auctionprizesOn Monday, December 15th, following the last court of honor for the year, Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 will hold its annual troop auction.While some troops hold auctions as fundraisers, Troop 68 does things a little differently. Our auction is actually an event for the Boy Scouts to bid on prizes using “troop bucks” they earned during the year.

I began the troop auction when I was the scoutmaster in the 1980′s. It became so popular that we have held one every year since then, even after I stepped down as the scoutmaster. The Scouts enjoy bidding on the prizes as if they were participating in a real auction, which they are when you think about it.

The idea for the auction came about as an extra way to encourage the Scouts to participate in troop activities and earn advancement. Attend an troop outing, earn 25 troop bucks. Earn a merit badge, earn 50 bucks. Ranks were valued for 100-200 troop bucks.

The Boy Scouts receive a certificate at the December court of honor with the amount of troop bucks earned during the year. This has no monetary value. Its only purpose is for the troop auction bidding. Any troop bucks not earned this year may be saved and used next year. The certificates expire on the Scout’s 18th birthday. Certificates may only be used by the Scouts who’s name appears on the certificate. Scouts may not use each other’s troop bucks or combine theirs to create larger bids for prizes.

Prices range from small to large items. There is usually something Scouting, like a handbook or a bolo tie. There is camping gear, from water bottles or flashlights to small backpacks or day packs. Of course, there are also items just for the fun of it. There is a $20 cash prize that only the troop bucks earned during the current year can be used to bid upon.

It has been interesting to see which prizes have been popular, or not, over the years. There have been items which I thought would have had a lot of bidding but the Scouts did not care for. There have been items I thought would go for a small amount but instead had a bidding war going on. Every is different.

The picture shows the prizes for this year’s auction. What will be the most popular? I am not sure. But it will be fun to find out on Monday night.

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    Philmont Gate 2014It is official! Boy Scout Troop 68 of Melrose is going to Philmont Scout Ranch in the summer of 2016. Our committee chairperson received confirmation of our trek registration last week. Let the planning begin!

    It has been a decade since the troop went to the ranch. In 2004, six troop members and three adults went along with the council contingent. Unfortunately, we signed up late and our group was split up to fill out the two crews. It was not the ideal situation but everyone who went had a great time.

    The 2016 trek will once again be a troop outing. The council did not reserve a contingent for that summer. This means we, the troop and committee, will have to do all the planning and transportation arrangements which is not a bad thing when you think about it. We will probably drive to New Mexico from Minnesota so we will need to plan the course and overnight stops. A little sight seeing will have to be included. Can you say “road trip!”?

    The first time Boy Scouts from Troop 68 attended Philmont was in 1986 when five Scouts and myself partook in a trek. (This was before the two deep leadership rule.) The troop went back in 1989, 1992, 1998, and 2004. We tried to plan a high adventure trip every three years. In 1995 we went to the High Knoll Trail in Virginia. In 2001 we participated in the National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill. The 2004 Philmont trip was the last high adventure outing for Troop 68, until now.

    This is not saying that our Scouts have not had opportunities for high adventure. Several individual Scouts did participate in council contingents to Philmont and other National Jamborees over the years.

    The troop has a registration for 5 Scouts and two adult leaders in July 2016. I am thinking we may have 6 or 7 Scouts sign up for the trek. We already have two adults and one Scout who will be an adult at that time who have stated they plan to attend. There has been some talk among the committee that we offer any unfilled slots to another local troop to fill out a 12 person crew.

    I would like to go back to Philmont with the 2016 crew. I have participated in the previous five treks taken by the troop and enjoyed every one of them. Those five treks may have to be enough for me though. I have been having a little problem with my right knee over the last few months. Walking does not bother me but climbing stairs can be painful at times. Most of the Philmont trails have an easy seven degree incline but there are always the steeper climbs that become more challenging. I will have to see how the next few months turn out before I decide.

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      2014 Boy Scout DVDIt is that time of year. Time to add Christmas parties to the schedule. Time to get the gift shopping done. And for me, time to create the yearly Boy Scout Troop 68 dvd’s for each member of the troop.

      I began this tradition in 2004, the year I switched to digital photography. I bought a digital still camera early that year to take along on the troop’s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch that summer. I never looked back at film. The new camera allowed me take take hundreds of pictures during the year, several times more than I would have taken with film.

      By the end of the year I had quite a collection of digital photos taken during troop meetings, courts of honor, and troop activities. Instead of keeping them to myself, I decided to copy them to compact discs and give a set to each Scouting family. The parents would be able to see what their boys had been up to during the year, and they could print any pictures they would like to add to their photo albums.

      I also took the photos and used them to create slideshows of each troop activity, along with music. Using iDVD, I create discs of these slideshows and gave each Boy Scout one for Christmas. They became quite popular with the families. They were also fun to watch with the Scouts during the annual Christmas party.

      I have completed creating the dvd+r’s of this year’s photographs. I have also created this year’s slideshows. (Is slideshow even the correct term in this day and age?) This weekend’s project is to create the slideshow dvd’s and cases. If I have enough time I may make a second disc featuring this year’s courts of honor and/or other events.

