Friends of Scouting. The annual visit of a council representative to troops and packs throughout the country. The annual visit for the council to ask parents and families to help with the expenses at the district and council level. Some units welcome the council representatives with open arms. Other units, not so much.

I do not mind the F.O.S. visits. I understand the need for the council to visit the units. Oh, there have been a few times over the last few decades that I was upset with the council for one reason or another and almost told them they could forget coming to our troop court of honor, but I never denied them the opportunity to talk to the parents.

There is one thing I look forward to seeing whenever it is time for the Friends of Scouting campaign. I am always curious to see what the incentives will be to entice people to donate at the various levels. The right incentive could just boost that donation up to the next level after all.

The Central Minnesota Council offered a different framed Normal Rockwell print for several years in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. I collected them all. The mugs and tumblers really did not grab my attention very well.

This is the tenth year the the council has offered a special council should patch (csp) for meeting the first level of incentives. Each year has featured a different point of the Scout Law. This being the tenth year so the patch features the theme Brave.

As a collector of shoulder patches this FOS patch has always had my attention. I like the look of this year’s patch. The red color will really stand out on the Boy Scout uniform sleeve, and I like the action picture of Scouts white water rafting. I do not wear these patches on my uniform. I place them in a three ring binder with the other council patches of the Central Minnesota Council and the Noguonabe Lodge that I have collected over the past 40 years.

What does your council offer during its annual Friends of Scouting campaigns? Do they offer any special patches?

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    The Cub Scout Pack 68 Pinewood Derby is one of the highlights of the year for the Scouts. The boys and their parents work hard on their car designs. What will the design be? What colors should be used? Will it be fast enough? Could it receive “best of show”?

    When I became the cubmaster of Pack 68 a couple years ago I decided to try to make the derby more fun than competitive. Yes, the pack did award trophies for first, second, and third places, but I wanted to make the derby more than just winning. I wanted to keep the fun in the derby.

    For the last couple years we ran the derby as a double elimination. We have a two lane track. Each car had a chance to run a race on each lane in each heat. The best time would determine who moves up the bracket. The nice part was that each Scout was given a minimum of four times to watch their car race down the track.

    That worked very well when we only had 17 Cub Scouts in the Pack. Last fall our Pack grew to nearly 50 Scouts. Most of them planned to participate in the derby. The double elimination plan of the past would not work well this year. It would take too long to conduct all those races.

    The derby was a major topic at the committee meeting in January. Ideas were given and discussed before were decided on a derby suggestion based on how the council conducts their derby. This year’s derby would be done by “dens”. A first and second place would be given for each level, from Tiger Cub to Webelos Scouts. Each car would race twice per heat, once on each side of the track. The best time would move up the bracket as in past years. We would also try to use the computer program that came with the track for the first time.

    We decided to award two Best Of Show trophies since the Pack had grown so large. We also decided to present one trophy for the overall fastest car in the Pack, based on time. In all, the Pack would award 13 trophies instead of the usual four. I thought this number would increase a Scout’s chance to take home a trophy but after doing the math I discovered it actually remained near the same as the last two years, if all the Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts participated.

    Well, that January derby has been held and is now history. The plan worked out well and races moved along without much delay. The boys and their families had a good time. We even had a little time left over for the boys to race against other Scouts, their brothers, and in one case, his father. It was a good day and I went home pleased.

    How did your Pack’s Pinewood Derby go this year? Leave a comment.

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      It is winter in Minnesota. That means it is time for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 to spend a weekend at Camp Stearns for their annual winter outing. It is a tradition that began over 15 years ago.

      Seven Members of Troop 68 attended the weekend outing near Fairhaven this year, along with two adult leaders. They left Melrose January 20th, a foggy Friday night, and returned on a much less foggy Sunday morning. The forecast for the weekend was for the weather to be damp and above freezing, which was not the best forecast for a winter activity.

      The Troop had reserved the Whitewater Lodge which allowed them to have a warm, dry place to sleep and relax. Their schedule would keep the Scouts outside for a good portion of the weekend. Their are plenty of activities at Camp Stearns if a troop decides to take advantage of them.

