Archive for the ‘Activity’ Category


It is winter in Minnesota. That means it is time for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 to spend a weekend at Camp Stearns for their annual winter outing. It is a tradition that began over 15 years ago.

Seven Members of Troop 68 attended the weekend outing near Fairhaven this year, along with two adult leaders. They left Melrose January 20th, a foggy Friday night, and returned on a much less foggy Sunday morning. The forecast for the weekend was for the weather to be damp and above freezing, which was not the best forecast for a winter activity.

The Troop had reserved the Whitewater Lodge which allowed them to have a warm, dry place to sleep and relax. Their schedule would keep the Scouts outside for a good portion of the weekend. Their are plenty of activities at Camp Stearns if a troop decides to take advantage of them.

Once the Troop had checked in with the camp master, and the Scouts had unpacked the gear, it was time to do a little exploring. The first stop was at the quartermaster’s building to check on gear. The next stop was the sledding hill. Camp Stearns has a great sledding hill which has lights for evening fun. The Scouts were hoping that there would be enough snow on the hillside after the warm weather we had had during the past week. There was plenty of snow. The boys went back to their Lodge, changed clothes, and had fun sledding before calling it a night.

The Troop had a full schedule Saturday morning which included time older Scouts helping the newer members work on their advancement. Most of the boys participated in an orienteering course and hike. Then it was back to the sledding hill for another hour of racing down the hillside.

Camp Stearns has two nine-hole disc golf courses so you can probably guess where the Troop spent a portion of the afternoon. They discovered it takes longer to play a round in the winter time because it takes longer to find the thrown discs in the foot deep snow. The Scouts did not mind. They were having too much fun playing the game and talking smack at each other.

After supper, the boys had a short religious service and relaxed with a game of Catan and a movie. They also had the chance to surprise their Scoutmaster on his birthday with a song and cupcakes baked by one of the boy’s mother.

The Troop was on their way home by 9:00 Sunday morning after a quick breakfast and cleanup of the building. Plans were already being discussed for next year’s trip to Camp Stearns.

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    Pinewood Derby time has arrived for many Cub Scout Packs across the country. Thousands of derby cars have been made, or are being finished. Each will be a work of art. Many will have original designs. Some will race for speed. Some will try for the Best Of Show award. A few will probably not cross the finish line. The point of the derby is for the parent and Cub Scout to spend some time together to create the car, and then have fun racing against the others of the Pack.

    Most Cub Scout Packs give trophies to the fastest cars. In Melrose Pack 68 we did something a little different this year. We awarded trophies to the two fastest cars in each den, thus giving the Scouts a greater chance of winning. Two trophies were also awarded for the Best Of Show. Of course, this means a lot of boys will not go home with an award so we gave each Cub Scout a patch for participating. The patch we choose this year is shown above. I think it is a sharp patch. The boys really seemed to like it.

    In addition to the patch each Scout also received a special “race car cookie” baked by one of the grandmothers. I can testify that they are the best race car the boys have ever eaten! The cookie pictured below did not last long after the picture was taken.

     

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      lbp002I have been more active with Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 during the last few months as our new scoutmaster gets comfortable with his new position. I have invited the Patrol Leaders Council to once again hold their meetings at my house which has given me the opportunity to assist in their training and answer any questions of the new scoutmaster.

      As the Boy Scouts planned their monthly agenda, I encouraged them to plan a different game for each of the weekly troop meetings. I also asked them to only use one game from the previous month. This adds for variety during the meetings and forces the youth leadership to think a bit more when they do their planning.

      When the Scouts were planning their November meetings during the October patrol leader council meeting they were coming up short on game time ideas as they tried to follow my suggestion. I mentioned a game I have not seen the troop play in a few years. I gave them a brief summary of the games rules and the boys quickly added it to the meeting plan for November 21st.

      The meeting arrived. It was time to play the game. I soon discovered that not one of the Scouts attending the meeting had played this game. I thought that a few of the older boys had played it when they were younger but I was wrong. I was surprised that it had been a few years since the troop had used this game during a meeting.

