Archive for the ‘Service’ Category


christmasscoutsMerry Christmas everyone! It is time for my favorite Scouting themed Christmas story – The Christmas Scout.

In spite of the fun and laughter, 13-year-old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true he had received all the presents he wanted. And he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes. But, Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver.

Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. Frank said good-bye to his relatives and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend; and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled. Then Frank headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Though rich in wisdom, he lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived, and his patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family.

To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not at home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, through one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby . . . weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents.

A sudden thought struck Frank : he had not done his ‘good deed’ for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. ‘Yes?’ the sad voice of the woman asked. ‘May I come in?’ asked Frank. ‘You are very welcome,’ she said, seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, ‘but I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children.’

‘That’s not why I am here,’ Frank replied. ‘Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled.’

‘Why, God bless you!’ the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, the toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost cried out. Finally, the stockings were full.

‘Won’t you tell me your name?’ she asked, as Frank was leaving.

‘Just call me the Christmas Scout,’ he replied.

The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow was not the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the remainder of his gifts. The plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy.

Now Frank trudged homeward, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? ‘Where are your presents, son?’ asked his father as Frank entered the house.

Frank answered, ‘I gave them away.’

‘The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your coat from Grandma? Your flashlight? We thought you were happy with your gifts.’

‘I was very happy,’ the boy answered quietly.

‘But Frank, how could you be so impulsive?’ his mother asked. ‘How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?’

His father was firm. ‘You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents.’

With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back; however he wondered if he would ever again truly recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening, but it had been fleeting. Frank thought of his brother, and sobbed himself to sleep.

The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke: ‘Merry Christmas, everybody! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning, another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage boy who simply called himself the Christmas Scout. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself.’

Frank felt his father’s arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling through her tears. ‘Why didn’t you tell us? We didn’t understand. We are so proud of you, son.’

The carols came over the air again filling the room with music: ‘. . .Praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on Earth.’

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    ScoutingForFood2013The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have completed another Scouting For Food drive this morning, October 5th. The Scouts began shortly after 9:00 am and finished about an hour later. (Melrose is not a very big town.) The troop has been participating in this national Good Turn since it began in 1985.

    In past years the council gave troops and packs Scouting For Food plastic bags which were handed out around town one week before the food drive. This year, things were a little different. The council gave out door hangers to hang on the door knobs of homes. There were not any untied white bags floating around town this year.

     

    The Scouts and methods may change, but the purpose of the drive stays the same.

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      I had been curious for a couple of weeks what the committee had planned for the retirement party. They had been very quiet whenever I was nearby. A great example of this was at the February committee meeting. I make the agenda so I listed the party under old business thinking they night bring up a few things that needed to be discussed. When the time came up one committee member passed a sheet of paper to the new scoutmaster and, well, that was it. There was not a discussion, not a word was said. My attempt to get information had failed.

      Finally, the day of the party had arrived. It began at 2:00 in the afternoon with the Boy Scouts, their families, and a few troop alumni present, but people kept coming in. Shortly after 2:45 the Scenic District executive asked people to have a seat, that the program would soon begin. The five rows of tables were not quite filled but soon would be. At 3:00 the district executive, Bob Rueter, called the room to attention and asked everyone to face the flag, and to join him in the Pledge Of Allegiance. Eymard Orth, my assistant scoutmaster of 24 years and the current troop chaplain, gave the invocation.

      Mr. Rueter began the ceremony with the presentation of the last leader’s knot I earned as the troop’s scoutmaster, the Unit Leader Award of Merit, followed by a brief speech about his years working with me. Mr. Orth took the podium next sharing stories of our Scouting experiences. Mark Ettel, the troop’s new scoutmaster, spoke for a few minutes and then asked the current Boy Scouts to come forward. He asked me to joined them and gave me a Norman Rockwell print of the Boy Scout standing in front of the flag of the United States of America, as seen with this post.

      Mr. Ettel opened the floor for anyone to come forward to say a few words or share a story. Eleven former members of the troop took the opportunity to come to the podium. Every decade of the thirty years was represented. (Watch the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast for upcoming videos of these speeches.)

      It was time for me to step up to the microphone. I joked that I could tell a story about everyone of the Scouts present but that we did not have time for that. I did thank the VFW Post 7050 for sponsoring the troop during the last 32 years. I also thanked the American Legion and the Lions Club for supporting the Scouting program. I thanked the parents, especially those who served on the committee and as assistant scoutmasters. Finally, I thanked all the boys and young men who were members of Boy Scout Troop 68 throughout the years. After all, they were they main reason I stayed on as scoutmaster for over 363 months.

      I ended my talk by explaining that I had tried to quit at least four times but for some reason I always changed my mind. It was much nicer to be able to say “I retired” then “I quit”.

      The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting with people and former troop members. All in all, it was a great afternoon.

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        Have you ever retired from an organization only to feel that they never let you go, or that they are trying to pull you back? That happened to me Monday night with the Boy Scout troop. Unfortunately, I have no one to blame but myself. I volunteered for it all. Next week will now be a very busy Scouting week for this retired scoutmaster. Here is why….

        On Monday, the 19th, the troop is using their regular troop meeting night to begin selling tickets for next month’s Dad’s Belgian Waffle supper fundraiser. The Boy Scouts will go door to door selling tickets, covering as much of the town in one evening as their are capable of doing. As the troop’s treasurer it will be my job to hand out the tickets, collect the leftovers and money taken in, and start the record keeping for the boys going out on their own.

