Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

booIn my last post I wrote I mentioned a story I used to end the roundtable meeting. It was about two Boy Scouts who were best of friends and who had made a promise to each other, I promise they kept even after death. I am not sure were I found this story but it is a good one. Here it is for you to read and use within your own troop or pack.

“Tom and Paul were best friends. They went to the same schools, right from kindergarten. They were best friends right from the beginning. Tom was a little bigger, not afraid of anything. Paul was smart, inquisitive, and ready to try whatever Tom came up with. 

Their families got used to seeing them together, more like brothers than friends. They were Cub Scouts in the same Den, and they both got their Arrow of Light at the same ceremony and crossed over into Boy Scouts together. They joined Troop 17, it met at the Methodist Church and had a reputation as a Troop that did a lot of camping.

They were active Scouts, picked up rank, went on almost all the camp outs. Tom was a Patrol Leader when he made Star, and Senior Patrol Leader as a Life Scout. Paul was Quartermaster the same year, 1965. 

They weren’t just Scouts, of course. They had school and girlfriends, family, part time jobs. Tom worked summers on his grandfather’s farm. Paul lifeguarded at the community pool. The summer they graduated from high school, class of 1966, they both decided to work at Scout Camp. Tom got assigned to the Camp Quartermaster, drove the camp truck and worked maintenance jobs. Paul had his Red Cross certifications, and he worked at the waterfront.

They had a great summer, and promised each other they would come back the following year. Well, more than promised, really. They swore an oath, on their honor, that they would come back to camp together, that nothing, not girlfriends or jobs or anything, would prevent them from coming back to camp.

Promises like that are hard to keep. 

Paul went to college in the fall, he had decided to study engineering, and joined Navy ROTC. It would help pay for school, and in those years, it meant he had a sure deferment from the draft. 

Tom got drafted. He went to Army basic training and shipped out to Vietnam. He wrote letters home, even sent a couple to Paul. He had been there eight months, and his unit had seen a lot of action, when he sent on a patrol as part of a larger operation. His platoon got ambushed. The after action reports pretty much told the tale, they got hit hard, and in the effort to set up a defense and bring in the wounded, Tom had gone out under fire three times. On the way back that last time he was shot and fatally wounded.

There was a military funeral, and a small collection of ribbons, including a Silver Star. Paul spoke at the funeral, and told everyone of the promise they had made and how now it could not be kept, of their adventures, and the trouble they got into now and then, and what it was like to have a friend like Tom. 

Paul graduated from college in 1970. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, and selected for flight school.

He wanted to be a fighter pilot, just like everyone who goes to flight school, and he came close, but didn’t make the cut. He was assigned to A-6 Intruders, and excelled at that. He qualified for carriers, joined up with a Squadron and went to war. The Vietnam War was in it’s final years, but there was still a lot of air support missions being flown, and his carrier was off the coast of Vietnam most of his first year at sea.

He was on a close air support mission, trying to protect South Vietnamese troops and their American advisors when his plane was hit. He came up off the target, but before he regained control, his plane crashed into the jungle. The plane burned, he and his copilot were never recovered.

Now that’s just a sad story from the past, I suppose, two good men, two Eagle Scouts, both lost in the Vietnam War, but there’s some more to this story. Because they had made a promise, an oath, on their honor, to spend at least one more summer at this camp, and they didn’t give themselves an out just because they died. 

The first I heard of it was in the 80’s, an 8 year old Cub Scout on a family overnight got lost on the trail out to the Wilderness area. All the Scout troops in camp and the local Sheriff’s department had started a search. A Scoutmaster found him walking out of the woods up on the hill by the horse barns. The kid said 2 adults in Scout uniforms had walked him up there, only when they asked him to describe what they looked like, he described the old green uniforms that were used in the 60s.

The next time was a Scout on wilderness survival overnight on the ridge. He had built his shelter and was bedded down when he saw 2 Scouts walking along together. Same description, young adults in old time uniforms. They looked over at him, but didn’t stop, just continued their hike out on the ridge trail. He was pretty spooked by it, being alone overnight and trying to tell his Scoutmaster the next morning. That time the word got around and it turned out some of the Staff at camp said that they had seen them too.

