Archive for the ‘summer camp’ Category


Bear Skin SignWhat do you think of when you hear the words “bear skin”? Is your first thought a bear skin rug? Maybe a sporting game between the Bears and the Redskins? Maybe a sunburn after sitting with bare skin in the sun too long? One of the things I think of is summer camp. It was the name of the campsite my troop used for two years when I attended camp as a youth.

I attended Parker Scout Reservation of the Central Minnesota Council for three years during the mid-1970′s. It is a small camp by some summer camp standards, but it was the home of Troop 68 and other troops for a week of fun and excitement. In its earlier days it was called Camp Clyde. These days it is sometimes called Camp Parker. It closed as a summer camp in the late 1970′s but is still used as a weekend camp for council Boy Scout and Cub Scout activities. Troop 68 has used the camp on several occasions over the years for their own weekend activities.

The council has done several major renovations and additions to Camp Parker during the last few decades. The old dining hall was completely renovated and an addition was built onto it. A storage building was added next to it at the same time. A new shower house was constructed back in the nineties. Several older buildings have been remodeled with new heating systems installed. The biggest addition to Camp Parker took place when the castle was built. Yes, you read that correctly. A castle. (Pictures of the castle can be seen at http://www.bsacmc.org/photo_gallery_miller_castle.html .)

A few months ago I received a phone call at work asking if the lumber yard would like to donate some cedar lumber so new signs could be built for the campsites. The signs were getting pretty run down and looked rather shoddy. I did not even give my boss a chance to reply to the request. I used this as a chance for myself to give back a little to the place I have been going to for four decades. I donated the materials.

But I had one request. I wanted the old campsite sign of the camp I stayed in as a young Boy Scout. I wanted the old Bear Skin sign. I was told that should not be a problem and that they would set it aside for me.

That was a couple months ago. Yesterday, when I arrived back home from working at my parents renovation project, I found something placed between my front door and combination door. Later in the morning my district executive had stopped by my house on his way through town and dropped off the sign. Other than patches and pictures, this is the first item from Camp Parker I have been able to add to my Scouting collection.

The sign was actually in decent shape considering it has weathered several Minnesota winters and summers. I really have no idea how long this sign has marked the campsite. I would doubt it is the same sign that welcomed Boy Scouts in the 1970′s, but it is a piece of camp history and I am happy to have it in my collection.

Below you can see a map of Parker Scout Reservation from a camporee probably held in the early 1990′s. As you can see, Parker is not a big camp but it really does not matter. I have made a lot of great Scouting memories there.

ParkerMapb

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    MPSC2014P1The opening campfire of a week of Boy Scout summer camp. It is time to meet the staff that will play an important role during the success of your troop’s time at camp. Is the staff enthusiastic? Are they energetic? Are they ready to provide you with the totally awesome program you have come to expect from camp? Are they a little bit crazy? In the case of the 2014 Many Point Scout Camp Buckskin staff, the answer is yes to all the above, and their opening campfire was a great demonstration of how enthusiastic and crazy they could be.

    This video was recorded during the July 6, 2014, opening campfire. This will be the first of a few videos filmed during the campfire that will be posted to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. As you can see when you watch this, this year’s staff was pumped to start working with a new week of Boy Scout campers. This video features the staff introductions and the singing of the Many Point Rouser. As all “repeat after me” songs, it gets pretty loud and rowdy by the end.

    Video Information: 960 x 540, time 05:22, 145.4 MB. m4v format.

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      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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        scoutcamp“Many Point Scout Camp. That’s the place to be. It’s where the best of Scouting is and that’s the place for me. You hear the loon a’calling, and the Little Beaver roar, and you’ll come again the legend says, just like the Scouts of yore.”

        You can almost hear the staff singing this song as you drive into the parking lot near the Administration Building and Welcome Center of Many Point Scout Camp. Maybe the ten Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 were not thinking about the song, but I was as I parked the car. You could really feel the excitement from the staff as the new campers arrived for the week of July 6th.

        The Scouts of Troop 68 have been spending a week of their summers at MPSC for 25 years. The troop stays in the Buckskin Camp, one of the four camps available at Many Point. In Buckskin, the Scouts eat in the dining hall instead of cooking their own meals.

        My car was one of three vehicles bringing the Melrose Scouts to camp. The trip took nearly three and a half hours with a stop along the way for lunch in Wadena. The three Scouts who rode with me had an extra reason for choosing my vehicle. We worked on a couple requirements for the Citizenship in the Community merit badge.

