Archive for the ‘Advancement’ Category


mpsc2014bThe Boy Scouts have come home. About an hour and a half ago the ten Boy Scouts and two adult leaders of Melrose Troop 68 arrived home from spending the week at Many Point Scout Camp in northwest Minnesota. From the few minutes I was able to talk to them I discovered they had a great time but were ready to get home, clean up, and get back to life with their families.

The ten Scouts did an excellent job earning advancement while they were at camp. When I left them Monday afternoon I made a deal with them. I told them that if they earned a total of 25 completed merit badges during the week I would host a movie/pizza party. Eight of them were earning the Cooking merit badge which I did not think they could complete during camp so I did not count these against the total. I thought that 25 badges would present a good goal but would still be challenging.

Someday I will learn my lesson for betting against the Scouts. They earned their goal and went beyond it. They came home with 33 completed merit badges. It might be 34 after we check one Scout’s camping outings to see if he completed his Camping Merit Badge. Eight of these merit badges were the Cooking badge. It seems that with the new requirements this year the boys can complete the award during the week at camp. Oh well, even if I took the eight Cooking merit badges off the total it still leaves 25 completed badges, which met the goal. I guess I better get ready to buy some pizzas.

Here is a breakdown of the merit badges earned at summer camp this year:
8- Cooking, 2- Climbing, 2- Environmental Science, 4- Fishing,
1- Fish and Wildlife Management, 1- Forestry, 3- Game Design,
2- Geocaching, 1- Kayaking, 1- Lifesaving, 1- Mammal Study,
1- Nature, 1- Rowing, 1- Shotgun Shooting, 3- Weather,
1- Wilderness Survival (and possibly 1- Camping).

Congratulations to all the Boy Scouts for doing a great job at camp this week. Even though they earned a lot of badges while at camp they still managed to have a lot of fun and participate in in lots of activities.

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    PTCdeerWell, the week is now a part of history. Last week I spent my vacation at the Philmont Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was awesome! Sunny every day. Not a drop of rain. Great Scouters and instructors everywhere. And only one mosquito bit me. (Several dozen would bite me during a weekend outing in Minnesota.) And to top it off, I actually learned a few things about advancement, which is saying something after spending 30 years as a scoutmaster.

    The food was fantastic. I had lost 25 pounds before going to Philmont, from 193 to 168. Yes, I hit my goal, but I knew that going on vacation to PTC it would be hard to keep up the diet. So I didn’t. The food prepared in the dining hall by the PTC staff was great. I never went away hungry. If you did not like the main course, you could fix something at the hot bar. If that did not meet your taste buds you could always fix yourself a salad or a sandwich of your choice. And if those did not suit your mood, well, fix yourself a bowl of cereal. I was a little worried when I stepped on the scale this morning. I guess all that walking while at PTC paid off. I only gained  four pounds back. I should have that gone by the end of next week or sooner.

    My camera and iPad were busy during the trip. I usually took a few hundred photos when I was at Philmont in the past. I really outdid myself this year thanks to digital technology. In fact, I set a record not only for my trips to Philmont, but for any vacation I have ever taken. I have 907 photos of the trip between the two cameras. I also have 33 videos taken of various events through the week, including a talk given to my my class by  the National Commissioner Tico Perez. Photos and videos came to over 14 GB. Do you think I might have overdone it a bit?

    Yep, it was a great trip, made better by sharing it with Bob, my district executive from the Central Minnesota Council. Keep a watch on this blog during the next few weeks as I share more stories, photos, and videos from the trip.

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      carly-rae-jepsen-call-me-maybeI admit it. Once in awhile I get bored. And when I do strange things sometime happen. Like the other week for example.

      I was listening to the Carly Rae Jepsen song, Call Me Maybe, when other words started popping into my head. For some reason I saw a Boy Scout at summer camp walking up to his merit badge councilor, hand him his blue card and ask, “But here’s my blue card, so sign it maybe?”

      Hmmm. Could this be the start of a campfire song? I soon had pencil and paper out and was writing down words for a new version of the song. A couple lyrics gave me a spot of trouble, but I think I have it. Here is what I came up with:

      Scoutmaster gave me a list,
      Merit badges with a twist
      My hand turned into a fist,
      Nervousness in my way

      Summer camp is coming soon,
      Packed my clothes, shoes, food, and a broom
      What is this feeling of doom?
      Nervousness in my way

      Your stare was holdin’,
      My head, eyes are rolling
      Hot night, wind was blowin’
      Where do I think I’m going, baby?

      Hey, I just met you,
      And this is crazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!
      It’s hard to earn one
      When you are lazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!

      Hey, I just met you,
      And this is crazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!
      And all the other boys,
      Are really lazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!

      You took your time with the crew,
      I did not know what I knew
      You gave all lots to do,
      But still, you’re my councilor
      I beg, and borrow and steal
      My need for this badge is real
      I didn’t know I would feel,
      Like it’s some Indian Lore

      Your stare was holdin’,
      Beads of sweat were showin’
      Hot night, wind was blowin’
      Should I cry like a baby?

