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Central Minnesota Council Friends of Scouting 2013 shoulder patch.

Central Minnesota Council Friends of Scouting 2013 shoulder patch.

I don’t know about your council but ours, the Central Minnesota Council B.S.A., is in full swing for its 2013 Friends of Scouting (FOS) drive. Representatives from the council or district will visit each of the troops, packs, and crews to talk to families about the Scout program, and ask for donations to help the council provide a great program for thousands of youth. In Melrose Troop 68, this visit usually takes place at the March court of honor which will happen on Monday, the 25th.

The council will accept any donation but does have a couple of “levels” at which the person or family who donates enough financial support will receive a special token of appreciation. At the lowest of these level points the donator will receive a patch. At the next levels he/she will receive a Norman Rockwell unframed print or framed print.

I visited with Bob, my district executive, for awhile yesterday and found out the design of this year’s patch. This will be the sixth year that the council continues a theme based on the Scout Law. Each year has featured a point of the Law. This year has Kind as its theme. Is it a sharp looking patch, in my opinion. It is also nice to see that the council has returned to a stitched patch, instead of the cheaper looking print patches it used during the past three years. As you can see from the picture, this year’s FOS council patch is one you could proudly wear on your uniform.

What does your council do to show its appreciation during its Friends of Scouting drive?

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    The Central Minnesota Council, B.S.A. is taking Scouting to new heights this summer when they sponsor the St. Cloud Air Show on July 20-21, 2013. The weekend promises to be a blast and will feature special events for local Boy Scout troops and venture crews. Here is some show information from the website:

    The St. Cloud Air Show, presented by The Central Minnesota Council Boy Scouts of America, will be held at the St. Cloud Regional Airport on July 20th & 21st, 2013. Each day this show will feature the world-famous US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels as well as two days of performances by the world’s best military and civilian pilots. It will showcase world-class aerobatics champions, military jet demonstrations and entertainment for the whole family.

    Show highlights include:
    Two days of great In-The-Air Acts plus each day featuring The Blue Angels.
    Unique ground displays, historic aircraft, supersonic fighters and interactive activities.
    A family inflatables play area, climbing wall and bungee jumping.
    Viewing chalets with VIP seating, parking and food and beverages.

    Tickets are now on sale! Entertainment for your whole family and a chance to make memories you’ll never forget.
    Check out the website at http://www.stcloudairshow.com/

    Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts of the Central Minnesota Council can participant in a weekend lock-in at the airport. They will camp at the site, participate in special events, and may even meet some of the pilots. It sounds like a great opportunity for the local Scouts, and a great way to promote the Scout program in our area.

    Has your council ever done something like this?

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      Five Boy Scouts and two adult leaders of Melrose Troop 68 joined nearly 3200 other Scouts and leaders for the 2011 Ripley Rendezvous. The event was held at the Camp Ripley National Guard Base in central Minnesota. Boy Scouts from all over Minnesota attended, along with some Boy Scouts from neighboring States and even Canada.

      The program was divided into three activities areas, based on the age of the Scouts. The three activities were:
      - Action Center Midway (60+ Displays, Demonstrations, Vendors and Hands-on Activities)
      - Adventure Program (Shooting Sports and Voyageurs re-enactment group)
      - Extreme (Climbing, Rappelling, Team Challenges, Biathlon Course, Military Demonstrations) – for Boy Scouts 14+ and Venturers.

      Other highlights of the weekend were military displays and demonstrations, including live rounds fired by tanks, an arial photograph taken of the Scouts and leaders forming a huge fleur-de-lis (watch a future blog post for this picture), and the Camp Ripley Museum.

      Saturday evening finished with a grand stage show that featured a band, singers, a comedian, a juggler, and acrobats. There was also a special presentation in which the commander of the Minnesota National Guard was given a Boy Scout banner signed by hundreds of Scouts and adult leaders. This banner will be sent overseas to one of our National Guard units to remind them that we appreciate everything they are doing and are sacrificing to keep us free and safe back home.

      The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 had a great time at the Ripley Rendezvous. I believe I can safely say that all the Scouts and leaders that attended the event enjoyed themselves.

      More photos of the event can be found at:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevejb68/sets/72157625840936002/

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        I was probably a 13 year old Boy Scout when I attended my first Ripley Rendezvous. This annual event was sponsored by the Central Minnesota Council, BSA, and the Camp Ripley National Guard Base, located north of Little Falls, Minnesota. It was a weekend event which brought hundreds of Boy Scouts together. The Scout troops slept in the barracks, ate in the dining halls, and had plenty of activities to have fun with. One activity that I will always remember is when Billy Kid, the Olympic skier, gave us skiing instructions. I think I even got his autograph.

        When I became an adult leader for my home troop I once again began attending the Ripley Rendezvous. Our troop has not missed many of them during the last thirty years. The boys have always had a great time and enjoy being on the base. One of their highlights has been visiting the camp’s military museum.

