Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


My brother and I were Boy Scouts for three and a half years in the mid 1970’s. My youngest brother was a Cub Scout. My mother was a den leader, and my father was a troop committee member. Scouting was strong in my family, but not quite as strong as it was in one of my cousin’s family.

Jim Ehlert, my uncle, had five sons. All five sons were involved in the Scouting program. Jim became a scoutmaster when his oldest son was a Boy Scout. Jim held that position for a number of years as all the boys grew threw the program. In fact, all five of the young men earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Once in awhile, back in the 1970’s, our families would meet at grandma’s cabin on Kings Lake. We would sometimes exchange skits and songs that were popular in our troops. We would also swap Scouting stories and experiences as we sat around the campfire.

I was a little in awe of Jim during my teen years, as a lot of Scouts look up to the adults who are Scout Leaders. I also admired him for holding the position of scoutmaster fo so many years. When his sons finally graduated out of the troop he retired as scoutmaster and took on a different Scouting position.

Occasionally, after I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, Jim and I would have the opportunity to chat about Scouting. He would ask me how things were going in my troop, or ask me to tell him about the latest high adventure trip that we had attended. They were fun discussions.

On Tuesday, September 19, Jim passed away after a battle with kidney disease. He was in his 80’s. I guess I will not be sharing anymore Scouting stories with him. Until that is, until I join him in that great summer camp in the sky.

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    I was never a member of the Order of the Arrow as a youth. I became a member in the mid-1980’s when I was a scoutmaster, along with two Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. I enjoyed being a member and saw the value of it for the youth so I promoted it during the next 25 years. Since it is a youth based program, I only was as active in the Order of the Arrow as the Scouts in the troop were active. Some were busy years, others were not, but we always had a couple members of the O.A. in the troop.

    I stepped down as the scoutmaster at the end of 2011 and although I still tried to get the boys to participate I was not very successful. It has been a few years since the troop has held an Order of the Arrow election so I was pleased this year when the patrol leader council decided to have one this spring. I talked with the new scoutmaster and the youth membership trying to drum up interest again. The election was held on February 6th during our troop meeting.

    The former lodge advisor and his son, who is a former lodge chief, live in Melrose so it was easy to have a lodge representative stop by for a visit. Chris and Chuck gave a short talk about the Order and had the troop watch a short video. Scoutmaster Dave and I found that four Scouts qualified for the election. I was surprised when it was announced that all four Scouts had been elected. I should actually say nominated since a Scout does not become a member until he has attended a conclave.

    I did not realize that our small troop could have all four Scouts be nominated for membership. I though that only a couple would be allowed since we only had ten members. I guess the rule has changed about how many Scouts of a troop can now be nominated.

    Following the election we looked up the dates of the Naguonabe Lodge conclaves for the spring and fall. I was a little surprised to discover the date of the spring outing. I remember it was usually held early in the month of May. We discovered it would be held later in the month, the same weekend as our scheduled troop camping trip. This was not an ideal situation.

    As the weekend approached, only two of the four nominees decided to attend the conclave. A third is still deciding if he wants to be a member, while the fourth has decided he does not really want to be. He says he is busy enough with other things, like a job. I was going to attend the conclave with the boys, but the scoutmaster had something else come up that weekend so I decided to help with the troop outing.

    Our two new Arrowmen enjoyed the conclave and seem to be proud to be members of the Order of the Arrow. They are already talking about earning their Brotherhood at next year’s spring conclave. I am happy to hear that. And hopefully, we will have a few more nominees ready to at that time.

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      This poem from circa 1964 was posted in our Naguonabe Lodge newsletter this spring. It is a good fit to remind us to take an active part as members in the Order of the Arrow and not “just belong.”

      What Are You?
      (Author unknown)

      Are you an active brother, the kind that would be missed?
      Or are you just contented that your name is on the list?
      Do you attend the meetings and mingle with the flock?
      Or do you stay at home and criticize and knock?
      Do you take an active part to help the work along,
      Or are you satisfied to be the kind that “Just belong?”
      Do you ever go visit a member that is sick?
      Or leave the work for just a few and talk about the clique?
      There’s quite a program planned that I’m sure you’ve heard about
      And we’ll appreciate if you, too, will come and help us out,
      So come to the convention and help with hand and heart,
      Don’t just me a member, but take an active part.
      Think this over, member, you know right from wrong,
      Are you an active member? Or do you just belong?
      We all have something we can contribute and when we work together amazing things can happen. I believe even more could be accomplished at conclaves and other events if we take this to heart. Just remember W W W “The Brotherhood of Cheerful Service.”