      I explained the rules of the game, and also told them it was a game that they would probably never play in school because it can be a pretty rough and tumble game. I had them take off their uniform shirts to prevent any damage, and told the boys who were wearing boots to remove them. We did not want anyone getting hurt after all.

      It was time to begin. The Scouts had a blast! They also had quite the workout. Most of them were breathing hard by the end of the game. I have a feeling this game will start getting used more often in the upcoming months.

      Have you guessed what the game is yet? It is called British Bulldog, a game played by Boy Scouts since the start of the program in the early 1900’s. I would bet Lord Baden-Powell watched a few games of this being played. This old game had become new again to another group of Boy Scouts in central Minnesota.

      Does your troop play British Bulldogs? Does the game wear them out?

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        img_1049The Bears Den of Melrose Cub Scout Pack 68 had fun last weekend. They had their first overnight camping trip. It was held a couple miles south of Melrose in the backyard of one of the families. With a nice big backyard, and hiking trails nearby, it was a good spot for this fun activity. Eight of the ten Bear Scouts were able to attend the outing. I believe they each had a parent in attendance.

        The Bears were kept busy with several activities. They assisted in setting up the tents and laying out their gear. They took a hike to a nearby gravel pit, watching for animal tracks along the way to complete an award requirement. They learned about pocket knife safety as they earned their Whittling Chip badge. And, of course they played games. It is amazing how much noise eight third grade boys can make when they are having fun together. After it got dark, it suddenly grew very quiet, like someone had turned off the volume switch. It did not take long to discover the boys had decided to play a game of hide and seek. After that game was done the noise level rose again.

        I did not stay for the overnight. I did attend for a few hours, enough time to have supper with the den, chat with the parents in attendance, and have a little fun with the boys. My true reason for being there was to tell a story around the campfire before they turned in for the night. The story I chose? The Purple Gorilla story. It is a good story for that age group. Even the adults enjoyed it. As the story’s suspense reached its peak toward the end of the tale, I had everyone’s full attention. In fact, at one point I think everyone one of the boys jumped, and maybe even a couple adults. As I finished the tale with its interesting twist, the Scouts laughed and the adults smiled.

        It may have been a quite suspenseful story, but it really is not a scary story. In fact, one of the fathers told me the next day that the Scouts fell asleep very quickly once the turned in for the night. No nightmares were to be had. Let’s face it, the boys were worn out. The night did get a bit chilly though. It temperature dropped into the upper thirties Sunday morning. The young Scouts did not seem to mind very much. It was just another part of their weekend adventure!

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          slingshotThis is my second summer as the cubmaster of Pack 68. I have had a good time and have agreed to a third year in the position. The pack does not have meetings during the summer months but we do have a pack activity each month. I had the Cub Scouts come out to my family cabin which is located on Kings Lake for their July activity. Eleven of the 17 Cub Scouts attended the event.

          The activity was held on a Monday night. It started at 6:30 in the evening and lasted until 8:30. We did not plan any swimming activities, but that does not mean the Cub Scouts did not get wet. One of the events had the Scouts filling water balloons and trying to hit a target using my water balloon sling shot (shown in the picture.) Some of the balloons busted while in the slingshot, spraying nearby Scouts with water. Some of the balloons became air bound without using the slingshot. The Cub Scouts did not mind. They were having fun.

          The second activity was a disc golf putting contest. The pack was divided into two teams. Each team had several discs and tried to putt as many discs into the disc golf basket as they could. I started the Scouts a bit too far from the basket so after each round I moved them a little closer until the discs began landing in the basket. Some of the boys were asking what the winning team would receive. Another Scout stated correctly that they get bragging rights. Once again, the boys had a good time.

          The last activity of the evening was to get out the marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. We had worked up an appetite and it was time to make s’mores. I think this may have been the Scouts favorite activity. It did not take long for sticky fingers and mouths to be found around the campfire.

          I want to thank the many parents for helping with the event. They assisted the boys as they filled water balloons, manned the slingshot, and helped the Scouts prepare the s’mores. Everyone stayed safe and had a great time. I bet they would all come back out next year if we do it again.

