It is nearly time for Scouting Anniversary to begin. Troops and Packs around the country will be participating in the celebration. Many units will start the week by attending local religious services on Scout Sunday, February 4th.

In Central Minnesota we have a local newspaper, the Shopper, that helps support the program by including a supplement for Scout Week. This year it is a four page spread and includes pictures from 7 Cub Scout Packs and six Boy Scout Troops. Melrose Cub Scout Pack 68 and Boy Scout Troop 68 are included in the spread, of course.

We nearly did not make it this year. The troop did not have a recent photo ready to turn in. Luckily, on Saturday January 27th, the troop had an activity that allowed us to get a photo that included most of the current Scouts and adult leaders. The Cub Scout Pack also had to scramble a bit for a photo that included a fair portion of the pack membership.

Not only is it great to see this type of promotion in a local paper, but it is also great to see all the sponsors who have an ad with the spread that paid for the four pages. The packs and troops would like to give a big Scout Salute to those businesses.

Of course, in the name of youth protection, I removed the names of the Scouts before I posted the photos to this blog. You can click on the pictures for a larger view of the photos.

Does your local newspaper do anything like this to celebrate the anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America?

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    The carnival came to Melrose during the weekend of September 8-9. It was not brought to town by the Chamber of Commerce or any local service groups. It was brought to town by a group of of people in town who felt Melrose needed a fall event to bring its citizens together for a weekend of fun and excitement. The two day event also included several vendor booths, live music, and a classic car show.

    The parents of one of the Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 were two of the people who organized this event. They asked the troop to assist with one of the activities in which children could purchase a ticket for 50 cents to play one of several games to win a prize. The money raised would go to the local food shelf. It looked like it would be a fun service project for the Boy Scouts.

    There were five games the Scouts would be in charge of running. One was a Hot Wheels toy car race track. The other games were bottle ring toss, a bean bag toss, a bottle set up challenge, and a disc golf putting challenge. Early on it appeared that we may have trouble finding enough Scouts to work the games but when the day arrived we had plenty of help, along with a few parents.

    The games were only open for four hours Saturday afternoon but they did very well. The Scouts had fun along with the children who played the games. Even a few parents got into the spirit of trying their skills. Over $120 was raised for the local food shelf. It was a pretty good, and pretty fun service project.

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      My brother and I were Boy Scouts for three and a half years in the mid 1970’s. My youngest brother was a Cub Scout. My mother was a den leader, and my father was a troop committee member. Scouting was strong in my family, but not quite as strong as it was in one of my cousin’s family.

      Jim Ehlert, my uncle, had five sons. All five sons were involved in the Scouting program. Jim became a scoutmaster when his oldest son was a Boy Scout. Jim held that position for a number of years as all the boys grew threw the program. In fact, all five of the young men earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

      Once in awhile, back in the 1970’s, our families would meet at grandma’s cabin on Kings Lake. We would sometimes exchange skits and songs that were popular in our troops. We would also swap Scouting stories and experiences as we sat around the campfire.

      I was a little in awe of Jim during my teen years, as a lot of Scouts look up to the adults who are Scout Leaders. I also admired him for holding the position of scoutmaster fo so many years. When his sons finally graduated out of the troop he retired as scoutmaster and took on a different Scouting position.

      Occasionally, after I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, Jim and I would have the opportunity to chat about Scouting. He would ask me how things were going in my troop, or ask me to tell him about the latest high adventure trip that we had attended. They were fun discussions.

      On Tuesday, September 19, Jim passed away after a battle with kidney disease. He was in his 80’s. I guess I will not be sharing anymore Scouting stories with him. Until that is, until I join him in that great summer camp in the sky.

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        Every year, the Central Minnesota Council seems to offer an incentive to the boys who join the local Scouting pack during the School Night to Join Scouting meeting. This meeting is traditional held the third Thursday of September. A few years ago the new members received a rocket. Last year they were given a frisbee with the B.S.A. logo on it.

        This year’s prize was sure to make every teacher in Central Minnesota happy. Yes, you guessed it. This year’s incentive was one of those spinners which was so popular with elementary boys. This fidget spinner was blue in color with the B.S.A. logo in the middle of it.

        I have to admit, the boys who came to school night all seemed excited about receiving the spinner. Even the current Pack members who came to the meeting wanted one of their own. The parents did not seem to be quite as excited as the boys. The current Scouts could buy one for $5.00 each.I believe most of them did go home with one. I went home with two. One for my Scouting collection, and one for a friend of mine who lives in Arizona.

        Does your council offer an incentive to new Scouts on School Night? What was it this year?

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          I have been collecting the Boy Scouts of America Scouting Village series since it began several years ago. I even have a lighted Scouting building set sold by Walmart a few years ago that fits pretty well with the B.S.A. pieces. I was a little disappointed last year when there were not any new village pieces sold by the Scout Shop. In fact, I wondered if the new yearly pieces had come to an end. Oh well, I would save money for other things if it had ended.

          Well, I guess I was wrong. They are not done yet.

          A new piece was added to the collection for 2017. (Yes, just one piece.) The item is the “Lighted Scouting Village Climbing Tower.” This means we can add a summer camp activity to our “summer camp village” of lodges and tents. The size of the tower is listed as 5″ x 5″ x 19 3/4″, which will make it the tallest piece of the set so far. Unfortunately, it is out of proportion to the the people pieces and tents released a few years ago so I will probably place the tower to the back of the layout to try to keep it looking a little more in perspective to the rest of the village.

