Archive for the ‘camping’ Category


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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    Birch Lake State Forest 2013I walked into my house shortly after nine o’clock tonight and I smelled it almost immediately. Smoke! No, it was not the house on fire or anything like that. It was me. More specifically, my clothes. You see, I stopped by the Birch Lake State Forest campground tonight to visit the nine Boy Scouts of Troop 68 who were camping this weekend. And as is so common when standing around a campfire, the smoke seemed to follow me no matter where I stood around the ring.

    When the Scouts left for the campground last night (Friday) the weather was wonderful. The sun was shining. It was just cool enough to wear a jacket or not, depending on how warm blooded you were. It was going to be a cool but clear night, great for camping.

    But this afternoon (Saturday) a low front moved into the area and the rain began. I kept thinking about the Scouts as I sat in my warm, dry living room at home. Four of the nine Scouts had just joined the troop. This was their first Scout overnight weekend camping experience. I wondered if they had brought raingear. Were they having a good time or were they miserable and wanting to go home?

    I was invited to my parents for supper. It was still raining slightly when I left their home, but instead of turning to the left I turned to the right and headed out of town to Birch Lake State Forest to pay the Scout troop a quick visit. The park was less than ten miles from town. It was raining lightly when I arrived at their campsite. Only four of the nine Scouts were there to greet me. The other five had gone fishing. I soon discovered that all the boys were having a good time, even though they were damp. I did not hear any of them say a word about going home.

    As darkness fell the Scouts wanted me to tell a story, but not a scary one. We decided on a story with suspense, not too scary, since there were first time campers among us. The story chosen was the Purple Gorilla. Yes, it was a long story that took place out in the middle of nowhere, during a terrible thunderstorm, that brought the main character of our story to a lonely old rundown looking farm place with no cell phone coverage. The new Scouts were listening to every word. Even the Boy Scouts who heard the story last spring paid attention to hear how I changed up the story a bit. This was the first time that cell phone became a major prop in the story.

    After the story, and the end of the rain, we left the shelter of the tarp we were sitting under, and stood around the campfire. As the fire died and the coals glowed bright, it was time for me to teach the boys a couple campfire songs. The first was a song I learned as a Boy Scout at summer camp in the mid 1970′s, “The Hole in the Ground Song”. The second song I learned at Many Point Scout Camp in the 1980′s, “Vista!” Both are “repeat after me” type songs that get faster as the song goes on. I think the boys had fun signing them. I know my voice was just about shot when I was done. It was time for me to go home.

    Sunday morning, after breakfast and one last time fishing, the Scouts will came back to town and end their camping trip. I have a feeling they all will be counting this trip as one for the good memories mental scrapbook. I was only there for two hours and I can tell you I added it to mine.

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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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        flint and steelCamp Watchamagumee was the place to be for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 during the weekend of May 17-19. The six Scouts, including four new members, and two adult leaders may have got a bit damp during the evening hours but they had a lot of fun during the day.

        Friday night was a pretty laid back schedule. The troop left Melrose about 6:30 pm. The boys spent the evening setting up camp, reviewing fire safety rules, and enjoyed sitting around the campfire until the first drops of rain send them running for the safety of their tents.

        The Scouts had a busy Saturday schedule. After breakfast they worked on their advancement and began building their primitive shelters that would would sleep in that night. It did not take long to discover that the boys did not bring along enough tarps and plastic sheets to build what they wished to build. After a lunch of baked beans and hot dogs roasted over an open fire the troop played a round of nine holes of disc golf.

        Saturday afternoon was time for the annual Egg Drop Competition. Each of the Scouts received a raw egg. Their challenge was to create a package for their egg using other natural materials found around the campsite. These packages would than be dropped from higher and higher distances until only one egg remained. Daniel Klassen was this year’s Egg Drop Competition winner. He took home a Boy Scout campfire cooking grille as his prize.

        The next event tested the Boy Scouts fire making skills. Each boy was to start a fire and keep it going long enough to burn through a string seven inches above the ground. Matches were not allowed for this contest. The Scouts needed to start their fires using flint and steel. A strong wind turned out to be the villain of this event. Even though the Scouts created hundreds of sparks, the wind blew out many of the flames the boys were hoping to use to start their fires. Alex Engelmeyer was the troop’s winner of this competition.

        The boys finished the afternoon by finishing their primitive shelters, playing a couple of games, and making a great supper of fried potatoes and spaghetti and meat sauce. There was not much food left over. The boys had worked up quite an appetite.

