Archive for the ‘campfire’ Category


campfire45Here is a story for your next troop campfire. I do not know who wrote it, or even remember where I picked it up, but it is a good story. Iy is a story about a promise made by two Eagle Scouts who were best friends and even worked at summer camp together. There is even a bit of a ghost story involved. How far would you go to keep your promises?

“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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    Sudsy DudsyWe all know that Boy Scouts can get quite dirty when they are on a camping trip. Sometimes they become filthy. Once and awhile, at the end of a week of summer camp, their clothes may stand up on their own. Even the adult leaders clothes can become grimy by the end of a weekend. That is why you need a good clothes cleaning detergent when you arrive back home. What detergent should you use? Really, there is only one choice for cleaning up after a Boy Scout outing. You need Sudsy Dudsy.

    What? You have never heard of Sudsy Dudsy? Really? Where have you been? It is the best soap ever invented by mankind. It can clean everything, and every stain. In fact, let me show you. This video post to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast features a member of our troop demonstrating the cleaning power of Sudsy Dudsy during our Laughs For Lunch Show in the year 2000. You will see for yourself that this product is simply amazing.

    Actually, this is an easy skit for your Boy Scouts to perform. You only need one Scout, a bucket, a few dirty clothes items, and a few identical clean items. Of course, it helps if your Scout is quite a showman. This is a short skit in which he can really ham it up a bit, as the Boy Scout in this video does.

    Has your troop ever done this skit? What type of items did Sudsy Dudsy clean in your demonstration?

    Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
    Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
    or through iTunes  (and rate the show).
    Don’t forget to leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store.

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      mpsc2000The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 used to be very good with performing campfire songs and skits. The troop looked forward to performing at camporees and summer camp campfire programs. There were many times we would take a popular skit or song, change it up a bit, and make it something new. Today’s post to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast demonstrates one example of that trait.

      Our troop had been attending a week of camp at Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota for a few years when we came up with the idea for a new song to perform. We wanted to do something that poked some fun at the camp, and something the campers could identify with. We picked the popular song by the Village People because everyone knew the tune to YMCA. We completely changed the lyrics and the actions and came up with our version of M.P.S.C.  The song was a hit when we performed it at the closing campfire.

      This video features the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 performing this song during their 2000 Laughs For Lunch Show, held at the Melrose High School auditorium. So get out of that chair, stand up, and join the Scouts as they sing their version of M.P.S.C.

      Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
      Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
      or through iTunes  (and rate the show).
      Don’t forget to leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store.

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        MSPpodcastsAh, the Laughs For Lunch Shows. They were a yearly campfire-style program that the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 performed for our community for 13 years, the first one held in 1996. We had a lot of fun doing them and I believe the audiences really enjoyed them. An extra bonus was that the Scouts received experience in public speaking (and singing) which was something that would help them later in life.

        I recently transferred the 2000 show from a VHS tape to DVD. As I was doing some touch up editing and chapter marking for the DVD I noticed the Boy Scouts did some really good performances doing the show. I decided to clip some of the better songs and skits and share them with you for this podcast.

        The first post from this show for the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast is the campfire favorite, the Dirty Sock Song. How dirty do your socks get? How smelly do they become? Do they get strong enough to give your tent an awful scent or could they be used as a method of rat population control? The Boy Scouts chose a few members of their audience to poke some fun at during this song.

        Has your troop used this song during a campfire program? Or have you seen it performed by another troop? How did your Boy Scouts like it?

        Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
        Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
        or through iTunes  (and rate the show).
        Don’t forget to leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store.

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          As a scoutmaster I constantly preached about having a campfire “cold out” before going to bed or leaving a campsite. The Boy Scouts probably got tired of me being on their case when I discovered a fire ring of which I was told was cold, but my hand said otherwise. Too bad. I was the scoutmaster, and it was my job to train these young men how to camp safely and responsibly. Get the water bucket and get that fire COLD OUT!

          A couple of my neighbors came over Tuesday night to help remove a few dead branches from a large tree in my backyard. I ended up with a nice pile of new firewood and a lot of branches to burn. Wednesday night I decided to have a campfire using my newfound fuel wood. For nearly three hours I, along with my nephew, enjoyed sitting around, shooting the breeze, and burning a large pile of dead wood and branches. We never let the fire outgrow the fire ring, and I had my garden hose next to my chair just in case any little sparks tried starting a new fire on the dry lawn. I even wetted the lawn around the fire site before I began burning anything. You can never be too safe you know. (All that BSA training!)

          When 9:00 arrived I decided to start letting the fire die down to coals and quit putting new fuel on the flames. There was already a large pile of coals. At 10:00 I decided it was time to go inside and call it a night. I wet down the fire, stirred the coals, wet it one more time, and stirred the coals again. I put my hand over the fire site and felt a little warmth, but nothing really hot. I went inside the house.

