cublogoAs the annual School Night To Join Scouting approached I told the current Cub Scouts that we should try to double the size of our pack, which is currently at 17 members. I explained that they are our best recruiters and that they should talk to their friends and bring them to the event. The boys were excited and thought we could do that. In fact, one Webelos Scout said that we could triple our size. I told them to go for it. Meanwhile, our new district executive was doing his part by talking to boys in the local elementary schools and passing out flyers.

Unfortunately, within our community we really did not do much more to promote School Night other than having a table set up at the school open houses, and placing a couple signs around town. Looking back on things, we should have had something in the local newspaper and contacted the banks and credit union to post the event on their exterior marquees. It is too late to try to promote it any more. The meeting was last night, Thursday, September 22.

I arrived at the school about twenty minutes early. We were supposed to have our meeting in the high school cafeteria. As we walked in we noticed the cafeteria was already being used. A sports team was having a meal/meeting. This was not going to work for us. Matt, one of our committee members, quickly found a custodian and asked if we could used the high school library. They said yes, so we moved into a new room and posted people by the school entrance to let them know about the room change. Not off to a good start for the evening.

Several committee members members, parents, and Cub Scouts were on hand to set things up. Future Cub Scouts and their parents began arriving 15 minutes early. And kept arriving. They were still coming in at 7:00, the start time of the meeting. And they keep coming. Soon, the tables were filled and there was standing room only. The committee members and I were shocked. We never expected a crowd like this. I had been hoping that we could maybe get 12 more boys to join Scouting. As I looked around the room I counted over 30 boys and their parents waiting to hear about the Cub Scout program.

I began the meeting a few minutes late as people got settled and moved things along quite rapidly. The pack leadership introduced themselves and then I hit the main points: meeting times, parent commitments, uniforms, awards, and so forth. Committee members jumped in when they had something to add, and our popcorn chairpersons talked quickly about the annual fundraiser. We did not waste much time, which I think made the parents happy.

As the meeting came to a close we had 25 new Cub Scout registrations. We went from a pack of 17 members to a pack with 42 members. We exceeded our goal! And it sounds like there may be a few more registration forms coming in at next week’s pack meeting.

I drove down to St. Cloud that evening to turn in the applications. As I sat in the Scout Office waiting to give them to our district executive, I counted how many boys we would be adding to each den: 2 new Lion Cubs, 8 new Tiger Cubs, 9 new Wolf Scouts, 5 new Bear Scouts, and 1 new Webelos Scout. This is going to be an interesting first pack meeting on Tuesday.

I think the pack committee is in shock, and maybe a bit concerned. Can we handle this many boys? Where will we get the funds for all the awards and activity costs? Will we find enough leadership as we move forward? What are we going to do with a pack this large?

As cubmaster, I am not too worried. I think enough parents will step forward to fill the leadership roles needed. We already have a great committee. The new Scouts can still get in on the popcorn sales so I am hoping for a nice boost for the treasury from that. As for the program? We already had a schedule made out for the year. All we have to do is follow it with maybe a few adaptions needed. I think we will be alright. My main concern is to make sure we offer the boys the fun and excitement that Scouting has to offer. It may be a bit of a challenge though to try to keep 42 elementary aged boys attention long enough for a pack meeting. I will take that challenge.

As we were getting ready to leave the library after the event, one of the committee members came up to me and commented that with all the new Cub Scouts, the pack may need me to stick around for another year. You see, I have stated that this is to be my third and final program year as the cubmaster. I plan to hand over the pack to a new cubmaster next summer. For some reason I have a feeling the committee is going to try to change my mind as  go through the 2016-2017 program year.

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    2001 National Jamboree Pictures by Randy and Mike Arko

    2001 National Jamboree Gateway

    In 2001, I served as the scoutmaster for Troop 1417 of the Central Minnesota Council for the National Jamboree, which was held at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. I had a great time. I also had great assistant scoutmasters, great junior leadership, and great Scouts. I was quite proud to be the Troop 1417 scoutmaster.

