Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

 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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     While shopping for a few graduation cards last weekend there was a Father’s Day card that caught my eye that I just have to share with you. It features Snoopy, the Beagle Scout, and his trusty troop featuring Woodstock and his pals. I immediately added it to the pile of cards I was buying. Here is a picture of the front and the inside of the card. It is a Hallmark card, by the way.

    I will not be sending it to my father though. I will be keeping this one as a part of my Scouting collection.

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      Late last night, on Christmas Eve, several of us from around the country joined Chris for his live “An Hour A Week” Christmas show. The chat room was very lively as we listened to Chris and the various Christmas music he was playing.

      He invited us to join him on the show, so I thought I would try reading the story “A Christmas Scout”. It is one of my favorite Scouting Christmas stories (not that there are that many too choose from). I recorded it while Chris was playing some music and sent him the mp3 file to use during his show.

      The first thing I noticed when the mp3 was playing is that it did not take long for the chat room to become pretty quiet. Nearly everyone stopped typing to listen to my reading. I must have done a decent job, because after it finished people started writing about how well I had done. Even a tear or two had falling by the end of the story. Immediately, a couple people asked for a copy of the mp3. Within minutes Chris had a copy available through the PTC Media site.

      After thinking about it this morning, I thought I should make it available through this blog also. If you would like to hear my reading of the story of the Christmas Scout which was written by Sam Bogan, all you have to do is click on this LINK.

      And one more thing… I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

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        As Christmas approaches I have tried to find a new Boy Scout related Christmas story for you to read. There does not seem to be very many of them, which is not too surprising. But I did find one for you, thanks to the Cumberland Times of West Virginia. The story is called “A Lone Scout’s Christmas“. It was written in 1917 by Cyrus Townsend Brady as one story of a book titled “A Little Book For Christmas.” The main character is a Boy Scout who is stranded in a Midwest snowstorm when the passenger compartment of the train in which he is the only occupant becomes detached from the rest of the train on Christmas Eve.

        The story is a bit long to post as part of this blog, but here are the first several paragraphs of the story:

        Every boy likes snow on Christmas Day, but there is such a thing as too much of it. Henry Ives, alone in the long railroad coach, stared out of the clouded windows at the whirling mass of snow with feelings of dismay. It was the day before Christmas, almost Christmas Eve. Henry did not feel any too happy, indeed he had hard work to keep down a sob. His mother had died but a few weeks before and his father, the captain of a freighter on the Great Lakes, had decided, very reluctantly, to send him to his brother who had a big ranch in western Nebraska.

        Henry had never seen his uncle or his aunt. He did not know what kind of people they were. The loss of his mother had been a terrible blow to him and to be separated from his father had filled his cup of sorrow to the brim. His father’s work did not end with the close of navigation on the lakes, and he could not get away then although he promised to come and see Henry before the ice broke and traffic was resumed in the spring.

        The long journey from the little Ohio town on Lake Erie to western Nebraska had been without mishap. His uncle’s ranch lay far away from the main line of the railroad on the end of the branch. There was but one train a day upon it, and that was a mixed train. The coach in which Henry sat was attached to the end of a long string of freight cars. Travel was infrequent in that section of the country. On this day Henry was the only passenger.

        The train had been going up-grade for many miles and had just about reached the crest of the divide. Bucking the snow had become more and more difficult; several times the train had stopped. Sometimes the engine backed the train some distance to get headway to burst through the drift. So Henry thought nothing of it when the car came to a gentle stop.

        The all-day storm blew from the west and the front windows of the car were covered with snow so he could not see ahead. Some time before the conductor and rear brakeman had gone forward to help dig the engine out of the drift and they had not come back.

        Henry sat in silence for some time watching the whirling snow. He was sad; even the thought of the gifts of his father and friends in his trunk which stood in the baggage compartment of the car did not cheer him. More than all the Christmas gifts in the world, he wanted at that time his mother and father and friends.

        “It doesn’t look as though it was going to be a very merry Christmas for me,” he said aloud at last, and then feeling a little stiff from having sat still so long he got up and walked to the front of the car.

        It was warm and pleasant in the coach. The Baker heater was going at full blast and Henry noticed that there was plenty of coal. He tried to see out from the front door; but as he was too prudent to open it and let in the snow and cold he could make out nothing. The silence rather alarmed him. The train had never waited so long before.

        Then, suddenly, came the thought that something very unusual was wrong. He must get a look at the train ahead. He ran back to the rear door, opened it and standing on the leeward side, peered forward. The engine and freight cars were not there! All he saw was the deep cut filled nearly to the height of the car with snow.

        To read the rest of the story click on this LINK. By the way, this story is old enough to be in the public domain, so go ahead and use it in your troop and pack.

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          For over twenty years the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 have held a Christmas Party. Our community is predominately Christian, and all of our Scouts during the years have been Christian, so it was no problem adding this to our yearly program. The parties were held for many years in various homes, but as the troop grew we needed to use a larger facility, so we moved the party to the city hall meeting rooms. Now that the troop is down in membership I hold the party at my home. And yes, we have at least two adults at each event. There is that youth protection thing we have to follow, you know.

          The party begins with a movie. I remember the first party held at the home of one of the few families in town who owned a new thing called a video cassette player. It was a big clunky piece of equipment but it allowed us to watch a movie in the family room, on a 19 inch analog television, I believe. The equipment has changed over the years. Now we watch the movie from a dvd on a 46″ flat screen LCD HD television. Usually, we end the evening with a second movie.

