Archive for the ‘Lessons’ Category

patc1(The following article was written by Pat Christenson, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Pat was a member of the troop from 1994 to 2001. He earned the Star Rank. It is the second of a few guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

Scouting was an invaluable time in my life that gave me a great background of experience and abilities that I find useful every day. Whether it is tying knots, starting fires, camping, using a knife properly, or just a state of mind as to how I may approach a given challenge, many things lead back to Scouting. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that it was just a lot of fun!

Probably the biggest lesson I learned in Scouting that I still fall back on to this day is to “be prepared.” I always keep this motto in mind as I go about my daily life. I try not to let things catch me by surprise and if there is anything I can do ahead of time to prepare for what’s in store, I will take the time to do so. Sometimes I may take a little too much time to prepare (just ask my wife), but I can’t begin to tell you how much this has lead my life in a great direction.

The other major lesson that I still try to maintain to this day is to “do a good turn daily.” This is an important reminder that what you do affects others, and you should always try to look for something good you can do to help others. By having this frame of mind, you will always be ready to lend a hand, or pitch in when needed and help make our society great. If everyone took the time to think of others and try to think of even just one thing a day to give to others or their community, this world would be a much better place. As much as I may have groaned about it as a teenager, doing the tasks to help out the community, like road cleanup, or helping to collect food for the food shelf, are things that I can look back on in my younger years and feel proud of. Those tasks give you a sense of worth that is very important in life.

As far as abilities, there are many things I feel confident about based on my time in Scouting. I learned many survival skills such as starting a fire, or making a shelter. I learned how to be a good steward of the environment and to leave any area better than when I arrived. This knowledge gives me a great deal of confidence that if I were to be in a situation where I was lost or stranded, I would know what to do.

Now, how about the really fun part! I was able to participate in many activities that I more than likely wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for Scouting. The biggest one for me was going backpacking at Philmont Scout Ranch. I have so many great memories of that trip, and it was an experience of a lifetime. It started with a road trip to New Mexico from Minnesota. Somehow, we ended up in a van that only had AM radio, but we made it through! We then spent the next several days backpacking over 70 miles through the hills and mountains, and participating in activities on the way. The guys that I was able to go with were a ton of fun. I can still hear Jay telling terrible jokes as we went to sleep and Brent busting a gut laughing. I definitely wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for scouting.

There were many other activities that I enjoyed as well. We camped many times and in Scouting you are really given a lot of responsibility. You are given a budget and are tasked with preparing meals from start to finish, including the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. This definitely gives you a good perspective on how much work goes into planning and cooking meals at home as a kid. There were plenty of times when things didn’t work out so great and you also had to deal with the consequences of that. We weren’t all top chefs anyway! I think that is another great thing about Scouting in that you learn that things are not always given and prepared for you. You have to learn to fend for yourself and be responsible and accountable.

I had a lot of great times in scouting. I made some great friends, I made lifelong memories and I learned how to be a good citizen. It is a time I will always cherish and be proud of.

From a former scout,

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    nathanb1(The following article was written by Nathan Blommel, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Nathan was a Boy Scout from 1988 to 1993. He has earned the Life Rank. This is the first of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

    What Scouting means to me?
    Scouting has taught me many things in life. As a scout, Scouting exposed me to fun activities, gave me a sense of pride and belonging, taught me about being responsible, and gave me many fond memories about summer camp and high adventure camp.

    Fun Activities
    Scouting introduced things to me that I would not have experienced if I had not been in Scouting including: hiking, camping (both in the summer and winter), downhill skiing, pizza parties, roller skating parties, pinewood derby races, and bowling.

    Sense of Pride and Belonging
    Although selling tickets for a scout breakfast, or selling wrapping paper or popcorn, or helping out with Adopt-A-Highway, wasn’t something that I looked forward to, it taught me about working hard to accomplish a goal. Whether that goal was a troop goal or a personal goal (to raise money for an upcoming trip), it taught me that nothing is ever given to us and that we need to work hard for everything that we have. Scouting also allowed me to get to meet more friends and get to know others in the community. To this day I keep in touch with friends who I met through Scouting whom I never would have had a chance to meet if it weren’t for Scouting.

    Summer Camp/High Adventure Camp
    Summer camp was always a blast because it allowed you to have a week to be with friends. In addition, you got to work on projects and complete a number of merit badges. It was the week of the summer that you looked forward to so you could be away from home to learn and do new things. My favorite memories of summer camp include frisbee golf, the campfires (with other troops involved), canoeing, cooking, and sail boating.
    One of our troop’s high adventure camps that we attended was Philmont Scout Ranch. Philmont is located in New Mexico and consists of more than 214 square miles of camping/hiking. Philmont was where we spent 10 days hiking/back-packing in the mountains. Fond memories include: learning how to live on bare essentials, enjoying and appreciating the views and valleys of the mountains, doing team activities, and encountering live animals (including a bear).