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            kayakingI have heard from several people how fun kayaking can be, but I never really tried it. Well, not until earlier this month. My sister and her son invited me along on a kayak trip down the Sauk River, which runs through Melrose, Minnesota. They planned to start from the Sauk River Park in town and get out just south of New Munich, a small town located about five miles from Melrose. I had nothing planned for that Sunday so I decided to go along, if they could find a kayak for me to use. Ben, my nephew, made a phone call and found one very quickly.

            It was a great time and a perfect day to spend on the river. The current was slow since we have not had a good rain for awhile. There were a lot of downed trees in the river but we only had to portage once. For most of the trip you did not see many signs of civilization. We even got to see and eagle and a deer. The trip took a little longer then expected. We thought it would be a three hour trip. It actually ended up being four hours. No one really cared though. It was a lot of fun.

            As I was paddling down the river I thought to myself that this would be a fun activity for the Boy Scout troop. They have been canoeing a couple times during the last five years but never have they been kayaking. I can honestly say that I think I prefer kayaking to canoeing. I have found it is a little harder to get out of a kayak though. If the troop decided to go on a kayaking weekend trip, I am not sure where they would store their gear. There does not seem to be a whole lot of storage room in a kayak.

            My questions to you readers are, “Has your troop been on an overnight kayaking weekend? How did it go? Did the Scouts enjoy it? What did you do about the troop gear?”

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              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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                discgolf2016The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 sure like their disc golf. They like it so well that for the last few years they have planned a disc golf outing as part of their yearly program. Central Minnesota has several disc golf courses. In fact, I believe there are nine or ten within a 35 mile range of Melrose. Grab your discs and let’s play a game!

                This last weekend was a busy one for the Scouts. Saturday began with a disc golf triathlon, followed by a junior leader training session, and ending with Sunday’s breakfast fundraiser. It would be enough to tire out Boy Scouts, adult leaders, and parents.

                Saturday morning, March 19th, began with a strong chill in the air. That chill was partially due to the snowfall we had the day before and overnight. We had been hoping for a nice day since the weekend before had seen temperatures in the upper 60’s, and those temps had melted the remaining snow. Oh well, time to lace up the boots and grab the winter jackets as we loaded up the cars to head to our first course of the triatholon.

                We drove 35 miles to get to our first stop, the Riverside Park course in St. Cloud, Minnesota. It is one of the nicest course in the county. Unfortunately, it was not a good course to play one this day. We noticed very quickly as we drove along the park that all the disc golf baskets had been removed. We did not see a single one. Not even the practice baskets were in place. We needed a different course to play.

                Fortunately, the Calvary Park 18 hole course was only a few miles away. The Scout’s smiles returned as we saw the baskets were still in place. Since it was the first time the troop had played this course it sometimes took a few minutes to discover were the next tee boxes and baskets were located. The course was challanging as it contained a wooded hillside that presented many branches to deflect throws. Not that it mattered too much. The Scouts still had plenty of fun. And to make it even better, the snow had begun to melt before we left the course.

                Since it was nearly the noon hour we stopped at White Castle for lunch. Most of the boys had never eaten at the fast food chain before this stop. Most of them ordered a four pack of Sliders, the White castle hamburger. Later that day, some of the Scouts discovered the secret meaning of the Slider name.

                The second course of the tour was the 18 baskets found at Millstream Park in St. Joseph. By the time we arrived a lot of the snow had melted. That also meant the millstream was flowing. The well known water hazards of the park would now have to be considered as we threw discs around the course. Unfortunately, some of the discs did land in the water hazards. Some discs the Scouts were able to retrieve using long sticks and branches, but four of them were left behind in the deeper bone-chilling water. The nature of this course slowed us down to the point that by the time we finished it was too late to play the third planned course. We had a junior leader training session to begin at 5:00. The triathlon had turned into a biathalon.

                Even though we lost a few discs, and two of the boys decided to test the temperature of the water by sliding into the stream toward the end of the game, we all had a great time and look forward to playing a lot more games this summer.

                DGgroup032016

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