Archive for October, 2013


books01The phone call surprised me Saturday night. The disc golf Tri-O was completed and the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 had left my house for their overnight camping trip. I was sitting at home watching television, thinking about going out to the campsite for a little while. The phone call was from from the acting senior patrol leader for the weekend. He was wondering if I would be joining them for supper, and if I would bring the book with the ghost stories. The Scouts wanted to hear a story or two while sitting around the campfire.

I knew which book to which he was referring. It was a collection of true ghost stories, Haunted Heartland, by Beth Scott and Michael Norman. I had mentioned this book on an outing earlier this year. Since this weekend was the weekend before Halloween I guessed the Scouts were in the mood for a couple stories of the supernatural variety.

I decided to grab two books when I left the house. In addition to the Haunted Heartland I also grabbed The Grasshopper Trap by Patrick F. McManus which is a collection of humorous stories. I thought it might be best to add a comical story or two between the scary ones since there were a few young new Boy Scouts on the campout.

The two stories I read from The Grasshopper Trap were Mean Tents and First Knife. During Mean Tents we followed a history of tents used by McManus during his camping activities, including a tent he and a childhood friend made from old gunny sacks. The Boy Scouts got a good laugh from that one. They also chuckled through the story about his First Knife that he received from his parents on his eighth birthday.

The first story from the Haunted Heartland was The Phantom Miner, a story about a terrible mining accident that happened on the Minnesota Iron Range, and how one of the victim’s ghost stopped the mine from reopening. The second story was Windego Of The North, a tale of a mythical humanoid creature occasionally seen in northern Minnesota. A sighting of the Windego foretold of a death that was soon to follow.

The Boy Scouts enjoyed the stories but I think I should have only read two, or maybe three at the most. The boys were getting a little antsy by the end of the last story.

Seven years ago I posted an article to this blog referring to campfire stories as “television of the mind”. Saturday night’s story time once again proved my theory. Even teenagers enjoy hearing a good tale told by fire light.
http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=43

Both books referred to in this article can be found on Amazon or maybe even at your local book store. Check them out. Your Scouts will enjoy them.

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    disc golf 2013I think the first time I ever played disc golf was in 1981 at Crow Wing Scout Reservation near Nevis, Minnesota. I was a 20 year old assistant scoutmaster attending camp with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. It was their first time at a week long summer camp. The troop was only a year and a half old.

    The Crow Wing disc golf course did not have any baskets like most of today’s courses do. Instead, it had posts in the ground that were numbered. The goal was to hit the post with the frisbee. I believe it was a nine hole course that was placed near the beach.

    Over the decades the Boy Scouts have played disc golf when ever a camp presented a course to play, or when we felt like making one of our own. Courses were not found in many cities in our area during the 1980′s and 1990′s. Today, there are several courses found in various city parks within 30 miles of Melrose. Unfortunately, out community does have have a course so we have to leave town to play a game.

    During the first few decades of the troop, the Scouts only played disc golf as an occasional activity. As more courses have been created the interest level has gone up. A few of the Scouts now own their own disc sets and have started playing more often.

    The sport has become so popular with the troop that this month they held their first disc golf Tri-O. Seven Boy Scouts, along with three adult leaders, played three different 18 hole disc golf courses in one day. They left Melrose Saturday morning for the first game to be played in Albany. Since I had to work that morning I did not join in that first round. I did join the troop after lunch for the games at the St. Joseph Millstream Park course and the Riverside Park course in St. Cloud.

    We all had a blast, even though there was a bit of wind, and the water hazards at Millstream Park seemed to attract our discs, as did the many trees at Riverside Park. New Scouts were introduced to the game, while older Scouts worked to improve their skills and scores. One Scout set his goal to beat my score. He was successful, beating me by 2 or 3 throws on each of the courses.

    I have a feeling that disc golf will become a regular activity on each yearly program for the next few years. A few Boy Scouts were even talking about playing again as a patrol activity.

    Do the Boy Scouts of your troop enjoy playing disc golf?

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      Boy Scouts disc golfI have been giving the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 a small Christmas present each year for 30 years. It is not a very big present, just something to make the season a little more fun, and to give the Scouts a little something to look forward to during our troop Christmas party. Gifts in the past have included balls, fire starters, water bottles, and small lunch coolers. It is easier to find things these years with a small troop. It was tough finding something when we had forty members in the troop. Have you ever tried to find 40 of something in a store? You should see the look on a checkout person’s face when you bring two shopping carts full of red four-square balls to the counter.

      This year I had to push my gift giving up a couple months, to last night’s troop meeting. You see, the gift is something the Scouts can use at this weekend’s troop outing. On Saturday, the troop will be traveling to three different cities to play one of their favorite games, disc golf. Many of the Scouts did not own a disc made for the game so that became this year’s Christmas gift from me.

