Archive for the ‘Service’ Category


Disc Golf Ribbon Cutting2

A year and a half ago I wrote a couple of articles about how the Melrose Boy Scout Troop had inspired the Melrose city officials to think about having a nine basket disc golf course installed in the main city park. A quickly planned but simple service project activity during the city’s 2014 Night To Unite evening started the ball rolling on something I would have liked to have seen in town two decades earlier. You can read these posts Here and Here.

It recently occurred to me that I did not write any follow up articles to let you all know how things turned out. As stated in one of the earlier posts, I thought the Boy Scouts would assist in helping the city staff assemble the course equipment and installing it in the park. Well, it did not quite happen that way. The city park staff assembled everything themselves during the winter months, and installed all the signs and baskets early in the spring while the Scouts were still in school. At least a couple of the Scouts, who happened to be working on their Citizenship in the Community merit badge, were able to assist in creating the tee signs for each hole.

The Sauk River Park disc golf course was finished the first Monday of May in 2015. On a rainy night two weeks later, the Boy Scouts were present with various city and park officials for the official ribbon cutting. As the person who did a lot of the planning and design work for the park, I was given a scissors to cut the ribbon. Then the Scouts lined up for a picture throwing their discs at the basket for the local paper. The adults that were present also lined up for a similar picture. The newspaper did a great write up about the course.

The disc golf course received a good amount of use during the year of 2015. The local teenagers started making use of the course immediately, and many families discovered it was an activity they could do together. Even the high school started using the course as a Phys Ed activity since the course is located across the street from the school. Both city officials and the park board were happy with the use the course was getting, which made me feel good after the time and effort I had poured into the project. Not many people get to say they brought something to their city which everyone can play and have fun doing.

A few weeks ago we began a disc golf league in Melrose. There are about fourteen people in the league, most of them teenagers, and four of them Boy Scouts. There is even one Cub Scout and his father who play. Ages range from 9 years old to 55 years old. We have been having a great time playing and meeting the new members. I just wish I would have thrown a bit better last week, but then, we all wish to do better than we usually do when we play.

I sometimes still find it hard to believe that this course happened because of a little project in the park one night prepared by the Boy Scouts. It just goes to show, you never know…

 

Disc Golf Ribbon Cutting6

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    IMG_0148This year marked the eighth year that the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have handed out 4″ x 6″ United States flags before the Riverfest parade in Melrose. Once again the Scouts walked along the parade route and gave away 1250 flags, curtesy of the Melrose American Legion. People love receiving them, from the youngest toddler to the oldest senior citizen. And they are better for you than all the Tootsie Rolls that are thrown out during the parade, don’t you agree?

    Last year we had a shortage of Boy Scouts attend the service project so this year we invited the Cub Scout to help out, hoping we would get enough Scouts to break up into four teams. The plan was to have two teams start on each end of the parade route, each team taking one side of the street, and meet up somewhere in the middle. Hopefully, by the time we would meet, we would be out of flags.

    We ended up with plenty of Scouts. Six Cub Scouts and five Boy Scouts showed up for the project, in addition to five parents and Scout leaders. About 30 minutes before the parade was scheduled to begin, we split up and began handing out the flags. My team consisted of three Cub Scout brothers who were excited to participate in such a project. They were all smiles as they handed out the flags one by one, receiving smiles in return from the people who accepted them.

    My team was starting to run low on flags by the time we met up with the Scouts who had started at the other end of the route. They still had a few hundred flags due to many people not being seated yet for the parade as they walked by. I had noticed a lot of people coming in after we had walked by a our route so my team took the extra flags and started retracing our steps, handing out flags to people who had recently arrived along the parade route. We even had a couple kids run across the street to get flags from us.

    By the time we got to the spot were the Cub Scout’s parents were sitting for watching the parade, we had handed out all the flags. And just in time. The honor guard that was leading the parade was marching only a few blocks away from us. The parade had started. The only thing the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and leadership had left to do was to sit back and enjoy the parade. And eat the Tootsie Rolls thrown to us, of course.

