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.
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    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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            leadershipcartoonIt is fun looking around the internet and finding comical views about Scouting. Here are a couple that may make you think you should cut back on your Scouting time. You have been in Scouting too long if…

            You don’t mind losing power to your house for three days.

            You gave your wife a mummy sleeping bag rated for -15 deg F for Christmas, and it was the nicest gift you have given her.

            You bought 10,000 shares of Coleman stock on an inside tip that they are about to release a microwave accessory for their camp stove line of products.

            You can not eat eggs anymore unless they are cooked in a zip-lock bag.

            You were nearly arrested by the airport security because you would not give up your official BSA pocket knife until the security guy said “thank you.”

            You decide to lash together that new deck for your backyard.

            Do you now of any others that should be added to this list?

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              disc golf albanyThe Boy Scouts of Troop 68 were asked to help by providing an activity for last August’s Night To Unite in Melrose. I volunteered my disc golf practice basket and the Scouts brought their discs. People had fun trying their putting skills, or discovering that they did not have any putting skills. Employees from the city of Melrose, and even a couple city council members, stopped by to throw a few discs and talk about the game.

              Melrose does not have a disc golf course, but the city now has an interest in one after watching the Boy Scouts and the public playing the game during that evening in the park. The city administrator asked the Boy Scouts and myself to attend the next park board meeting with a proposal to have a course installed in the park. Over the next couple days, a few Scouts and I worked out a plan for a nine hole course and, using my practice basket, actually played a game in the park. I worked up a cost estimate and other information and presented a plan to the park board at the end of August. The board members really liked the idea and the projected cost of the course. They stated that this idea would be a great project to bring more people to use the park, including tweens and teenagers.

              Earlier this month I received a phone from the city administrator asking me to attend the city council meeting on Thursday, October 16. The disc golf course proposal had passed the park board and had moved on to the city council for action. I needed to be there in case the council had any questions that needed to be addressed. I marked it on my calendar.

              The city council did have a few questions, but none of them were hard to answer. They all seemed to like the idea. When it came time to vote they all voted in favor of creating a disc golf course next spring. The budget they gave to it was lower than I originally proposed so we will not get the concrete tee boxes right away, but they would be a possibility in a few years.

              I was told I would be contacted over the winter to meet with the board to make the final preparations for the new course. I guess my work did not end with the proposal. It appears that I am the resident expert on disc golf courses. I had to chuckle to myself. I am probably one of the few adults in town who has played a lot of disc golf, and played on several courses in the area. I am not an expert but I guess I can help plan a local course.

              Boy Scout Troop 68 will have a hand in this park. I plan on getting a couple of them to help at the planning meetings this winter. I also plan to have them help build and install the course this spring. There should be plenty of service hours to go around. Unfortunately, the planning has already gone too far to allow one Scout to use this as an Eagle Project, but you know, those concrete tee boxes will need to be added in another year or two.

              Does your troop enjoy playing disc golf? Where do they play?

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                scouttradingpostIf you have been following this blog then you know my frustration in not being able to find the missing piece to my Scouting Village collection, the Trading Post. I was not quick enough that first year in buying the pieces and missed that building. I did find a few people selling it on eBay at vastly inflated prices, so I went without one.

                This year the Scout Shop (and scoutstuff.org) came out with the new pieces which included the cool looking Dining Hall. It made me want the Trading Post even more, but not enough to where I would spend $100 to get one. Then, as if the national sales team wanted to pour salt into my open wound, they came out with a “starter kit” that included all the pieces from 2012 and 2013, including the Trading Post! I had no intention of spending $80.00 just to get that piece, even if it included all those other pieces.

                A little over a month ago I received an email from a person who worked in a council Scout Shop in the southern United States. She stated that she was breaking apart a “starter kit” because other people also wanted to fill in gaps in their collections. She was willing to sell me a Trading Post! The price she gave me was very reasonable, but I would have to add shipping to the cost. By the time everything was added up I discovered I could add this missing piece to my collection for $31.00. Yes, that is double the price I would have paid if I would have bought it that first year, but I guess I learned a lesson.

                When I set up my Scouting Village toward the end of November it will include all the pieces available from the three years of the collection. I am looking forward to seeing it all together. One big question in my mind is whether everything will fit on that piece of plywood I bought for this purpose. I guess I will find out in a few weeks. If the Scout Shop comes out with more pieces next year I know I will need a larger piece of plywood.

                Stay tuned! I will be posting pictures of the village once I have set it up. I invite you to send you pictures of your Scouting Village, along with a brief description, to this blog so I can post them for the world to see.

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