        Since I planned to spend the night at camp I helped to set up the adult leader’s tent while the senior patrol leader and acting scoutmaster were meeting with our camp counselor at one of the campsite picnic tables. During the rest of the afternoon the Scouts stopped by the dining hall for instructions, stopped at the beachfront for safety talks and swim checks, and finished setting up their camp.

        One reason I wanted to stay for the night was to watch the opening campfire program. I was hoping to record a good video or two of the songs and skits the staff would perform. I hit the jackpot! The staff did an outstanding job. Even the Scouts who have been to camp for a few years were laughing and enjoying the program. I plan to post some of the video to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast so check checking back for that.

        Monday morning arrived. One of the Scouts and I were anxiously awaiting the arriving of our camp councilor and the schedule of the troop’s afternoon activities for the week.The Scout had broke his arm Saturday evening and he was wondering if it would be worthwhile for him to stick around for the week. Yes, he could work on merit badges during the morning sessions, but would there be activities he could take part in during the afternoon session?

        The camp councilor brought the schedule after breakfast during the first merit badge session. I looked it over and when the Scout returned to the campsite we reviewed it together. Yes, the swimming activities and climbing tower were out for him, but we agreed that he could participate in 3/4 of the rest of the schedule. The assistant scoutmaster offered to work with him on his First Class Rank during those activities that he would not be able to partake in. The Scout decided to stay for the week.

        I decided to leave camp early Monday afternoon. I said goodbye to the Scouts as they left for their first afternoon troop activity, which happened to be a nature canoe trip. I did sit down at the picnic table to play a couple quick hands of rummy with Eymard, our acting scoutmaster for the week. After we both won a game I decided it was time to leave.

        I think the Boy Scouts will have a great time at Many Point this summer. They have a fun afternoon schedule and are enjoying their merit badge classes. The camp staff seems pumped and enthusiastic which will really help the Scouts have a fun and enjoyable week.

        Where is your troop going to camp this summer?

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          I saw it many times during my 30 years as a scoutmaster. That first year at a week long summer camp causes some boys to grow up a bit, sometimes more than a bit. It is their first time away from home, parents, and family for that long of a period. Unfortunately, once in awhile a boy becomes home sick and leaves camp during the week, but that has been a rare occurrence. More often than not, the new boy completes the week and stands taller and prouder when he arrives home.

          Saturday’s edition of the comic strip For Better Or For Worse touches on this subject of growing up, and it does it with a mention of camp. I enjoyed it. I bet you will also. The comic strip can be read at
          http://www.gocomics.com/forbetterorforworse/2013/07/06

          betterorworse70613

           

           

           

          What do you think?

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            I had a dandy dream this morning. I paid an “out of season” visit to the Buckskin Camp of Many Point Scout Camp to check in on the campsite Troop 68 has been using for a number of years. I was quite surprised to find the camp staff at the Seton campsite preparing to set up the new climbing towers. This shocked me! But I knew the camp was making improvements. After all, in real life a new Handicrafts Lodge and Nature Lodge had been built this year. Back to the dream, I decided to help the staff prep the site for the new towers. The campsite would actually be a decent site for the towers, more centrally located, but I had always thought the old site was a good place for the towers also. Oh well, our troop would have to move to a different campsite next year.

            In the dream I left the campsite for a moment (it seems to be just a few minutes). When I came back not only where the two towers completed but other things had been added. There was a new course for gas-biking (?), and a short zip-line which ended at a new small manmade lake. And there was still more construction going on for other things. My first thought was that the Seton Campsite is not this big! (Typical for a dream, isn’t it?) My next thought was that they are turning summer camp into an amusement park. It is at this point that I woke up.

            Needless to say, I was a little upset and confused when I woke up. Then I began thinking. I hope I never see a Boy Scout summer camp turn into an amusement park atmosphere. That would really kill the whole premise of the Scouting program. Valleyfair, Six Flags, and Disneyland are not good places to earn merit badges and learn life skills. This is one dream I do not want to see come true.

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              I may not be a scoutmaster anymore, but Boy Scouting is still in my blood. I may not have gone with the troop to summer camp last week, but I could not completely stay away. I took a day off work last Friday spent the day with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 at Many Point Scout Camp.

              I arrived at the troop’s campsite during the second merit badge session. (See previous blog post.) When the troop was back together after the third session we had a short time to visit before walking to the Buckskin dining hall for a lunch of hot dogs, beans, and chips. During the meal I caught up on what had been happening during the week, and how the Scouts had been enjoying the program.

