The year of 1980 was the first full year of the newly reformed Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 which had started up in December of 1979. I joined up with the troop in April as a nineteen year old assistant scoutmaster. There was about 15 youth in the troop at the time, ranging in age from 11 to 13 years old. There was not much of a planned program that first year. We planned things from month to month, but soon we began doing yearly planning with the boys doing most of the planning.
The troop’s first camping trip was held during the summer at Uhlenkolts Lake, located about six miles from town. The grass was knee high when we arrived. It did not take long before we were pulling off the wood ticks. Lots of wood ticks. One boy came up with the idea of collecting all the ticks in a soda can which we then threw into the evening campfire. We could hear the popping sounds as the ticks exploded in the heat.
Once it was dark we placed the boys throughout the woods for a snipe hunt. Yeah, I know, we can not do that in today’s Scouting program, but back then it was not a big deal. One of the boys claimed he almost caught one of the elusive birds.
It was only a one night camping trip but for many of the boys I believe it was the first time camping without their family.
The troop did not attend a week of summer camp in 1980. There had not been enough time to prepare for it.
In August, the troop went on a one day canoe trip down the Sauk River which runs through Melrose. The boys and the adults had a great time. We even did a little fishing and swimming. Did we follow the safe swim and safety afloat guidelines? I don’t think so. I do not think anyone even knew about those guidelines yet. That came later after we attended training.
The troop attended the fall camporee at Parker Scout Reservation in September. In addition to the various activities, I remember waiting in line for Saturday’s supper and our troop receiving a ribbon during the Saturday evening campfire program. But the thing I remember most is the great egg war that involved three troops.
There was a short time Saturday during which the Scouts had free time. Some of the boys wanted to play catch but no one had thought to bring a ball to camp. A suggestion was made to use an egg. The campsite was shared by three troops so more boys began joining the game. The circle began to grow. The boys began tossing the eggs the more force. Some boys became too cautious about catching the breakable missiles. After a couple eggs were broken a few rules were made. One was that if you threw an egg too hard and the egg broke the catcher of the egg would get to throw an egg back at you.
The rules worked for awhile. Until someone threw an egg hard at another guy. Of course, the egg broke so the other Scouts were egging him on to throw an egg back. One Scout even ran off to fetch another egg to throw. Anticipation was high. Would the Scout through the egg back or not? I did not think he would. Until he did! That set off the egg battle. Scouts ran back to their camps to fetch the round white breakable ammo. By the time it was over three troops were nearly out of eggs for Sunday breakfast.
Luckily, no one got hurt, but it sure did make a mess.