        A short chapel service was held at 7:30 that evening. This was followed with the boys moving their sleeping bags and pads into their primitive shelters for the night. As the Scouts gathered for the evening campfire they learned a troop song about Camp Watchamagumee, heard the story of the Purple Gorilla, and learned how to protect themselves from a wolfen attack.

        Half of the Scouts discovered that their primitive shelters did not do a sufficient job of keeping them dry once the rain showers moved in overnight, but a couple did stay in their shelter for the entire night. Important lessons were learned which will be used the next time they build a shelter, which could be as soon as their June weekend outing.

        Attending the Watchamagumee outing were Boy Scouts Alex, Daniel, Zack, Adrian, Sam, and Macoy. Adult leaders for the weekend were Scoutmaster Jim and assistant scoutmaster Eymard. Committee member Steve provided program assistance. The troop would also like to thank Melvin and Vern Klassen for allowing them to use their land for the outing.

        More pictures of this outing can be found on the troop’s website.
        http://melrosetroop68.org/yearlygalleries/yh13.html#Camp_Watchamagumee .

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          First of all, let us get something straight. When I say camping I mean staying overnight in a tent or sleeping under the stars. I do not consider staying in a cabin, lodge, or barracks as camping. Camping is sleeping outside, not in a building. Now that we have that understanding…

          I have not camped out even one night during 2012, and it looks as if this year will be my first year without a camping trip since 1979. I began camping with the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 when I became an assistant scoutmaster in 1980. There were a lot of camping trips during the next 32 years, both long term and short term outings.

          This is not to say that I did not attend any troop activities this year. I did attend a weekend outing at Camp Stearns in  March, but we stayed in a lodge. I did spend most of a day at Camp Watchamagumee in May but I did not spend the night. I did visit the troop for a day at Many Point Scout Camp in July but left when it was time for the evening campfire program. I was going to spend the weekend with the boys for a June camping trip at Kings Lake but it was cancelled due to a lack of participants. The August canoe trip was attended by several parents so there was no need for me to tag along. I was going on a weekend camping trip with some former troop members in May, but it rained that weekend and everyone backed out.

          It seems strange not to use my camping gear. Usually, I would have to pack up for at least five or six outing each year. My rain gear remains dry. My cot remains folded and my mat remains rolled. My eating utensils remain clean. It is kind of weird, but it was my own choice. I wanted the Scouts, parents, and new adult leadership to understand that I really have stepped down as the scoutmaster and that they should not be relying on me to attend the troop’s outings as they have in the past.

          Will I get back into camping with the troop during 2013? I am not sure yet. We will have to see how things turn out, but yes, I would enjoy camping with the Scouts again in the great Minnesota outdoors. I think everyone now understands that we have a new scoutmaster but that I am there if I am needed. Besides, I enjoy camping and I think I still have a skill set to offer the troop.

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            The year was 1986. It was a good year for the Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 program. There was a large membership for Troop 68, and good turnout for the monthly activities and courts of honor. Winter camp, a primitive campout, the Ripley Rendezvous, a Scout-O-Rama, and a local camporee were just some of the events. It was the first year we sent a crew to Philmont Scout Ranch. I recently finished a video featuring pictures from the year which I hope to share with the troop alumni. I thought you might enjoy traveling back in time also and see what the troop program looked like in 1986.

            Were you a Boy Scout in 1986?

            Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
            Or watch it online at the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast channel at PTC Media.

            Subscribe to Melrose Scout Productions Podcast through iTUNES  (and rate the show)
            or at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
            Don’t forget to leave feedback here, at iTunes, or on the forums at PTC Media.

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              I may not have spent the week with The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 at Many Point Scout Camp this summer, but I did spend Friday with them, and I had a great time. Of course, when it came to meal time, I had to stand in line with the troop and wait to be dismissed to the dining hall with the Scouts. The staff always leads the campers in a song before the meal. This time the leaders picked their “faaaavorite song”, My Dog Rover. It is a simple to learn song that enjoys pun filled humor. I am sure you have heard it before at a camp somewhere, but if you have not here is a new song that your troop can add to its list a fun campfire songs.

              What pun-named dogs would you add to this song?

              Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
              Or watch it online at the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast channel at PTC Media.

              Subscribe to Melrose Scout Productions Podcast through iTUNES  (and rate the show)
              or at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
              Leave feedback here, at iTunes, or on the forums at PTC Media.

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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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