        Scouts will once again gather at Camp Ripley this weekend for the sixth state-wide Ripley Rendezvous. Thousands of Boy Scouts and adult leaders from five councils will be in attendance. The boys will participate in one of three age-based activity areas. It will be a jamboree-style event with all troop staying in tents and cooking meals by patrol.

        Rumor has it that this could be the last Ripley Rendezvous. Our council does not have one listed on next year’s schedule. I have not heard the official reason for this, but I would bet it has something to do with the base becoming a very busy place over the last years. Hopefully, in the near future, things will settle down and the Rendezvous tradition can continue once again.

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          The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 recently spent a weekend at Parker Scout Reservation, the Central Minnesota Council’s camp. One of the highlights of the weekend was a tour of the newest building on the site, the Miller Castle.

          The castle was built with Cub Scout camps in mind. The building really does give the impression of a medieval castle nestled in the woods. It features a grassy courtyard surrounded by a 15 foot high masonry wall, complete with an outer catwalk. Inside, the medieval theme continues with banners hanging from the walls, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and suits of armor placed around the great meeting hall. The meeting hall also contains a small stage that is accessible for interior and exterior programs.

          The castle was built for year round use. Unlike some of the camp’s buildings, this one includes heating and air conditioning, insulated walls, and insulated windows. There are separate restrooms facilities for boys and girls, and also separate shower facilities for men and women. The two large bunk rooms can sleep 32 Scouts each. There are separate sleeping quarters for the adults. A large modern kitchen is found off the great meeting hall.

          When the Melrose Boy Scouts walked up to the castle’s outer walls I could tell they were impressed. As they entered the courtyard the stood and looked around in awe. When they entered the great meeting hall their imaginations were flowing. “We need to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons in here”, they remarked.

          I took a few pictures of the boys touring the Miller Castle which I plan to post to the troop’s website in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can check out the photos at the council’s website found at http://www.bsacmc.org/ under Camp Parker.

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            After supper on Saturday, the Order of the Arrow set up several “carnival” style activities to keep the Scouts busy until the evening’s Call Out ceremony was scheduled to begin. Stations included activities like throwing a ball to knock down the stacked blocks, throwing a football through a hoop, and throwing darts at balloons. Candy prizes were given to Scouts who were successful. There was even a softball game and an Ultimate frisbee game being played.

            The four Boy Scouts from Troop 68 were having fun going from one station to the next. Just before the stations were closed down for the evening we walked by a station which caught the boys attention. Two Scouts would stand on a 2×4 piece of lumber and then try to push or pull the other Scout off balance. The first to step off the 2×4 and place his foot on the ground lost the game. The winner stayed on the board to accept a new challenger.

            A female troop leader had been playing the game with the boys and had won several contests. She was a larger woman and did have weight on her side, but the boys only saw that as a greater challenge. One of my 14 year old Scouts decided to get in line to give it his best shot.

            When it came time to face her on the board he seemed to have a few second thoughts. How was he going to get her off the 2×4 when so many before him had failed? He finally decided to charge her with his shoulder down, hoping that brute force would knock her off. She caught him in a near bear hug and threw him off to the side. He laid there for a moment, accepted her hand to help him up, smiled, and then cracked a joke as he rejoined his buddies. We walked back to the barracks to get ready for the Order of the Arrow call out.

            As we were changing into our uniforms this Scout went off to the bathroom. When he returned, he told me that he was not feeling well, had just thrown up, and had a bad headache. I told him to lay down for awhile and asked my assistant scoutmaster to sit with him while I took the other three boys to the OA call out. On the way to the call out I met the same woman who had challenged the Scout on the 2×4. She happened to be walking with the camp nurse so I asked them if they would go up to our bay and check the Scout who was not feeling well.

            When the three boys and I arrived back to our bay after the ceremony we discovered that a few council people and the nurse were hovering near the bed of the ill Scout. The nurse said that the Scout had a concussion. The council staff had already phoned his mother and they all thought that we should take him to a nearby hospital in Little Falls to have him checked out. When the Scout tried to sit up to go to the car he got very dizzy and his head pain increased. His vision was blurred. He immediately laid back down. Oh no, did he have a neck injury also? We decided that it was time to call for an ambulance, just in case it was worse then we thought.

            As a scoutmaster you never like to see anyone get hurt although you know the small chance of it happening is always there. You hope that there will never be anything more then a skinned knee or a little bruise. When something like this happens you think about the worst, but are hoping for the best. I tell you, it is almost like being a parent.

            To make a long story short, I rode along in the ambulance to the hospital so that he had someone with him that he knew. The hospital staff asked him a lot of questions, attached five electrodes to his chest to check his vital signs, did a cat-scan of his head, and sent the scan to a hospital in Australia. After an hour in the emergency room they determined that he did indeed have a concussion, but nothing more. He uncle, who had met us at the hospital, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Since the Scout was feeling a little better they released him to his uncle’s care with instructions on what to watch for over the next day or two. I went back to Camp Ripley with another Scouter who had followed the ambulance to the hospital.

