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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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    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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      ice bucket challengeI am sure you have all seen it online, on one social site or another. One person challenges another to donate to the ALS foundation and/or pour a bucket of ice water over their head. It is currently quite popular, and at the time I write this the organization has received over $70 million dollars from nearly two million donors in only 27 days. Not a bad fundraiser.

      I have watched videos of people I know on Facebook accepting the challenge. Videos of friends I know, relatives, and even former Boy Scout Troop 68 members. No one has named me to the challenge. Until today. Nathan Blommel, an alumni of Troop 68, and a former tennis and racquetball buddy, decided to include me in his challenge.

      I do not do well with cold. I seldom went swimming with the troop unless it was a very hot day and the water was fairly warm. I did not do very much winter camping when I was a scoutmaster. My body temperature drops quickly and I start shivering uncontrollably. It is not a very pleasant experience. I can easily see myself turning into one of those Minnesota winter snowbirds, who travel to the warm southern states, once I retire.

      But a challenge is a challenge, and needs to have a response, so here is the video for you all to see.

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        Philmont Wagon 1984

        Philmont!  I attended a week long session at the Philmont Training Center (PTC) this month and on the way back from the trip to New Mexico Bob and I looked at the pictures I had taken of my trip to the facility in 1984, which also happened to be the first time I visited Philmont Scout Ranch. It was interesting to see what had changed over the last three decades, and also what had stayed the same. If you have been to the ranch a few times over the decades you will know what I mean.

        I thought those of you who have been to training center years ago might enjoy seeing this slideshow of my 1984 trip posted to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. Even those of you who have been there recently will enjoy seeing the new buildings and other changes to both the training center and the base camp from which the Boy Scouts leave on their 12 day treks into the backcountry. You will notice that one of the biggest and best changes has been the new Welcome Center at the base camp.

        By the way, three of the songs used in the video are song by members of the Philmont staff over thirty years ago. They are from a cassette tape I bought in 1984 at the base camp trading post. The album is called Philsongs: Remembered Days. I checked the store this month and did not see this available to buy anymore, is cassette or cd formats. I converted the cassette to mp3’s several years ago so I could listen to the songs on my iPod.

        Video Information: 640×360, time 10:31, 108.9 MB. m4v format.

        Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
        Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast at
        or through iTunes  (and rate the show).
        Don’t forget to leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store. It is great to read what you think of these videos.

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          tabletopdaylogoA friend of mine recently posted a link on Facebook to something called International TableTop Day which will be held on Saturday, April 5th. I have never heard of this but it caught my interest so I decided to check it out. It is pretty much just like it sounds. Here is a short quote from the website found at :

          International TableTop Day is a celebration for all the fans of tabletop gaming. A single day where the whole world is brought together in a common purpose of spending time together and having fun. We hope you find the resources you need — to connect new fans to experienced group organizers, retailers with their community, and publishers with the international community — all in one place.

          This sounds like an event that would be right up my alley. I like to play board games, card games, and Dungeons and Dragons. Gosh, they all happen to be tabletop games! I enjoy the thrill of competing against my friends as we sit around a table playing Munchkins or Risk. Of course, I also prefer to win, but as they say, you can’t win them all.

          As I considered this event I thought this could be an excellent activity in which Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops could participate, even if it was just within their own units. I can vision dens of Cub Scouts playing Sorry, CandyLand, Pokemon, or various card games. I can see Boy Scouts playing Monopoly, Scrabble, Magic, or D&D. I see scoutmasters and cubmasters being beaten at their own games by competitive Scouts of all ages. Could you imagine local packs and troops getting together for this one day of gaming that does not involve a video screen?

          What do you think of this? Would your troop or pack be interested in joining an event that is international?

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            I was looking around YouTube tonight and discovered an interesting video about the founders of the Scouting program. Hear is what is written on the page:

            Uploaded on Mar 6, 2010

            Boy Scouts of America Centennial Tribute to the founders of the Boy Scouts of America (Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Ernest Thompson Seton, William D. Boyce, Daniel Carter Beard, and James E. West). This video was presented at the Longhorn Council’s Chisholm Trail District Awards Banquet on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

            This video was produced by James Williams and Alecia Jarrett of Venturing Crew 153, Temple, Texas. The technology used was Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 9, Microsoft Photo Story 3 and Adobe Fireworks CS3.  The music used was from Ken Jenkins’ “Adiemus Live” album. Featured tracks used were “Dawn Dancing” & “In Caelum Fero”.
            This video was inspired by the online video “Centenary of Scouting” which can found at
            For more information about our unit please visit   11087

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              I usually get a bit irritated when only three of the ten members of the troop show up for a troop meeting, but tonight it worked out very well. It was a true boy run meeting.

              The boys in attendance were the assistant senior patrol leader and the two newest boys. After the opening, the ASPL discussed the points of the Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat. The new boys had a couple requirements left to finish their Tenderfoot Rank so he worked with them to complete the rank.

              Eymard, the troop’s assistant scoutmaster, took the new boys to one side of the park shelter for their Tenderfoot scoutmaster conference. I sat down with the ASPL to review his upcoming Eagle service project. The boys then played a few holes of disc golf, did some planning for the menu for this month’s outing, and closed the meeting.

              I was proud of the boys for what they were able to accomplish during the meeting. I look forward to Tuesday night when two Boy Scouts attend the committee meeting for their Tenderfoot board of reviews.

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                This week has been a very busy week. I have had something going on every night, usually Scouting related. I seem to be tired all the time. I never get caught up with my work at home. I am not as patient as I used to be.

                I think it may be time for a change. I have been doing this Scouting thing for over 30 years. That includes nearly a thousand troop meetings, hundreds of of camping trips and activities, six trips to Philmont, and a National Jamboree. I have seen hundreds of boys come and go through Scouting, including dozens of parents and other adult leaders.

                I am the webmaster for the website of Boy Scout Troop 68. I produce the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast, and Around The Scouting Campfire. I am a co-host for The Leader’s Campfire. A few month’s ago I began a Facebook page for the troop. I sometimes feel like I am spending too much time online.

                Like I said, I think it is time for a change. I need to get out and meet more people. I need to be more social in real life. I need to find more time to do this.

                So, I would like to announce that I am retiring as the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. In fact, at least for a year or two, I will step away from anything Scouting related. It is time to reorganize my schedule and restart my life in a new direction.

                Now, before you write me about my decision I want to remind you that I have had thirty great years as a leader in Scouting. Nothing will ever change that. I also want to remind you that today is april first, and that you should keep this date in mind as you read this article.

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