Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

A Time To TellThe theme for the Boy Scout Troop 68 meetings in April was personal safety. The troop had a local police officer come to the first meeting to talk to the Scouts about how to stay safe and what sort of things officers look out for when dealing with youth. It was my turn to talk about safety during the second troop meeting. I grabbed my flat screen television with the built-in DVD player and my copy of A Time To Tell. We would be watching some of the videos during the meeting.

A Time To Tell is a series of videos produced by the Boy Scouts of America. The DVD contains five videos. According to the website: With introductions and “reality checks” by teens for teens, A Time to Tell presents a variety of situations that young people may encounter. These scenes stress the importance of the three R’s of Youth Protection: Recognize strategies and situations used by child molesters to isolate an adolescent that can lead to attempted molestation; Resist attempts of child molesters; and Report individuals who attempt to molest or who have molested in the past.

Due to the subject matter of the videos I invited all the parents to attend and watch the films with the Scouts. Several of them took the offer. Due to the time limit I was only able to show three of the videos. After each video I would ask the Scouts a couple questions and hold a short discussion. Later, as the boys played during their game time, I had the chance to talk to the parents. They all agreed that the videos did a good job of getting the message across to the boys and that we did a good job of highlighting the important parts of the videos.

Have you ever used the A Time To Tell videos within your own troop? How did the Scouts react?

As a scoutmaster I constantly preached about having a campfire “cold out” before going to bed or leaving a campsite. The Boy Scouts probably got tired of me being on their case when I discovered a fire ring of which I was told was cold, but my hand said otherwise. Too bad. I was the scoutmaster, and it was my job to train these young men how to camp safely and responsibly. Get the water bucket and get that fire COLD OUT!

A couple of my neighbors came over Tuesday night to help remove a few dead branches from a large tree in my backyard. I ended up with a nice pile of new firewood and a lot of branches to burn. Wednesday night I decided to have a campfire using my newfound fuel wood. For nearly three hours I, along with my nephew, enjoyed sitting around, shooting the breeze, and burning a large pile of dead wood and branches. We never let the fire outgrow the fire ring, and I had my garden hose next to my chair just in case any little sparks tried starting a new fire on the dry lawn. I even wetted the lawn around the fire site before I began burning anything. You can never be too safe you know. (All that BSA training!)

When 9:00 arrived I decided to start letting the fire die down to coals and quit putting new fuel on the flames. There was already a large pile of coals. At 10:00 I decided it was time to go inside and call it a night. I wet down the fire, stirred the coals, wet it one more time, and stirred the coals again. I put my hand over the fire site and felt a little warmth, but nothing really hot. I went inside the house.

At 1:30 I woke up and went into the kitchen for a glass of milk. I looked out the window and noticed there were a few red coals glowing in the fire ring. That is interesting, I thought. Did I go outside and put out the coals? No, I did not. I went back to bed.

In the morning I woke up, ate breakfast, and prepared to go to work. I thought I should check out the fire ring as I walked by it on the way to the garage. I put my hand near what I thought should be cold coals, but I felt some heat. Not burning hot, but very warm. Did I take the garden hose to the fire remains? No. I walked into the garage, hopped into the car, and went to work.

I decided to eat lunch at home. The warm coals had been nagging the back of my mind all morning. Before I even made lunch I walked to the backyard to check out the fire ring. The first thing I noticed was that there was more white ash then there had been when I left for work. My hand quickly determined there was more heat then this morning also. I did not see any red coals but there definitely was something smoldering inside that decorative metal ring. I turned on the garden hose and drenched the coals and stirred them well. I did not need the neighborhood going up in flames after I left to go back to work.

When I arrived home tonight I walked straight to the fire ring. This time it was cold out. There was not any heat or warmth to be felt. But it had me thinking about it all day. Even after 15 hours of “putting out” the fire there was still enough heat to turn coals to ash. I had better start practicing a COLD cold out test from now on. It would be quite embarrassing for this retired scoutmaster to start a lawn fire in his own neighborhood.

Maybe I should tear off a corner of my Firem’n Chit card?

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.

The Cub Scouts of Pack 68 had a special field trip on Tuesday, April 26, 2011. Two members of the local volunteer fire department gave the boys a tour of the firehall and of the trucks used by the fireman. The Scouts were able to see some of the equipment used by the men.

After the tour, the boys received an awesome treat when they were allowed to sit in the firetrucks and see what it is like behind the steering wheel of these large trucks. They enjoyed themselves, and I am sure this is one day they will remember for a long time.

