Archive for the ‘Program’ Category

The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 recently spent a weekend at Parker Scout Reservation, the Central Minnesota Council’s camp. One of the highlights of the weekend was a tour of the newest building on the site, the Miller Castle.

The castle was built with Cub Scout camps in mind. The building really does give the impression of a medieval castle nestled in the woods. It features a grassy courtyard surrounded by a 15 foot high masonry wall, complete with an outer catwalk. Inside, the medieval theme continues with banners hanging from the walls, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and suits of armor placed around the great meeting hall. The meeting hall also contains a small stage that is accessible for interior and exterior programs.

The castle was built for year round use. Unlike some of the camp’s buildings, this one includes heating and air conditioning, insulated walls, and insulated windows. There are separate restrooms facilities for boys and girls, and also separate shower facilities for men and women. The two large bunk rooms can sleep 32 Scouts each. There are separate sleeping quarters for the adults. A large modern kitchen is found off the great meeting hall.

When the Melrose Boy Scouts walked up to the castle’s outer walls I could tell they were impressed. As they entered the courtyard the stood and looked around in awe. When they entered the great meeting hall their imaginations were flowing. “We need to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons in here”, they remarked.

I took a few pictures of the boys touring the Miller Castle which I plan to post to the troop’s website in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can check out the photos at the council’s website found at under Camp Parker.

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    The Patrol Leader Council planned it. The committee approved it. The parents and troop members were told about it, and liked it. The Boy Scout Troop 68 program for 2009-2010 is now official.

    The theme for September is campsite safety, with Totin Chip and fire safety being the key points. The troop will attend a merit badge weekend at Parker Scout Reservation as their activity for the month.

    The theme for October will be Personal Fitness and will touch on that merit badge. A weekend camping trip will be held south of town. It is also the month of the Scouting For Food Drive, and the month of the troop’s fall fundraiser.

    In November, the troop will switch from personal fitness to personal management as the meeting theme. The monthly activity will be an all day event which will include skating, a pizza party, a theatrical movie, and late night bowling.

    During the December meetings the Scouts will be reviewing special awards available through the Boy Scouts of America. The troop will spend a day downhill skiing at Powder Ridge and follow that with their annual Christmas Party. The year’s final court of honor (award night) will be held this month, along with the troop auction.

    Citizenship will be the theme for the meetings in January. An overnighter is planned for the month’s activity. Past overnighters have included table tennis, darts, chess, and Wii bowling tournaments. And, of course, their will be movies.

    The B.S.A. will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in February 2009. Troop 68 will begin the month by celebrating Scout Sunday and plan to have several displays about Scouting set up around town. The theme for the month will be Scouting Heritage. A weekend outing at Camp Stearns is the planned activity.

    Family Life merit badge will be the theme for March. The activity will be a camping weekend at parker Scout Reservation, located north of Brainard. The troop will hold a court of honor near the end of the month to recognize Scouts for their achievements.

    The boys will be practicing their first aid skills during the month of April. The troop plans to attend the Central Minnesota Council’s Ripley Rendezvous which will be held at the Camp Ripley National Guard base.

    During May, the Scouts will be honing their roping skills and work on pioneering. Troop 68 will spend a weekend at one of their favorite camping spots, Camp Watchamagumee. The Order of the Arrow’s spring conclave will be held this month.

    The month of June will begin with a paper drive and end with a community project by helping to clean up the city park after the festivities. A camping trip at King’s lake is planned. The year’s second court of honor will be held.

    There will only be one troop meeting during July as the troop prepares to spend a week at Many Point Scout Camp, located north of Park Rapids.

    Troop 68 is planning to cover a new topic in August as we explore the excitement a geocaching and GPS gadgets. A weekend at Minnesota’s Sibley State Park will finish our program year.

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      Boy Scout Troop 68 really did not have a regular meeting place during its first year in 1980, so we would sometimes have our meetings in the clubroom of our sponsor, VFW Post 7050. It worked out fairly well but the boys could not play any rough and tumble games there. Some parents did not think it was very appropriate to hold Boy Scout meetings next to the VFW’s bar but we really did not have many choices at the time.

