Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category


This year marks the eleventh year that the Central Minnesota Council has created a special council shoulder patch, featuring a point of the Scout Oath, as an incentive for their annual Friends of Scouting campaign. Of course, that means the point used this year is Clean. A bar of soap with the words “Scout Clean” is the focal point of the patch.

I have collected these patches since they began, placing them in my three ring binders. A few of the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 wear one on their uniform. We are already wondering what next year’s “Reverent” patch is going to look like.

Does your council create special patches for their Friends of Scouting drives? What have they recently done as a theme for the patch? Leave your answer as a comment below.

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    When I became the assistant scoutmaster of a six month old Boy Scout troop in June 1980, I never in my wildest dreams think I would become a bit of a journalist. A month later I wrote my first Scouting-related article for the weekly local newspaper, with the help of one of the committee members. Little did I know I would continue doing this for nearly four decades.

    Those early articles, known as The Scouts Review, were only a few paragraphs long, recounting what happened at the weekly troop meetings. We also did a longer article about the monthly outings, usually with a picture or two. The Melrose Beacon supported our efforts by printing anything we submitted to them. After several months we stopped writing about the weekly meetings and only wrote about the monthly outings, service projects, courts of honor, and other special events. Most of our Eagle Scouts and their projects were covered by the newspaper. Some of the summer camp or Philmont trek articles appeared in two parts spread over consecutive issues.

    For some reason, even after I became the scoutmaster, the articles remained my project. No one offered to take over the duty, although once in a great while of of the committee members submitted an article about an event. During the 1980’s and 1990’s I was pretty good about getting something in the paper every month. By the time the 2000’s came around I was starting to grow tired of the responsibility. By the 2010’s I was not submitting articles on a regular basis, maybe once every two or three months.

    The articles were a great way to keep the activities of the Boy Scout troop in the public eye. The Melrose Beacon was great in supporting both the troop and the Cub Scout Pack. I am sure many of the Scouts and their families clipped those articles for their scrapbooks. I tried to save every one of those articles. Sometimes other local papers printed pictures of the Scout events. I saved those clippings also.

    I now have four three ring binders full of the last 37 years of Melrose Beacon Scout articles, along with some clippings from the Hometown News, the Sauk Centre Herald, and the St. Cloud Times. The fourth book is nearly full. It will soon be time to begin a fifth book.

    These binders usually sit on a shelf in the closet of my office, but a couple of times a year they come out of the dark and are seen by the public as part of a Scouting display during our spring and fall meal fundraisers. I had to work on them today to get ready for the spring breakfast to be held on Sunday, April 8th. There was over two years worth of clippings to tape into those books but they are now complete and ready to be viewed. It sort of boggles the mind when I think of the Melrose Scouting history found in those four binders.

    Does someone in your troop or pack write articles for your local newspaper? Does someone in your troop collect them, maybe the troop Historian? Where are they stored? How often do they get viewed?

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      I became an assistant scoutmaster at the young age of 19 in June 1980. Shortly thereafter, I began receiving Boy’s Life and Scouting magazines, the two official publications of the Boy Scouts of America. I enjoyed reading them, and they were a part of my training during those early years of being a scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68.

      Instead of recycling those early magazines I held onto them. I thought they could come in handy as a reference. As the years went by and the pile grew larger I bought some magazine file boxes to store and organize them, still thinking I may look back at them some day. As the decades went by I continued to save the issues. The collection grew!

      It has now been over 37 years since those first issues arrived. For over 37 years I have been collecting and filing both magazines. I probably have about 450 issues of Boy’s Life (12 per year) and over 185 issues of Scouting magazine (5 per year). The collection, seen in the picture, covers more than ten feet of shelving.

      I have now reached the point at which I am wondering why I have kept all these magazines. I have only looked at a few back issues a couple of times. What should I do with them all? There are over 600 of them, with more coming every month. I doubt there are many people with as large of a collection as I have. I would hate to just throw them away. I know of no one who would want them. I doubt the local museum has a need for them. I am sure the local Scout office would want them for any reason.

      What do you think? Do you have a suggestion on what to do with this collection? Leave your comments and suggestions below. Thanks.

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        In October 2016 I wrote a post in which I stated that I was going to quit making photo albums about Boy Scout Troop activities. I currently have 38 albums covering over 35 years of Troop 68 history. It is quite the collection of books. Since I am not the scoutmaster any longer and do not attend most of the events any more I thought it might be time to stop creating albums. In the digital age, are photo albums even relevant?

