Archive for July, 2012


I may not be a scoutmaster anymore, but Boy Scouting is still in my blood. I may not have gone with the troop to summer camp last week, but I could not completely stay away. I took a day off work last Friday spent the day with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 at Many Point Scout Camp.

I arrived at the troop’s campsite during the second merit badge session. (See previous blog post.) When the troop was back together after the third session we had a short time to visit before walking to the Buckskin dining hall for a lunch of hot dogs, beans, and chips. During the meal I caught up on what had been happening during the week, and how the Scouts had been enjoying the program.

The troop had three activities planned for the afternoon. At 1:00, it was time for camp reflection. This is time for each troop to go back to its campsite and discuss how things had gone during the week. The Melrose Scouts seem to have been having a busy but fun week and really did not have any negative comments about the camp program. I found the old scoutmaster in me came out a couple times when I asked a few questions to keep the discussions going a bit longer.

The troop’s 2:00 activity was a round of disc golf on the camp’s nine hole course. As we walked toward the admin building to pick up the golf discs, I could not help but remember that last year we only played three holes because the mosquitoes were so bad they drove us off the course. Thankfully, the bloodsuckers where not very bad this year, but the horseflies did their best to bug us.

One of the Scouts, Alex, was determined to win the disc gold game this year. The boys and I have played a few times over the past twelve months and though we have tied a couple times, Alex had not yet beaten my score. Darren, our new assistant scoutmaster, was our score keeper. After the game was played, and the discs had been returned to the admin building, Darren announced the scores. I had a hunch the Alex may have finally beaten me by one throw but when Darren announced the results he declared… a tie! Alex and I had the same score again. Alex grabbed the score sheet from Darren’s hands and added the numbers himself. Sure enough, we were tied. If only it had not taken him five throws to get the disc into the basket on hole #2.

We went back to camp and the boys changed into their swim suits for the third afternoon activity, snorkeling. Noah, one of the younger Scouts, used the opportunity at the beach to complete his swimmer’s test and thus finish his First Class Rank. My job during this hour was to stand on the dock,  take a few pictures, and throw a clam shell into the water for the Scouts to find. It was a very warm afternoon and the boys enjoyed being in the lake.

The fourth merit badge session was held at 4:00. Only one of the Scouts had a class to attend so the other two boys had some free time to enjoy. Assistant scoutmaster Eymard and the boys sat around the table to enjoy a game of cards. As the supper hour arrived the troop changed into their uniforms and we walked to the camp’s parade ground near the dining hall. Troop 68 was scheduled to retire the colors and lead the camp in grace before supper. I felt a little out of place being one of the few people not wearing a Boy Scout uniform.

All program area were open after supper. I joined a couple of the boys as they went to the outdoor skills area. Alex wanted to show me the project he had been working on during his pioneering class. From there I walked to the ranges to check on Noah who was trying to finish his shooting for the Rifle Merit Badge. A short time later, Daniel arrived to work on his skills at the archery range, until Darren came to tell him the Alex was waiting for him in camp to go to the beach. I checked on Noah again and than went back to the troop’s campsite.

I decided to leave camp as the Boy Scouts were preparing to go to the camp’s closing campfire program which began at 9:30 that evening. I wanted to be home by midnight and had over a two hour drive ahead of me. I was already tired and did not want to stick around for the campfire.

I had a great time during my visit to camp. In one way, it seemed like coming home. I think the Boy Scouts appreciated that I stopped by for the day. It was a great way to spend a day of vacation from work.

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    Doesn’t it seem like every time you go to summer camp you end up bringing things home with you that were not in your pack when you arrived at camp? The camp trading post can be a dangerous place. Money can quickly disappear from your pockets. Strange items vanish from the shelves and somehow reappear in your tent when it comes time to pack up to return home. It can be very strange.

    In my younger days I would usually come home from camp with a new tee shirt or two, or maybe a bolo tie, or a coffee mug, or some other items I just felt I had to have. Many years it was three, four, or five items. These items accumulated after a couple decades. I finally had to find the willpower to stop buying stuff while at camp. Unfortunately, it was sometimes hard to find Will Power.

    This year I attended camp for only one day. I only made two quick trips to the trading post. As I walked around the store I heard the souvenirs call out to me… “Pick me!” said the tee shirts. “Buy me”, yelled the tall glass mugs. “Take me home with you”, whispered the colorful magnets. “I will keep you warm on those cool nights”, tempted the sweatshirts and jackets.

    I did not leave empty handed. I bought four small items to take home. Two were Order of the Arrow lodge patches to add to my collection. One was the 2012 Many Point Scout Camp patch. (I did attend camp after all, even if it was just for a day.) The fourth item was a small furry raccoon wearing a tee shirt that said “I Love Many Point”. (If it would have been written out.) It was just too cute to pass up. It thought it would look great on the shelf with the other Scouting related critters I have collected over the years.

    Did you buy any souvenirs at camp this year? What snuck into your pack for the journey home?