Now, I never saw them, but the camp ranger says he did, winter before last, right after that big snow in February. He had walked into camp late in the day, going to the dining hall and the bath house to check the pipes. He said they were in front of him on the main trail, in those same uniforms, walking along like it was a summer day. He was bundled up against the cold, crunching through the snow, and started to speed up to catch them. He said he wasn’t thinking about it too clearly, just wanted to know who the heck was in camp when they weren’t supposed to be.

He stopped when they turned around. Because when he saw their faces, well, the camp ranger used to be a Boy Scout, too. A Boy Scout in Troop 17, and when he made First Class in 1965, his Senior Patrol Leader was named Tom and his Quartermaster was named Paul. He still had Troop pictures, but he wouldn’t have forgotten what they looked liked, especially in their summer uniforms. He said they smiled, and Tom waved, and then they turned and hiked down the trail toward the waterfront like they were on patrol.

The night the ranger told me this, he didn’t expect me to believe any of it, and I don’t expect you to believe me, either. But he stood there for a few minutes as dusk gathered, and when he looked down, there weren’t any tracks in the snow. He looked back and his footprints were right there in the snow, but only his, and none on the trail in front of him.

He told me he believed that they had kept their oath. That they were here in camp, and that they were content, that they had come back to the camp they had loved. 

So when you’re out on the trail in the evening tonight, or on an overnight somewhere remote in the Wilderness, remember those two Scouts and their promise, and how maybe, just maybe, they managed to keep it after all.

Good Night, Scouts.”

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    2015villageIt is that time of year. Time to think about Christmas! Well, the retail community wants us to think about Christmas and the holidays. After all, they have lots of things they would like to sell us and they seem to think they need the last three (sometimes four) months of the year to convince us of that. Buy your decorations! Plan your family meals! And make sure you get your Christmas shopping done early!

    For the last few years the Boy Scouts of America has created its own Scouting Village Collection. It started with a Ranger’s Cabin, Trading Post, and Church and has expanded nicely over the last two years. A person can set up a very nice Christmas Scouting Village (summer camp) scene with the pieces, if you have them all. I combine the Scouting pieces with some accessories from the Department 56 Village to create a rather cool Scouting scene.

    I was looking forward to see if they would continue offering new village pieces this year. Last time I walked into the local Scout shop a couple weeks ago the clerk pulled me off to the side to show me what would be coming out. Cool, I thought when she said there would be new pieces. Unfortunately, I was not thinking it was so cool after seeing what was offered.

    First, there is the Resident Camp Tents “lighted house” piece. This one does not look too bad but I have a feeling it is going to look out of proportion when placed with BSA Wall Tent from two years ago. I may have to use this new item as a background piece to gain a bit of perspective to the village scene. I will find out after I spend $16.99 to buy it.

    The second piece offered is the Philmont Trek Accessory. When I first saw the picture for this piece I thought it would make an excellent addition to the collection. After all, it featured three Scouts climbing to one of the mountainous peaks of Philmont Scout Ranch. When I saw the piece for the first time I lost my enthusiasm for it. It is very small, only 4″ high and 3″ long. I have a feeling its scale will look totally out of place with the rest of the collection. The cost is only $6.99 so it is not a big investment at least.

    The third and final piece for this year is the Villa Philmonte Lighted House. It is a nice looking addition to the series. My main concern is the cost. The nice thing about the Scouting Village set is that the pieces were very affordable. Lighted pieces usually sold from $12 to maybe $20 each. The Villa Philmonte breaks this tradition is a big way. This piece sells for $49.99. Wow. Last year’s eight piece starter set was only $80, and that included four lighted buildings. Granted, this new piece is 13″ long and nearly 8″ high, making it one of the largest pieces of the collection, but I have a feeling the price is going to turn a lot of people off of collecting the set. I cannot help but remember that $50 used to be able to buy all the pieces for each year’s set. Looks like that price point will no longer be carried on.

    I am not sure yet if I will buy this year’s collection or not. To tell the truth, I think it is the weakest of the four year’s sets so far. What do you think? Do you plan to purchase any or all of them?

