Archive for the ‘story’ Category


Winter Drift Murder practiceI had a hunch I would be receiving a phone call so it did not come as a surprise when the phone rang two days after the first meeting of this year’s mystery dinner theater group. I had been in the play two years ago and probably would have been in last year’s play if I would not have had neck surgery. When the director called in January I agreed to be in the production if I could have a small role.

This year’s play would be “Winter Drift Murder”, written by a local writer. It would be a western that takes place during the time when the railways were being built across the country. Would the audience be able to solve the murders before the sheriff did at the end of the play?

My role would be Vil Ion Badgoi. (Yes, that is a pun.) He is a local gunslinger also known as Mr. Murder. He may not have liked the Judge, but he didn’t kill him. The role had a whopping 13 lines. I was only on stage during the last ten minutes of the play. When I first read the script I thought it was a serious role but the director thought it should be played as a comic villain. Even during the last night of practice we were still developing things for this character to do.

When it came time to create our costumes the men raided their own closets at home for as much as they could find. I used my own black jeans, a dark long sleeve shirt, and a brown cowboy hat. The vest and boots came from the high school prop room.

I have been involved in the Scouting program for too long to not try to “sneak” something Scouting related into my costume. I was able to get three items into my wardrobe. On the cowboy hat I wore a small red B.S.A. pin. The leather belt came from Philmont Scout Ranch. The belt buckle represented my Bobwhite Patrol from a Wood Badge training course.

Did anyone notice these Scouting related Easter Eggs? No. The pin was too small for the audience to really see. The belt and buckle were pretty much hidden by the vest for most of the performance. Do I care that no one noticed? Not really. I was just happy to bring a little bit of Scouting onto the stage with me. After all, it was because of performing Scouting skits and campfire songs that I was asked to be in my first play years ago.

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    books01The phone call surprised me Saturday night. The disc golf Tri-O was completed and the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 had left my house for their overnight camping trip. I was sitting at home watching television, thinking about going out to the campsite for a little while. The phone call was from from the acting senior patrol leader for the weekend. He was wondering if I would be joining them for supper, and if I would bring the book with the ghost stories. The Scouts wanted to hear a story or two while sitting around the campfire.

    I knew which book to which he was referring. It was a collection of true ghost stories, Haunted Heartland, by Beth Scott and Michael Norman. I had mentioned this book on an outing earlier this year. Since this weekend was the weekend before Halloween I guessed the Scouts were in the mood for a couple stories of the supernatural variety.

    I decided to grab two books when I left the house. In addition to the Haunted Heartland I also grabbed The Grasshopper Trap by Patrick F. McManus which is a collection of humorous stories. I thought it might be best to add a comical story or two between the scary ones since there were a few young new Boy Scouts on the campout.

    The two stories I read from The Grasshopper Trap were Mean Tents and First Knife. During Mean Tents we followed a history of tents used by McManus during his camping activities, including a tent he and a childhood friend made from old gunny sacks. The Boy Scouts got a good laugh from that one. They also chuckled through the story about his First Knife that he received from his parents on his eighth birthday.

    The first story from the Haunted Heartland was The Phantom Miner, a story about a terrible mining accident that happened on the Minnesota Iron Range, and how one of the victim’s ghost stopped the mine from reopening. The second story was Windego Of The North, a tale of a mythical humanoid creature occasionally seen in northern Minnesota. A sighting of the Windego foretold of a death that was soon to follow.

    The Boy Scouts enjoyed the stories but I think I should have only read two, or maybe three at the most. The boys were getting a little antsy by the end of the last story.

    Seven years ago I posted an article to this blog referring to campfire stories as “television of the mind”. Saturday night’s story time once again proved my theory. Even teenagers enjoy hearing a good tale told by fire light.
    http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=43

    Both books referred to in this article can be found on Amazon or maybe even at your local book store. Check them out. Your Scouts will enjoy them.

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      campfire45Here is a story for your next troop campfire. I do not know who wrote it, or even remember where I picked it up, but it is a good story. Iy is a story about a promise made by two Eagle Scouts who were best friends and even worked at summer camp together. There is even a bit of a ghost story involved. How far would you go to keep your promises?

      “Tom and Paul were best friends. They went to the same schools, right from kindergarten. They were best friends right from the beginning. Tom was a little bigger, not afraid of anything. Paul was smart, inquisitive, and ready to try whatever Tom came up with.

      Their families got used to seeing them together, more like brothers than friends. They were Cub Scouts in the same Den, and they both got their Arrow of Light at the same ceremony and crossed over into Boy Scouts together. They joined Troop 17, it met at the Methodist Church and had a reputation as a Troop that did a lot of camping.

      They were active Scouts, picked up rank, went on almost all the camp outs. Tom was a Patrol Leader when he made Star, and Senior Patrol Leader as a Life Scout. Paul was Quartermaster the same year, 1965.