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Have you read it yet? If not, you should. The plot is riveting. The characters are interesting. The story’s climax will leave you waiting for the sequel. Okay, okay. The Guide To Safe Scouting (G2SS) is not quite that exciting, but it is a good book that every Cub Pack and Boy Scout Troop leader should read and have a copy kept nearby. There is a lot of useful information in it, and it can help you through some troubled events. For example, do you have a problem with a boy that continually misbehaves or hurts other boys, and nothing you try seems to help?  The G2SS has an app guideline for that. It states:

All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Law. Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, and drugs and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout’s membership in the unit.

If you do not have a copy of the Guide To Safe Scouting you should get one today. Stop by your Scout office or go to to download a pdf version.

Merit Badge AppSo, you are a Boy Scout, or a Boy Scout leader, who has an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Did you know that there are a few apps available just for you in the Apple iTunes App store? Yep, that’s right. There are now apps available for the Scouting geek in us. These apps range in price from $.99 to $9.99. Too bad they are not free.

The Boy Scout Handbook – $9.99 – Here is the complete version of the latest handbook for your favorite gadget.

eBook, Boy Scout Handbook – $2.99 – Here is a copy of the first edition Boy Scout Handbook.

Merit Badges – $.99 – Would you like a copy of the requirements for each of the merit bdages available to you on your iPod? Here is your wish fulfilled.

Guide To Safe Scouting – $2.99 – This one is for all the adult leaders out there that have an iPhone or Ipod Touch.

ScoutTracker – $1.99 – Keep track of one Boy Scout’s requirements as he earns the various Boy Scout Ranks.

Unfortunately, I do not own am iPhone or iPod Touch, yet. I own an iPod Classic. I am waiting for the iPod Touch to come out with a camera. However, that has not stopped me from downloading some apps I wish to put on my iPod Touch. I already downloaded the Merit Badge app and will soon be downloading the Guide To Safe Scouting app. If you have already downloaded and used any of these apps leave a comment here about what you think about them.

Aquatic activites are a huge part of Boy Scouting, at least here in the land of 10,000 lakes. The aquatics beach at summer camp is probably the busiest area of the camp. You will find Boy Scouts swimming, sailing, rowing, canoeing, and snorkeling. Water polo and greased watermelon are two popular team activities.

Safety first is always on the beach staffers’ minds. Safety Afloat and the Safe Swim Defense are the rule, not just something to think about. The number of staff members at the beach front is probably greater then any other area of program activities.

Since these rules are enforced it can leave Scouts who are not good swimmers out of some of the activities. For example, if a Scout who has not passed his “swimmers” test wishes to go canoeing with the troop he will need a canoe partner who is a certified lifeguard. If a troop has a few non-swimmers then this could create a logistics problem.

So what happens if your scoutmaster is a non-swimmer? Well, I can talk about this from a first person perspective because I am that non-swimmer scoutmaster. (Yeah, I know. A scoutmaster in the land of a quadrillion lakes who cannot pass the BSA swimming test. Pretty bad huh?)

Let me explain. I like swimming, but I have never been a strong swimmer. I probably could be a stronger swimmer if I would actual go swimming more often then once or twice a year, but I really do not see that happening any time soon.

I have a “condition” that usually keeps me out of the water. No, it is not a skin condition or something that others can catch from touching me. My body temperature drops very easily. I only go swimming when it is a hot day, with little wind, and in very warm water. All three conditions need to be met by Mother Nature.

When my body temperature drops I begin to shiver uncontrollably. My muscles tense up through my body. Sometimes, in the worse cases, it becomes painful. And it takes a while to warm back up again. So, I seldom go swimming with the boys. I know my limits.

Unfortunately, this means I miss out on many of the aquatic activities at summer camp. I will swim with the troop on a nice hot day but usually I am found in the non-swimmers areas. I can only go canoeing with the Scouts if there is a staff member available to be my partner. I have never gone sailing with the boys.

Yes, it bothers me that I cannot participate in these activities. I understand the reasons for the BSA’s policies, but to tell you the truth, it does make me feel worthless as a scoutmaster at times. I have even though about resigning the position of scoutmaster and let someone else take over who could be with the Scouts through all these activities. But then the troop moves on to the climbing tower, or the archery range, and I forget all about what I missed, until the next time we go to the beach.

Totin Chip

on February 13, 2008 in camping, safety 1 Comment »

Safety first! That is the motto of Scout leaders as we take the boys into the outdoors. The BSA has plenty of rules, regulations, and guidelines to follow as we head into the woods. One guideline is for the Scouts to earn their Totin Chip card before they use pocket knives, axes, hatchets, and saws. I agree. Troop 68 has used the Totin Chip nearly since the troop started in December of 1979. We take safety seriously and so far, knock on wood, we have had very few injuries during the last three decades.

Think you know your Totin Chip safety? Check it out! Take the test at the Melrose Troop 68 site and see how you do. You will find it HERE.

Take the test and then check your answers. No cheating! Let me know what you think of it, and if you are not shy, post your score for others to beat by posting a comment to this blog. Have fun.