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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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          roundtableThe District Roundtable. That once a month training meeting for all Scout Leaders. They are a good meetings for all Scouters to attend, filled with lots of ideas and knowledge, but in reality only a small percentage of Scouters attend them. It is really a shame.

          I began attending roundtable about the time I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68 in 1981, thirty five years ago. During most of those years I was a regular attendee, maybe missing one or two a year, usually to weather issues, like snowstorms. I thought I had a very good attendance record, especially when you consider that I live 35 miles from the council service center.

          I was recruited as an assistant roundtable commissioner in the late 1980’s, and continued through the early 1990’s. For a couple of years we even held junior leader roundtables for senior patrol leaders, patrol leaders, and other youth officers. I finally stepped away from the roundtable staff because I needed to clean my plate of a few positions. I did not want to burn out after all. I did continue to attend the monthly meetings, just not as a staff member.

          A few years ago I decided to offer my assistance once again to the roundtable commissioner. Al had been running the roundtables himself. I know from experience that a helping hand not only makes things easier, but it also makes it more fun. He quickly accepted my offer and I became an assistant roundtable commissioner once again.

          In May I finished my third year as Al’s assistant. May is also the month that Al and I decided to retire as the roundtable staff. It was a good run, and we both had fun, but we both felt it was time for new leadership to take over.

          I had an additional reason to step down from the position. I currently serve as the Cubmaster for Melrose Pack 68. The committee has decided to try moving den and pack meetings from Monday nights to Tuesday nights during the 2016-2017 program year. The Scenic District roundtable are held on the first Tuesday night of the month. I have not yet discovered how to be in two places at one time. This coming year could be the first Scouting program year that I will not attend a roundtable meeting since 1980. That is going to bit a little weird for me.

          I do not know who will take over the roundtable staff positions this fall but I wish them the best of luck. It is a great experience and can be a lot of fun with just a little bit of planning.

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            roundtable_4350Once a year the roundtable staff of the Central Minnesota Council,  Scenic District, invites the Eagle Board chairman, the district advancement chairman, and other key people to attend a meeting to discuss Eagle Scout projects, workbooks, and board of reviews. Boy Scouts are invited to attend and encouraged to ask questions.

            When this meeting was held in the fall of 2014 we were surprised with once of the best attendances for a roundtable that we have had in many years. We had to set up more chairs and almost remove tables to create enough seating. I would guess that maybe 12 to 15 Boy Scouts came to the meeting with their parents or troop leaders. We were very pleased with the turnout and many questions were answered.

            As the room was being set up for this year’s Eagle meeting, which was held Tuesday night, only two tables were set up at the front of the room for the Eagle speakers, and a few tables were left set up in the back. We were hoping for a turnout as good as last year’s, maybe even better.

            As the clock approached the 7:00 starting time we realized more chairs would be needed then were set up. Boy Scouts, parents, committee members and troop leaders filled the room. It was a good thing the tables had been removed. I counted thirty Boy Scouts in attendance. I think that could be a new record.

            The meeting went very well. The three member panel talked about what they expect from the Scouts, what the Eagle Scout process includes, and the common mistakes to avoid. A lot of questions were asked by the adult leadership and the Scouts. Everyone seemed to be pleased as the meeting came to an end.

            I was expecting a decent turnout so I thought it might be nice to have a door prize for the Boy Scouts who came to the session. I had grabbed a 1965 Boy Scout handbook from my collection to use for the drawing. Near the halfway point of the meeting we drew a winning name from my cap. The Boy Scout who won was grinning widely as he came forward to collect the handbook. He seemed quite pleased to be able to add it to his collection, or maybe it was the start of his collection.

            I noticed several young Boy Scouts mixed in the crowd so toward the end of the meeting I asked for a show of hands of the the Life Scouts in the room. Most of the boys raised their hand. I asked the Star Scouts to raise they hand. Several hands went up but I noticed a few still had not lifted theirs. When I asked for the First Class Scouts to raise their hands the last four or five Scouts were recognized. I could not help myself. I commended these young men for thinking ahead as they plan to reach their goal of attaining Boy Scouting highest rank.

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              CubmasterTis the season for all units… in the Central Minnesota Council to complete their recharters. Begin the caroling and pass the eggnog. The new committee of Cub Scout Pack 68 is about to learn how it is done.