      The troop held its first (and one of its few) Halloween parties at the VFW clubroom. Of course, it was a costume party and we did have a contest for the best costume. Many of the Boy Scouts participated. We had the typical Frankenstein monsters and vampires. Two of the boys must have had some help from their mothers because they looked pretty good in a wig and dress. One of my favorite costumes was the Scout who came to the party with two heads. I was dressed up as a clothed chimpanzee using facial appliances from a costume kit I bought that was based on the type of makeup used in the Planet of the Ape movies. It was an awesome costume, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, no one thought to take a picture of me.
      It was getting a little late in the season when we decided to have one more overnight camping trip. The leaves had already fallen from the trees but the snow had not yet arrived. We drove several miles north of Melrose to the Lake Sylvia park and public access. We did not realize that camping was not allowed at the park until a sheriff happened to drive by and see us there. He was very nice and very understanding, and allowed us to stay the night but instructed us not to camp there again.
      There was not much to do at the park. It did not take long before a couple of boys picked up some sticks and began having a sword fight. Or was it a lightsaber fight? A couple more boys joined in. Soon, the whole troop had sticks, including the adults. We broke the troop up into two teams for the big battle. It was interesting watching the sword fights take place in (somewhat) slow motion. After all, we did not want bashed fingers or hands.
      After supper the boys competed in a timed obstacle course. The course was created using things found at the park. It included bench jumping, trench leaping, stump leapfrogging, and log crossing, along with other things. The course was a hit with the boys.
      It was about this same time that I moved into an apartment. Some of the boys decided my place would be a great place to hang out. I had a decent stereo system along with a recordable cassette tape player and a couple of microphones. We began making spoof versions of radio and tv shows, recording them onto cassette tapes. I still have a couple of those tapes, but unfortunately, many have been lost over time. Little did I realize at the time that those early shows would develop into my current hobby of making videos and podcasts.
      Isn’t it funny how some things work out?
      Pictures of the year’s activities can be seen by clicking HERE.
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        The year of 1980 was the first full year of the newly reformed Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 which had started up in December of 1979. I joined up with the troop in April as a nineteen year old assistant scoutmaster. There was about 15 youth in the troop at the time, ranging in age from 11 to 13 years old. There was not much of a planned program that first year. We planned things from month to month, but soon we began doing yearly planning with the boys doing most of the planning.

        The troop’s first camping trip was held during the summer at Uhlenkolts Lake, located about six miles from town. The grass was knee high when we arrived. It did not take long before we were pulling off the wood ticks. Lots of wood ticks. One boy came up with the idea of collecting all the ticks in a soda can which we then threw into the evening campfire. We could hear the popping sounds as the ticks exploded in the heat.

        Once it was dark we placed the boys throughout the woods for a snipe hunt. Yeah, I know, we can not do that in today’s Scouting program, but back then it was not a big deal. One of the boys claimed he almost caught one of the elusive birds.

        It was only a one night camping trip but for many of the boys I believe it was the first time camping without their family.

        The troop did not attend a week of summer camp in 1980. There had not been enough time to prepare for it.

        In August, the troop went on a one day canoe trip down the Sauk River which runs through Melrose. The boys and the adults had a great time. We even did a little fishing and swimming. Did we follow the safe swim and safety afloat guidelines? I don’t think so. I do not think anyone even knew about those guidelines yet. That came later after we attended training.

        The troop attended the fall camporee at Parker Scout Reservation in September. In addition to the various activities, I remember waiting in line for Saturday’s supper and our troop receiving a ribbon during the Saturday evening campfire program. But the thing I remember most is the great egg war that involved three troops.

        There was a short time Saturday during which the Scouts had free time. Some of the boys wanted to play catch but no one had thought to bring a ball to camp. A suggestion was made to use an egg. The campsite was shared by three troops so more boys began joining the game. The circle began to grow. The boys began tossing the eggs the more force. Some boys became too cautious about catching the breakable missiles. After a couple eggs were broken a few rules were made. One was that if you threw an egg too hard and the egg broke the catcher of the egg would get to throw an egg back at you.

        The rules worked for awhile. Until someone threw an egg hard at another guy. Of course, the egg broke so the other Scouts were egging him on to throw an egg back. One Scout even ran off to fetch another egg to throw. Anticipation was high. Would the Scout through the egg back or not? I did not think he would. Until he did! That set off the egg battle. Scouts ran back to their camps to fetch the round white breakable ammo. By the time it was over three troops were nearly out of eggs for Sunday breakfast.

        Luckily, no one got hurt, but it sure did make a mess.

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          The Northern Star Council has an interesting website called Scouting: Good For Life. In addition to some local videos and commercials it lists ten reasons that Scouting is good for you life and family. Here is their list:

          1. Scouts are Leaders
            More than two thirds of Scouts say there have been real life situations were Scout experience has helped them be a better leader.
          2. Scouts are Helpful
            Over two thirds of Scouts’ parents and Scouts themselves say their willingness to help other people since their involvement in Scouting has increased.
          3. Scouts are Responsible
            Over two thirds of Scouts’ parents and Scouts themselves say their willingness to take on added responsibility has increased since their involvement in Scouting.
          4. Scouts have Fun with a Purpose
            By enjoying the outdoors and gaining new experiences in the company of friends and mentors, Scouts build confidence and competence.
          5. Scouts earn Better Grades
            Statistically; Scouts earn more “A’s” than their non-Scouting counterparts.
          6. Scouts have Higher Levels of Education
            91% of men who were Scouts completed high school, compared with 87% of men who were never Scouts, and 35% versus 19% earned college degrees!
          7. Scouts earn Higher Incomes
            Men who were Scouts five years or more earned average household incomes of $80,000, compared to $61,000 by men who have never been Scouts.
          8. Scouts are Respectful
            80% of Scouts say that Scouting has taught them to treat others with respect.
          9. Scouts Do Their Best
            78% of scouts say that Scouting has taught them to always give their best effort.
          10. Scouts Live by the Principles of the Scout Oath and Law
            84% of scouts say the values they learned in Scouting continue to be very important to them today.