      Hey, I just met you,
      And this is crazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!
      It’s hard to earn one
      When you are lazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!

      Hey, I just met you,
      And this is crazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!
      And all the other boys,
      Are really lazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!

      This merit badge I need for Life
      I need it so bad
      I need it so bad
      I need it so, so bad
      This merit badge I need for Life
      I need it so bad
      And you should know that
      I need it so, so bad (bad, bad)

      It’s hard to earn one
      When you are lazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!
      Hey, I just met you,
      And this is crazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!

      And all the other boys,
      Are really lazy,
      But here’s my Blue Card,
      So sign it, maybe!
      This merit badge I need for Life
      I need it so bad
      I need it so bad
      I need it so, so bad
      Tenderfoot, First Class, and Life
      I need it so bad
      And you should know that
      So sign it, maybe!

      Your goal is now to have your Boy Scouts sing this during the evening campfire at summer camp and send me the video!

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        2013 auction prizesI was looking for a way to further excite the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 to attend troop activities and earn their advancement when I came up with the idea of having a troop auction for prizes at the end of the year. I do not remember if I got the idea from another troop or if I came up with it myself. I do know that it has been a part of our program for over twenty years, and that other Scouts leaders have developed their own auction programs after listening to how Troop 68 conducts theirs.

        Here is how it works. The Scouts earn “troop bucks” each time they go on an outing and for each merit badge and rank they earn during the year. They earn $25 per troop outing. They earn $50 for each merit badge. They earn $100 for attaining Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class; $150 for attaining Star or Life Rank; and $200 for reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. These bucks are then used to bid on prizes during the “troop auction” held after the December court of honor.

        When I first began doing the auction I would hand out troop bucks at each court of honor. The bucks were actually Monopoly money with our troop stamp stamped over the top of it so the boys could not use Monopoly money from their own games. The Scouts had to store the money themselves. If they lost it it would not be replaced.

        The Monopoly money worked well for a few years, but then Monopoly money disappeared from store shelves. Another problem was that brothers started pooling their money together to bid on the bigger prizes. That was not the way the bucks were meant to be used and was very unfair to those Scouts who did not have brothers in the troop.

        I created a troop bucks certificate on the computer to replace the Monopoly money. The certificate contained the Scout’s name. amount earned, and the year earned. Certificates could only be used by the person who’s name appeared on it. The year on the certificate helped to keep things honest for the one prize we auctioned for which only bucks earned that year could be used to bid. I also awarded the certificate once a year, at the December court of honor. That created less work for me and less chance of Scouts losing the bucks before the year’s last court of honor.

        Any unused troop bucks could be saved to be used another year on regular prizes. Once a Scout turned 18 years old his troop bucks became non-valid. It was interesting to watch older Scouts try to use up any troop bucks they owned at their last auction before they turned eighteen. Bidding is done in $5 increments.

        We I started the troop auction we based the amount spent on prizes by the amount of advancement earned during the year. A certain amount would be added to the kitty for each merit badge and rank. The more the Scouts advanced, the more money was thrown into the kitty, and the more prizes or bigger prizes could be bought. That worked well until the troop started shrinking. Ten Scouts had trouble earning a large fund so we changed the financing to a lump some. I also based the number of prizes on the number of Scouts currently enrolled in the program. We did not need 30 prizes when we only had eight Scouts.

        I also wanted to keep the cost of the auction down so I began looking for prizes throughout the year, not just a month before the auction. I started getting pretty good and finding nice items for free or little cost.

        Each auction contains some “traditional” items. There is the Boy Scout Handbook, because someone is going to wear theirs out during the year. Boy Scout bolo ties and merit badge sashes have also been used as prizes on a regular basis. I usually try to include some sort of camping gear. And then there are some fun prizes, of course.

        Tonight is Troop 68′s final court of honor for the year. The troop auction will immediately follow it. The picture posted with this article shows most of the prizes which will be auctioned. A merit badges sash is missing, as is the $20 cash prize for which only 2013 troop bucks will be allowed to be used to bid. There will be a lot of first time bidders at this auction. It should be a good night.

        Has your troop does anything like this as a part of your program?

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          wood badge 2013Many Scouters will tell you that Wood Badge is like the college course of training for adult Scout Leaders. Not only is the course fantastic for any branch of Scouting but participants also receive training which they will find useful in the field of work and life in general. The woodbadge.org site states:

          Wood Badge is Scouting’s premier training course. Baden-Powell designed it so that Scouters could learn, in as practical a way possible, the skills and methods of Scouting. It is first and foremost, learning by doing. The members of the course are formed into patrols and these into a troop.  The entire troop lives in the out-of-doors for a week, camping, cooking their own meals, and practicing Scout skills.

          Wood Badge is more than just mechanical course work. Wood Badge is the embodiment of Scouting spirit. Like many intense training experiences, it has always relied on a busy schedule forcing the participants to work together, to organize and to develop an enthusiasm and team spirit to accomplish the tasks and challenges placed before them. Carried out in context of Scouting ideals and service to young people, the course brings out a deep dedication and spirit of brotherhood and fellowship in most participants. Certainly were it not for the common goal of the movement and its program for young people, it would be hard to get grown men and women to endure the 16-hour days required by a program that runs from early morning to late at night.