    One of the fun things about a Jamboree was walking around to look at all the gateways troops made as entryways to their campsites. There were some fairly simply ones, and some very elaborate ones. Troop 1417 shared a gateway with Troop 1418, also from Central Minnesota Council. Ours was more toward the elaborate end of the scale. As you can see from the picture, it featured Paul Bunyan, Babe the blue ox, our Jamboree shoulder patches, and our troop flags. The Scouts came up with the design and worked hard building and painting it. I thought it turned out quite well.

    One of my favorite parts of the gateway was the center portion, between the entrances, where the Boy Scouts signed their names. Each troop has its side, and the Scouts signed it by patrol. Patrol names were located in white areas which portrayed clouds in the artwork. Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 had two members in each of the Jamboree patrols of 1417, and another Scout who served as the troop scribe. The pictures are a nice remembrance of who was in each patrol.

    Unfortunately, we did not have room to take the whole gateway home with us when the Jamboree came to an end. Most of it was tossed onto the sub camp garage pile. A few smaller pieces did get taken home by a few troop members. All the little triangular pine trees found a home. One of them came home with me. I would have lover to take the painted panels home with me, but there was not room on the bus. I really wish I would have grabbed the panels with the Scout’s names. That would have been a great keepsake.

    Has your troop begun making plans for the 2017 National Jamboree? Have your gateways been designed yet?

    2001 National Jamboree: Roll 12 - 02

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      Version 2I happen to be doing some cleaning today in the basement family room. When I opened the cabinet to put away the latest Hallmark Snoopy Scout ornament I decided instead to take them all out for a picture. I now have ten years of the Beagle Scout Snoopy ornaments. I thought it would be cool to put them all in a row, by year, 2016 on the left to 2007 on the right. How many of these do you own? What figures, if any, am I missing?

      Click on the picture for a larger view.

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        s-l1600I am always keeping an eye out for Beagle Scout Snoopy items. I just like the combination of Scouting and Peanuts, I guess. After writing the last article I decided to have a quick look on eBay to see what other Beagle Scout Snoopy items were being offered for sale. Like usual, there are a lot of Hallmark ornaments for sale. One item in particular caught my eye because I never knew it even existed.

        There is an auction for a vintage “new in box” Snoopy’s Beagle Scouts Stand Up Colorforms Play Set. I remember playing with Chloroforms when I was a kid. I do not ever remember seeing this playlet on the store shelves. Of course, maybe this set is not that old. I am not able to see a date on the box cover. I thought it might be fun to have this in my collection… until I saw the price of $39.99, plus $14.00 postage. Sorry, I do not want it that badly.

        I found another auction of the same playlet in used condition going for less than $10.00, plus postage. Notice the word “used”. After reading the description I decided I did not want to bid on that one either.

        I am not going to list the links here because they will soon be outdated, so if you wish to find the play set just do a search for it yourself. I still think it is a pretty cool item. What do you think?

        s-l1600-1 s-l1600-2








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          snoopy2016It is that time of year again. Hallmark stores have started selling the 2016 Christmas ornaments. And yes, once again, there is a Snoopy the Beagle Scout ornament for us involved in Scouting to enjoy.

          This month’s ornament features Scout Leader Snoopy and three of his “Scouts” as they head out on a white water rafting adventure. They must be moving pretty fast because Snoopy’s ears are nearly flat in the rushing wind. You can almost imagine the little guy on the back of the raft being thrown overboard as soon as the raft hits its first serious white water. No reason to worry though. Snoopy is a Beagle Scout and knows what to do in case of an emergency. As you can see, everyone is wearing a PFD.

          The cost is $15.95 each.  The ornament can be found in Hallmark stores and on the online site at: . These ornaments always seem to sell out.

          I picked up mine already to add to the many others from previous years. I actually bought two of them, one to put on the tree, and one to store away for the collection. Do you plan to get one for yourself or someone you know in Scouting? Or did you get one already?

