Archive for the ‘Service’ Category

The Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs of the Central Minnesota Council held their annual Scouting For Food Drive on Saturday, October 9. Thousands of Scouts, leaders, and parents assisted in making this event a success. It is hard to believe that this “national good turn” began way back in 1988, twenty two years ago.

Pack 68 and Troop 68 of Melrose used to share in the work for the drive. The pack would distribute the bags one Saturday, and the troop would pick up the bags the next Saturday. Unfortunately, the pack has fallen on hard times and does not have the membership to distribute the bags, so it has fallen on the troop to distribute them and pick them up again. And unfortunately, the troop is down to eight boys so we were not able to distribute the bags over the whole community either.

Does that mean we had a terrible food drive? No way. We collected over 520 pounds worth of food and items. It is not the best drive we have ever held, but it is certainly not the worse drive either. The food shelf was happy to receive the food. It really helped to fill up their shelves which were looking a little bare this time of year. (The picture shows the Boy Scouts with some of the food collected this year.)

Has your pack and troop already conducted their food drives? How much food did you collect?

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    The Eagle Project is one of the biggest challenges to attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. For many Scouts it is probably the first time they have ever had to plan, prepare, and conduct such an activity. Dozens, even hundreds, of hours will be spend on a project. Papers need to be signed, people and groups contacted, materials bought, and refreshments need to be provided. It is quite a job for a teenager to carry out. Yet they do, and communities benefit from the projects.

    There has recently been an article passed along in Scouting groups about an Eagle project that helped a group of children half a world away. Alex Griffith, a sixteen year old from Maryland, decided to help an orphanage in Russia when it came time for his project. It was the same orphanage that he lived in before he was adopted by Dwight and Jenny Griffith as a young child. To understand the enormous nature of this project here is an except from an article on the CNN website:

    Alex devoted 2 ½ years to his Krasnoyarsk Playground Project. In addition to recruiting more than 500 volunteers in five countries, he raised more than $60,000 by soliciting help from local Rotary Clubs and joining forces with other Boy Scouts for candy sales, car washes and barbeque fundraisers. Alex oversaw every aspect of production, from designing and purchasing the playground to shipping equipment overseas.

    The whole article can be seen at:
    Be sure to check out the project’s website for the facts and figures from this project: (By the way, the picture shown with this article is from this website.)

    This was an awesome project. And tell the truth, another awesome aspect of this project is that CNN decided to list Alex as a CNN Hero. It is great to see a national news agency picking up a positive story of Scouting.

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      In the previous post to A Scoutmaster’s Blog, I wrote about the local American Legion’s Ceremony for Disposal of Unserviceable Flags, and the Boy Scouts’ participation in the ceremony. Mel-TV, our local community television access station, was on hand to film the event. The station’s co-ordinator was kind enough to let me borrow the video tape so that I could make a podcast video from it. I edited the footage down and added photographs that I took during the event.

      Even though I edited out some footage I did not feel was needed, the video was still a bit longer than I would have liked it to be. But I wanted to be sure to include the whole ceremony and add several of the pictures. I would be curious to know if your Boy Scouts have participated in such a ceremony, and what their part was during it.

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        The Melrose Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were recently invited to participate in a United Sates flag disposal ceremony by the local American Legion. Three of our six Boy Scouts were able to attend, along with one of the Girl Scouts.

        The ceremony began shortly before dusk. Members of five American Legion clubs were in attendance, along with some local citizens who brought flags to be retired. The ceremony was very dignified. Unfortunately, due to the wind and my location, I was not able to hear much of what was being said.
        The Scout’s part of the ceremony was to unload the flags from the vehicle and present them to the American Legion members who inspected the flags before their final disposal into the fire barrel. The Scouts were also allowed to place a few flags into the barrel, which I think helped to bring the impact of the ceremony closer to home.
        The local media was also in attendance. The Melrose Beacon and the Sauk Centre Herald sent reporters. The local television cable access station, Mel-TV, was on hand to videotape the event. I look forward to seeing if the Boy Scouts made it into any pictures posted in the newspapers or were captured on the video.
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          The national office of the Boy Scouts of America has encouraged its troops and packs to participate in an annual Scouting For Food drive for nearly twenty years. These drives have helped tens of thousands of people over the years, and have became a necessity to many of the food banks around the country. Boy Scout Trop 68 is proud to say we have been active in conducting a food drive in our community every year since Scouting For Food began.

          One of the challenges of the drive is to promote it. Our local newspapers and local cable access television stations have always been happy to post a bulletin about the event. One more thing we have done some years is ask the city council to pass a proclamation declaring the week between when the bags are dropped off and when they are picked up as “Scouting For Food” week. We try to have a few Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts standing around the mayor as he signs the proclamation. The picture looks pretty good in the paper and draws more attention to the service project.

          Here is a copy of the wording used in the proclamation by our city:


          WHEREAS, hunger remains a pervasive intrusion on the quality of life for millions of Americans; and

          WHEREAS, hunger is a problem we can do something about by working together; and

          WHEREAS, for more than 90 years the Boys Scouts of America has been an organization committed to community service; and

          WHEREAS, the Scouting program instills the positive values of citizenship, ethical decision making, leadership and helping other people as outlined by the Scout Oath and the Scout Law; and

          WHEREAS, the Central Minnesota Council of the Boy Scouts of America and its corps of dedicated Scouts and volunteer leaders will coordinate with other groups to conduct a Scouting for Food on October 2, 2004 in this community and throughout the country in a positive example of its longstanding commitment to service of direct benefit to the less fortunate among us.

