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I hate cell phones!

Well, maybe hate is too strong a word. I really, really, really dislike cell phones. I dislike people talking on them while they are driving their vehicles. I dislike people talking on them while they are shopping. I dislike it when I am visiting with someone and they put me “on hold” to check who is calling on their cell phone. Don’t even get me started on text messaging or the bluetooth ear piece accessories.

Even though I do not like this bit of current technology, I do understand the need for the things. I work in a lumber yard and the phones do come in handy to stay in contact with the contractors. Unfortunately, I see too many people, including kids, become a slave to the things and cannot seem to survive without them. I always thought people where supposed to rule technology, not the other way around.

All that being said, in Boy Scout Troop 68 I treat cell phones the same as any other electronic device, such as handheld video games and mp3 players. Boy Scouts are not allowed to bring them on any troop outing or camping trip. Electronic gadgets are left behind so we can enjoy nature. I tell the boys that if they want to play video games then they should stay home. I do not want to hear AC DC, Nickelback, or some rap song blaring through the campsite. I certainly do not want the ringing of a cell phone interrupting the peaceful nature of being in the forest, and I do not want the Scouts calling home for every little thing, or talking to their friends all the time.

I once made a vow to never own a cell phone, which surprised a lot of people I know. I am a bit of a tech and computer geek, probably a 6 on a scale of 1-10. My computer system at home is the envy of some people. (It is a Mac Pro, for those of you who need to know.)

I surprised myself, and others, when I bought one of those inexpensive pay-as-you-go-type cell phones last February before leaving on a trip to Florida. After getting separated from the family at Disney last year, I thought it might be nice to be able to stay in touch with people this year. I also was thinking that a phone could come in handy at Scout functions if there was an emergency. I did use the phone quite a bit at the state-wide Ripley Rendezvous in June to stay in touch with other staff members. I do let the Scouts use it to call their parents as we arrive home from activities. It somewhat embarrasses me knowing that they know how to use it better then I do.

I still dislike cell phones. Mine spends most of its time on my bedroom dresser. Now and then though, it does have its uses. I do take it along on trips and on Scout functions. I still refuse to take mine with me wherever I go. At least for now…

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    There have been sixteen members of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 that have attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Each Eagle court of honor has been different, with each Eagle Scout planning the ceremony to his own liking. Some ceremonies have been simple, others have been quite elaborate. But none were quite like the latest one held last month.

    Chris, our troop’s sixteenth Eagle, but the town’s seventeenth, scheduled his Eagle court of honor for Sunday, May 20, at the Melrose City Park pavilion. When I awoke that morning I noticed that it was not looking very nice outdoors. A quick check on the internet told me the forecast for the day included cool temperatures, wind, and a chance of rain. It did not sound like good weather for an outdoor court of honor.

    The park pavilion has the kitchen and bathrooms located on its north end. The west side has a four foot high wall with roll up curtains above. The south and east sides have no walls and are open to the park. When I thought of the day’s weather and the openness of the shelter I was a little concerned so I called Chris’ home to ask about a plan B. I discovered there was not a plan B. I decided to dress warm.

    The court of honor was the coldest and windiest one I had ever attended. I do not think the temperature ever made it into the sixties. The easterly wind chilled us even more as it blew through the pavilion. The clouds threatened rain but luckily did not live up to its thunder. Toward the end of the ceremony I did find myself shivering. But you know, the weather is not the thing I will remember the most about this day.

    The most memorable thing about Chris’ Eagle court of honor was the upbeat attitude of everyone involved, and the jolly atmosphere of everyone in attendance. To put it simply, we had fun. It was one of the most humorous court of honors I have ever attended. Oh, it was solemn when it needed to be, but there were plenty of giggles along the way. This court of honor became a great example of how we can take a situation that is not ideal and turn it into something fun and memorable.

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      I do not think there are many people out there who can say they have been a Boy Scout leader for 27 years. I think I heard somewhere that the average tenure of a Scout leader is only about three or four years. I do not know if that is accurate or not, but I think I can safely say that I have a tenure longer then ninety percent of the Scouts leaders nationally.

      Those years have included some excellent memories and great activities. I have made friends with some wonderful boys and their families. Some of those friendships are still going strong after twenty years.

      I will not lie though. There have been some awful times during the last three decades. There have been times when I wanted to quit, tried to quit. Times that I have felt totally inadequate. Times that I have felt as if I was the only one in the world who cared. Times when I felt the troop would be better off with someone else as the scoutmaster.

      Whenever I felt that way I would take a night to sleep on it. Usually, things would look better in the morning. Sometimes it would take two nights. I think once it took a week. Somehow, things always seemed to get better.