    Do I take anything that I learned from scouting and pass it on my family?
    Yes, my son is active in Cub Scouts. Although I wasn’t real active with Cub Scouts (I did a lot more with Boy Scouts), when my son expressed an interest in Cub Scouts, I made sure to get him signed up because I knew he would get to experience so many fun things. He has been involved with scouting for less than a year and he has done many fun activities including the raingutter regatta, pinewood derby race, planting flowers, geocaching, touring a grocery store, attending a city council meeting, touring the airport, and building a model rocket.

    Because of scouting, I love camping and being outdoors. As a family, we take numerous camping trips each year. Our family enjoys being outside together, fishing, and hiking, and of course- having campfires.
    Another cool thing that I have passed on to our family is the game “Roses and Thorns”. Each night before bed, our kids tell us what their rose and thorn was for the day. We’ve been doing this since they were very young. My wife and I enjoy it because we learn a lot about what was their favorite thing and their least favorite thing about the day. At times, we are quite surprised with their answers. I know our kids like playing it too because they are always listening to each others’ answers and they sometimes will say something like, “Really, that was your thorn? I thought your thorn would have been…”

    In conclusion, Scouting means a lot to me and my family. I’m very excited to watch my son in scouting and I hope that he gets as much out of it as I did.

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      FirstClassSmallThe Boy Scouts of America offers a unique youth program. It has five distinct features that other clubs and organizations do not offer today’s youth. Granted, some clubs do offer one or two of these features, but no other youth organization offers all five of them.

      What are these features that makes Scouting so special?

      Scouting is a value based program. The B.S.A. asks boys to take an oath when they join, and then live up to that oath. Scouting teaches values, promotes good citizenship, and provides good adult role models. The program is diversified. It is not the same thing every day as some youth activities can be. In fact, Scouting compliments other organizations by providing program that they may be missing.

      Developing leadership is another feature of Scouting. The boys plan their own troop program. They learn new things through hands-on experiences, not just by text book learning. They will receive the chance to be a leader by holding a position of responsibility in the troop. (Troop 68 holds elections every 6 months so many of its members will be given the chance to hold a troop or patrol office.)

      Scouting is an educational program. Through the advancement program a boy will learn many new skills. Some of these will be just for fun, but many will help him later on in life. Subjects introduced through the merit badge program may help a boy discover a new life-long hobby or even a career choice. As he earns his merit badges and ranks he is recognized in front of his parents and peers for his accomplishments. This builds self esteem and helps him to develop a sense of pride.

      Scouting encourages service to the community. An important part of Scouting is doing service for others. The Scout Slogan states that a Scout will “Do a Good Turn Daily”. Troops do countless hours of service conducting food drives, road and park cleanups, and conservation work, to name a few. By doing service a boy develops a pride in his community, a pride that will carry into adulthood.

      Scouting can be a vehicle to bring families together. Many families find scouting to be a neutral topic, one in which parents and children can participate together. It offers parents a chance to spend ‘quality time’ with their sons. And the program is already there. All you have to do is participate.

      The Scouting program does has its advantages. And families that participate in the program can attest that Scouting pays good dividends.

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        FirstClassSmallTwo Boy Scouts attended a committee meeting recently. One came for his Star Rank board of review, the other to ask some questions about his Eagle Rank. After talking to both Scouts we discovered it may be time to spend a portion of each troop meeting talking about the basics of Scouting. You know, those things boys learn when they first become Boy Scouts but have forgotten over the years. In other words, it was time for a refresher course.

        The Boy Scouts are very good with reciting the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan, and Motto. They stumble a bit when asked what the twelve points mean, or what are the three duties of the Scout Oath. What should a Scout be prepared for, and how exactly does one do that?

        I talked to the scoutmaster and the senior patrol leader about this subject. I offered to do a ten minute review at the end of each troop meeting covering one topic of the basics. The SPL smiled and told me he would time me and let me know when I reached my ten minutes. He is such a sweet kid. I guess I better keep the talks short and to the point.

        Here is a list of some of the topics I plan to cover:
        The meaning of the Scout Law, and the Scout Oath.
        Wearing the uniform properly and proudly.
        The Scout sign, slogan, and handclasp.
        Advancement double dipping.
        Preparing for a board of review.
        Flag editcate. Uses for basic knots.
        Meaning of the Scout emblem.

        Like I said, these short talks are not meant to teach the basics, although new Scouts may learn a few things, but are meant to refresh the Boy Scouts’ memories. To tell the truth, I know a few adult leaders who could benefit from listening to these discussions.