        Well, I guess they still are. During one of last year’s meal fundraisers some of the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 noticed that there were not any current photos. The younger Scouts noticed they were not even included in the last album. You see, I usually bring some of the albums to the meal for people to look through as they wait in line or to look up pictures of activities of years gone by. Troop alumni seem to have fun looking through them.

        Last weekend I decided to finish out the last album which was only half way filled, and do one more new album. I looked through the thousands of photos I have taken in the last two years (yes, thousands) and picked out 468 pictures of 2016 and 2017 to have printed since Shutterfly had unlimited free prints this past week. It still cost over $40.00 in postage, but what the heck, it is for the kids.

        (Maybe I should ask the troop committee if they could help pay for some of that postage, huh?)

        I guess I have my work cut out for me this weekend. The photos arrived today. Now to sort them, insert them, and label them in the photo albums. The goal is to have them ready to view at the spring breakfast next month. Wish me luck!

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          My brother and I were Boy Scouts for three and a half years in the mid 1970’s. My youngest brother was a Cub Scout. My mother was a den leader, and my father was a troop committee member. Scouting was strong in my family, but not quite as strong as it was in one of my cousin’s family.

          Jim Ehlert, my uncle, had five sons. All five sons were involved in the Scouting program. Jim became a scoutmaster when his oldest son was a Boy Scout. Jim held that position for a number of years as all the boys grew threw the program. In fact, all five of the young men earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

          Once in awhile, back in the 1970’s, our families would meet at grandma’s cabin on Kings Lake. We would sometimes exchange skits and songs that were popular in our troops. We would also swap Scouting stories and experiences as we sat around the campfire.

          I was a little in awe of Jim during my teen years, as a lot of Scouts look up to the adults who are Scout Leaders. I also admired him for holding the position of scoutmaster fo so many years. When his sons finally graduated out of the troop he retired as scoutmaster and took on a different Scouting position.

          Occasionally, after I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, Jim and I would have the opportunity to chat about Scouting. He would ask me how things were going in my troop, or ask me to tell him about the latest high adventure trip that we had attended. They were fun discussions.

          On Tuesday, September 19, Jim passed away after a battle with kidney disease. He was in his 80’s. I guess I will not be sharing anymore Scouting stories with him. Until that is, until I join him in that great summer camp in the sky.

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            bookstandI have been on the Melrose Area History Museum board of directors for a little over a year now. I have been finding it to be interesting. I have a feeling that if I am still on the board when I am old enough to retire from work I may spend quite a bit of time there helping out with various projects. Unfortunately, since I am working full time I do not get to spend very much time with the museum, other than going to board meetings.

            Since Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting are such a big part of my life, I have been trying to do little things at the museum to improve the Scouting display and make it look better. I do mean little things. A year ago I built a little Scouting coffee mug stand for the display case and provided enough Scouting themed mugs to display on it. This past winter I printed and framed a photo of each of the troop’s Eagle Scouts (of the last thirty years) for the museum. Previous articles to this blog describe these projects in more detail.

            My latest project is more of an experiment. The Scouting display has a few handbooks and other misc. books that people can only see the edge binding of because we really do not have good way to display them. I have decided to try making a book display using some odd jamb material found at the lumber yard I work at. The moulding gives the backboard a slight back tilt which should help display the books, but yet keep enough weight at the bottom of the rack to keep the display from tipping over.

            The picture above shows the display before I painted it white this past weekend. I am thinking of looking through my Scouting collection to find doubles of Cub Scout handbooks since there is not very much Cub Scout related material in the display yet. If this display works well, I plan to make one or two more for the cases. After all, the museum display already has some books that need to be shown off better then they currently are displayed.

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              Villa Philmonte 2014When you participate in a program at Philmont Scout Ranch, whether a 12 day trek or a training session, you should try to schedule a tour of the summer home of Waite Phillips, known as the Villa Philmonte. The home now serves as the anchor of the Philmont Training Center (PTC) and is only a short walk from the Philmont Base Camp. Tours are scheduled through the Seton Museum and Library.

              I first toured the Villa way back in 1984 when I attended scoutmaster training at PTC. I was, and still am, employed as a draftsman at a local lumber yard so I really appreciated the design and details of the home. Whenever I returned to Philmont to partake in treks with Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 though the 1980’s and 1990’s I tried to find time for the Scouts to tour the Villa.

              It has been ten years between visits to the ranch. I returned to Philmont for a week in June for an advancement training course at PTC. I went on the trip with Bob, our district executive, who also took the same course. We decided early in the week that we would take a tour of the Villa once again. We scheduled a visit for Tuesday afternoon, the last tour for the day.