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      IMG_5411The Melrose Lions Club holds a special dinner every year to recognize volunteers in the community. This year’s dinner was held on the evening of April 27th at the Melrose American Legion. Over 100 people from nearly a dozen volunteer organizations were represented, which included the local food shelf, Project Give-A-Gift, Meals On Wheels, the fire department, the ambulance department, the police reserve reserve, and others. Boy Scout Troop 68 and Cub Scout Pack 68 were each represented by three adult leaders.

      At the end of the evening, after a great meal and a guest speaker, the Lions Club held a drawing for three $100 donations. Boy Scout Troop 68 was lucky enough to receive one of these gifts. Scoutmaster Jim Engelmeyer, along with committee chairperson Chris Massmann and assistant scoutmaster Eymard Orth, accepted the donation.

      The Melrose Lions Club has been one of the community’s great sponsors of the Scouting program in Melrose.

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        P68FoodDrive - 1The committee of Melrose Cub Scout Pack 68 would like to see the Scouts earn the Journey To Excellence patch for 2015 so they have been coming up with service projects for the boys. In June the pack did a cleanup project in the city park, picking up trash along the pond and softball field. In November, the pack conducted a food drive.

        During their November dens meetings the Cub Scouts decorated cardboard boxes to be placed at businesses throughout a few communities in our school district. The Cub Scouts worked hard to get these boxes ready. Not only did they color and draw on them but they also had some designs printed out on paper that they could cut out and glue to the boxes. I believe each of the four dens made three boxes for the food drive. The parents took the boxes home and were in charge of placing the boxes in businesses and establishments that had agreed to working with the pack for the drive. They would pick up the boxes in two weeks to bring to the pack meeting.

        When the pack meeting arrived the Cub Scouts discovered more information about the drive. A representative from the local food shelf was on hand to talk to the Scouts about the food shelf and the local needs. She also answered quite a few questions that the boys came up with. It looked like everyone was having fun and maybe even leaning something at the same time.

        As you can see in the picture below, the pack did quite well with the drive. It was a little different than the Scouting For Food drives in the past, but I think the Cub Scouts invested a bit more of themselves in this year’s drive.

         

        P68FoodDrive - 3

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          06.2015 Parade FlagsWhen does something become a tradition? If it is done for seven years, does that qualify? If it does, than the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have a tradition to be proud of. This was the seventh year that they have handed out 4″x6″ United States flags before the Riverfest parade in town.

          The troop committee began discussing this activity a few months ago. Letters were sent out to the local VFW post and American Legion Club to help with the cost of the flags. I found American-made flags on sale at the United States Flag Store website for 18 cents each. I placed an order for 1250 flags before I heard from the two organizations, counting on them to come through on covering the costs, which they did. The flags arrived in May. We were set to hand out colors once again.

          That is, if enough Boy Scouts showed up to walk the parade route. With thirty minutes to go before the start of the parade only three Boy Scouts and one Cub Scout had arrived. We knew it was going to be a busy family weekend so I was glad we had at least four Scouts to walk. One mother and I grabbed the two backpacks. Two Scouts and one adult would walk along each side of the street handing out flags to those who wanted one. By the end of the one and a half mile route all the flags were gone! Kids loved receiving a flag, as did many of the adults along the route.

          We finished with the flags in time to walk back along the route to sit with our families and friends to watch the parade. You should have seen all the candy thrown out by the parade participants. You should have seen the candy still laying on the street, along with some trash, after the parade. Actually, it was not as bad as other years, but there is always some clean up required. I am happy to report that we did not see one USA flag laying around unwanted after the festivities! Everyone took them home.

          This is a tradition we shall probably continue for a few more years. As long as the VFW and the American Legion support it, and the people lining the parade route want them, I think the Melrose Boy Scouts will continue their version of a patriotic hike.