      I came up with the idea when I noticed on the scoutstuff.com website that there was a closeout going on of the leftover 2013 National Jamboree merchandise. Disc golf discs were going for 50% off the regular price which brought to price down to $4.98 per disc. That is the cheapest price I have ever seen on discs. And they were discs made by Innova, one of the main manufacturers of supplies for the sport, so they were not some cheap unknown brand name discs. I ordered three sets for myself and one midrange disc for each of the Scouts.

      The Boy Scouts seemed to like the gift. There was various colors to chose from so instead of having a free-for-all and stampede to see who would get what color I started with the newest member of the troop and worked my way up to the Scout with the longest membership. Seniority did not count this time. I also told the boys to write their names on their discs in case that get lost on the course, and so that we know whose disc is whose when we play a game.

      Saturday is the big tournament day. The troop will start at the Albany disc golf course, move to St. Joseph for the second game, and end at Riverside Park in St. Cloud. It is going to be a long day. There is going to be a lot of throws. And I would bet there is going to be a lot of very tired Boy Scouts crawling into their sleeping bags Saturday night.

      Does your troop play disc golf?

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        wall tent village pieceRemember last year? Scout Shops around the country and scoutstuff.org sold the first(?) three pieces of the Scouting Village collection. Those pieces were the Ranger’s Cabin, the Camp Chapel, and the Trading Post. I never heard anything whether this was the start of a new yearly collection or if this was a one year deal, and the folks at my local Scout Shop could not answer my question either.

        I decided to buy the collection anyway. At least I tried to buy the collection. By the time I decided to do it my council Scout Shop was already out the the Trading Post, but I bought the Chapel and the Ranger Cabin thinking I could by the Trading Post online. When I got home I went to the website and discovered they had sold out of the Trading Post. I called back to the Scout Shop to ask if they would be getting more Trading Posts in stock. They said they would try.

        The story ends sadly. I never received a Trading Post. I almost returned the other two pieces since I would not be able to complete the set, but for some reason I kept them. And to tell the truth, I forgot about them. Until today.

        I received a comment today on last year’s blog post of my village dilemma. Debora wrote to tell me that the Trading Post has reappeared on the scoutstuff.com website, so I went there to check it out. Sure enough, there it was. I would be able to complete my set. And I discovered something else. There are more pieces this year! That’s right, there is a 2013 Scouting Village collection.

        It looks like accessories are the theme for this year’s collection. There is a snow covered bridge, and a set of pine trees. There are two sets of people/Scouts figurines: Scouts On A Fence and Campfire And Rowboat. There is only one “building” this year, and it is not really a building but it is something you need if you are going to have a Scout camp – the lighted BSA Wall Tent. The accessories and people figurine sets are $5.99 each. The wall tent is $14.99.

        I know that I will be ordering the Trading Post, but should I order this year’s collection? I am leaning toward buying one of everything, but I almost feel like I need to buy two or three wall tents to make a campsite setting. That is maybe the reason they only put out one lighted piece this year. They want us collectors to buy several tents! The least they could have done is to make two different looking tents so there would be a little variety when everything is set up for the holidays.

        I am never satisfied, am I?

        What do you think of the new 2013 collection? Will you be purchasing them?

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          wood badge ChristmasYes, I know it is not even Halloween yet, but Christmas commercials are already on television and the stores have already begun decorating for the season, so I thought now would be a great time to tell those of you who have completed their Wood Badge training to check out the scoutstuff.org website for this year’s Wood Badge themed Christmas cards. That is correct. There is now a Christmas card featuring all our Wood Badge animal pals as they try to help pull Santa’s toy filled sleigh.

          Well, except for the beaver and the fox, who have decided that a snowball is much more fun then helping to spread the joy of Christmas. The owl almost seem poised to join them. And why is the bear riding in the sleigh? Should he not be helping the buffalo to pull it? For some reason the antelope thinks this is funny. At least the eagle is bringing the lights to brighten the way. The bobwhite is were he should be, overlooking everything and trying to be in charge. Note that I said trying.

          By the way, in case you have not figured it out yet, I am a member of the Bobwhite Patrol. NC-269.

          You can order the Christmas cards at http://www.scoutstuff.org/set-card-wb-10pk.html

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            crazy squirrelI saw this picture online and it brought a huge smile to my face. I could not help but picture a Scout Leader standing up in front of a council or district training session and yelling this to all the attendants.