    Residential Camp Tents:
    Villa Philmonte Lighted House:

    Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.50.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.50.19 PM


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      peanuts-the-race-is-on-snoopys-beagle-scouts-pinewood-derby-ornament-rootThis year’s Scouting themed Snoopy ornament is now on sale at your local Hallmark store. The 2015 piece features Snoopy the Beagle Scout, or scoutmaster, and three of his “Scouts” racing their Pinewood Derby cars. It is nice to see a Cub Scouting themed ornament this year.

      I was not even thinking of this until I walked into the Crossroads Mall Hallmark store this afternoon. I was going to check if they had any of last year’s ornaments at close out prices. I should have known this year’s decorations would be on display already. It did not take me long to find Scoutmaster Snoopy. I bought two, like I do every year. One to put on the tree, and one to add to the collection.

      Have you been collecting the Beagle Scout Snoopy ornaments?

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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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          2014 Boy Scout DVDIt is that time of year. Time to add Christmas parties to the schedule. Time to get the gift shopping done. And for me, time to create the yearly Boy Scout Troop 68 dvd’s for each member of the troop.

          I began this tradition in 2004, the year I switched to digital photography. I bought a digital still camera early that year to take along on the troop’s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch that summer. I never looked back at film. The new camera allowed me take take hundreds of pictures during the year, several times more than I would have taken with film.

          By the end of the year I had quite a collection of digital photos taken during troop meetings, courts of honor, and troop activities. Instead of keeping them to myself, I decided to copy them to compact discs and give a set to each Scouting family. The parents would be able to see what their boys had been up to during the year, and they could print any pictures they would like to add to their photo albums.

          I also took the photos and used them to create slideshows of each troop activity, along with music. Using iDVD, I create discs of these slideshows and gave each Boy Scout one for Christmas. They became quite popular with the families. They were also fun to watch with the Scouts during the annual Christmas party.

          I have completed creating the dvd+r’s of this year’s photographs. I have also created this year’s slideshows. (Is slideshow even the correct term in this day and age?) This weekend’s project is to create the slideshow dvd’s and cases. If I have enough time I may make a second disc featuring this year’s courts of honor and/or other events.

          The year’s slideshow dvd will include nine videos totally about 50 minutes of memories. The picture dvd+r’s will contain about 3 GB of photos. The boys sometimes get annoyed with me during the year when I am taking the pictures but everyone like viewing them at the end of the year. The parents really like seeing them.

          I only have about a week to finish this project. The troop’s Christmas party in Saturday evening, December 13th. It will be fun to watch the Scout’s reactions to this year’s videos and see if they approve of the music I used.

          Does your troop do anything like this? What do think of this idea?

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            scouttradingpostIf you have been following this blog then you know my frustration in not being able to find the missing piece to my Scouting Village collection, the Trading Post. I was not quick enough that first year in buying the pieces and missed that building. I did find a few people selling it on eBay at vastly inflated prices, so I went without one.

            This year the Scout Shop (and came out with the new pieces which included the cool looking Dining Hall. It made me want the Trading Post even more, but not enough to where I would spend $100 to get one. Then, as if the national sales team wanted to pour salt into my open wound, they came out with a “starter kit” that included all the pieces from 2012 and 2013, including the Trading Post! I had no intention of spending $80.00 just to get that piece, even if it included all those other pieces.

            A little over a month ago I received an email from a person who worked in a council Scout Shop in the southern United States. She stated that she was breaking apart a “starter kit” because other people also wanted to fill in gaps in their collections. She was willing to sell me a Trading Post! The price she gave me was very reasonable, but I would have to add shipping to the cost. By the time everything was added up I discovered I could add this missing piece to my collection for $31.00. Yes, that is double the price I would have paid if I would have bought it that first year, but I guess I learned a lesson.

            When I set up my Scouting Village toward the end of November it will include all the pieces available from the three years of the collection. I am looking forward to seeing it all together. One big question in my mind is whether everything will fit on that piece of plywood I bought for this purpose. I guess I will find out in a few weeks. If the Scout Shop comes out with more pieces next year I know I will need a larger piece of plywood.