          NOW, THEREFORE, I, Nancy Roering, Acting Mayor of the City of Melrose in the State of Minnesota do hereby proclaim the period of September 26-October 2, 2004, as


          in the City of Melrose. I urge my fellow residents to join me in expressing the gratitude of an appreciative community, and ask that each of us contribute as best we can to this worthwhile endeavor.

          IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the official seal of the City of Melrose this 16th day of September, 2004.


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             We had discussed it a couple times at committee meetings but I was still a little surprised when the troop finally decided to hand out small United States flags along the parade route in town this year. Our troop had not done anything for a parade for twenty years or more.

            The flags were small plastic flags bought from an online retailer. Our charter sponsor, the VFW, agreed to pay for the purchase of the flags which came to nearly $100.00 for almost a thousand flags. The Boy Scouts would walk the parade route, a block or two ahead of the honor guard, and hand them out to the people along the route.
            We thought this would be a great public relations project. The Boy Scouts would be in uniform and show their patriotism by giving away flags. We would be seen by thousands of people sitting along the streets, giving us some much needed exposure, something the troop does not receive for cleaning road ditches, holding paper drives, and working early morning park clean-up projects.
            I arrived at the high school, the starting point of the parade, about an hour before things would begin. Two Boy Scouts were already present, with a third one arriving a short time later. And that was it. Only three of the nine members of the troop decided to join us for this project. At least that left us two people per side of the street. I would be riding my gas powered scooter which had a basket to hold the thousand flags. The Scouts would be walking.
            We really did not know how soon we should leave before the parade started so we began when the honor guard began lining up at the head of the parade. Unfortunately, the honor guard caught up to us after only four or five blocks, and soon the parade was passing by us. Since we had to hand out the flags person to person it slowed us down and took much longer than we first thought.
            The crowd loved the flags. We began by handing them out to kids but they were so popular that teenagers and adults wanted them also. We ran out of flags with a third of the route left to go.
            So, we learned two things about this project. First, we need to leave about 15 minutes ahead of the parade in order to have a chance of staying ahead of them. Second, we will need to order about 1500 or 2000 flags for the next time.
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              The committee of the Boy Scout troop has recently been discussing ideas about how to get Scouting more visible in our community. The pack has had a few rough years and membership numbers are down. This in turn has hurt the troop since 80 percent or more of our membership traditionally comes from the pack.

              One idea that is gaining momentum is to have the Boy Scouts walk along this June’s parade route shortly before the parade begins and hand out small USA flags to children and folks sitting along the street. It would be great to see hundreds of flags waving as the veterans ride and march by during the parade. Of course, the Scouts would be in uniform as they pass out the flags.

              The Melrose Chamber of Commerce, who is in charge of the weekend festival to be held the last weekend of June, has shown interest in this project. We will be sending letters to the local VFW Post (our charter sponsor) and the American Legion to ask for some financial support to purchase the flags.

              The big question is, how many flags do we need? The parade route is a little over a mile long, approximately sixteen blocks. No one really seems to know how many people watch the parade so I started playing around with some numbers. If the Scouts hand out 20 flags per block, ten on each side of the street, we would need about 320 flags. That does not sound like many, does it?

              Let’s bump that number up to 60 flags per block, or 30 flags per each side of the street. That would be nearly 1000 flags waving along the parade route. That sounds much better.

              The cost of 6 inch plastic flags would be $5.99 for 72 flags, through an internet site. The total cost of a thousand flags with shipping would only be about $100.00, a very affordable project that would also give the Boy Scout troop a great way to be seen by thousands of people.

              Has you pack or troop ever done anything like this project? Do you have any helpful hints? Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.

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                I do not consider myself crazy (although their are some who think you need to be crazy to be a scoutmaster). For example, they are a number of people each year who decide they need to take a quick dip in a hole cut through the ice of a frozen lake in Minnesota. Would I do that? No way! I am not crazy.

                But this year in Lake Minnetonka near Minneapolis, Minnesota, hundreds of people decided to bring in the new year by getting nice and cold in the icy water. Crazy, huh? Well, what caught my attention this year is that a group of Cub Scouts decided to join in the festivities. Here is the article from the KARE 11 website:

                They came from all over the globe, just to say they did it. Hundreds of thrill seekers leaped into Lake Minnetonka New Year’s morning, for the 19th annual Polar Plunge. Organizers say 388 people registered to take the plunge this year, far above last year’s record of 298. Hundreds more showed up and registered Thursday morning. In all, 908 people jumped into frigid Lake Minnetonka to welcome 2009.

                Among them, Cub Scout Pack 116 from Princeton, Minnesota. The boys recently learned their assistant cub master, Dar Durant, had been diagnosed with cancer, so they took pledges, collected money, and jumped into the lake. The money raised will go to help the family.

                Plunge organizers say people from Canada, England, Iran, and Jamaica registered to take the annual dip this year.

                I have to give those Cub Scouts and their leaders the credit that is due them. They did a great job of putting others first and helping someone in need. I am sure this is one plunge they will never forget.

                By the way, the link to the KARE 11 website also has a couple videos showing the Cub Scouts taking their Polar Plunge. I am not sure how long the video will be available so check it out quickly.

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