      Once the Troop had checked in with the camp master, and the Scouts had unpacked the gear, it was time to do a little exploring. The first stop was at the quartermaster’s building to check on gear. The next stop was the sledding hill. Camp Stearns has a great sledding hill which has lights for evening fun. The Scouts were hoping that there would be enough snow on the hillside after the warm weather we had had during the past week. There was plenty of snow. The boys went back to their Lodge, changed clothes, and had fun sledding before calling it a night.

      The Troop had a full schedule Saturday morning which included time older Scouts helping the newer members work on their advancement. Most of the boys participated in an orienteering course and hike. Then it was back to the sledding hill for another hour of racing down the hillside.

      Camp Stearns has two nine-hole disc golf courses so you can probably guess where the Troop spent a portion of the afternoon. They discovered it takes longer to play a round in the winter time because it takes longer to find the thrown discs in the foot deep snow. The Scouts did not mind. They were having too much fun playing the game and talking smack at each other.

      After supper, the boys had a short religious service and relaxed with a game of Catan and a movie. They also had the chance to surprise their Scoutmaster on his birthday with a song and cupcakes baked by one of the boy’s mother.

      The Troop was on their way home by 9:00 Sunday morning after a quick breakfast and cleanup of the building. Plans were already being discussed for next year’s trip to Camp Stearns.

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        Like I stated in the previous post, I collect Scouting memorabilia. A large portion of the collection is books: handbooks, merit badge books, Fieldbooks, training books, and fictional novels. Most of the fictional novels are from the 1910’s through the 1920’s.

        Last year I found a set of four books in a comic book shop in Alexandria. I almost looked past them. After all, you do not expect to see Scouting books in a comic book store, but the edge design of the books happen to catch my eye since they are similar to other fictional Scouting themed novels from the early 1900’s. The dust jacket on the one book gave a clue that this could be a Scouting series. I was right. This Dan Carter, Cub Scout series, written by Mildred Wirt, was printed from 1949-1953.

        I looked them over, thought about the price marked on the books, and decided they would make a nice addition to my collection, especially since the one book still had the dust jacket, which I have since discovered makes a book more collectable to some collectors.

        Later, I took a look in the iTunes store to see if these books were available as digital versions. They were! A six book mega-pack was available for a very reasonable price. Yes, you read that correctly. There are six books in the series which means I am missing two of them. Oh well, I have the digital versions so I may read all six books, when I find the time to do so. I have too many books sitting on my bookshelves waiting to be read, and more on my iPad.

        Do you collect old Scouting themed books? Which ones do you have?

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          I collect Scouting memorabilia. That includes a collection of coffee mugs. Sometimes I forget what I really have in the collection so I was a little surprised to discover something the other day.

          I am a member of a few Scouting groups on Facebook, including a brand new group called Boy Scout Collectables. The group was created by a member of the Scout Patch Collectors page after a discussion started that a group was needed for things other than patches. The new group has grown slowly and has about 21 members as I write this. I have a feeling it will grow as the word gets out.

          Since this is a new Facebook group I decided to share a few of the things I have collected with the members. I decided to take a picture of these coffee mugs since they had a cool Scouting caption and picture on one side. I was surprised to discover the Viking Council logo on the other side. Since the Viking Council of Minneapolis no longer exists I guess they have really become a bit more collectable.

          I invite you to join the Boy Scout Collectables group on Facebook and share your collection. It can be found at
          https://www.facebook.com/groups/323868214332022/

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            Pinewood Derby time has arrived for many Cub Scout Packs across the country. Thousands of derby cars have been made, or are being finished. Each will be a work of art. Many will have original designs. Some will race for speed. Some will try for the Best Of Show award. A few will probably not cross the finish line. The point of the derby is for the parent and Cub Scout to spend some time together to create the car, and then have fun racing against the others of the Pack.

