Archive for December, 2013


 

Patch Blanket 1996-2013It is done! That is correct, the second of my patch blankets is complete. I picked up the last patches this morning from the Scout Shop. Now I am waiting for the glue to dry. This new blanket contains 144 patches.

This second blanket had a couple interesting “happenings” that were unplanned. First, as you can see from the picture, I used the 2010 B.S.A. anniversary blanket design, the same as the first blanket. Since this blanket would contain patches from the 100th anniversary year, I decided to leave the 2010 logo mostly exposed, instead of covering it up like I did on blanket one. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the row featuring patches from 2010 actually ended up on the same level as the logo. I was even able to use an anniversary patch on top of the zero of 2010.

The last two patches I needed included a roundtable staff patch. I wanted to it to recognize that I joined the Scenic District roundtable staff in the fall of 2013. It was also the last patch I “earned” for the year. The final patch was the generic Leave No Trace patch. I really wanted 2013 to end this blanket and it happened to work out that way. The year 2014 will be the year to start a new one. However, each of the two completed blankets display 16-17 years of patches. I have a feeling there may not be a third blanket for me. At least, not a completely covered one.

When I was at the Scout Shop this morning Bob, my district executive, happen to catch me and we had a nice chat. He also asked me if I planned to bring the blankets to the roundtable on Tuesday, January 7th. I replied that I could. I bought a couple of garment racks to hang them on to display. I did bring the first blanket to the Boy Scout roundtable in December which meant, of course, that the Cub Scout leaders did not see it. I may display both blankets in the lobby this time so everyone can view them. After all, I did create the blankets to be viewed. The next time I plan to display the flags will be during the first week of February, during Scouting Anniversary week.

Both patch blankets 1980-2013Now that that Scouting project is complete, what do I begin as a new one?

Click on the pictures to see a larger photo.

 

 

 

 

.

Thanks for Sharing!

    Scouter MagazineI was working on my second patch blanket today and came up to a spot for which I needed a patch. Along the edge of the blanket I have been placing patches that do not really fit with an activity I have attended. Instead, I have been using special patches for anniversaries, special occasions, and generic type things. I needed one of these type of patches for a spot around the perimeter of the blanket.

    I began to look through my notebooks and bins to find one that would be a good one for the spot. I found one that would fit well, but it also reminded me of a magazine I once subscribed to that does not exist anymore. It was a patch given to charter subscriber of Scouter Magazine, an independent publication about Scouting, written by Scouters. I really enjoyed reading this magazine. It was full of great ideas and articles written by Scout Leaders from around the country. It was not meant to replace Scouting Magazine, but was a publication for adults in Scouting to share ideas in the late 1990′s. Remember, the internet was just starting to get popular and there was not a lot about Scouting online yet.

    Scouter Magazine only lasted for about five years, unfortunately. I still have my issues, which are probably collector items by now. Then again, maybe not. Most of the people who received the magazine have probably left Scouting and thrown away their issues. It would be great if someday this publication could be started again, along with an electronic version. Bring it into the 21st century. I bet they would have a lot easier time getting articles from contributors these days. But then, when you think about it, maybe blogging has taking that role. HalfEagle.com has done a good job about bringing some of the best blogs about Scouting into one easy to use format.

    As I was looking online for information about Scouter Magazine this evening, the only thing I found was an open letter written in February 2001 about the closing of Scouter Magazine. (Read it at http://old.scouter.com/magazine.asp )

    Oh well, the magazine may be a part of history but my patch will finally see the light of day as it goes from the notebook to the blanket. At least people who see the blanket will know that for a short while I was a charter subscriber to Scouter Magazine.

    Thanks for Sharing!

      Boy Scout Patch BlanketIt is only five more weeks until Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs around the country celebrate B.S.A. Scout Anniversary Week. Local units will be setting up displays in their communities to promote their Scout programs. We will probably be doing the same here in Melrose. We have four businesses in town that allow us to set up displays. Soon it will be time to plan what will be on the tables in each establishment. (Check out our 2012 displays at http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=2892 )

      If you have been following this blog you know that I completed my first Scouting patch blanket a month or so ago. It took several months for me to finish it but I think it turned out well. I plan to use that blanket as a part of one of the displays this coming year. I think it will attract a fair amount of attention.

      I have now been working on the second blanket. This new blanket will hopefully display the rest of my patches (from 1996 to present day). I am also hoping their will be some room left over to apply future patches. At least a couple years worth. I think it will, but I will not be sure until I add a few more rows. If not, well, I guess I may have to start a third blanket.

      Back to Scouting anniversary week. I really would like to be able to display both blankets, but that means I will not be able to take several months to complete the new one. In fact, I cannot even take several weeks. I have five weeks left. I guess I will not be able to drag my feet this time. I finished the third row tonight, and laid out the patches for the fourth row. As you can see, this will bring me to the year 2001. I guess you could say I have 14 years worth of patches to apply in a one month period. Lucky for me there are not as many patches in this 14 period as there was in the previous 14 years.