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            IMG_0638School Night To Join Scouting will be held throughout Minnesota on Thursday, September 22nd. This year’s theme is “Heroes Start Here”, which nicely fits in with the current wave of superhero movies and television shows. I have to say, I like this theme better the the Rocket Into Scouting used over the last few years.

            As the recruitment event approaches there are a few other things we can do as a pack and troop to prepare for the big evening. One of these to to have a table set up at the local schools’ open houses coming up next week. The idea is to get Scouting out in front of the boys and parents early so they can begin to think about everything this program can offer their families.

            Of course, if we are going to have a table at a school’s open house we will need someone to sit at that table and hand out materials, and answer any questions. We have three elementary schools in our area at we would like to have a table set up. St. Mary’s Catholic School has their open house on Tuesday, August 23rd. The Melrose Public Elementary School has theirs on Wednesday, the 24th. Sacred Heart Catholic School in Freeport has theirs on Thursday, the 25th. I believe each school is holding the event from 4:00 to 7:00 in the evening.

            I have been preparing a few items to place on the table to try to catch the attention of the boys and, more importantly, their parents. The picture shows a few items I have thought about having on display. A Pack committee member, who attended this month’s kickoff at a district meeting earlier this month, also has a few items from the council to add to the display, including flyers about School Night To Join Scouting.

            We will need people to sit at the tables. Jesse, our new assistant cubmaster, has agreed to sit at the Sacred Heart School open house. I may be able to attend the Wednesday night one, but I have a Boy Scout event I wish to attend on Tuesday. Hopefully some parents will come through and volunteer a bit of their time to get out the word about Scouting.

            Does your troop or pack set up a table during your school’s open house? What do you set out on the table. Leave a comment and let us know. Thanks.

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              IMG_5900The new troop tee shirts have arrived! After a few months of discussing logo designs, and type and color of shirt, the order of the new shirts has arrived. The troop ordered 80 shirts, all adults sizes from medium to extra large, in case a few adults would like to purchase one. We got a pretty deal on the order and are able to sell the tee shirts for $8 each.

              During the planning stage, several ideas were tossed around the committee and the Boy Scouts. The Scouts finally decided they wanted to keep the gray color of the current troop shirt but go back to the logo we used when we first started using tee shirts in the 1980’s, with a couple color modifications. I thought it was interesting that the Scouts wanted a retro design on the new shirts.

              The picture above shows the new shirts. The picture below shows the previous shirt, of which only a few are left. You can click on the pictures for a larger photo.

              What do you think of our new troop tee shirts?


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                slingshotThis is my second summer as the cubmaster of Pack 68. I have had a good time and have agreed to a third year in the position. The pack does not have meetings during the summer months but we do have a pack activity each month. I had the Cub Scouts come out to my family cabin which is located on Kings Lake for their July activity. Eleven of the 17 Cub Scouts attended the event.

                The activity was held on a Monday night. It started at 6:30 in the evening and lasted until 8:30. We did not plan any swimming activities, but that does not mean the Cub Scouts did not get wet. One of the events had the Scouts filling water balloons and trying to hit a target using my water balloon sling shot (shown in the picture.) Some of the balloons busted while in the slingshot, spraying nearby Scouts with water. Some of the balloons became air bound without using the slingshot. The Cub Scouts did not mind. They were having fun.

                The second activity was a disc golf putting contest. The pack was divided into two teams. Each team had several discs and tried to putt as many discs into the disc golf basket as they could. I started the Scouts a bit too far from the basket so after each round I moved them a little closer until the discs began landing in the basket. Some of the boys were asking what the winning team would receive. Another Scout stated correctly that they get bragging rights. Once again, the boys had a good time.

                The last activity of the evening was to get out the marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. We had worked up an appetite and it was time to make s’mores. I think this may have been the Scouts favorite activity. It did not take long for sticky fingers and mouths to be found around the campfire.

                I want to thank the many parents for helping with the event. They assisted the boys as they filled water balloons, manned the slingshot, and helped the Scouts prepare the s’mores. Everyone stayed safe and had a great time. I bet they would all come back out next year if we do it again.

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