              I was hoping to see a few items within the home that I had seen back in the 1980’s. Would the carved wooden chest still be located in the living room? Would the model ship still be on display? Would the old piano still be playable after all these years? Are all the animal trophies still to be found in Waite Phillips hunting room? Would the portrait of Waite Phillips still be located in the closet of the lower level? The answer to all of the question was “Yes.”

              There was much more to see on this tour than the previous ones I had taken. I believe more of the Villa is open to the tour now then 15 or 20 years ago. It may be that the Philmont staff may have been using these rooms for other purposes during the 80’s and 90’s.

              Bob and I were the only two people during our scheduled time for the tour. Our guide did an excellent job. This year we were able to view the three bedrooms of the Phillips children, each of which was triple the size of my bedroom at home. The old cars in the garage were also fun to look at.

              My favorite part of the tour was the gun room, located off the hunting trophy room. I do not recall ever seeing this room on any earlier tours. We could not go inside the gun room but we were allowed to look through the barred window in the door. It was awesome seeing the old rustic cabinetry and the various rifles and muskets that were stored in there. I did put my camera through the door window bars and got a couple nice shots of the room.

              Fact is, I took a lot of photos during the tour. One hundred and two of them. Back on previous tours I used a film camera and was doing well to get a dozen or so pictures of the tour. Isn’t digital photography wonderful?

              The last stop of the tour was a large room which I had never seen before. It was set up as a small museum of Philmont history, almost like an extension of the Seton Museum. You had to enter the room through the exterior courtyard where the swimming pool used to be. It is a definite “must stop” of the tour. There is a lot of information in there.

              I will be placing many of the pictures of the tour online in an album on my Flickr account. You can see the album at:
              https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevejb68/sets/72157645062415997/

              Have you toured the Villa Philmonte at Philmont Scout Ranch? What did you think of it? What were your favorite parts of the tour?

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                Bear Skin SignWhat do you think of when you hear the words “bear skin”? Is your first thought a bear skin rug? Maybe a sporting game between the Bears and the Redskins? Maybe a sunburn after sitting with bare skin in the sun too long? One of the things I think of is summer camp. It was the name of the campsite my troop used for two years when I attended camp as a youth.

                I attended Parker Scout Reservation of the Central Minnesota Council for three years during the mid-1970’s. It is a small camp by some summer camp standards, but it was the home of Troop 68 and other troops for a week of fun and excitement. In its earlier days it was called Camp Clyde. These days it is sometimes called Camp Parker. It closed as a summer camp in the late 1970’s but is still used as a weekend camp for council Boy Scout and Cub Scout activities. Troop 68 has used the camp on several occasions over the years for their own weekend activities.

                The council has done several major renovations and additions to Camp Parker during the last few decades. The old dining hall was completely renovated and an addition was built onto it. A storage building was added next to it at the same time. A new shower house was constructed back in the nineties. Several older buildings have been remodeled with new heating systems installed. The biggest addition to Camp Parker took place when the castle was built. Yes, you read that correctly. A castle. (Pictures of the castle can be seen at http://www.bsacmc.org/photo_gallery_miller_castle.html .)

                A few months ago I received a phone call at work asking if the lumber yard would like to donate some cedar lumber so new signs could be built for the campsites. The signs were getting pretty run down and looked rather shoddy. I did not even give my boss a chance to reply to the request. I used this as a chance for myself to give back a little to the place I have been going to for four decades. I donated the materials.

                But I had one request. I wanted the old campsite sign of the camp I stayed in as a young Boy Scout. I wanted the old Bear Skin sign. I was told that should not be a problem and that they would set it aside for me.

                That was a couple months ago. Yesterday, when I arrived back home from working at my parents renovation project, I found something placed between my front door and combination door. Later in the morning my district executive had stopped by my house on his way through town and dropped off the sign. Other than patches and pictures, this is the first item from Camp Parker I have been able to add to my Scouting collection.

                The sign was actually in decent shape considering it has weathered several Minnesota winters and summers. I really have no idea how long this sign has marked the campsite. I would doubt it is the same sign that welcomed Boy Scouts in the 1970’s, but it is a piece of camp history and I am happy to have it in my collection.

                Below you can see a map of Parker Scout Reservation from a camporee probably held in the early 1990’s. As you can see, Parker is not a big camp but it really does not matter. I have made a lot of great Scouting memories there.

                ParkerMapb

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