      Anyone who has been a scoutmaster can tell you about the unique challenges that come with the job. Most scoutmasters are married and have a spouse to talk with about those very challenging moments. I am single. I do not have that option. It can be really tough having no one to talk to when things get overwhelming. Sometimes I wish I was the superman, the man of steel, the man who can solve all the world’s problems, or at least the troop’s problems. Well, I am not a superman. I am just a guy who happens to be the scoutmaster of a small town Boy Scout troop.

      In my basement rec room there is a wall on which hangs the awards presented to me over the years. They include the District Scouter of the Year, the District Award of Merit, the Scoutmaster Award of Merit, and the Silver Beaver Award. I will admit, the wall looks impressive. Are these awards the reasons I have stayed involved with Scouting for so long? No, they are not. They are simply the icing on the cake.

      The reason I have stayed on as a leader of Troop 68 is, simply, the boys. Yes, they can be very trying on my nerves at times, and yes, my patience is not the same as it once was. However, I really do enjoy working with them. They help to keep me young at heart. They teach me things as I try to teach them a few skills and pass on a few words of wisdom. I would like to think that the few years that I spend with them will somehow help them to be better citizens in some small way.

      So yeah, the reason I am still in Scouting is the kids, the friendships, and the good times. It has been a great adventure, these last twenty seven years. I just might have to stick around for a few more.

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        I grew up in a small town of about 2500 people in central Minnesota. My father was the local milkman, delivering milk daily to people’s homes. Everyone in town knew my dad. Thus, everyone in town knew me as Tom’s son.

        Just like most young men in their late teens, I thought it would be great if people would know me as Steve, not as Tom’s son. I wanted to make a name for myself. Unfortunately, I was not an athlete, was not the smartest in my class, and did not have a skill to make people take notice of me. I was just another face in the crowd. A face that belonged to Tom’s son.

        I graduated from high school and began attending a technical college. One month before graduating from college I accepted a job in my home town, of all places. So, I moved back to Melrose and began making a name for myself. I began to move out of my father’s shadow.

        During those first five years of life on my own, I became very active in the community. I was a seventh grade religion teacher for three years, a city council member for two years, and joined the newly formed Boy Scout troop as an assistant scoutmaster. Shortly after I turned 21 years old, the troop committee appointed me as the scoutmaster. (See an earlier blog about this story.)

        I have kept active in the community since those days. I have been a member of the local cable access television station for over 16 years. People in town now know me for my accomplishments. And my greatest accomplishment? I would say it would have to be that I have been the scoutmaster of the troop for over 25 years, and helped to provide the Scouting program to over 250 boys.

        Oh, I am still known as Tom’s son to the older population of the community, and you know what? I do not mind anymore. In fact, I am proud to be Tom’s son. I hope I have made him proud enough to be known as Steve’s father.

        (Note – My dad is on the right in this picture. The other gentlemen was my scoutmaster.)

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          In my last blog entry I asked the question, “Who’s job is it to promote Scouting?” I believe that the regional and national offices should be doing a better job of promoting Scouting within our states and on a national scale.

          However, I will admit that troops and packs need to do some promotion within their own neighborhoods, and even in their cities. Here are a few ways we promote Scouting within our community of 3200 people.

          The schools are always a good place to start, if the school district will allow you into the schools. The very loud and vocal minority of Scout haters has been trying to close down this option across our nation. This year we hung posters in both elementary schools. We also had a booth during the district’s open house held before school began.

          Two local weekly newspapers have been very willing to print articles I write for them, along with one or two pictures per article. The articles usually pertain to a court of honor, or review what the Scouts did doing an activity or camping trip.

          Our community access television station has been very supportive about playing shows we provide them with about our courts of honor and activities. Of course, I am usually the one filming, editing, and producing the videos. A local business sponsors the programs so there is not any airing cost to the troop.

          The web is another way to promote Scouting locally. It is a great place to place pictures and keep the community informed. Of course, you need to get the word about your site out to your community. And you need someone to take care of it and keep it updated. Our troop has had a site for several years and has gotten to be quite large.

          Last, but not least, there is old fashioned word of mouth. Scouts need to enthusiastically talk about Scouting to their friends and piers, and not hide the fact that they are a Scout as if it is something to be ashamed of being. The same applies to adults and parents. After all, if we are afraid to promote Scouting within our own community, what kind of message are we really conveying to others?

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            There is an interesting video that was produced by the BSA that promotes Boy Scouting to parents. Unfortunately, I think that most of the parents that saw the video already had boys in Scouting because, as far as I know, the dvd with the video was only sent to Scoutmasters. I thought it was a shame that more people would not see it so I uploaded it to If you would like to see it go to:

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