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            kindergarden funThe regular meeting of Boy Scout Troop 68 began its usual way Monday night. The Scouts had an opening and then began the skill development session of the meeting. The theme was the Scout Law. It was time to review the twelve points and their meanings. Daniel, a Life Scout, lead the discussion. Scoutmaster Jim finished it by informing the Scouts they would have the chance to use several of these points during a good turn that would happen in several minutes.

            The troop meets at St. Mary’s School gym during the cold weather months, October through April. Monday night was the first meeting for this season held at the gym. The principal of the school had asked the scoutmaster if the troop could help with a little project. A meeting for the Kindergarten children and their parents was also being held at the school that evening. The teacher was hoping for several minutes to meet with the parents alone. Could the Boy Scouts keep these young children entertained for ten minutes during that meeting?

            When Mr. Doyle escorted the small students into the gym the Boy Scouts where ready to begin the game session. I thought there would be maybe a dozen kids, but they kept coming in. More and more. The line stopped when 24 Kindergarteners walked into the gym. You could tell several of them were a little frightened by the big Boy Scouts. We did not let them think about it before breaking them up into five smaller groups and starting the game.

            It was a very simple game. The kids took turns rolling balls into three bowling pins, trying to knock them over. The Boy Scouts acted as the pin setters, the ball return, and the helpers to lead the youngsters to do well. The Scouts were quite excited. When one of the little ones knocked all three pins over the older boys were the first ones to cheer and get a high five from the successful youngster. Several of the youngsters were really getting into the game. A few stayed a little shy and reserved. I think they all had fun. To tell the truth, after a few minutes it was hard to tell who was having more fun, the Boy Scouts or the Kindergarteners.

            I immediately saw the photo opportunity going on so I quickly grabbed my iPad. I was busy snapping photos and even took a couple videos. I look forward to sharing the photos with the troop and the school.

            After the children left and the meeting returned to normal, the scoutmaster gathered the Scouts and held a short discussion about what just occurred. Which points of the Scout Law did the Scouts practice during this visit? How did they feel about playing with this age group? Was it a good Good Turn?

            I think the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 will remember this evening for quite awhile.

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              2014flags2The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 will be doing it again this summer. I believe this is the fifth time they will be doing it. The Scouts have fun and the people in the community enjoy it. What am I talking about? The Boy Scouts will once again be handing out small U.S.A. flags along the parade route before the parade begins in Melrose on June 28th.

              We ordered this year’s “made in America” flags from the United States Flag Store. The ones we chose are the 4″ x 6″ stick flags that they currently have on sale for only $0.17 each. They are manufactured at the factory in Pennsylvania, printed in bright colors on cotton fabric, and securely stapled to a 10 inch natural wooden stick. We ordered these last year and people along the route really liked them. They can be found at
              http://www.united-states-flag.com/usa-stick-flag-4×6-no-tip.html

              When we first started doing this project several years ago we bought the cheapest flags we could find which were made out of plastic. Unfortunately, they were not made in the U.S.A. and by the third year people started refusing to take a flag because they were not American made. They had a good point, but we had a limited budget. So, do we buy American made and order half of number of flags, or do we keep ordering the ones not made in America?

              Thankfully, when we were ready to purchase flags last year, the United States Flag Store ran a sale just at the right time. We could order the quantity of flags we wanted and stay in budget. The Scouts handed out all 1500 flags before the parade. Unfortunately, the flags did not say “made in America” on them, so when people asked the Scouts had to tell them they were made in Pennsylvania.

              The flags for this year’s parade arrived last week, another 1500 of them, paid for once again by Melrose VFW Post 7050. I checked them out and once again they are not stamped that they are made in America. They are great flags, but I really wish they were stamped. It would be nice for people to know they were made here in the U.S.A. without having to ask about it.

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                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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