        Tuesday night is the monthly troop committee meeting. I still need to sit down and balance the checkbooks and prepare the report of the troop’s finances. I least I do not have to leave the house. I still volunteer to host the meetings in my basement family room.

        I am a Collections merit badge counselor. One of the Scouts caught me after this week’s troop meeting to begin working on the badge. We decided on Wednesday, the 22nd. That makes three nights in a row I will be doing something Scouting related.

        So far I have nothing planned for Thursday, but I volunteered my home to host a troop event on Friday. The troop’s one day outing for February was scheduled for this Saturday but only one boy was able to attend. I have always hated the idea of completely canceling a monthly activity so I offered to hold a movie night. The boys took me up on the offer. They plan to watch a couple movies and enjoy pizza, snacks, and sodas. I plan to send them home at 11:00 pm.

        On Saturday, the 25th, the troop is hosting an afternoon retirement party to celebrate the three decades I spent as the scoutmaster. I hope some of the troop alumni are able to attend or it will be a small party. I do plan to bring the thirty or so photo albums I have made from those thirty years of activities and functions.

        That brings it to five of seven days next week that I will be busy doing something Scouting related. I thought my schedule would slow down after stepping away from the position of scoutmaster. Wait. What’s that? Something is pulling on the back of my shirt. Aaahhhhhhhhh!

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          The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 had an opportunity to do two service projects in one day for the Melrose Riverfest celebration. The event was held last Saturday, August 20th.

          The first project took place before the parade which was scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm. The Boy Scouts were set to distribute two thousand 3″ x 5″ plastic USA flags along the parade route. The funds to purchase the flags were provided the the local VFW and American Legion clubs.

          This was the third year the troop did this project. Two years ago were started with 1000 flags that only covered about half of the parade route. Last year we ordered 1500 flags that covered about two thirds of the route. This year we ordered two thousand flags and had a couple hundred of them left over. Even though we began handing out the flags at the beginning of the route 30 minutes before the parade began, the parade was only three blocks behind us when we reached the end. The flags were very popular.

          At midnight, the Boy Scouts met in downtown Melrose for the second of the projects. The Scouts, and their fathers, assisted the Melrose Chamber of Commerce with taking down a few refreshment tents, and packing up dozens of tables and hundreds of folding chairs. We finished this project at 1:45 in the morning.

          Unfortunately, only two of the nine members of the troop were able to help with the day’s projects. Fortunately, the boy’s fathers were able to assist us so had doubled our manpower.

          The troop’s next service project will be held tonight, August 22nd. We have a three mile stretch of highway south of town which we have adopted to clean the ditches of trash. Hopefully, we will have more troop members show up then we did on Saturday or it is going to to take awhile to clean those ditches.

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            The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 held their summer court of honor on Monday, June 27th. The recognition ceremony began at 7:00 pm at the Melrose City Hall. All ten members of the troop attended along with many of their family members.

            The award presentations began with the Year Pins which are given to Boy Scouts on their yearly anniversary of joining the Scouting program. Noah received his One Year pin. A Five Year pin was presented to Thomas. Dakota received a Seven Year pin. Very few young men stay in Scouting long enough to receive a seven year pin.

            Three Boy Scouts received the Tenderfoot rank, which is the first of the six ranks a Scouts may earn, with the rank of Eagle Scout being the highest. Alex, William, and Noah received the Tenderfoot rank with their parents standing proudly by their side.

            Troop 68 surprised committee member Chris Massmann with a Community Service Award. Chris began her service to Scouting when her oldest son, Dakota, joined the Melrose Cub Scout Pack. She joined the pack committee and became the pack treasurer. When Dakota graduated into the Boy Scout troop, Chris moved with him and became a member of the troop committee and its treasurer. She has been with the local Scouting program for about ten years. Chris plans to retire from the troop committee in August when her son leaves the troop to attend college.

            Congratulations to all the award recipients!

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              Today is the fifth day of the 100 Days of Scouting program. What do I write about? Hmmmmm. How about a quick shout out to Boy Scout Troop 68′s Charter Organization? For over thirty years the Melrose VFW Post 7050 has supported our Scouting program. They have been the troop’s sponsor since it began in December 1979.

              Last night I received a phone call from Jim, the post commander. The VFW has had some tough times during the last few year and is in the process of selling its building. Jim needed to move boxes of records and stuff and was wondering if I could get a couple Boy Scouts to help. “That might be a bit tough on a Friday night”, I replied, “but I could give you a hand.” The only thing I was going to do was to post a podcast to the website. I met him at the building and it did not take long for the two of us to load his truck, unload his truck at another storage place, and load it a second time. We were done within an hour and I was able to do my good turn for the day.

              How many other troops out there are sponsored by a VFW post?

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                Okay. I usually do not cover sporting events in this blog but I just watched a couple of videos that really show how a community can come together and do a super sized service project. As we all know, Boy Scouts love their service projects, but it was simply amazing to see this.

                According to an article on Yahoo Sports: While tossing hats onto the ice when a player scores three goals might be hockey’s most famous tossing tradition, it simply doesn’t compare to the Technicolor grandeur of 23,096 teddy bears and other stuffed animals blanketing the rink as they did at the Calgary Hitmen game on Sunday. For 16 years the Hitmen, who were co-owned by and named after former WWF champion Bret Hart, have held a Teddy Bear Toss to benefit over 50 charities in Alberta that work with children. On Monday, after the 23,000-strong toss, the players hand-delivered teddy bears to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
                Read the article at http://tinyurl.com/2eh7l4q

                “Totally awesome”, as a furry friend of mine would say.

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