          Between the movies we have pizza, sodas, and snacks, followed by a gift exchange. During the earlier years we would name or number the gifts as the boys arrived, and each Scout would draw a piece of paper from a hat. It worked fine. During the last four or five years we have changed things a bit and made a game of it. The Scouts who wish to participate will bring a gift. These are put in the center of the room with the Scouts in a circle around them. We then pass dice around the circle. When a person rolls doubles he chooses a gift from the pile. Once everyone has a gift we open them to see what we received.

          Now the fun begins. For the next ten minutes we roll dice again, passing the dice around the circle. If you roll doubles you get to change your gift with someone else in the circle. Once time runs out you keep the gift you have in front of you. It is a lot of fun, and can be very fast.

          After the dice game we hand out the gifts brought for specific people, such as the scoutmaster and his assistant. I still own a few gifts (ornaments) that were given to me in the 1980′s. This year I received several gift cards to be spent at my favorite stores and restaurants. I think the families know me pretty well.

          Since we began the Christmas parties, I have always made an effort to get each of the Scouts a present. I know, I know, that is weird. But I have enjoyed doing it. The gifts started very small, just a red Christmas stocking with a candy cane. They have grown a little over the years, but I always have a budget I stick to. The hard part is trying to find enough of something so I can give each Scout the same thing, and stick to that budget. The years when the troop had nearly 40 Scouts were a real challenge. I remember one year in particular when I filled two shopping carts with soccer balls that were on a great sale at a large department store. I received some strange looks from people and the clerk as I checked out.

          The troop held this year’s party last weekend. We all had a great time. We watched two movies: Wall-E, and Indy Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The food was good. The dice game was fun. And the gifts were great. I want to thank each of the Scouts and their families for the gifts given to me this year. I do not know what I will get with the gift cards yet, but you know I will think of something.

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            I do not know if you have heard or not, but Christmas will be here next week. It is only ten days away. Boy, am I glad I have all my Christmas shopping done and all the gift wrapping completed. Now I can kick back and relax, and maybe read a couple stories.

            Speaking of stories, here are a couple Scouting stories that feature Christmas themes. I wrote about them last year, so I am not going to post them again. However, I will give you the links so that you can bring them up quickly.

            The first story was written by a father of one of the Scouts who attended a Philmont trek in 1992. There was a contest at Santa Claus Camp and a few of us decided to enter it. Al wrote a great story. You can read it by clicking HERE. The article also includes the crew’s Philmont Twelve days of Christmas.

            The other story is one of my favorites about Christmas and Scouting. It was sent around the internet quite a bit last year. It is about a Boy Scout who learns about the true meaning of giving during the Christmas season. You can read it by clicking HERE.

            Have you heard of any other Christmas Scouting stories. Let me know about them by contacting me through this blog. Thanks.

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              Scoutmaster Jerry from Oregon recently sent me one of those “Getting to know you” emails in which you answer a bunch of questions and then send it to all the contacts in your email address book. I usually look them over and then delete them, but this one was a little different and had Christmas as its theme. It was kinda fun so I thought I would post it here as something for the spirit of the season.

              1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper
              2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial
              3. When do you put up the tree? It has to be up by this Saturday.
              4. When do you take the tree down? New Years
              5. Do you like eggnog? Never had it.
              6. Favorite gift received as a child? SSP racers
              7. Hardest person to buy for? Parents
              8. Easiest person to buy for? Godson
              9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes
              10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Christmas cards (and a few emails)
              11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Pokeman cards
              12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It’s A Wonderful Life
              13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? After Thanksgiving
              14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? once or twice
              15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Turkey
              16. Lights on the tree? Of course
              17. Favorite Christmas songs? What Child Is This, Little Drummer Boy
              18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Brother’s is only nine miles from home.
              19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer’s? Yes
              20. Angel on the tree top or a star? My grandparent’s St. Nick
              21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Day
              22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Crowds when shopping
              23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Traditional stuff, and ornaments given to me by my Scouts.
              24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Turkey, mash potatoes, gravy
              25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Already bought it. hehehe
              26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Probably no one, I guess.

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                The Thanksgiving Holiday has once again come to those of us in the United States. As I prepare to join my family in the annual turkey dinner I look back on my years in Scouting and discover there are a lot of things to be thankful for over the last three decades with the troop. I am thankful…

                …for the ten great boys who are now members of Troop 68. They are full of energy and fun times.
                …for the over 230 boys who have been Scouts in Melrose since I became a leader of the troop in 1980.
                …for a fantastic assistant scoutmaster named Eymard, who has worked by my side for over twenty years.
                …for a committee who is dedicated to the program and do the things needed to be done to provide the program for the Scouts.
                …for past committee members and assistant scoutmasters for providing the leadership and program in the past three decades.
                …for the seventeen young men who had the drive and desire to complete Scouting’s highest honor by earning the rank of Eagle Scout while I have been their scoutmaster.
                …for the readers of this, A Scoutmaster’s Blog, and the fans of the two podcasts I am involved with: Melrose Scouting Productions and The Leader’s Campfire.
                …for all the new Scouting friends I have met online through the internet forums, podcasts, and Skype connections.
                …for all the Scouts who grew up and moved on with their lives but still stay in touch and remain good friends.
                …for a family that supports my Scouting “habit”, and understands when I miss the occasional family gathering.

                I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday and safe holiday weekend.

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