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.
Archive for the ‘Program’ Category
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Scouts earn Better Grades
Statistically; Scouts earn more “A’s” than their non-Scouting counterparts.
- 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!
- 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.
- Scouts are Respectful
80% of Scouts say that Scouting has taught them to treat others with respect.
- Scouts Do Their Best
78% of scouts say that Scouting has taught them to always give their best effort.
- 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 http://www.scoutinggoodforlife.org/
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 http://melrosetroop68.org/Web%20site%20yearly%20highlights/yh94.html
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.
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 http://www.bsacmc.org/camp_parker.htm .
The outing begins with a few hours of rollerskating at a local roller rink in St. Cloud. “Rollerskating?” you ask. Yes, rollerskating, or inline skating. The boys still enjoy getting out once a year to skate. The younger boys learn how to skate while the older boys like to do some socializing. It is still a great social activity.
After the work-out at the roller rink, the troop heads to their favorite pizza place for supper. We have discovered that four boys per large pizza seems to work out well. As we eat, the Scouts review the day at the rink and talk about other subjects interesting to the life of teenage boys.
One topic that must be discussed is which movie to see when we leave the pizzeria. Of course, this being a Scout activity, no R rated movies will be allowed. A PG-13 movie could be allowed depending on the reason for the movie, and how strong that reason is. For some reason, I do not think that the new movie Twilight will be high on the list today. I think we will be going to the new James Bond flick.
The final activity of the day is Midnight Bowling at the local bowling alley. This will take place from 11:30 pm to 1:00 am. I am amazed by how much energy the boys still have at this point of the day. (Of course, some Mountain Dew helps things along.) They are usually still going strong, looking to bowl that perfect game, or at least get a strike on their score sheet.
I have heard from many parents over the years that the boys fall asleep quickly once they arrive at home. They usually sleep as late as they are allowed on Sunday morning.
I will admit that this is not your typical Boy Scout outing, but it is a part of our boy-planned yearly program. It is an activity that most of the boys enjoy, and it is very well attended. In fact, nine of the ten members of the troop will be going along today. It has proven to be a good one-day activity for these Minnesota winter months.
There are some people in our society that think children should play games in which there are no clear winners. They think everyone should be a winner so that nobody’s feelings get hurt. There are some people in Boy Scouting that share these same thoughts. Everyone wins, no one loses.
Sorry, but I do not share that sentiment. Life is made up of winners and losers. Just ask the guy that got the job that the other guy really wanted. Or the high school basketball player who missed the winning shot. Or the Cub Scout who won the Pinewood Derby.
Having winners and losers is not the problem. How we act when we win or lose is more important. Or, as parents and adult leaders, how we treat the winners or losers is the most important thing.
Professional sports is all about winning or losing. I can understand this since these sports are actually an entertainment business. Millions of dollars are on the line. But the players, coaches, and team owners do not always set a good example of graceful winning or losing.
I do not like that same attitude used at the high school level. I am not a fan of parents, coaches, and schools applying a “win or nothing” attitude on their teenage players. Get rid of that “only winners count” attitude. It can be extremely stressful to the players. Yes, there should be competition, and yes, there needs to be a winner and a loser, but how we adults treat the two will demonstrate whether we provide a harmful environment or a growing environment for the students and players.
In the Scouting program we try to provide a growing and learning environment. We do not want to provide an atmosphere where winners mock the losers. Ideally, we want the winners to help the others to do a better job the next time. We want the winners to help the losers become winners also! We want everyone to “do their best”.
We play a lot of games in our troop, both by team and individually. Each team and Scout tries hard to win. He does his best to win. Yes, we do have winners and losers. The difference is that we do not let the winners gloat over the losers. Oh, there might be a minute of high fives, or a couple of comments, but the boys do it in the spirit of fun, not out of spite. In three minutes they don’t even care anymore because they have moved on to the next activity. To tell the truth, there have been many times when the Scouts are playing a game when they do not even try hard to keep a score. They are more concerned about having fun than they are about a scorecard.
I guess you could say the boys have learned the lesson. Winning or losing is not as important as having fun and being with your friends is. And as adults we need to remember that how we treat the winners and losers is the the most important thing of all. Our attitudes can make winners out of the losers too.