            Stay tuned! I will be posting pictures of the village once I have set it up. I invite you to send you pictures of your Scouting Village, along with a brief description, to this blog so I can post them for the world to see.

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              village 8pc setI remember when the Boy Scout stores began selling the Scouting Village pieces a couple years ago. I decided to start collecting them a little too late and missed out on getting the lighted Trading Post building. I still do not have one. When this year’s village pieces became available at our local Scout Shop I bought all three immediately. I did not want to make the same mistake a second time.

              I recently noticed that in addition to this year’s collection pieces, has an eight piece starter set available to purchase. The set includes all the pieces from 2012 and 2013, including the lighted Trading Post. So, in other words, I can now get the piece I am missing, if I am willing to spend $80 on the whole set. Since I have all the other pieces already, I do not think I will be doing that.

              I wish the website would make all the pieces available as single pieces. It is obvious they are manufacturing the pieces again, otherwise why wouldn’t they have offered the pieces online earlier to clear out inventory?  I am sure I am not the only one who missed out buying a building during the last two years, or maybe I am. I does frustrate me a bit, almost to the point of thinking that this will probably be the last year I will collect the Scouting Village pieces.

              It is a great idea to offer the set to new collectors, but I feel it is a slap in the face to those of us who began collecting two years ago. What do you think about it?


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                dining hallI arrived at the Central Minnesota Council office early for Tuesday night’s roundtable so I spent some time checking out the Scout Shop. There was only a couple of us looking around when the clerk asked me if she could help me find anything, like books, awards, Christmas items…

                The mention of Christmas items caught my attention immediately. Just last week I had checked the website to see if there were any new pieces for the Scouting Village that had began two years ago. I was anxious to see if this village would be continued and what this year’s pieces would be. Unfortunately, I found nothing on the website. So when the Scout Shop clerk mentioned Christmas items I had to ask about the Scouting Village.

                She replied that they had received the new pieces that very afternoon and have not had a chance to get them on the shelves yet. Awesome, I thought. I asked if I could see them and followed her into the storage room where she opened the carton. I believe I was the first Scouting volunteer in my council to see the new pieces, and this year’s building grabbed my attention.

                The newest building in the series is the Lighted Dining Hall. I thought is was well designed and quite colorful, but a little small in scale for a dining hall. Only one troop would fit in here, I thought. Oh well, it is a village building piece and they are not in the same scale as the people or even other buildings. It is still a pretty cool looking piece and I am anxious to add it to my set up this year. The website states (Yes, it can now be bought online), “A welcome addition to the holiday Scouting Village, this piece enhances any collection. Porcelain rendering of a BSA camp dining hall is beautifully detailed—complete with outdoor picnic tables!”

                The next piece that I noticed was the “Tree Sales” Figurine. I like this piece because it reminds me of the years that Boy Scout Troop 68 sold Christmas Trees as a fundraiser. The website says, “Premium-quality accessory adds character and dimension to your Lighted Scouting Village scenes. Polyresin tree figurine features a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Leader hard at work on a Christmas tree sales lot.” I have to agree the the figures do add quite a bit to the Scouting Village scene.

                The third and final piece of this year’s collection is the “Popcorn Tree” Figurine. This piece features a Boy Scout and Cub Scout decorating a Christmas Tree. The site says, “There’s nothing more iconic to BSA than popcorn! This polyresin figurine features a Cub Scout and Boy Scout decorating a tree with popcorn garland and ornaments.” I thought this could be a great gift for the unit’s “popcorn kernel”, the chairperson of the popcorn fundraiser.

                I bought all three pieces right then. I was not going to wait and have the same thing happen to me that happened two years ago when I waited too long to buy them and missed out on getting the Trading Post. (I still do not have one.) I look forward to late November when I set up my new expanded village. I think this will be the last year I will be able to use that piece of plywood I use for the base.

                I was not the only person who bought the set that evening. Within ten minutes of my purchase another set was bought and the Scout Shop was out of the Lighted Dining Halls. Since I am a roundtable commissioner I also took time during the meeting to give a quick shout out for this year’s Scouting Village.

                Have you been collecting the buildings and figurines? What do you think of this year’s additions?

                trees for sale
                popcorn tree


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