          During this month’s Scenic District roundtable, three Central Minnesota Council Scouters received their Wood Badge beads and neckerchiefs for completing the course and their “ticket” of goals. Kevin Schatz, Mike Peters, and Troy Payne stood proud as they received the tokens of their achievement. I have always considered an adult completing a Wood Badge ticket the equivalent of a Boy Scout completing his Eagle Scout award. This video post to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast further recognizes these three men for completing their goals.

          Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
          Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast
          at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
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          Leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store.

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            moviemaking-mbI always liked the Cinematography merit badge. Maybe it is because I like movies so well. Or maybe it has something to do with all those years I spent working with Mel TV3, our local community access television station. I did become a councilor for the badge shortly after it became available. I have a feeling that if this merit badge would have been available in the 1970′s I may have added one more to my sleeve.

            It was announced today that what we have known as the Cinematography merit badge will now be known as the Moviemaking merit badge. That may be a better descriptive name for the badge. According to the Bryan On Scouting blog:

            Think of it as the long-awaited sequel.

            Cinematography merit badge is now Moviemaking merit badge, effective immediately. The design of the badge won’t change, and new pamphlets are expected in Scout shops in mid-November.

            Why make this change? Well, anyone who sticks around to watch a movie’s credits knows that cinematography is just one specific part of making a movie. So calling a merit badge that covers all of moviemaking “Cinematography” was something of a misnomer.

            The BSA’s merit badge team also saw this as a chance to make a few other changes, including:

            Tweaked requirements in light of the title change and focus away from cinematography and more toward moviemaking in general.
            Updated text in a number of places to reflect the name change and address newer technology
            New information about intellectual property.

            For more information about the merit badge change check out
            http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2013/10/03/cinematography-merit-badge-becomes-moviemaking-merit-badge/

            What do you think of the change?

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              FirstClassSmallTwo Boy Scouts attended a committee meeting recently. One came for his Star Rank board of review, the other to ask some questions about his Eagle Rank. After talking to both Scouts we discovered it may be time to spend a portion of each troop meeting talking about the basics of Scouting. You know, those things boys learn when they first become Boy Scouts but have forgotten over the years. In other words, it was time for a refresher course.

              The Boy Scouts are very good with reciting the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan, and Motto. They stumble a bit when asked what the twelve points mean, or what are the three duties of the Scout Oath. What should a Scout be prepared for, and how exactly does one do that?

              I talked to the scoutmaster and the senior patrol leader about this subject. I offered to do a ten minute review at the end of each troop meeting covering one topic of the basics. The SPL smiled and told me he would time me and let me know when I reached my ten minutes. He is such a sweet kid. I guess I better keep the talks short and to the point.

              Here is a list of some of the topics I plan to cover:
              The meaning of the Scout Law, and the Scout Oath.
              Wearing the uniform properly and proudly.
              The Scout sign, slogan, and handclasp.
              Advancement double dipping.
              Preparing for a board of review.
              Flag editcate. Uses for basic knots.
              Meaning of the Scout emblem.

              Like I said, these short talks are not meant to teach the basics, although new Scouts may learn a few things, but are meant to refresh the Boy Scouts’ memories. To tell the truth, I know a few adult leaders who could benefit from listening to these discussions.

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                A few years ago the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 spent a month introducing themselves to the world of geocaching. One parent came to the meetings and showed the Scouts how it was done, and worked with them to find two geocaches located nearby our meeting place. This month, the troop once again visited that monthly theme, but this time brought in a merit badge councilor to help them earn one of the newest merit badges of the Boy Scouts of America (introduced in 2010). For many of the Scouts, this was a new experience and they enjoyed their first hunt during the meeting.

                Yesterday, the troop held an outing to work on the merit badge requirements and find the half dozen or so caches in Melrose. Unfortunately, only one Scout showed up for the activity. Sports seemed to be the reason most of the others did not attend, although we discovered one Scout forgot about it and planned something else. Well, the one Scout, the scoutmaster, and the assistant scoutmaster went around town looking for the hidden treasures and found most of them. And they learned a few things. And the Boy Scout and the leaders and a good time.

                The Scout and his father, the scoutmaster, stopped by my house when they had finished their searches. Scoutmaster Jim had a few questions about scoutmastering and the Scout was excited to share his day’s experiences. In fact, I got caught up in his enthusiasm and before you knew it we were planning to create our own cache in town. I found an old 35mm film canister. We put a paper in it for a log and a red 68 numeral patch to represent our troop. We named it “Scout By Numbers” and found a great place for it near the river in town. Then we posted it to geocaching.com to let others know about it. We are hoping that other Boy Scouts hunt for our cache and trade their troop number patch for ours.

                The Scout was so exited about creating a new cache that I believe he will be creating one or two of his own. I just wish the others boys in the troop would have participated in the outing so they could have had the fun that geocaching offers.

                Has your troop done any geocaching? Have any of your boys earned the merit badge?

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