Archive for August, 2012


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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    I received a call this morning from a father of one the Boy Scouts, who is also a troop committee member, asking if I was going to attend the troop meeting tonight. He and his family would be gone on vacation next week and his son would not be able to attend the committee meeting for a board of review. I said I could be at the troop meeting but other committee members would have to be called. Little did I know it would be a weird, but fun and interesting evening.

    As a new committee member and former scoutmaster I find that I sometimes need to pull back from things I am used to doing myself, and learning how to help others in new ways. For example, at the board of review tonight, I found that I wanted to step in and ask questions, lots of questions. But it was not my place to do so. There were two other people sitting on this board, not just me. I was now part of a team, not the scoutmaster doing a conference. Added to the situation was a new advancement chairperson who was learning his new responsiblities. Yes, I had to bite my tongue a couple times so that I would not dominate the board of review.

    The Boy Scouts are getting used to the idea of a new scoutmaster. (He just registered last Tuesday.) He is very serious about talking on this new role. The boys get along with him but I needed to remind a couple of them that I am no longer the one to be talking to about some things. They need to go to the new scoutmaster. I had to smile to myself and they headed off to get their question answered.

    Could I have answered their questions? Yes, I could have, but I need the boys to realize that I am not the scoutmaster anymore. And besides that, I want the new scoutmaster to build that bond with the boys. That will not happen very well if the boys keep coming to me every time they need something.

    Once the First Class board of review was completed I noticed one of the Life Rank Scouts was not doing anything at the moment so I called him over to the board for an update on his Eagle Rank. We took a few minutes to find out what his plans were. After all, he turns 18 years old in four or five months. I think I caught him a bit off guard but we had a good discussion. I will be meeting him later this week to review his eagle packet. Why am I doing this? Because the new scoutmaster already has enough on his plate this month learning his responsibilities so I thought I could help hm out on this one.

    After the troop meeting the scoutmaster and I spent some time reviewing the new tour permit, or troop outing guide, or whatever they call it now. We also talked about other things. I like that he is pouring himself into his new role and is trying to learn things as quickly as he is able. I think he will do well as the new troop leader.

    So what was weird about tonight? That it seemed that I was still in the middle of things, even though I am not the scoutmaster. It is like my troop is now made up of adults. Instead of training boys I have now moved to the position of training parents in their roles.

    And you know what. I am kinda enjoying it. It is a different challenge. And I am having fun.

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      Naguonabe Lodge 2012 NOAC patches

      Several Boy Scout members and adult advisors of our Order of the Arrow Lodge, Naguonabe Lodge, attended the National Order of the Arrow Conclave (NOAC) last week. Unfortunately, I did not attend, but I heard that those who were there had a great time. Our lodge advisor, Chuck, sent me a note through Facebook that during one of the classes he attended this blog, A Scoutmaster’s Blog, was brought up as an example of blogs featuring the OA. Wow, I thought, there are some on the national level that read my blog? Cool.

      Last Tuesday during our council’s roundtable meeting, I met with Dan, another adult advisor of our lodge. He had the 2012 NOAC patches with him and, of course, I bought a couple sets. Once again, they featured Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox. Once again, Paul was featured on the pocket flap patch while Babe was on the pocket patch. And once again, Babe would not be seen unless the pocket flap was raised. Somewhere along the way, Babe quit being a normal ox on our patches and became a minotaur, but that is alright with me. I am a fan of Dungeons and Dragons, after all.

      What do you think of our lodge’s 2012 NOAC patches? (A larger version can be seen by clicking on the pictures.) What did your lodge’s patches look like? Maybe I should get a few more patch sets and do some trading with you.

      More patches of the Naguonabe Lodge can be seen at our troop’s website: http://melrosetroop68.org/OApatches.html  .

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        I may not have spent the week with The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 at Many Point Scout Camp this summer, but I did spend Friday with them, and I had a great time. Of course, when it came to meal time, I had to stand in line with the troop and wait to be dismissed to the dining hall with the Scouts. The staff always leads the campers in a song before the meal. This time the leaders picked their “faaaavorite song”, My Dog Rover. It is a simple to learn song that enjoys pun filled humor. I am sure you have heard it before at a camp somewhere, but if you have not here is a new song that your troop can add to its list a fun campfire songs.

        What pun-named dogs would you add to this song?

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