      The year’s slideshow dvd will include nine videos totally about 50 minutes of memories. The picture dvd+r’s will contain about 3 GB of photos. The boys sometimes get annoyed with me during the year when I am taking the pictures but everyone like viewing them at the end of the year. The parents really like seeing them.

      I only have about a week to finish this project. The troop’s Christmas party in Saturday evening, December 13th. It will be fun to watch the Scout’s reactions to this year’s videos and see if they approve of the music I used.

      Does your troop do anything like this? What do think of this idea?

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        canon video cameraA long time ago, 1987 actually, I joined the board of directors for our local community access television station, Mel-TV. I was a member of the board for 20 years, many of those as the chairman. I retired from the board a few years before the City of Melrose decided to shut it down and keep the cable franchise fees in the general fund. Many people, myself included, thought this was a big mistake. After all, how many cities of our size had a community access channel that was actually being used, and used well. Citizens thought the station was a huge asset but the city council did not feel the same way.

        During those 20 years I videotaped a lot of Boy Scout courts of honor and troop activities. I would edit them at the studio and they would be scheduled during the week’s programming, usually a few times. It was a fantastic way for the community to keep up with what the Scouting program offered the youth. It was a great promotional and public relations tool.

        I still video record most of the troop’s courts of honor and some of the activities, even though I do not have the station available to show them any longer. I guess I just got into the habit and have not quit it yet. I do edit some of the shorter videos to use on the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast, but the bulk of it just sits on the computer or on tapes, unedited.

        There are videos from summer camp, of the Watchamagumee egg drop competition, of courts of honor, and more. I would guess these files are using hundreds of gigabytes on my hard drives. I really should do something with them or just delete them, but I find I have a hard time deleting them. Some people hoard material items and fill up their house. I hoard video files and fill up my hard drives.

        My goal this winter is too sit down at the computer and get serious about editing these video projects and share them with the Scouting families. I should be able to find some to share on the MSPP podcast. Maybe the local cable company would like some of the courts of honor for their local channel. I just need to sit down and start getting to work.

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          climbing2014The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had a busy one day activity during the month of November. It was a two part outing. The first part was a trip to the St. Cloud State University climbing wall where the Scouts had fun testing their skills on seven different climbs, from easy to quite challenging. Even one of the mothers took the opportunity to give it a try. Everyone had a great time and a good workout.

          The second part was the overnighter held at the residence of one of the Scouts. The Scouts played games, watched movies, and ate plenty of food. Several of the boys fell asleep after 2:00 am but a few stayed awake the entire night. The Scouts left for home at 7:00 in the morning.

          I attended the outing as one of the adult leaders. Of course, I brought along my digital camera and my new iPad Air. While the Scouts were climbing, I gave my camera to one of the other adults to take pictures so I could record video with the iPad. I ended up with nearly 30 minutes of video.

          Several hours later, while watching the Scouts play video games, I decided to open the iMovie app on the iPad Air and play around with creating a trailer using the video I took that afternoon. It was my first time using the app on the tablet. It take not take very long to learn how to use it and create a short trailer.

          I was happy with how it turned out so I thought it might make a nice addition to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. I hope you enjoy watching it. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of it.

          Video Information: 720 x 404, time 01:05, 17.6 MB, m4v format.

          Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
          Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast at
          http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
          or through iTunes. (If you use iTunes, don’t forget to rate the podcast.)
          Don’t forget to leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store. It is great to read what you think of these videos.

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            Villa Philmonte 2014When you participate in a program at Philmont Scout Ranch, whether a 12 day trek or a training session, you should try to schedule a tour of the summer home of Waite Phillips, known as the Villa Philmonte. The home now serves as the anchor of the Philmont Training Center (PTC) and is only a short walk from the Philmont Base Camp. Tours are scheduled through the Seton Museum and Library.

            I first toured the Villa way back in 1984 when I attended scoutmaster training at PTC. I was, and still am, employed as a draftsman at a local lumber yard so I really appreciated the design and details of the home. Whenever I returned to Philmont to partake in treks with Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 though the 1980′s and 1990′s I tried to find time for the Scouts to tour the Villa.

            It has been ten years between visits to the ranch. I returned to Philmont for a week in June for an advancement training course at PTC. I went on the trip with Bob, our district executive, who also took the same course. We decided early in the week that we would take a tour of the Villa once again. We scheduled a visit for Tuesday afternoon, the last tour for the day.

            I was hoping to see a few items within the home that I had seen back in the 1980′s. Would the carved wooden chest still be located in the living room? Would the model ship still be on display? Would the old piano still be playable after all these years? Are all the animal trophies still to be found in Waite Phillips hunting room? Would the portrait of Waite Phillips still be located in the closet of the lower level? The answer to all of the question was “Yes.”

            There was much more to see on this tour than the previous ones I had taken. I believe more of the Villa is open to the tour now then 15 or 20 years ago. It may be that the Philmont staff may have been using these rooms for other purposes during the 80′s and 90′s.

