alexeagleOn Sunday, May 4th, there was a court of honor held for Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68′s newest Eagle Scout. Alex is the 22nd Scout to attain this honor since I began serving as an adult leader of troop in 1980.As far as I know, there was only one Eagle Scout in Melrose before 1980, thus Alex would be the troop’s 23rd Eagle Scout, historically.

Twenty Boy Scouts earned the rank of Eagle Scout while I was the scoutmaster of Troop 68. The last two, Thomas and Alex, were Boy Scouts during my last years in that role. It is great to see them continue the advancement trail and received Scouting’s highest higher. In another two or three years I hope to see the first Eagle Scouts of Troop 68 who joined Scouting after I retired as the scoutmaster. That will fell a little different but no less important.

Alex asked me to serve as the master of ceremonies for his court of honor. This was the first time I have ever served in the role for such an event. As the scoutmaster I would usually get a chance to speak about the Eagle Scout and his accomplishments during the ceremony. I presented the Eagle Scout rank at several of them or was asked to serve in some other role, but I was never a master of ceremonies. And you know something, that was fine with me.

This court of honor was going to be a slightly different experience, but I was looking forward to it. One of the duties, of course, was to introduce the guest speakers and presenters. There was also a spot on the program for me to talk about Alex and his Scouting accomplishments, so that part of things has not changed.

As I have for the last twelve Eagle Scouts, I presented a video featuring pictures of the Eagle Scout’s years in the troop along with some family pictures. Alex picked out the music himself, and brought along a few pictures he wanted to include in the video. I also snuck in one or two that he did not know about until he saw the video during the court of honor. This video will be posted to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast later this year.

I also video recorded the ceremony. I will edit it and burn it to dvd as I have for nearly all of the Troop 68 Eagle Scouts. The dvd is a great way to remember this important moment in the Scout’s life. His parents will also receive a copy.

Alex’s Eagle Scout court of honor went very well. A lot of people were in attendance. There were good guest speakers, and four previous Troop 68 Eagle Scouts attended and took part in the ceremony. I think the younger Scouts were quite impressed with the whole ceremony, as were many of the family members and guests. I had a good time being the MC, and I was told a did a good job. I do believe I talked to much at one point but you know, I could have talked for much longer. Alex is a good Eagle Scout. There is always a lot to say about good Eagle Scouts.

Thanks for Sharing!

    bloggerI am not really sure why I started doing it. Maybe it was to keep a kind of online journal. Maybe it was to see if anyone would be interested to read what I had to share. I did know I did not want to write about how a Scouting leader should be trained or how an adult could be an effective leader. There were already blogs about that subject. I just wanted to share my thoughts and experiences.

    My first post to “A Scoutmaster’s Blog” appeared on May 18, 2006, eight years ago! Blogging was just starting to gain in popularity. There were not many blogs about Boy Scouting at that time. I wanted to keep mine fun and, hopefully, entertaining. There have been a few changes over the years. I switched from Blogger to WordPress, which has worked out well. Two podcasts became a part of the blog. I have even had a few guests writers.

    One of the biggest changes was when I stepped down as the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 68 at the end of 2011. I gave a lot of thought to changing the name of this blog but finally decided to leave it alone. Some of the names I had thought about changing to were already taken by others. Besides, I will still be writing from a scoutmaster perspective. It is hard not to after holding that role for over 30 years.

    I am still very active with Troop 68. That means I will still have things to write about. Hopefully, you will continue to find these posts fun and entertaining, and maybe even gain a bit of knowledge or two. Who know, maybe there will be a tenth anniversary of “A Scoutmaster’s Blog”. That is not that far away anymore.

    Thanks for Sharing!

      2014flags2The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 will be doing it again this summer. I believe this is the fifth time they will be doing it. The Scouts have fun and the people in the community enjoy it. What am I talking about? The Boy Scouts will once again be handing out small U.S.A. flags along the parade route before the parade begins in Melrose on June 28th.

