Pinewood Derby StandsIt is that special time of year. Plans are being made. Special designs are being considered. Bodies are being formed. Weights are being adjusted. Tracks are being calibrated. No, I am not talking about your local Snap Fitness center or the local gym. It is Pinewood Derby season! It is time to create those cars for the big races in Cub Scout Packs across the country.

The Cub Scouts of Melrose Pack 68 kicked off their season on Tuesday, January 28, by making display stands for their cars. Cubmaster Mark and his brother Gary had cut out and prepared the wood pieces. The Cub Scouts, with a little help from their parents, screwed and glued the pieces together. The next step will be to paint or stain the stands at home and then bring them to the Pinewood Derby.

I have not been to a Pack meeting for a year so I decided to attend this one. I did not realize the Cub Scouts would be assembling display stands. I did have my camera along so I made myself useful and started taking pictures of the Scouts and their parents. Once all the stands were assembled I took a group picture of the boys holding their project. The cubmaster will send it to the local newspaper for a short article.

Cub Scout Pack 68 will hold its Pinewood Derby on Tuesday, February 25th, at the local Lutheran Church. I will probably be there, with my camera in hand, snapping lots of pictures.

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    Let’s face it. Many Boy Scouts would not become an Eagle Scout without their parent’s support, especially their mother’s support. She probably learns as much, if not more, than the young man does on his road to Scouting’s highest award. Maybe that is the reason mothers receive a pin each time their son receives a Scouting rank. Just a little recognition, you know.

    Thanks to Bryan, over at the Bryan On Scouting blog, I was introduced to a humorous and emotional video which salutes mothers for “putting up with” and helping out all those Boy Scout who have earned their Eagle Rank. Eagle Scout mothers – We salute you!

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      filesIt is amazing the amount of stuff you can collect when you are a scoutmaster for thirty years, especially the paperwork. What should you throw away? What should you keep? What do you file away and than forget about? I played it safe and kept a lot of it.

      It has been two years since I stepped down as Boy Scout Troop 68′s scoutmaster so it is probably time to sit down and begin going through the hundreds of files I have accumulated. It is time to get rid of some of this stuff. I am sure the current scoutmaster is not interested in most of it since it does not apply to the current Scouts and program.

      I have files dating back to the 1980′s. They include advancement reports, board of review notes, troop rosters, Eagle Scout court of honor programs and agendas, and committee meeting minutes. There are files of information from the yearly trips to summer camps along with info from high adventure trips to Philmont Scout Ranch, the 2001 National Jamboree, and Charles Sommers Canoe Base.

      I wrote the troop’s monthly newsletter for over 25 years. There is a file of these for each year. These newsletters contain quite a bit of history of the Scouting program in Melrose. And there lies part of the problem. I don’t really want to “throw away the history” of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, but I really do not need to keep all this paperwork.

      Then I got an idea! I emailed a note to the president of the Melrose Area Historical Society to see if they would be interested in receiving some of these old records for the museum. She responded quickly, writing, “We would definitely like to give them a home.”  I think the MAHS museum would be a great home for some of these records. It would be available to the public instead of just collecting dust in my office.

      Now I need to find an evening or three to to go through the files. I may scan some of the records before passing them, like the old newsletters that were created using a typewriter and real “copy and pasting” techniques.

      What does your troop do with older files and paperwork? Do you simply throw them away? Do you have a special place to keep them? Do you give them to your local museum? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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        Eagle Scout board of reviewI would be willing to bet that most young men who go before their council Eagle board of review are a little nervous. I know that many of the Boy Scout from Melrose Troop 68 were when it was their turn. Adult members of the board have told me that some Scouts are very nervous. I can understand this. For many of these young men this may be the most important interview of their lives, up to this point.

        Alex E. is the latest member of Boy Scout Troop 68 to go before the Eagle board.He turned in his paperwork last month (December). He is 16 years old, which is young when you consider that many Eagle Scout candidates have their review within a couple months of having their 18th birthday. It is even more impressive when you realize that Alex joined Scouting when he was 13 years old. He has gone from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout in less than three years.

        I went to Alex’s review representing his scoutmaster, since his dad is the troop’s scoutmaster. Dakota represented our committee. Alex did not seem nervous as we waited in the lobby. He was very confident during his review and was quick to answer their questions. The three council board members were impressed.

        As is normal, the board asked him to leave the room after the questioning so they could discuss his performance. They asked Dakota and myself a few questions about his leadership and character within the troop. It was then time for the vote. It was unanimous! Alex had passed his Eagle Scout board of review.

        The board decided to have a little fun with the new Eagle Scout when they called him and his parents back into the room. One of the board members had a length of rope in his briefcase. He laid it on the table in front of where Alex was sitting. They wanted to see if the rope would make Alex nervous. After all, many Boy Scouts have a challenging time learning knots to pass their rank requirements.

        Alex and his parents were invited into the room and asked to be seated. Alex sat in the same chair, with the rope on the table before him. His parents sat one on each side of him. Dakota and I sat in the second row of chairs.