      They weren’t just Scouts, of course. They had school and girlfriends, family, part time jobs. Tom worked summers on his grandfather’s farm. Paul lifeguarded at the community pool. The summer they graduated from high school, class of 1966, they both decided to work at Scout Camp. Tom got assigned to the Camp Quartermaster, drove the camp truck and worked maintenance jobs. Paul had his Red Cross certifications, and he worked at the waterfront.

      They had a great summer, and promised each other they would come back the following year. Well, more than promised, really. They swore an oath, on their honor, that they would come back to camp together, that nothing, not girlfriends or jobs or anything, would prevent them from coming back to camp.

      Promises like that are hard to keep.

      Paul went to college in the fall, he had decided to study engineering, and joined Navy ROTC. It would help pay for school, and in those years, it meant he had a sure deferment from the draft.

      Tom got drafted. He went to Army basic training and shipped out to Vietnam. He wrote letters home, even sent a couple to Paul. He had been there eight months, and his unit had seen a lot of action, when he sent on a patrol as part of a larger operation. His platoon got ambushed. The after action reports pretty much told the tale, they got hit hard, and in the effort to set up a defense and bring in the wounded, Tom had gone out under fire three times. On the way back that last time he was shot and fatally wounded.

      There was a military funeral, and a small collection of ribbons, including a Silver Star. Paul spoke at the funeral, and told everyone of the promise they had made and how now it could not be kept, of their adventures, and the trouble they got into now and then, and what it was like to have a friend like Tom.

      Paul graduated from college in 1970. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, and selected for flight school.

      He wanted to be a fighter pilot, just like everyone who goes to flight school, and he came close, but didn’t make the cut. He was assigned to A-6 Intruders, and excelled at that. He qualified for carriers, joined up with a Squadron and went to war. The Vietnam War was in it’s final years, but there was still a lot of air support missions being flown, and his carrier was off the coast of Vietnam most of his first year at sea.

      He was on a close air support mission, trying to protect South Vietnamese troops and their American advisors when his plane was hit. He came up off the target, but before he regained control, his plane crashed into the jungle. The plane burned, he and his copilot were never recovered.

      Now that’s just a sad story from the past, I suppose, two good men, two Eagle Scouts, both lost in the Vietnam War, but there’s some more to this story. Because they had made a promise, an oath, on their honor, to spend at least one more summer at this camp, and they didn’t give themselves an out just because they died.

      The first I heard of it was in the 80′s, an 8 year old Cub Scout on a family overnight got lost on the trail out to the Wilderness area. All the Scout troops in camp and the local Sheriff’s department had started a search. A Scoutmaster found him walking out of the woods up on the hill by the horse barns. The kid said 2 adults in Scout uniforms had walked him up there, only when they asked him to describe what they looked like, he described the old green uniforms that were used in the 60s.

      The next time was a Scout on wilderness survival overnight on the ridge. He had built his shelter and was bedded down when he saw 2 Scouts walking along together. Same description, young adults in old time uniforms. They looked over at him, but didn’t stop, just continued their hike out on the ridge trail. He was pretty spooked by it, being alone overnight and trying to tell his Scoutmaster the next morning. That time the word got around and it turned out some of the Staff at camp said that they had seen them too.

      Now, I never saw them, but the camp ranger says he did, winter before last, right after that big snow in February. He had walked into camp late in the day, going to the dining hall and the bath house to check the pipes. He said they were in front of him on the main trail, in those same uniforms, walking along like it was a summer day. He was bundled up against the cold, crunching through the snow, and started to speed up to catch them. He said he wasn’t thinking about it too clearly, just wanted to know who the heck was in camp when they weren’t supposed to be.

      He stopped when they turned around. Because when he saw their faces, well, the camp ranger used to be a Boy Scout, too. A Boy Scout in Troop 17, and when he made First Class in 1965, his Senior Patrol Leader was named Tom and his Quartermaster was named Paul. He still had Troop pictures, but he wouldn’t have forgotten what they looked liked, especially in their summer uniforms. He said they smiled, and Tom waved, and then they turned and hiked down the trail toward the waterfront like they were on patrol.

      The night the ranger told me this, he didn’t expect me to believe any of it, and I don’t expect you to believe me, either. But he stood there for a few minutes as dusk gathered, and when he looked down, there weren’t any tracks in the snow. He looked back and his footprints were right there in the snow, but only his, and none on the trail in front of him.

      He told me he believed that they had kept their oath. That they were here in camp, and that they were content, that they had come back to the camp they had loved.

      So when you’re out on the trail in the evening tonight, or on an overnight somewhere remote in the Wilderness, remember those two Scouts and their promise, and how maybe, just maybe, they managed to keep it after all.

      Good Night, Scouts.”

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        It is amazing the things you can discover while visiting a museum. Yesterday, Monday, May 7th, the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had a field trip at the Melrose Area Historical Museum. While we were there we took a look at the Scouting display and saw some new items added since the troop visited two years ago. Some of these items came from the first Eagle Scout of Melrose, Minnesota. His name was John Johnson. He earned his Eagle Rank in 1966.

