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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          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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