          At 1:30 I woke up and went into the kitchen for a glass of milk. I looked out the window and noticed there were a few red coals glowing in the fire ring. That is interesting, I thought. Did I go outside and put out the coals? No, I did not. I went back to bed.

          In the morning I woke up, ate breakfast, and prepared to go to work. I thought I should check out the fire ring as I walked by it on the way to the garage. I put my hand near what I thought should be cold coals, but I felt some heat. Not burning hot, but very warm. Did I take the garden hose to the fire remains? No. I walked into the garage, hopped into the car, and went to work.

          I decided to eat lunch at home. The warm coals had been nagging the back of my mind all morning. Before I even made lunch I walked to the backyard to check out the fire ring. The first thing I noticed was that there was more white ash then there had been when I left for work. My hand quickly determined there was more heat then this morning also. I did not see any red coals but there definitely was something smoldering inside that decorative metal ring. I turned on the garden hose and drenched the coals and stirred them well. I did not need the neighborhood going up in flames after I left to go back to work.

          When I arrived home tonight I walked straight to the fire ring. This time it was cold out. There was not any heat or warmth to be felt. But it had me thinking about it all day. Even after 15 hours of “putting out” the fire there was still enough heat to turn coals to ash. I had better start practicing a COLD cold out test from now on. It would be quite embarrassing for this retired scoutmaster to start a lawn fire in his own neighborhood.

          Maybe I should tear off a corner of my Firem’n Chit card?

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            Two new boys joined us for their first Boy Scout camping trip at Camp Watchamagumee over the weekend of May 6-8, 2011. They had a great time on the outing but we did have an interesting and unexpected experience Friday night.

            The four boys attending the outing had joined us at the adult’s campsite to sit around the campfire. Eymard, my assistant scoutmaster, had made popcorn. One of the boys had brought marshmallows. The boys wanted me to tell them a story but I kept changing the subject, pushing it off a little longer, letting it get good and dark.

            Suddenly, we heard distant barking. I thought it was the dogs of a nearby home but the barking was coming from the wrong direction. When it turned to howling we realized it was coyotes, a pack of them from the sound of it. The mood around the campfire changed instantly. I could the younger boys become a bit anxious so we discussed the nature of coyotes and that those animals usually avoided human contact. They really did not need to be worried.

            I waited several minutes before I began the story of the Purple Gorilla. The story begins with a salesman traveling on night through a terrible thunderstorm and finally ends up spending the night at a farmhouse far away from any cities. During the story, the salesman must go through ten doors to find a suspense filled discovery. I was having fun building up the scenario but I was also keeping an eye on the new boys. As I described the opening of the third door we all heard movement in the woods near the boy’s campsite. It sounded like something large.

            Interest in the story evaporated as everyone’s thoughts turned to the coyotes we had heard earlier. The young boys were very nervous. I was a little nervous also, I have to admit. All four boys huddled close to me as we grabbed our flashlights and walked to their campsite to discover what had caused the noise. We walked around the site, shining our flashlights in all directions, but seeing nothing. The younger boys wanted me to check out the inside of their tent to be sure nothing had crawled into it. We found nothing in the tent or around the campsite. We heard nothing more. I told the boys it was probably a deer that was passing nearby.

            The boys were relieved that we did not find anything, but decided that it was time to go to turn in for the night. The new boys asked me to stay near their tent as they prepared to go to bed. Then I checked on the other boys and walked back to my own campsite.

            The story of the Purple Gorilla was all but forgotten. I will have to finish the story at a future outing. As I distinguished the fire I thought that it was a good thing I had not told the story of the Wolfen. If I had, the two new boys probably would not have gone back to their tents.

            (By the way, the picture shown was not from this outing but from a weekend in the 1980’s. I do not remember what story they were listening to when I took the picture.)

            100 Days Of Scouting: Day 96.

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              I enjoy a good campfire program. You can easily tell when a camp staff has rehearsed the skits and songs, and when they themselves are having a good time. That good time spreads to the campers and makes for a great evening. When you get the campers laughing you know you have done your job well.

              Today’s video for YouTube Tuesday features a camp staff that must have spent a lot of time practicing because the skit they performed was done flawlessly. The timing was perfect. The audience had a fantastic time watching them. You really do not want me to explain this video. You just need to sit back, watch and enjoy it. Then grab a few people and start practicing it yourselves for this summer camp programs. (1349)

              100 Days Of Scouting: Day 36.

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                This entry to the YouTube Tuesday Boy Scout video was actually placed online two year ago. It features Boy Scout Troop 80 singing their song about root beer to the Cub Scout Scout pack. I had never heard this before and got a chuckle out of it so I thought I would share it with you.

                100 Days of Scouting: Day 22.

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