Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


The Boy Scouts of America needed a new place to hold the 2013 National Jamboree. Fort A.P. Hill, located in Virginia and the site of several previous Jamborees, would no longer be available for this major event. After a lot of searching and fundraising, the B.S.A. purchased property in the mountains of West Virginia and quickly began developing the site for its needs. The Summit Bechtel Reserve opened on time for the 2013 Jamboree and became a hit with the Scouts and adult leaders.

A special program was held during three weeks of the summer of 2018 at this new high adventure base. The Summit Adventure Leadership Training course, also known as SALT, introduced Scouts to the various programs offered at The Summit. Thanks to a generous donor, the cost of the 5 day course was reduced to $45 per participant, plus the cost of transportation.

When the Central Minnesota Council received this information they began the process of trying to create a contingent of 40 or more Scouts. If they could find the forty Scouts the cost would be $325 per participant, which included the cost of a charter bus. Four Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 quickly registered for this event. Two of the troop’s adult leaders applied to be adult leaders. One was chosen to be one of the four chaperones for the trip.

The contingent of 42 Scouts and four adult leaders left the council office in Sartell Sunday evening on July 22nd and arrived at The Summit Monday afternoon. During the next few days the crew members received a sampling of many of the high adventure activities which included BMX biking, mountain biking, skateboarding, a high ropes course, rock climbing, shooting sports, and more. They even visited areas of the base that most campers never get a chance to visit, such as the logistics center. Two highlights of the trip were the 3200 foot long zip line Tuesday morning, and the white water rafting adventure Thursday morning.

Was the trip a success? Did the Scouts have fun? Well, let’s put it this way. When the Melrose Scouts were asked if they would like to go back for a full high adventure program they all agreed they would love to have the chance to go back to The Summit. I guess the answer to the question would be “Yes!”

In May I discovered that four Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had signed up to attend the new S.A.L.T. program at the Summit Betchel Reserve in West Virginia. The Summit Adventure Leadership Training is a five day program designed to give participants a chance to sample many of the activities found at the Summit, along with some training on how to promote the Summit in their troops, districts, and councils.

I have never been to the Summit. I wanted to visit the base during the 2017 National Jamboree but things did not work out for that to happen. I decided to call the council office and check if they needed any adult leaders go to on the trip. They told me they were looking for leaders and if I was interested I should send in a “resume”. The last time I needed to send a resume to the council was when I applied to be a Scoutmaster of one of the troops for the 2001 National Jamboree.

It took me week to get around writing a resume. As I was writing it I thought to myself, as I listed my Scouting accomplishments, this could work for me or against me. The council may decide to choose younger leadership or a couple Scoutmasters for this trip. Oh well, the decision was theirs. I sent it in and waited for a reply.

For the next week I waited for a reply. To tell the truth, I was starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing. I would soon be 58 years old. Maybe I did not want to camp out for a week long trip anymore. I have not spend a week camping since I stepped down as Scoutmaster in 2011. The hot, humid, and possibly rainy weather known to be in West Virginia during July was another concern. I think I have grown a bit soft since I moved on to a committee position. I was also a little concerned because I had very little information about what would be required from the adult leaders.

After a week I received a reply from the Central Minnesota Council. They would be glad to have me join the crew if it still worked for me to get vacation time. That would not be a problem. I had already been approved the time off at work. I would have to let the Scoutmaster know I would not be spending a couple of days at summer camp which the troop would be attending the week before the trip to the Summit.

I called the council to inform them that I would be glad to attend the Summit. I would soon add a third Boy Scouts of America high adventure base to my list of bases attended.

Wow! Has it really been over three years since I have done a Melrose Scouting Productions video podcast? I guess it has. The last one was posted on December 1, 2014. I think it is time to do something about that.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, the mayor of Melrose, Joe Finken, attended the annual Cub Scout 68 Blue and Gold Banquet. After the meal, but before the award presentations, Mr. Finken was invited to come forward and say a few words to the Cub Scouts. He gave a nice talk which focused on teamwork. He spoke well and had the Scouts’ attention the whole time. With this podcast we would like to share Mayor Finken’s talk.

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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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.