2015carsCub Scout Pack 68 held their annual Pinewood Derby on Sunday, January 25th, at the Melrose American Legion. Ten Cub Scouts and their families attended along with friends a several Boy Scouts. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

I have been to several derbies through the last few decades, usually as an observer. Back in the 1980’s, before their was electronic timers, I was asked to be a judge for a derby. In the last couple years I showed up with my camera and acted as the unofficial photographer. I took lots of photos that I shared with the Cub Scout families.

This year was a little different. Since I am the cubmaster this year I had a few more derby duties than I have ever had in the past. Not only did I learn how to assemble an aluminum Pinewood Derby track but I acted as the master of ceremonies for the event.

I am sure our derby was just like many derbies held around the council and the nation. There were the fast cars and the cars that did not quite make it to the finish line. There were the fancy looking cars that had a look of work applied to them and a couple that did not. In fact, there was a nice variety of car designs. A few races were extremely close that added to the afternoon’s excitement. In fact, one race was one thousands of a second difference between the two cars.

Every Cub Scout who participated received a patch. The three fastest cars received trophies. A trophy was also given to the “best of show” car which was given to a car that featured Mario from the video game. It was cool to see the Cub Scout of the Mario car grinning from ear to ear as he accepted his trophy because his car did not do very well in the races.

Next on the Cub Scout Pack agenda is the Blue and Gold Banquet in February. I am working on a special surprise for the pack but I am not sure if I will be able to pull it off. If I do, it will be a Blue and Gold the Cub Scouts and their families will not soon forget.

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    policestationMost people are quite happy to never have to visit a police station. Seeing one on a television show is just fine with them. The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 think a little differently. They were happy to pay a visit to the local station.

    The Boy Scouts gathered at the city hall during their regular meeting time on Monday, January 19th. Police Chief Craig Maus met the Boy Scouts and leaders in the lobby and led them downstairs for a tour of the station. The adults seemed to be just as excited as the Scouts as they walked down the stairs.

    Police Chief Maus did an excellent job of explaining the duties of a police officer as he led the group from room to room. The youth may have been a little disappointed to discover there was not a jail cell but they did have fun looking inside the police car and seeing all the gadgets and gear.

    Chief Maus was very patient with the group and did an excellent job of answering all the questions that were asked. Before they knew it, it was 8:00 and time for the Scouts to go home. Everyone was a little smarter about the life of a rural town police officer and what it would take to become one.

    The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 would like to thank Police Chief Craig Maus for taking the time to give the troop the tour.

    Just a little sidenote: Craig Maus is a home grown police officer. He was born and raised in Melrose. He is also a troop 68 alumni. He was a member Boy Scout Troop 68 in the early 1990’s.

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      2014 2015The Christmas holiday is over and the new year is just a day away. The year of 2014 is coming to an end and like a lot of people I am looking back at its highlights. There are a few that stand out in my Scouting world.

      I finally started camping again. When I stepped down as the scoutmaster three years ago I cut back on the number of troop outings I attended, giving the new leadership the chance to step into the role without me watching every move over their shoulder. I still attended some of the outings, but only part time, and only during the day. This past year was the first year I finally spent a night during an outing. I am easing back into it slowly. I spent one night at Camp Watchamagumee in May and one night at Many Point Scout Camp in July. Granted, that is only two nights during the whole year, but that is all I was needed. The parents have been stepping up pretty well.

      Late this summer I signed on for a second year as the assistant roundtable commissioner. I had fun doing it last year so I thought I would give it one more season. I probably will not sign up for a third year because I am starting to get too many irons in the fire.

      The biggest thing to happen to my little Scouting world was that I became quite involved with the local Cub Scout Pack. The previous leadership graduated out of the pack so I took up the challenge to form a new pack committee. We now have a good active committee but unfortunately did not find a person to take over as the cubmaster. After acting as the cubmaster for a few pack meetings I decided to formally take on the role until next May, thus becoming my biggest Scouting event of the year. While it has been fun working with the Cub Scouts my heart is still strongly resting with the Boy Scout troop.

      I also gained one more volunteer position outside of the Scouting program. I am now a member of the local historical museum’s board of directors. I started this position in December. I think it is a four year or a six year term. I am not really sure though. I should probably ask about that.

      How was your 2014? Any big events? Any new Scouting positions?

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        Boy Scout troop disc golfIt is official! The Melrose city council appropriated the funds at last month’s meeting, and tonight the Melrose park board has approved the purchase of equipment needed for a nine hole disc golf course to be installed at the Sauk River Park in the spring of 2015. Get your discs ready!