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          As active members of the Boy Scouts of America we all do our best do follow the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. I recently received an email from a friend in Europe that listed some other excellent suggestions to live by. See what you think of these…

          1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
          2. Marry a someone you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
          3. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.
          4. When you say, ‘I love you,’ mean it.
          5. When you say, ‘I’m sorry,’ look the person in the eye.
          6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
          7. Believe in love at first sight.
          8. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.
          9.  Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely.
          10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
          11. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
          12. Talk slowly but think quickly.
          13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer,  smile and ask, ‘Why do you want to know?’
          14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great  risk.
          15. Say ‘bless you’ when you hear someone sneeze.
          16. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
          17. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.
          18. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
          19. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
          20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
          21. Spend some time alone.

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            Cub Scout Pack 68 of Melrose held their first meeting of the new program year last week Tuesday at the high school cafeteria. After the opening ceremony, Cubmaster Mark sat down with the new and older Cub Scouts for a short talk. Then the boys split off by age group to different tables to create posters representing their dens. At least one parent sat down with each group to help get them started.

            It was fun watching the Scouts get down to business. Crayons, markers, foam sheets, and glue were available to create the 18″ x 24″ tag board posters. The foam sheets allowed the boys to add a third dimension to their artwork.

            The six Webelos Scouts went right to work. It did not take them long to agree to a Webelos Team Ninja theme. There was only one Bear Scout and one Wold Scout in attendance so they worked together to create a poster featuring a bear print and a wolf print. The first grade Tigers needed a little help getting started but in a short time they were just as focused on their masterpiece as were the Webelos Scouts.

            Once the cubmaster saw that the boys were all busy he called the parents together in another part of the room for a short meeting. After several minutes I noticed a couple of the mothers glancing around the room with confused looks on their faces. I knew it was not about anything the cubmaster was talking about so I asked them what was on their mind. At least two of them were surprised to see the boys still working together on their posters without any adult supervision at any table.

            That is right folks! The Cub Scout dens were completing a goal on their own without an adult looking over their shoulder and telling them what they should do. Even the first graders were working hard. Granted, the parents were still in the room but the boys were working on their own, by age group, each group working together on their poster. And they were having fun!

            I honestly believe this may have been the first time these mothers have noticed their sons working and playing with other boys without having an adult watching over their shoulder and guiding their every move for more then two minutes at a time. Kind of amazing, isn’t it?

            Welcome to the world of Scouting!


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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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                It is not a secret. Some Boy Scouts get nervous when it is time to do a scoutmaster conference for a rank. As a scoutmaster I do my best to put the Scout at ease and we usually get through it without a problem. Although there was the time when I held my first Eagle Scout conference back in the late 1980’s. That young man was so nervous that he could not recite the Scout Oath, even though he had repeated it at troop meetings for over six years. Ah, the memories.

                One of the Boy Scouts recently came to the house for his Star Rank scoutmaster conference. He was accompanied by his mother. It did not take long to realize that he was nervous, and that having his mother sitting across the room from him was not helping matters. In fact, I think it was making it worse.

                Let me set the stage for you. My front door opens into my living room. To the right, in front of the picture window, is the sofa. Across the room are two rocking recliners. At one end of the room is a gliding rocker chair. At the other end is the television and bookcases. When the Boy Scout arrived he sat down on the left end of the sofa, near the door. His mother sat in one of the recliners. I grabbed the troop record book and sat down on the sofa to the Scout’s right.

                Like I said, it did not take long to realize this Scout was a little nervous. I also noticed that he kept looking at his mother as he answered several of the questions, instead of answering to me. I moved to the other recliner across the room. This helped in that he now had an easier time looking toward me but he still looked toward his mother, as if looking for approval of his answers and comments. His mother was also commenting on some of the subjects we were discussing.

                I thought it might be better to make a few changes. I asked the Boy Scout if he was a bit nervous. He replied that he was. I asked him if having his mother sitting across the room was adding to his nervous. He said yes so I offered a new seating arrangement. I asked his mother to sit in the gliding rocker at the end of the room. I had the Scout sit in the recliner his mother had been using. This put the Scout between me and his mother, thus putting his mother out of his line of sight. I also asked his mother not to respond to any questions unless they were directed to her. She understood and pulled out her smartphone to play with.

                The seating arrangement did help. Once his mother was “out of the picture” the Scout was more relaxed and had an easier time talking to me. He may have still been a little nervous but the discussion moved along much better. He passed his Star Rank scoutmaster conference and his now ready for his board of review.

                Have you had any interesting experiences during a scoutmaster conference? Leave a response and tell us about it.

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