      We ordered this year’s “made in America” flags from the United States Flag Store. The ones we chose are the 4″ x 6″ stick flags that they currently have on sale for only $0.17 each. They are manufactured at the factory in Pennsylvania, printed in bright colors on cotton fabric, and securely stapled to a 10 inch natural wooden stick. We ordered these last year and people along the route really liked them. They can be found at
      http://www.united-states-flag.com/usa-stick-flag-4×6-no-tip.html

      When we first started doing this project several years ago we bought the cheapest flags we could find which were made out of plastic. Unfortunately, they were not made in the U.S.A. and by the third year people started refusing to take a flag because they were not American made. They had a good point, but we had a limited budget. So, do we buy American made and order half of number of flags, or do we keep ordering the ones not made in America?

      Thankfully, when we were ready to purchase flags last year, the United States Flag Store ran a sale just at the right time. We could order the quantity of flags we wanted and stay in budget. The Scouts handed out all 1500 flags before the parade. Unfortunately, the flags did not say “made in America” on them, so when people asked the Scouts had to tell them they were made in Pennsylvania.

      The flags for this year’s parade arrived last week, another 1500 of them, paid for once again by Melrose VFW Post 7050. I checked them out and once again they are not stamped that they are made in America. They are great flags, but I really wish they were stamped. It would be nice for people to know they were made here in the U.S.A. without having to ask about it.

      Thanks for Sharing!

        EagleScoutThomasSHas it really been five months since I last posted a video to the Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast? I guess so. Time to get busy with that once again. After all, I do have a few more videos to share with you.

        This video is a slideshow of the Scouting life of Eagle Scout Thomas Schwinghamer. Thomas became an Eagle Scout early last year and held his court of honor outdoors in the spring. Unfortunately, this video was not a part of the court of honor since it was an outdoor ceremony, but I did include it on the DVD of the event. Just in case you are wondering, the song used is Faith Of The Heart by Russell Watson.

        The video can also be found on his Eagle Scout page on the troop’s website. Thomas was a member of two troops as a Scout, finishing his Eagle Rank while a member of Melrose Troop 68. Thomas in now in college but still helps with troop activities a few times a year.

        Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
        Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
        or through iTunes  (and rate the show).
        Don’t forget to leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store.

        Thanks for Sharing!

          A Time To TellThe theme for the Boy Scout Troop 68 meetings in April was personal safety. The troop had a local police officer come to the first meeting to talk to the Scouts about how to stay safe and what sort of things officers look out for when dealing with youth. It was my turn to talk about safety during the second troop meeting. I grabbed my flat screen television with the built-in DVD player and my copy of A Time To Tell. We would be watching some of the videos during the meeting.

          A Time To Tell is a series of videos produced by the Boy Scouts of America. The DVD contains five videos. According to the scoutstuff.org website: With introductions and “reality checks” by teens for teens, A Time to Tell presents a variety of situations that young people may encounter. These scenes stress the importance of the three R’s of Youth Protection: Recognize strategies and situations used by child molesters to isolate an adolescent that can lead to attempted molestation; Resist attempts of child molesters; and Report individuals who attempt to molest or who have molested in the past.
          http://www.scoutstuff.org/bsa/literature-media/dvd/educational/a-time-to-tell-dvd.html

          Due to the subject matter of the videos I invited all the parents to attend and watch the films with the Scouts. Several of them took the offer. Due to the time limit I was only able to show three of the videos. After each video I would ask the Scouts a couple questions and hold a short discussion. Later, as the boys played during their game time, I had the chance to talk to the parents. They all agreed that the videos did a good job of getting the message across to the boys and that we did a good job of highlighting the important parts of the videos.

          Have you ever used the A Time To Tell videos within your own troop? How did the Scouts react?

