Archive for the ‘camping’ 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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    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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        Philmont PatchToday is the day! Today marks the one millionth camper at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. That is a lot of Scouts! To commemorate this milestone a new patch has gone on sale at the Tooth Of Time Traders website. What do you think of this patch?

        I wanted to buy this patch last month when I was at the Philmont Training Center but they were not selling them yet. The Philmont decision makers decided to wait until this date to release the patch for sale. I did get to see the patch while I was there. They had already given them out to the staff members and one of them showed me his patch as we hiked one afternoon to see the T-Rex footprint. I will admit I was a little envious, but I got over it.

        Bob and I will now have to go to the website to place our order, which can be found at the Tooth of Time Traders site listed below.  http://www.toothoftimetraders.com/2014-Adventure-Patch/PABAADJPFCJOEKNF/Product .

        Do you plan to buy this patch and add it to your collection?

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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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            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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