          The site can be found at

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            The Sauk River runs through the city of Melrose, the home of Boy Scout Troop 68. This river nearly cuts the city in half. It is not very large. In fact, A teenager could through a football across most portions of the river. Below the dam in Melrose, in the city park, a person can walk across the river and not even get your chest wet.

            The Sauk is an “old” river, with a lot of twists and turns as it flows from Sauk Centre to the Mississippi River in St. Cloud. It is actually a nice river for canoeing. It is quite scenic, and at times you will not see any signs of civilization. But it also has its challanges. There are curves of strong currents, downed trees, and the occassional wire fence stretched acrossed its width.

            Yes, you read that correctly. The Sauk River meanders through a lot of farmland and pasture. There are parts of the river in which a farmer owns pasture land on both sides of the river so he stretches a single wire across the river to keep the cattle from “escaping” the pasture. There are many wire fences along the bank of the river. Many of them are electified with enough current to keep the cattle from walking through it.

            In 1994, the troop was canoeing down the river for a weekend outing. We had permission from one of the farmers to camp overnight in his pasture. Between the river and the pasture was an electric and barbwire fence. The Scouts were very careful as they moved the gear from the canoes to the campsite. No one wanted to receive an electric shock.

            After supper, some of the guys became bored. A couple of them walked up to the fence and decided to see how strong the current was by giving it a quick touch. More boys joined the crowd. They noticed that some guys received a larger shock then other guys due to the soles of the shoes.

            They began experimenting. Two guys grabbed hands. One would touch the fence to see if the second would receive a shock. A third joined the line. It did not take long before all the guys had formed one line to see who would get a jolt, and how far the current would travel. After a short period the boys grew tired of this and began looking for other things to do.

            The following morning was cool. A heavy dew covered the ground. An 18 year old alumni of the troop who had joined us for the weekend walked out of the tent in his barefeet. He walked across the dew covered campsite and, for some unknown reason, grabbed the electric fence. His yelp was loud enough to alert the whole camp that the current was still flowing through the wire.

            As we loaded the gear into the canoes the Scouts were very careful handing the packs and bundles over the fence. No one wanted to experience the same shock that the eighteen year old had received that morning.

            View some pictures of the trip at

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              Last year, during one of our Boy Scout troop meetings, the whole troop ended up in the emergency room of our local hospital. Oh, don’t worry. There were no serious injuries. Our theme for the month was first aid so our committee chairperson set up a tour of the hospital’s emergency room and facilities.

              Melrose is a community of 3300 people, but we have a very well staffed hospital. Our emergency room is not as big and chaotic as the one in the television show, or as a big city hospital would be. Our E.R. only has three beds but is fully equipped to handle most emergencies, from heart attacks to car crashes. Luckily for the troop, it was not being used while we were there for our visit.

              The nurse was a great tour guide. She was very patient with the Scouts and answered all their questions very professionally. I think there were a couple of times a few of the boys were being grossed out, but you know teenage boys. They like being grossed out.

              The nurse began our tour in the entry/garage for the ambulance. Almost immediately, the boys started asking questions. “Has anyone ever died in here?” The nurse told us that sometimes people die on the way to the hospital while being transported by the ambulance, and sometimes they may die in the hospital.

              The emergency room was out next stop. The nurse explained the uses for the many pieces of equipment found in the room. The boys were very interested in the “shockers” that are used on some heart attack patients. They were surprised to see the drills and other equipment used to puncture hip and shoulder bones. The various kinds of I.V.’s and fluids also caught their interest.

              The nurse lead the troop to the surgery room. Due to the sterile environment needed in there we did not actually get to enter the room, but we were able to look through the door windows into the staff prep room. Once again, the nurse gave a nice but brief summary of the things that happen in the area.

              The tour lasted a bit over thirty minutes which was just enough time to give everyone a basic understanding of the E.R. and still have enough time to return to our meeting location (the school gym) and play a game, have a quick patrol meeting, and have our closing.

              The troop thanks the staff of the Melrose Centracare Hospital for allowing us to tour their facility.

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                The Cub Scouts of the Central Minnesota Council will have quite a surprise when they attend Day Camp this year the Parker Scout Reservation. The medieval them will come to life like never before with the completion of the new Miller Castle. Yeah, you read that correctly. A castle! Complete with a courtyard surrounded by masonry walls and towers at the corners.

                During last night’s district roundtable we were shown pictures of the nearly completed castle. I will not lie. I was impressed. From the masonry exterior to the medieval decor on the interior of the building it appears to have captured the feel of the “knights of old” very well.

                Of course, the castle includes all of today’s modern conveniences. The building is well insulated and heated for year round use. It has a large modern kitchen and a large “commons” room for dining and activities. There are separate bathroom and shower facilities for the youth and adults. A “barracks”, complete with bunk beds, is available for troops and packs who wish to use the building for overnight stays. The basement adds one more storm shelter to the camp, in addition to a large storage area for program materials.

                I am looking forward to going to Parker this spring and touring the castle. I believe it will be a great addition to the camp and will help to increase the number of Scouts, packs, and troops who use the facilities.

                Pictures of the Miller Castle can be seen at our council’s website at .

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