        As John got older he joined the Explorer Scout Post in town. One day he saved the life of a young child who was playing on the train tracks. John received the B.S.A.’s Honor Metal for his quick action. Boy’s Life magazine, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, was notified about this. John was featured in the magazine during the mid-1960′s on the “Scouts In Action” page. A copy of the page from Boy’s Life is found in the museum.

        I knew that John Johnson was the first Eagle Scout of Melrose. In fact, he was a guest speaker at an Eagle court of honor in 1992. But I never knew he saved a young child’s life and that he was mentioned in Boy’s Life magazine. Amazing what a person can discover at a local museum, isn’t it?

        Here is a photo of the Boy’s Life page found at the Melrose Area Historical Museum.

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          Cooking on a Boy Scout camping trip can be an interesting experience, especially with young inexperienced campers. I have seen many burned pancakes, half raw hamburgers, and overturned pots during my days as a scoutmaster. When I am eating something crunchy that really should not be crunchy I am reminded of a camping trip from my days as a youth…

          My troop was attending a district camporee one weekend when I was in my early teens. We were sitting around the campfire ring about to eat our meal. Our scoutmaster, Dr. Scanlan, was sitting next to me. There was a small amount of dirt on my food. I do not remember how it got there, if the patrol cook had done something during preparing the meal, or if I had kicked some dirt onto the plate somehow. I do remember I was not interested in eating this food with its “natural” seasoning. I was a very picky eater and this was not helping the situation.

          I made a fuss and commented that I was not going to eat this stuff. My scoutmaster heard me and replied that a little dirt would not kill me. Then he added something that I will never forget. He said, “A person will eat an average of seven pounds of dirt during his lifetime.”

          I am not ashamed to say that I was surprised and shocked by the statement. I did not know if he was telling the truth, or if he had just made it up. He was a doctor, after all. He would know about these things.  I do recall my reply to him. I looked at him, and at my food, and said, “I don’t want to add to that seven pounds.”

          I do not remember if I ate the food that day or not. I probably did because I was hungry. I have since come to the conclusion though that if you are a scoutmaster you will eat a lot more than seven pounds of dirt in your lifetime.

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            I am sure you have already had the conversation in your troop. How can we be more “green” and eco-friendly? The Boy Scouts have been discussing this long before it became socially fashionable. Take a look at Leave No Trace, for example. Or the points of the Outdoor Code.

            I recently received and email featuring a story about the generational differences of being green. I am sure this has been circulating about the internet for awhile already, but it was the first time I had seen it. I enjoyed reading it so I thought I would share it with you. I may even use this as a scoutmaster minute at the end of a troop meeting.

            (Unfortunately, I do not know the author of this story.)

            The Green Thing

            Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

            She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

            Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

            We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

            Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

            Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then.

            We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

            Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

            But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks
            were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

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              The end of the 2011 “100 Days Of Scouting” has arrived. This is the second year of the blogging event, but the first year for me. Twenty four blogs participated this year, including Scoutsigns, the originator of 100 Days of Scouting.

              Did I post 100 articles to A Scoutmaster’s Blog during this time period? No, but I did find myself writing more stories then I probably would have. I ended up posting 73 articles during the event. I always had the 100 Days in mind, but I forgot to add the tag to many of the posts. (I wonder if anyone was 100 for 100.)

              I hope you enjoys reading my stories, and I hope you checked out some of the other bloggers who participated. For a list of everyone involved check Scoutsigns by clicking HERE. Take some time to read the blogs and I am sure you will get a good feeling of how Scouting is going across the country.

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                Around The Scouting Campfire #23 is ready for your enjoyment. In this episode Scoutmaster Steve and Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, talk about getting outside to play. The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 sing a song about an experience they had with some cattle. Buttons shares some “Scouting Truths” with us, thanks to Nick at the Nick’s Ramblings blog. And of course, it is time for the hosts to announce their winner of the PTC Media photo contest, who will receive a $20.00 coupon toward a purchase at Trailstop.com.

                Send us your emails. Steve and Buttons would love to hear from you. What do you think about the show. Do you have any suggestions? You can contact Buttons at buttonst68@yahoo.com. You may contact Scoutmaster Steve at stevejb68@yahoo.com. Please rate the show and/or leave a comment at the iTunes store or at PTC Media forums.

                You can also follow the hosts on Twitter at twitter.com/stevejb68 and twitter.com/buttonst68 .

                Download the episode by clicking HERE.
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                Subscribe to the RSS Feed - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MelroseScoutingAudioPodcast
                This podcast is found on iTunes at
                http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=307979159.
                .
                Show notes:

                Hey Dad! Get out and play! – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=67
                The Killer Cattle Song – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=929
                Nick’s Ramblings – http://blog.nawbus.co.uk/ .

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