      Thanks for Sharing!

        christmasscoutsMerry Christmas everyone! It is time for my favorite Scouting themed Christmas story – The Christmas Scout.

        In spite of the fun and laughter, 13-year-old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true he had received all the presents he wanted. And he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes. But, Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver.

        Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. Frank said good-bye to his relatives and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend; and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled. Then Frank headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Though rich in wisdom, he lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived, and his patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family.

        To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not at home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, through one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby . . . weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents.

        A sudden thought struck Frank : he had not done his ‘good deed’ for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. ‘Yes?’ the sad voice of the woman asked. ‘May I come in?’ asked Frank. ‘You are very welcome,’ she said, seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, ‘but I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children.’

        ‘That’s not why I am here,’ Frank replied. ‘Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled.’

        ‘Why, God bless you!’ the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, the toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost cried out. Finally, the stockings were full.

        ‘Won’t you tell me your name?’ she asked, as Frank was leaving.

        ‘Just call me the Christmas Scout,’ he replied.

        The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow was not the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the remainder of his gifts. The plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy.

        Now Frank trudged homeward, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? ‘Where are your presents, son?’ asked his father as Frank entered the house.

        Frank answered, ‘I gave them away.’

        ‘The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your coat from Grandma? Your flashlight? We thought you were happy with your gifts.’

        ‘I was very happy,’ the boy answered quietly.

        ‘But Frank, how could you be so impulsive?’ his mother asked. ‘How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?’

        His father was firm. ‘You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents.’

        With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back; however he wondered if he would ever again truly recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening, but it had been fleeting. Frank thought of his brother, and sobbed himself to sleep.

        The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke: ‘Merry Christmas, everybody! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning, another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage boy who simply called himself the Christmas Scout. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself.’

        Frank felt his father’s arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling through her tears. ‘Why didn’t you tell us? We didn’t understand. We are so proud of you, son.’

        The carols came over the air again filling the room with music: ‘. . .Praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on Earth.’

        Thanks for Sharing!

          Near the end of this month’s Scenic District roundtable meeting I asked the Scouters if many of them had any of the digital copies of the old Boy Scout themed novels written in the early 1900′s. I had noticed that many of the Scouters owned smart phones and tablets and that they used these during meetings, so I thought it was a valid question. I do not think a hand went up in reply. That surprised me a little.

          I have collected over 50 of these old books in the open source epub digital book format. They are novels featuring the adventures of Tom Slade, Roy Blakeley, and Pee Wee Harris. You may recognize those names from the Boy’s Life magazine cartoon pages. There are stories of the Banner Boy Scouts and the members of the Eagle Patrol. All of these old novels have fallen into the public domain. I think I have more eBooks than I do actual hardbound books in my collection.

          I understand the epub eBook file works well with many current tablets, including the iPad, but does not work with the Amazon Kindle tablets. I guess Amazon would rather sell you a copy in their own format. However, I hear that there are free programs available to reformat epub files to something the Kindle can use. It is just an extra step needed to work on the Kindle.

          I asked the Scouters if they would like a digital copy of these books. Most of them said yes. This morning I got busy and started burning cd’s of the 50 Scouting novels for the next roundtable. I will bring 12 cd’s to the meeting. It will be a nice bonus for some of the Scouters who take the time to come to the roundtable. If more than one Scouter from a troop attends I am sure they would be willing to share the cd of books.

          How many of these digital novels do you own?

          Thanks for Sharing!

            2001JamboPatchesThe 2001 National Jamboree may be ancient history to today’s Boy Scouts but it is not to me. Not yet anyway. That is the Jamboree I attended as a scoutmaster of one of two troops sent from the Central Minnesota Council. I had a great time at Fort A.P. Hill, as did the Scouts in my troop.

            I did not get to do a lot of patch trading while I was at the Jamboree. That is why I occasionally check eBay and other sites to find patches at decent prices to fill in the council shoulder patch and Order of the Arrow patch collections. I recently found one auction on eBay which netted me a six patch set from the Old North State Council. The six patches have the same design but sport different color borders. I like this addition to my collection.

            I have a question for you readers. Were there only six patches from this council, or were there others? Did the different color borders represent six troops sent or did they mean something different? Thanks for the help.

            Thanks for Sharing!

              2013 auction prizesI was looking for a way to further excite the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 to attend troop activities and earn their advancement when I came up with the idea of having a troop auction for prizes at the end of the year. I do not remember if I got the idea from another troop or if I came up with it myself. I do know that it has been a part of our program for over twenty years, and that other Scouts leaders have developed their own auction programs after listening to how Troop 68 conducts theirs.

              Here is how it works. The Scouts earn “troop bucks” each time they go on an outing and for each merit badge and rank they earn during the year. They earn $25 per troop outing. They earn $50 for each merit badge. They earn $100 for attaining Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class; $150 for attaining Star or Life Rank; and $200 for reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. These bucks are then used to bid on prizes during the “troop auction” held after the December court of honor.