            The council staff, the first aid and venture staff, the paramedics, and the hospital staff all did a great job. Everyone stayed calm and professional. But it was a bit of excitement that none of us really needed, especially the Scout himself.

            By the way, I visited with the Scout and his mother Sunday evening when I dropped off his gear from the weekend. He still had a bit of a headache and a little tunnel vision, but he was doing much better and seemed to be almost back to his usual self. His mother was going to take him to her doctor on Monday to make sure everything was going well.

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              Saturday morning at the Central Minnesota Council’s Ripley Rendezvous started out well. The Boy Scouts awoke, got dressed, and made it to the dining hall a little early for a great breakfast of french toast, scrambled eggs, and sausage links. Even the weather was cooperating. The forecast had been for a wet cool day but the sun was shining through partly cloudy skies.

              The day quickly soured for the Scouts of Troop 68 when we discovered the program schedule had changed. Our Scouts, who were all 14 years old and older, had registered for the Outdoors Experience program which was to introduce them to the various high adventure bases and have them participate in team building exercises. It sounded like it would have been a good program, but it did not happen. The people in charge of the Outdoors Experience had backed out of the activity too late for a new program to be planned in its place.

              So our boys were placed into the First Class Adventure program, designed for 11 and 12 year old Scouts who were working on their Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Ranks. This was a big mistake. Within 45 minutes my Scouts were so bored they decided to head back to the barracks. I now had four teenage boys on a military base with nothing to do. Not a good situation. I needed to get them in a program fast or we may as well load up the gear and head home.

              I walked to the event’s headquarters and just happened to catch most of the event’s leadership in the office. I calmly explained my troop’s situation, that the boys and I were pretty disappointed, and that we were thinking about going home. They understood the problem, made a quick phone call, and were able to get the boys transferred to the range program if I was able to drive the boys to the site which was a few miles away from the barracks area. I agreed, went back to the barracks to talk to the boys, and soon found myself driving the Scouts to their new activity. The boys spent the rest of the morning rotating between the archery, rifle, shotgun, and black powder stations. The rain stayed away. The sun kept shining. The boys had a good time.

              We returned to the barracks with two hours of free time before supper would be served so we decided to visit the Camp Ripley Military Museum. This became a highlight of the weekend as the boys looked at the uniforms and weapons used by the National Guardsmen over the generations through the wars. They were also able to climb onto many of the tanks and military vehicles that were on display outside of the museum.

              A potentially bad day had turned out well. Unfortunately, the day was not yet over, and the worse was yet to come…
              (To be continued.)

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                This year’s Central Minnesota Ripley Rendezvous proved to be challenging for me as the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 68. It almost felt like Murphy’s Law was trying to prove to me that it still applies even after nearly three decades of being with the troop.

                The troop originally had five Boy Scouts and three adults registered for the annual event. Four days before the outing I received a phone call from the father who had planned to attend. Due to a family matter that came up he had to back out. My assistant scoutmaster and I still were still going so we were still covered in the two deep leadership department.

                A few days before the event I got a phone call from the oldest Scout of the troop telling me he would not be attending. A Scout who did not register in time but wanted to attend filled in this spot after a few calls were made. Then, a few hours before we were to leave, I received a call from a mother who explained that her son had been sick for the last two days and would not be able to attend the outing. That brought our total to two adults and four Boy Scouts.

                Another small snag occurred as we gathered to leave on Friday night. When one of the Scouts discovered his buddy was sick and not going along he suddenly decided he was not going to Ripley either. His mother said he was going. He said he was not. But after I had a short talk with him he decided to go along. (He ended up having a good time.)

                Checking in at Camp Ripley was quick and painless. The council had send out an email with information so we already knew which building in which we would be staying. It was a simple matter of checking in with the barracks supervisor. Each of the barracks had eight bays, four on the main floor and four on the second floor, each with 23 cots. We were assigned to Bay 6 which was located on the second floor. We would be sharing the bay with two other troops.

                The evening program went pretty well. Lights-out was scheduled for 11:00. The third troop in our bay had arrived late in the evening and were not quite ready when the time came for lights out. At 11:15 I announced to the bay that the lights would be going off in five minutes. All the Scouts were ready by then, but the other troop’s adults needed another minute. Finally, it was time to sleep.

                Well, maybe not. The boys in the next bay were still yelling at each other and creating a lot of noise. After five minutes of listening to this I got out of bed, walked to the next bay (which had the lights out), and announced to the boys that a Scout is courteous and that they should be in bed and quiet so that everyone could get some sleep. I walked back to my bay and crawled into my sleeping bag. In five minutes there was nothing but silence from both of the bays.

                As I laid on my cot I thought to myself, “Why didn’t the adult leadership in the other bay take responsibility to keep their boys quiet?” I should not have had to tell their boys to go to sleep. I felt like the grumpy old scoutmaster that I never had wanted to be. Oh well, it was quiet now. Time to get some sleep for the next day.

                Little did I know what surprises were in store for me the next day…
                (To be continued)

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