            Most Cub Scout Packs give trophies to the fastest cars. In Melrose Pack 68 we did something a little different this year. We awarded trophies to the two fastest cars in each den, thus giving the Scouts a greater chance of winning. Two trophies were also awarded for the Best Of Show. Of course, this means a lot of boys will not go home with an award so we gave each Cub Scout a patch for participating. The patch we choose this year is shown above. I think it is a sharp patch. The boys really seemed to like it.

            In addition to the patch each Scout also received a special “race car cookie” baked by one of the grandmothers. I can testify that they are the best race car the boys have ever eaten! The cookie pictured below did not last long after the picture was taken.

             

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              Boy Scouts love a good story told around the campfire. I do not mind telling one, or reading one, if the opportunity presents itself. Of course, the Boy Scouts love the scarier tales as they sit in the darkness with only the reddish light of the campfire embers.

              This year was my first chance to tell Cub Scouts a story around a campfire. The first time was to the Bears and Webelos in the spring. The second time was for the new Bears in the fall. Both times I told the story of The Purple Gorilla, a suspenseful and long story about a traveling salesman that has a comical twist at the end of the tale. The Cub Scouts and the adults loved it.

              As I planned the Pack’s Christmas party earlier this month I decided it was time for the boys to hear the story of The Christmas Scout. The story is about a young Boy Scout who recently lost his older brother in a car accident and wonders if he can ever be happy at Christmas time again. It does get a bit emotional toward the end but it has a great ending and moral lesson. It is one of my favorite stories.

              As the Pack’s Christmas party neared its end I picked up the paper copy of The Christmas Scout, raised my hand in the Scout sign, and asked for the boy’s attention. A few boys were still chatting as I began reading but by the second or third paragraph all 41 of the Cub Scouts, and their parents, were listening quietly. It was my largest ever Cub Scout audience.

              The story ends on a serious note so instead of signing a jolly Christmas carol to end the meeting I invited everyone to join me in signing the hymn Silent Night. The evening ended with juice and Christmas treats for all. Later on, I was talking to the Pack committee chairman. He complimented me on my storytelling skills and commented on how I had the attention of all the boys. He was a bit impressed. I was just happy that the Cub Scouts and the adults enjoyed the story.

              If you would like to read the story of The Christmas Scout go to this The Scoutmasters Blog POST from December 2007.

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                lbp002I have been more active with Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 during the last few months as our new scoutmaster gets comfortable with his new position. I have invited the Patrol Leaders Council to once again hold their meetings at my house which has given me the opportunity to assist in their training and answer any questions of the new scoutmaster.

                As the Boy Scouts planned their monthly agenda, I encouraged them to plan a different game for each of the weekly troop meetings. I also asked them to only use one game from the previous month. This adds for variety during the meetings and forces the youth leadership to think a bit more when they do their planning.

                When the Scouts were planning their November meetings during the October patrol leader council meeting they were coming up short on game time ideas as they tried to follow my suggestion. I mentioned a game I have not seen the troop play in a few years. I gave them a brief summary of the games rules and the boys quickly added it to the meeting plan for November 21st.

                The meeting arrived. It was time to play the game. I soon discovered that not one of the Scouts attending the meeting had played this game. I thought that a few of the older boys had played it when they were younger but I was wrong. I was surprised that it had been a few years since the troop had used this game during a meeting.

                I explained the rules of the game, and also told them it was a game that they would probably never play in school because it can be a pretty rough and tumble game. I had them take off their uniform shirts to prevent any damage, and told the boys who were wearing boots to remove them. We did not want anyone getting hurt after all.

                It was time to begin. The Scouts had a blast! They also had quite the workout. Most of them were breathing hard by the end of the game. I have a feeling this game will start getting used more often in the upcoming months.

                Have you guessed what the game is yet? It is called British Bulldog, a game played by Boy Scouts since the start of the program in the early 1900’s. I would bet Lord Baden-Powell watched a few games of this being played. This old game had become new again to another group of Boy Scouts in central Minnesota.

                Does your troop play British Bulldogs? Does the game wear them out?

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