            Just think of this for a moment. It has to be true, doesn’t it? Don’t you have to be a little crazy to sit there in a room full of teenage boys, trying to steer them into learning constructive life skills? Or a cubmaster trying to keep a few dozen elementary age boys’ attention long enough to conduct an award ceremony? Or a scoutmaster taking 15 boys who are not his own into the wilderness for a camping trip? Don’t you have to be a little crazy to do these things, and so much more?

            Well, maybe a little bit. But you also have to believe in the program and be willing to back it up 100 percent or more. More importantly, you have to believe in the boys and imagine what they are capable of becoming as they grow into adult men and future leaders of our communities, and even our country.

            Yes, we Scouters are a little crazy, and though it may not be a competition, it is a worthwhile program to belong to.

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              scoutsreview072380I learned early on that promoting Scouting seems to fall into the hands of the local troops and packs. During my 33 years of being involved with the Boy Scout program I have very rarely seen the national office or the local council do much to promote the Scouting program outside of the Scouting program. In fact, even with the all negativity thrown during the past dozen years at Scouting I have seen little positive promotion done by the national office. Take away any news of the 100th anniversary or the National Jamboree and what are you left with?

              Are those crickets I hear?

              Anyway, my issue with the national office and the local councils can wait for another article. Let’s get back to what this article is about, and that is local promotion of the Scout program, that which is done by local packs and troops. Namely my troop, Melrose Troop 68.

              Shorty after becoming an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 68, like within a month, I began writing articles about troop activities for the local newspaper, the Melrose Beacon, and called it the Scout’s Review. For awhile, I wrote the article with Sharon, the oldest sister of one of the Boy Scouts and a cousin of mine. The first article was published on July 23, 1980. It covered the first troop camping trip held at a local lake in June. It also covered a second outing, a father and son camping trip, and the troop elections. It covered a lot of stuff for a short article. (Click on the picture for a larger version to read the article.)

              The purpose of the articles was to get the word out within town that the Boy Scout program was back and going strong. The previous troop had disbanded four or five years earlier. It was time to start anew. Time to get your son involved in this worthwhile program.

              I believed it helped. Articles and pictures appeared in the paper regularly, usually at least once a month, sometimes two times a month. Boys not involved in Scouting were able to see what the Scouts were doing and the fun they were having. Even the Cub Scout Pack would submit articles which I am sure helped the pack to grow strong. When the troop went to Philmont the story of the trip filled half of a page of the newspaper. Stories of Eagle Scouts began to appear, and people enjoyed reading about them. When our community had its own public television station we put that to work to add to the troop’s public image.

              For three decades I wrote articles about Scouting and submitted them to the paper. I had a great relationship with the newspaper. But three decades is a long time to write articles. I started to burn out. I received very little help from the parents. It finally got to the point were I really did not care to write and submit any articles anymore. The Scout’s Review began to appear less regular. Sometime months would go by without an article. I was also burning out as the scoutmaster. I know that did not help my mood for writing articles.

              I am not the scoutmaster anymore. I stepped down nearly two years ago. But somehow, this year has been turning out to be a great year for getting the Boy Scouts back in the press locally. One reason is because I still submit pictures to the newspaper, along with a short description of the activity. I may not write a full story along with the photo, but at least we get something in the paper.

              The second reason is because the editor of the paper, Carol, has covered the troop during a few of its activities. She was there to take pictures at the last troop meeting of the year at the Jaycee park. She came to our waffle breakfast fundraiser and took a couple pictures. She wrote an article about the troop’s decades of use and meetings at the Jaycee Park, which the city council decided to sell to the hospital this year for a new expansion project. In other words, she sees stories about Scouting that she thinks should be shared with the community. It has been great.

              I have four three ring binders that contain the articles printed in the Melrose Beacon over the past 33 years. I think I have every article, but I may be missing one or two. Those four binders contain quite a history of the troop, beginning with that first camping trip at Uhlenkolts Lake, to the Scouting For Food Drive held this month. They contain articles about trips to Philmont, and BWCA, and the mountains of Virginia. There are also articles of most of the eighteen Boy Scouts who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Like I said, quite a history in those binders.

              How does your troop get the word out about Scouting in your community? Does your troop or pack have a person appointed to submit articles and pictures to your local newspaper?

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                ScoutingForFood2013The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have completed another Scouting For Food drive this morning, October 5th. The Scouts began shortly after 9:00 am and finished about an hour later. (Melrose is not a very big town.) The troop has been participating in this national Good Turn since it began in 1985.

                In past years the council gave troops and packs Scouting For Food plastic bags which were handed out around town one week before the food drive. This year, things were a little different. The council gave out door hangers to hang on the door knobs of homes. There were not any untied white bags floating around town this year.

                 

                The Scouts and methods may change, but the purpose of the drive stays the same.

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