        Alex seemed to ignore the rope as the board chairman began to speak. Finally, one of the other board members asked Alex to tie a knot. Alex immediately grabbed the rope and asked, “Which one?” I knew that Alex knew his basic knots fairly well so before the board member could answer I suggested the sheepshank. (Remember that knot from the movie Follow Me Boys?) Alex proceeded to tie the knot, held it up for inspection, and set the rope back on the table. The board was even more impressed, and so was I.

        After the review, as we were putting on our coats in the lobby, I told Alex that he did very well. I asked him if he had been nervous. His reply? No. He stated that he had studied for the board of review and felt confident.

        The moral of the story? Live the Scout Motto. Be Prepared!

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          Eagle Scout WallMelrose Boy Scout Troop 68 does not have a building or a room to call its home, so my basement family room is the place I have created a “Scout Room”. It contains collections of Scouting coffee mugs, awards, and other stuff. The troop holds its patrol leader council meetings, committee meetings, and some training meetings there.

          Photos of Troop 68 Eagle Scouts hang on the west wall. There was always a couple Scouts missing because I did not have a good picture to post on the wall. This morning I decided I needed to have photos of everyone, whether they were an actual Eagle picture or not. I searched through my photo collection and picked the best pictures of those missing Scouts, printed them, and placed them into frames.

          The wall is now complete. All 21 of the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout now have a place on the wall. There is even room for one more. Could that spot be filled by the Boy Scout who has an Eagle board of review on Tuesday?

          By the way, do you have any idea how hard it is to take a picture of a wall of framed glass photos and not get a reflection?

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            The National Capital Area Council, BSA, recently posted a new promotional video to YouTube. I thought you might enjoy watching it.

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              Patch Blanket 1996-2013It is done! That is correct, the second of my patch blankets is complete. I picked up the last patches this morning from the Scout Shop. Now I am waiting for the glue to dry. This new blanket contains 144 patches.

              This second blanket had a couple interesting “happenings” that were unplanned. First, as you can see from the picture, I used the 2010 B.S.A. anniversary blanket design, the same as the first blanket. Since this blanket would contain patches from the 100th anniversary year, I decided to leave the 2010 logo mostly exposed, instead of covering it up like I did on blanket one. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the row featuring patches from 2010 actually ended up on the same level as the logo. I was even able to use an anniversary patch on top of the zero of 2010.

              The last two patches I needed included a roundtable staff patch. I wanted to it to recognize that I joined the Scenic District roundtable staff in the fall of 2013. It was also the last patch I “earned” for the year. The final patch was the generic Leave No Trace patch. I really wanted 2013 to end this blanket and it happened to work out that way. The year 2014 will be the year to start a new one. However, each of the two completed blankets display 16-17 years of patches. I have a feeling there may not be a third blanket for me. At least, not a completely covered one.

              When I was at the Scout Shop this morning Bob, my district executive, happen to catch me and we had a nice chat. He also asked me if I planned to bring the blankets to the roundtable on Tuesday, January 7th. I replied that I could. I bought a couple of garment racks to hang them on to display. I did bring the first blanket to the Boy Scout roundtable in December which meant, of course, that the Cub Scout leaders did not see it. I may display both blankets in the lobby this time so everyone can view them. After all, I did create the blankets to be viewed. The next time I plan to display the flags will be during the first week of February, during Scouting Anniversary week.

              Both patch blankets 1980-2013Now that that Scouting project is complete, what do I begin as a new one?

              Click on the pictures to see a larger photo.

               

               

               

               

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                Scouter MagazineI was working on my second patch blanket today and came up to a spot for which I needed a patch. Along the edge of the blanket I have been placing patches that do not really fit with an activity I have attended. Instead, I have been using special patches for anniversaries, special occasions, and generic type things. I needed one of these type of patches for a spot around the perimeter of the blanket.

                I began to look through my notebooks and bins to find one that would be a good one for the spot. I found one that would fit well, but it also reminded me of a magazine I once subscribed to that does not exist anymore. It was a patch given to charter subscriber of Scouter Magazine, an independent publication about Scouting, written by Scouters. I really enjoyed reading this magazine. It was full of great ideas and articles written by Scout Leaders from around the country. It was not meant to replace Scouting Magazine, but was a publication for adults in Scouting to share ideas in the late 1990′s. Remember, the internet was just starting to get popular and there was not a lot about Scouting online yet.

                Scouter Magazine only lasted for about five years, unfortunately. I still have my issues, which are probably collector items by now. Then again, maybe not. Most of the people who received the magazine have probably left Scouting and thrown away their issues. It would be great if someday this publication could be started again, along with an electronic version. Bring it into the 21st century. I bet they would have a lot easier time getting articles from contributors these days. But then, when you think about it, maybe blogging has taking that role. HalfEagle.com has done a good job about bringing some of the best blogs about Scouting into one easy to use format.

                As I was looking online for information about Scouter Magazine this evening, the only thing I found was an open letter written in February 2001 about the closing of Scouter Magazine. (Read it at http://old.scouter.com/magazine.asp )

                Oh well, the magazine may be a part of history but my patch will finally see the light of day as it goes from the notebook to the blanket. At least people who see the blanket will know that for a short while I was a charter subscriber to Scouter Magazine.

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