            Bob and I were the only two people during our scheduled time for the tour. Our guide did an excellent job. This year we were able to view the three bedrooms of the Phillips children, each of which was triple the size of my bedroom at home. The old cars in the garage were also fun to look at.

            My favorite part of the tour was the gun room, located off the hunting trophy room. I do not recall ever seeing this room on any earlier tours. We could not go inside the gun room but we were allowed to look through the barred window in the door. It was awesome seeing the old rustic cabinetry and the various rifles and muskets that were stored in there. I did put my camera through the door window bars and got a couple nice shots of the room.

            Fact is, I took a lot of photos during the tour. One hundred and two of them. Back on previous tours I used a film camera and was doing well to get a dozen or so pictures of the tour. Isn’t digital photography wonderful?

            The last stop of the tour was a large room which I had never seen before. It was set up as a small museum of Philmont history, almost like an extension of the Seton Museum. You had to enter the room through the exterior courtyard where the swimming pool used to be. It is a definite “must stop” of the tour. There is a lot of information in there.

            I will be placing many of the pictures of the tour online in an album on my Flickr account. You can see the album at:
            https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevejb68/sets/72157645062415997/

            Have you toured the Villa Philmonte at Philmont Scout Ranch? What did you think of it? What were your favorite parts of the tour?

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              CubmasterTis the season for all units… in the Central Minnesota Council to complete their recharters. Begin the caroling and pass the eggnog. The new committee of Cub Scout Pack 68 is about to learn how it is done.

              The recharter was one of the things on the agenda at last Monday night’s Pack committee meeting. Fortunately, our district executive was on hand to explain how to complete the online registration and answer questions. Unfortunately, our new treasurer announced that he is stepping down from the position because he has accepted a new pastoral position in another part of the state. His family is moving this week.

              Although surprised, the pack committee did not panic but started talking about possible parents in the pack who could be recruited as the treasurer and other positions that still needed to be filled. We currently of a great group of parents so the committee plans to speak to them for several minutes during this Monday’s Pack Meeting while I take the Cub Scouts in the next room and work with them on a skit to perform for the parents.

              There is also one other key three position that the Pack need to fill, the Cubmaster. Although I am registered as a pack committee member this year I have been been the acting cubmaster this fall since no one has stepped up to the plate yet. It is not a position I have sought, but after 30 years as a scoutmaster I thought I could run a few pack meetings until we find someone to take over.

              There is only a couple weeks left to complete the recharter. It is down to crunch time. Some of the committee thought they had a candidate to become the cubmaster but he had to decline due to commitments in other organizations to which he already belonged. Where were we to find a cubmaster?

              I have been acting as the cubmaster. Notice the word “acting”. After a short discussion with the committee I agreed to take on the role of cubmaster, but I would only accept the role for this program year, with the condition that that the pack finds an assistant cubmaster this year who would step into the cubmaster role in May of next year. The committee has a lot to talk to the parents about at Monday’s pack meeting.

              I have had fun as the acting cubmaster these pass few months, and it has been a pleasure working with the new committee members. I do actually look forward to being the cubmaster for the rest of this program year, this one term. I do not plan to become the permanent cubmaster. I still intend to continue working with the Boy Scout troop. My goal is to be the liaison between the pack and the troop.

              Hopefully, Santa will bring us a few more committee members, den leaders, and an assistant cubmaster this month. “Deck the Pack with lots of leaders, fa la la la la, la la la la.”

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                committeepatchIt has been an interesting fall as we work to reorganize the leadership of Cub Scout Pack 68 and carry out the new program. It has also been fun and rewarding. The boys have been telling their parents they are having fun. The parents are commenting that they like they way things are going.

                At Monday night’s pack committee meeting, I took the next step toward a better Pack by inviting the commander of the local American Legion Post to attend. The Legion has been the charter organization of the Cub Scout Pack for several years but the two groups really have not done much together. Since the Pack has new leadership I felt this was a good opportunity to try to get the committee and charter organization to get to know each other and possibly work together to create a great Cub Scout program.

                The Legion Commander arrived at my home, the site of the meeting, a little early, before any of the Pack committee had arrived. He surprised me by bringing along two other members of the Legion. By being a bit early, it gave us a few minutes to chat and a chance to introduce them to Bob, our district executive, who had also arrived and was going to attend the meeting.

                Once the meeting started, after introductions around the table, we had some good discussions about the Pack program, the responsibilities of the charter organization, and how the Legion and the Pack could would together on some service projects during the year. I think we now have a very good chance of getting a charter representative who would attend the committee meetings and be the liaison between the Cub Scout Pack and the American Legion.

                The three members of the Legion stuck around for most of the committee meeting and got a good look at the inner workings of the Cub Scout Pack. All three men fully support the Scouting program and look forward to helping the Pack provide a great program for the boys.

                All in all, I think the meeting went very well. I look forward toward Cub Scout Pack 68 and the Melrose American Legion working together during this coming year and beyond.

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