          I noticed the tower on the scoutstuff.com website a month ago but it was listed as not available until September 27. I called the local Scout Shop today to check if they had received any yet. They have not, but my name is on the list to purchase one when they do arrive. I guess I have to wait a little longer to add one to my collection.

          The Lighted Climbing Tower can be seen and purchased at
          http://www.scoutstuff.org/house-lighted-climbing-tower.html#.Wc58MDVrwdU

          Do you plan to add a tower to your Scouting Village?

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            That time of year has arrived! Hallmark has released their holiday ornaments for 2017 and yes, there is another Beagle Scout Snoopy to add to the collection!

            This year’s ornament features Snoopy, Woodstock, and friends folding the United States Flag. Written on the Hallmark website: Known as the Beagle Scouts in the long-running Peanuts® comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, troop leader Snoopy and his small yellow bird friends show their patriotism. Scout families will really “flock” to this Christmas ornament that shows the lovable characters in the middle of a flag-folding ceremony.

            As you know, if you have been reading this blog over the years, I collect these ornaments. I think they have nicely captured bits of the Scouting program. I plan to pick up at least two of the ornaments, one for the tree, and one to store away. Maybe I will even buy another one or two to give as gifts.

            One little extra note this year is that Hallmark will donate $1.00 to Toys For Tots for each of these ornaments purchased this year. A win-win situation!

            It can be found online at  http://www.hallmark.com/ornaments/keepsake-ornaments/peanuts-snoopy-flag-folding-ceremony-ornament-1595QXI3295.html  or at your local Hallmark store.

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              Camp Watchamagumee is one of the favorite camping spots for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. It is forty acres of private land located about ten miles north of Melrose. The troop began camping there in the late 1980’s and have planned an annual trip there every year since then.

              I would guess it was maybe 15 years ago when I suggested a new activity to the Scouts for this weekend. It became so popular that it has now become an annual tradition. I had no idea the Egg Drop Competition would become so poplar. The Scouts really enjoy the challenge and trying to come up with a design to create the best package of the year.

              The Egg Drop Competition is actually quite simple. Each Scout, or two person team if a lot of Scouts attended the outing, receives a raw egg. They have 15 minutes to create a package for that egg using only natural materials found in the wooded area around the camp. No man-made materials are allowed, not even string. The Boy Scouts become quite inventive as they use grass, bark, stick, logs, mud and moss to create their packages. A few packages over the years have even used dried cow patties. The packages must be easily opened so that the egg can be retrieved to see if it has survived.

              The first round begins with the egg packages being dropped from waist high. If the egg survives it moves on to the next round in which the eggs are dropped from chest high. Each round gets higher which eliminates more eggs, of course. The drops continue until only one egg remains unbroken.

              Some of the Scouts have gotten pretty good at this. There have been years I have stood near the top of an eight foot tall step ladder throwing the packages down unto a concrete patio block trying to break the egg. Of course, you can probably imagine the excitement when the competition get to that point, and the smile on the face of the Boy Scout when his egg survives the throw.

              I was not able to attend this year’s Egg Drop Competition. Yes, i missed the egg drop. This may have been the first time. I heard that the nine Scouts had an excellent time again this year, including the four new Scouts who had just crossed over from Webelos a couple months earlier. The picture shows Luke, this year’s winner.

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                I was never a member of the Order of the Arrow as a youth. I became a member in the mid-1980’s when I was a scoutmaster, along with two Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. I enjoyed being a member and saw the value of it for the youth so I promoted it during the next 25 years. Since it is a youth based program, I only was as active in the Order of the Arrow as the Scouts in the troop were active. Some were busy years, others were not, but we always had a couple members of the O.A. in the troop.

                I stepped down as the scoutmaster at the end of 2011 and although I still tried to get the boys to participate I was not very successful. It has been a few years since the troop has held an Order of the Arrow election so I was pleased this year when the patrol leader council decided to have one this spring. I talked with the new scoutmaster and the youth membership trying to drum up interest again. The election was held on February 6th during our troop meeting.

                The former lodge advisor and his son, who is a former lodge chief, live in Melrose so it was easy to have a lodge representative stop by for a visit. Chris and Chuck gave a short talk about the Order and had the troop watch a short video. Scoutmaster Dave and I found that four Scouts qualified for the election. I was surprised when it was announced that all four Scouts had been elected. I should actually say nominated since a Scout does not become a member until he has attended a conclave.

                I did not realize that our small troop could have all four Scouts be nominated for membership. I though that only a couple would be allowed since we only had ten members. I guess the rule has changed about how many Scouts of a troop can now be nominated.

                Following the election we looked up the dates of the Naguonabe Lodge conclaves for the spring and fall. I was a little surprised to discover the date of the spring outing. I remember it was usually held early in the month of May. We discovered it would be held later in the month, the same weekend as our scheduled troop camping trip. This was not an ideal situation.

                As the weekend approached, only two of the four nominees decided to attend the conclave. A third is still deciding if he wants to be a member, while the fourth has decided he does not really want to be. He says he is busy enough with other things, like a job. I was going to attend the conclave with the boys, but the scoutmaster had something else come up that weekend so I decided to help with the troop outing.

                Our two new Arrowmen enjoyed the conclave and seem to be proud to be members of the Order of the Arrow. They are already talking about earning their Brotherhood at next year’s spring conclave. I am happy to hear that. And hopefully, we will have a few more nominees ready to at that time.

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