        This all came about because the Melrose Boy Scouts set up a disc golf activity during the August “Night To Unite” evening. It caught the interest of quite a few people, including the right people at the city administration level. The Boy Scouts also helped to design the future course. The troop will be assisting in the assembly of the baskets and signs during the winter months, and helping in the installation in the spring.

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          JTE-White1I would like to see Cub Scout Pack 68 earn the 2015 Journey To Excellence (JTE) award because I think we can do it. I made this statement during last night’s pack committee meeting, and than reviewed the requirements. By the time I finished I believe the committee was in agreement with me.

          Pack 68 of Melrose went into a reboot this fall. We have a brand new committee and a new cubmaster (me). We are all learning the Cub Scout program as we move forward and I would say we are making good strides. As we attempt to earn the 2015 JTE it will help us to provide a better blueprint for the program as we enter the new year.

          There are three levels a pack could attain when qualifying for the Journey To Excellence award. It starts with a Bronze Level. Silver is the next step up. Gold is the highest level a pack may earn. So which level could Pack 68 earn?

          The pack’s 2014 program year did not qualify for the JTE award. There are a number of factors why but I think it really came down to the pack did not know about the challenge and what requirements needed to be met. As this year’s cubmaster I want the pack to try to achieve it.

          After looking over the requirements for the 2015 Journey To Excellence, and reviewing them with the pack committee, we agree that this is attainable. While the Gold Level will be out of our reach we should be able to reach the Bronze Level by adding to and revising our program a little. There is a slight chance we could even achieve the Silver Level.

          The pack should be able to reach the Bronze or Silver Level of the first four objectives without too much problem. We feel that if we provide a good program and promote the pack more during the year we should see an increase in membership this fall, while retaining most of our current membership. I also plan to invite the Boy Scouts to attend a few pack activities to assist with making the Cub Scouts feel comfortable about graduating into the Boy Scout program.

          The Program objectives is where we need to do the most work. There has not been an emphasis on advancement so we need to promote more of that during the next year. We are planning to add more outdoor activities for the 2015 schedule, and promote the district’s day and resident camps. We will be planning 3, maybe 4, service projects, including one conservation project. We already plan to have 8 or 9 pack meetings, but having dens meet twice a month will probably not happen this year.

          The Leadership objectives will present a challenge. We should be able to attain the Bronze Level easily. We might be able to attain the Silver Level but it will take some work. The Gold Level will be out of our reach for the coming year, but you never know. Maybe the parents will surprise me before this fall.

          I did a quick estimate of each of the 2015 objectives. I did not check a Gold Level for any of them, but did mark a Bronze or Silver Level for each one. When I added up the score I discovered we should be able to make the Bronze Level. The Silver Level is within our reach if we work a little harder and plan a little better.

          My goal is to present a revised plan for the 2015 program to the pack committee at their January meeting. If they agree to it, and the pack gets behind it, the Cub Scouts will receive a new patch during the 2015 December pack meeting to add to their uniforms. That would be awesome.

          The requirements for the 2015 Journey To Excellence award can be seen at:
          http://www.scouting.org/filestore/mission/pdf/2015_JTE_Pack_Scorecard.pdf

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            2014 troop auctionWow! It was a lively troop auction this year. The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 seemed to like the selection of prizes and they were ready to spend their “troop bucks”. (See the last post for the explanation of the troop auction and the troop bucks.) They surprised me once again with what they valued and placed the high bids for. Here is a quick summary of the evening.

            The item that went for the highest bid, and what I expected to go high, was the $20.00 cash prize for which only this year’s troop bucks could be used. The final bid was 900 bucks. Two prizes went for 500 bucks or higher. The 100 page jumbo scrap book sold for 500 bucks, while the mid-range disc golf disc went for a surprising 580 bucks. A day pack/small duffle bag set went for 445 bucks.

            Usually, the last few items do not sell for very much, many times for less than 25 bucks, but this year was a little different. The item with the smallest bid was kite accessory which sold for 50 bucks. We usually have a Scout Handbook as one prize and this year was no different. It sold for 155 bucks.A Scout bolo tie went for only 85 bucks. When everything was auctioned off I think most of the Scouts had spent nearly all of their troop bucks. I also noticed that every Scout went home with something this year. That does not happen very often.

            I decided to tally the amount the boys spent on this year’s prizes while we were putting the room back in order. I was impressed. The total spent during this year’s auction was 4000 troop bucks! I do not think the Scouts have spend that much at one auction since 2004. Like I said at the start of this post, it was a lively troop auction this year.

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              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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