              When I first began doing the auction I would hand out troop bucks at each court of honor. The bucks were actually Monopoly money with our troop stamp stamped over the top of it so the boys could not use Monopoly money from their own games. The Scouts had to store the money themselves. If they lost it it would not be replaced.

              The Monopoly money worked well for a few years, but then Monopoly money disappeared from store shelves. Another problem was that brothers started pooling their money together to bid on the bigger prizes. That was not the way the bucks were meant to be used and was very unfair to those Scouts who did not have brothers in the troop.

              I created a troop bucks certificate on the computer to replace the Monopoly money. The certificate contained the Scout’s name. amount earned, and the year earned. Certificates could only be used by the person who’s name appeared on it. The year on the certificate helped to keep things honest for the one prize we auctioned for which only bucks earned that year could be used to bid. I also awarded the certificate once a year, at the December court of honor. That created less work for me and less chance of Scouts losing the bucks before the year’s last court of honor.

              Any unused troop bucks could be saved to be used another year on regular prizes. Once a Scout turned 18 years old his troop bucks became non-valid. It was interesting to watch older Scouts try to use up any troop bucks they owned at their last auction before they turned eighteen. Bidding is done in $5 increments.

              We I started the troop auction we based the amount spent on prizes by the amount of advancement earned during the year. A certain amount would be added to the kitty for each merit badge and rank. The more the Scouts advanced, the more money was thrown into the kitty, and the more prizes or bigger prizes could be bought. That worked well until the troop started shrinking. Ten Scouts had trouble earning a large fund so we changed the financing to a lump some. I also based the number of prizes on the number of Scouts currently enrolled in the program. We did not need 30 prizes when we only had eight Scouts.

              I also wanted to keep the cost of the auction down so I began looking for prizes throughout the year, not just a month before the auction. I started getting pretty good and finding nice items for free or little cost.

              Each auction contains some “traditional” items. There is the Boy Scout Handbook, because someone is going to wear theirs out during the year. Boy Scout bolo ties and merit badge sashes have also been used as prizes on a regular basis. I usually try to include some sort of camping gear. And then there are some fun prizes, of course.

              Tonight is Troop 68′s final court of honor for the year. The troop auction will immediately follow it. The picture posted with this article shows most of the prizes which will be auctioned. A merit badges sash is missing, as is the $20 cash prize for which only 2013 troop bucks will be allowed to be used to bid. There will be a lot of first time bidders at this auction. It should be a good night.

              Has your troop does anything like this as a part of your program?

              Thanks for Sharing!

                Philmont ArrowheadSome of my favorite Scouting memories are from my trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I have been lucky enough to attend Philmont six times: once for scoutmaster training and five times on a trek with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. Needless to say, Philmont holds a special place in the heart of this long time Scouter.

                It has been ten years since Troop 68 has planned a high adventure trip, so at Wednesday’s committee meeting I brought up the idea that we should start planning for one. We discussed briefly each of the four national bases, the approximate costs of each one, and transportation issues. We talked about the two to three years of planning and fundraising required for this type of outing, and how it would give the younger Scouts something to look forward to as they get older.

                Of course, I am partial to Philmont. The Charles Sommers Canoe Base would be the closest and least expensive. The Florida Sea Base would be a fantastic adventure but also the most expensive, probably. We talked a little about the Summit in Virginia, but we did not have much information about that base yet. The committee decided to bring it up to the Boy Scouts to get their opinions.

                The theme of the Scenic District’s January roundtable is High Adventure. I am going to have to try to get our scoutmaster and maybe a few Scouts to attend this meeting. In fact, one of our Scouts participated in a Philmont trek this summer so I am going to ask him to come to the meeting and give us a brief summary of his experience.

                Talking about Philmont at the committee meeting. Upcoming theme about high adventure bases at the next roundtable. Add to this that I was watching the Philmont Documentary Collection DVD this week and you can see that I have been thinking about Philmont a lot recently.

                On Thursday I received a surprise when I looked through my mail. There was a letter from Philmont Scout Ranch. Talk about timing! I thought it was a brochure about the treks available for Boy Scouts. My surprise grew when I discovered it was an invitation to attend the Philmont Training Center in the summer of 2014. I was grinning from ear to ear.

                I called Bob, my district executive, to ask him about this. After all, you do not get an invitation unless your council recommends you. He explained that my name was on the short list that the council thought might be interesting in attending a course at the ranch. He also told me that he was thinking about attending a course himself. If I decided to attend, and our courses happened to be the same week, we could drive down together.

                As I hung up the phone I could not help but think about all the Philmont related coincidences that happened this week. Add to this that 2014 would be the 30th anniversary of my first trip to Philmont (for training) and the 10th anniversary of the last time I attended the ranch (for a trek with the troop).

                It almost seems like I am being called back to those starlit skies above, those aspen covered hills, and the country that I love. Is it time to return to Scouting’s paradise?

                Thanks for Sharing!