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      I did not go along with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 when they left for their weeklong stay at Many Point Scout Camp on Sunday, July 8th. The boys and the camp were on my mind all week though. I sort of missed being up there with the troop during their summer camp adventure so on Friday, July 13th, I took a day of vacation from work and spent it at MPSC.

      I left home at about 8:00 in the morning. I planned to arrive at camp while the Scouts were at their merit badge sessions. I would join them for lunch and their afternoon activities. I even thought about staying long enough to watch the closing campfire in the evening. I did not plan to stay overnight. I purposely left my sleeping bag and cot at home so I would not be tempted.

      I arrived at MPSC shortly after 10:00 am. By 10:30 I walked into the Seton campsite of the Buckskin Camp to find assistant scoutmaster Eymard busy in the screen porch reading a novel he had brought along. I took a few pictures around the campsite and sat down for an update of how the week was going. We were the only two people in camp. It was very peaceful.

      I had noticed a new building under construction across the road from our campsite. We got up from our chairs and Eymard lead the way to what would be the new Buckskin Handicrafts Lodge. The shell of the building was complete but it still needed siding, screening, and interior finishing. The new building was somewhat larger than the old building which was located about about four or five hundred yards south of the new site. This new lodge also had a basement which could be used as a storm shelter during inclement weather.

      Eymard and I took a short walk to the Buckskin Lodge. I was shocked and surprised to see the two buildings (the lodge and the nearby trading post) had been remodeled into one large building. The lodge interior had been totally redesigned to create a larger meeting room, new staff office, and separate staff kitchen/dining room. I think I stood their for a moment with my mouth open as I walked into the lodge. It was no longer the building I had known for the last 25 years, but I liked the way they had remodeled the area. I had know about the new Handicrafts building, but the lodge was a complete surprise.

      One new feature of the Buckskin Lodge caught my attention almost immediately and brought home how our lifestyles have changed over the last decade. The small mail cubicles for each campsite had been replaced by new larger cubicles, each having its own electrical outlet for adult leaders to plug in their cell phone chargers and other electronic devices. I was told this was a suggestion from Granny, the camp’s chief cook, who had seen a lot of devices plugged in at the dining hall over the last few years. She thought there must be a better way, so the staff came up with a great solution.

      One of the troop’s Boy Scouts was at the trading post when Eymard and I walked in. Eymard decided to go back to the campsite so Alex said he would take me to the other new addition to Buckskin Camp.

      A few years ago Many Point closed the old conservation lodge so it could be used for a new purpose. A yurt was erected in Buckskin to serve as the Nature Center. A new permanent nature lodge is now under construction near the yurt. It looks like this new building will also have a basement that will be able to serve as a storm shelter. The yurt may become a small zoo of local critters found in the area.

      These new changes have me already thinking that I will need to pay the troop a visit next year when they attend Many Point Scout Camp. I want to see how everything turns out and what, if any, new programs will be provided.

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        Personal items have been packed. The troop gear has been loaded. The freshly uniformed Scouts have chosen their rides. The vehicles have left town. Boy Scout Troop 68 is on its way to a week of camping at Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota. I am sitting at home writing this blog. Yes, that is correct. For the first time in many years I am not joining the troop for a week of camping at Many Point Lake.

        I attended my first week of camp as an adult leader in 1981. I was an assistant scoutmaster of Troop 68. We attended Crow Wing Scout Camp near Nevis, Minnesota. If I remember correctly, about a dozen boys attended that year. It was a good week. Both the Scouts and the adult leaders had a great time.

        The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 have attended a long term camp every summer since that year. The first years were at Crow Wing. In the later 1980′s we tried Tomahawk Scout Camp in Wisconsin and Many Point Scout Camp. In the early 1990′s Many Point Scout Camp became our summer camp, by decision of the Boy Scouts.

        I have not attended every year of summer camp since 1981, but I have been on a long term camp with the Scouts each year. There have been five treks at Philmont Scout Ranch, a trip to the High Knoll Trail in Virginia, a week of adventure at Charles Sommers Canoe Base, and a stay at the 2001 National Jamboree. The assistant scoutmasters and fathers picked up the summer camp duties while I attended the high adventure bases with the older Boy Scouts.

        I retired as the troop’s scoutmaster at the end of 2011. I told the committee and the parents that I would not be attending summer camp this year. My assistant scoutmaster of 24 years, Eymard, would be going to camp again, but someone else would need to fill the position of the second adult leader. Luckily we have a new 18 year old assistant scoutmaster, Darren, who decided to attend since none of the parents stepped forward to fill the slot.

        I do have mixed feelings about staying home this year. I would like to be a part of the boy’s summer camp experience, but I also need to break away from the troop and start doing my own thing. For gosh sakes, I am 52 years old! It is time to start doing something with my life other than Scouting.

        Isn’t it?

        Well, maybe I will go up Friday and see how things are going, and watch the closing campfire.

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