided to play a game of hide and seek. After that game was done the noise level rose again.

              I did not stay for the overnight. I did attend for a few hours, enough time to have supper with the den, chat with the parents in attendance, and have a little fun with the boys. My true reason for being there was to tell a story around the campfire before they turned in for the night. The story I chose? The Purple Gorilla story. It is a good story for that age group. Even the adults enjoyed it. As the story’s suspense reached its peak toward the end of the tale, I had everyone’s full attention. In fact, at one point I think everyone one of the boys jumped, and maybe even a couple adults. As I finished the tale with its interesting twist, the Scouts laughed and the adults smiled.

              It may have been a quite suspenseful story, but it really is not a scary story. In fact, one of the fathers told me the next day that the Scouts fell asleep very quickly once the turned in for the night. No nightmares were to be had. Let’s face it, the boys were worn out. The night did get a bit chilly though. It temperature dropped into the upper thirties Sunday morning. The young Scouts did not seem to mind very much. It was just another part of their weekend adventure!

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                img_1088Seven Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had a blast at Philmont Scout Ranch this summer. The local newspaper was notified of the trip and decided that an article was in order. At last night’s troop meeting we received a visit from Herman, the newspaper reporter. He sat down with four of the seven Scouts for about 25-30 minutes. He had quite a few questions to ask, and the Scouts did a pretty good job of answering. It was fun to watch them as memories came back to them during the discussion.

                I did not attend the trip to Philmont so I decided to stand behind the table as the interview was being conducted. I have not had the time to sit down with the Scouts myself to talk to them about the adventure so I was anxious to hear what they had to say. I helped Herman by asking a few questions of my own that he might have asked if he had been to Philmont. I was also able to give a few details about the camp itself for which the Scouts did not have answers to give.

                When Herman left the meeting it just made me think that I may have to host a Philmont evening to hear their stories about the trip, and see the pictures that were taken. I might even have to make a few pizzas and have some sodas available.

                img_1087

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