              The troop had three activities planned for the afternoon. At 1:00, it was time for camp reflection. This is time for each troop to go back to its campsite and discuss how things had gone during the week. The Melrose Scouts seem to have been having a busy but fun week and really did not have any negative comments about the camp program. I found the old scoutmaster in me came out a couple times when I asked a few questions to keep the discussions going a bit longer.

              The troop’s 2:00 activity was a round of disc golf on the camp’s nine hole course. As we walked toward the admin building to pick up the golf discs, I could not help but remember that last year we only played three holes because the mosquitoes were so bad they drove us off the course. Thankfully, the bloodsuckers where not very bad this year, but the horseflies did their best to bug us.

              One of the Scouts, Alex, was determined to win the disc gold game this year. The boys and I have played a few times over the past twelve months and though we have tied a couple times, Alex had not yet beaten my score. Darren, our new assistant scoutmaster, was our score keeper. After the game was played, and the discs had been returned to the admin building, Darren announced the scores. I had a hunch the Alex may have finally beaten me by one throw but when Darren announced the results he declared… a tie! Alex and I had the same score again. Alex grabbed the score sheet from Darren’s hands and added the numbers himself. Sure enough, we were tied. If only it had not taken him five throws to get the disc into the basket on hole #2.

              We went back to camp and the boys changed into their swim suits for the third afternoon activity, snorkeling. Noah, one of the younger Scouts, used the opportunity at the beach to complete his swimmer’s test and thus finish his First Class Rank. My job during this hour was to stand on the dock,  take a few pictures, and throw a clam shell into the water for the Scouts to find. It was a very warm afternoon and the boys enjoyed being in the lake.

              The fourth merit badge session was held at 4:00. Only one of the Scouts had a class to attend so the other two boys had some free time to enjoy. Assistant scoutmaster Eymard and the boys sat around the table to enjoy a game of cards. As the supper hour arrived the troop changed into their uniforms and we walked to the camp’s parade ground near the dining hall. Troop 68 was scheduled to retire the colors and lead the camp in grace before supper. I felt a little out of place being one of the few people not wearing a Boy Scout uniform.

              All program area were open after supper. I joined a couple of the boys as they went to the outdoor skills area. Alex wanted to show me the project he had been working on during his pioneering class. From there I walked to the ranges to check on Noah who was trying to finish his shooting for the Rifle Merit Badge. A short time later, Daniel arrived to work on his skills at the archery range, until Darren came to tell him the Alex was waiting for him in camp to go to the beach. I checked on Noah again and than went back to the troop’s campsite.

              I decided to leave camp as the Boy Scouts were preparing to go to the camp’s closing campfire program which began at 9:30 that evening. I wanted to be home by midnight and had over a two hour drive ahead of me. I was already tired and did not want to stick around for the campfire.

              I had a great time during my visit to camp. In one way, it seemed like coming home. I think the Boy Scouts appreciated that I stopped by for the day. It was a great way to spend a day of vacation from work.

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                Doesn’t it seem like every time you go to summer camp you end up bringing things home with you that were not in your pack when you arrived at camp? The camp trading post can be a dangerous place. Money can quickly disappear from your pockets. Strange items vanish from the shelves and somehow reappear in your tent when it comes time to pack up to return home. It can be very strange.

                In my younger days I would usually come home from camp with a new tee shirt or two, or maybe a bolo tie, or a coffee mug, or some other items I just felt I had to have. Many years it was three, four, or five items. These items accumulated after a couple decades. I finally had to find the willpower to stop buying stuff while at camp. Unfortunately, it was sometimes hard to find Will Power.

                This year I attended camp for only one day. I only made two quick trips to the trading post. As I walked around the store I heard the souvenirs call out to me… “Pick me!” said the tee shirts. “Buy me”, yelled the tall glass mugs. “Take me home with you”, whispered the colorful magnets. “I will keep you warm on those cool nights”, tempted the sweatshirts and jackets.

                I did not leave empty handed. I bought four small items to take home. Two were Order of the Arrow lodge patches to add to my collection. One was the 2012 Many Point Scout Camp patch. (I did attend camp after all, even if it was just for a day.) The fourth item was a small furry raccoon wearing a tee shirt that said “I Love Many Point”. (If it would have been written out.) It was just too cute to pass up. It thought it would look great on the shelf with the other Scouting related critters I have collected over the years.

                Did you buy any souvenirs at camp this year? What snuck into your pack for the journey home?

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