              The recharter was one of the things on the agenda at last Monday night’s Pack committee meeting. Fortunately, our district executive was on hand to explain how to complete the online registration and answer questions. Unfortunately, our new treasurer announced that he is stepping down from the position because he has accepted a new pastoral position in another part of the state. His family is moving this week.

              Although surprised, the pack committee did not panic but started talking about possible parents in the pack who could be recruited as the treasurer and other positions that still needed to be filled. We currently of a great group of parents so the committee plans to speak to them for several minutes during this Monday’s Pack Meeting while I take the Cub Scouts in the next room and work with them on a skit to perform for the parents.

              There is also one other key three position that the Pack need to fill, the Cubmaster. Although I am registered as a pack committee member this year I have been been the acting cubmaster this fall since no one has stepped up to the plate yet. It is not a position I have sought, but after 30 years as a scoutmaster I thought I could run a few pack meetings until we find someone to take over.

              There is only a couple weeks left to complete the recharter. It is down to crunch time. Some of the committee thought they had a candidate to become the cubmaster but he had to decline due to commitments in other organizations to which he already belonged. Where were we to find a cubmaster?

              I have been acting as the cubmaster. Notice the word “acting”. After a short discussion with the committee I agreed to take on the role of cubmaster, but I would only accept the role for this program year, with the condition that that the pack finds an assistant cubmaster this year who would step into the cubmaster role in May of next year. The committee has a lot to talk to the parents about at Monday’s pack meeting.

              I have had fun as the acting cubmaster these pass few months, and it has been a pleasure working with the new committee members. I do actually look forward to being the cubmaster for the rest of this program year, this one term. I do not plan to become the permanent cubmaster. I still intend to continue working with the Boy Scout troop. My goal is to be the liaison between the pack and the troop.

              Hopefully, Santa will bring us a few more committee members, den leaders, and an assistant cubmaster this month. “Deck the Pack with lots of leaders, fa la la la la, la la la la.”

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                TheLeadersCampfireA week ago I was on Skype chatting with Chris (formally known as Cubmaster Chris) and we began talking about were we currently involved in the world of Scouting. Chris’ youngest son is a Boy Scout, and I have been spending time assisting the local Cub Scout pack get reorganized for the new year. It is almost like our roles have kinda somewhat reversed from the days we hosted a little podcast called The Leaders Campfire.

                As we were talking Scouting it was inevitable that our old podcast would come up in the discussion. It has been nearly three years since we recorded the last episode. As we were reminiscing about the “old days”, Chris mentioned an email he had received from a Scout leader somewhere stating that he missed the old PTC Media podcasts, and that there just was not much to choose from anymore.

                Our conversation about Scouting continued for a little while longer before we decided to brush the dust off The Leaders Campfire and create one more podcast, based on the things we had just been talking about. Chris did a quick search of his computer and found that he still had the audio files for the beginning and end of the show, and even the commercials. We decided to record the show as if we had never quite doing it, and never reference the fact the it had been nearly three years since the last one. Chris hit the record button and the new podcast began.

                We both expected the show to maybe be a half hour long or shorter. After all, we did not really have much to say. To our surprise, the show ended up being nearly 50 minutes long. I guess we had more to say than we thought we did. Chris decided to edit it and post yet that Saturday night.

                Chris did not think the show would receive many downloads. After all these years who would even think about listening to the two of us talking about Scouting, he reasoned. I thought we would get at least 50 downloads. After all, we still had over 300 likes on the PTC Media Facebook page. Plus, there were still people subscribed to the podcast on iTunes. It would be interesting to see how this would play out and who would be correct.

                By Monday morning we had received over 50 downloads of the show. To tell the truth, both Chris and I were surprised. I sent Chris a note asking him how long he thought it would be before we reached the 100 mark. We reached that mark and downloads still kept happening. I checked the stats as I wrote the podcast and discovered we are now over 200 downloads! That may not seem like much when you compare it to some well known podcasts but for a podcast that was retired 3 years ago? I am still amazed that people want to listen to us, and we do thank you for support of the podcast.

                Maybe that Scout leader who sent that email was correct. Maybe there still is a need for more Scouting themed podcasts. Unfortunately, Chris and I may not be the ones to produce a weekly or monthly podcast anymore, but there must be someone out there willing to do one.

                PS: As far as I know there are currently only two Scouting related audio podcasts that I found. The first is Cubcast, produced by the Boy Scouts of America. The other is the Scoutmastercg Podcast by Clarke Green. Check them out when you have a chance.

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