          Thanks for Sharing!

            waffle supper 2014Boy Scout Troop 68 of Melrose conducts three fundraisers during the year. In the fall we participate in the council’s popcorn sales. For the last few years the other two fundraisers have been a Dad’s Belgium Waffle meal. We have been holding a supper a week before Good Friday and a breakfast the first Sunday in October.

            The troop usually does very well with these three fundraisers but last fall we did not do very well with our waffle breakfast. The pre-sales ticket period of time lapped over the council popcorn sales since the council sales began earlier then they used to. The popcorn sales went well but the breakfast proceeds were the lowest we have seen in decades.

            This spring, the scoutmaster and I talked to the Boy Scouts about the importance of having a successful meal fundraiser. Yes, they would earn credit for camp for each ticket they pre-sold but the meal fundraisers were the main ones used to keep the cost of the yearly program to an affordable level for the families.

            For example, each year the troop participates in the council’s annual Ripley Rendezvous, a weekend outing at the Camp Ripley National Guard Base in Minnesota. The cost for each participant is around $40. The troop has traditionally paid about $20 of this fee. Due to the troop not doing very well last during last fall’s breakfast our troop finances were getting a bit low, so the troop was only able to apply $10 to the cost of this year’s outing. As we explained to the Scouts and their families, we either work together to make the fundraisers successful or it will cost more out of the family pocketbook.

            The Boy Scouts took the message seriously this spring. Most of them did go out and sell tickets. In fact, the top seller sold 95 adult tickets, just falling short of his 100 ticket goal. As the current troop treasurer I was impressed when I started adding up the final pre-sales tally.

            The troop served over 430 people during the waffle supper. As we counted the income and started paying the bills we soon realized this fundraiser was turning out to be one of our best fundraisers ever. The troop made a profit of over $2000 which was more then three times the amount we cleared at last fall’s breakfast. The troop should be financially stable for the rest of this program year.

            Now the committee has to look toward this fall and see how we can avoid the problems we had last year.

            Thanks for Sharing!

              weight-scaleI was the runt of my class. I was the smallest boy, both in weight and in height. In fact, most of the girls in my class were taller than I was. When I was in tenth grade another guy moved into our class. Suddenly, I was not the shortest guy in the class of ’78. In eleventh grade I finally hit a couple growth spurts. I may not have been the shortest anymore, but I was still one of the lightest. Skinny kids do not weigh much after all.

              I stopped growing when I hit 5′-8″ tall. I remained skinny throughout my twenties. I began to put on some weight when I was in my thirties, finally hitting the 160′s. I soon began to realize that my metabolism had changed. In my early 40′s I hit 170 pounds. By my late 40′s I had made it into the 180′s. Sitting behind a desk most of the day was taking a toll, and all the snacking was not helping matters. I still remember the first time a young Boy Scout called me fat, but it was not enough of a shock to make me do anything about my weight.

              On Monday morning, March 3rd, I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see that I weighed 193 pounds. No wonder my clothes were not fitting well any more. I thought to myself that I needed to do something before this got any worse. I got dressed, had breakfast, and went to work. End of subject. Forgotten once again.

              The next day a coworker of mine asked me to help him with a program his wife had downloaded to her tablet. It was a calorie counting app she was using to help her lose weight. He wanted to lose several pounds himself but could not figure out how to create an account for himself. I downloaded the app to my iPad, quickly learned how to use it, and showed him what he needed to do.

              He came to me just at the right time. I decided to try using the app myself. I set a goal to loose two pounds per week for 11 weeks to get my weight down to 170 pounds by May 20th. Of course, it was all up to me really. I would have to watch my I eat, and how much of it, and record it into the app. It gave me a daily calorie goal to stay within to loose the weight. I also needed to get out and exercise some more.

              My eating habits are probably the same as most people. My meal portions were too big. I ate too my fast food and junk food. And I snacked too much between meals. This app quickly showed me the areas I needed to change to reach my goal.

              It has been over 8 weeks since I began my diet experiment. I am happy to report that I am still using the app and still watching what I eat. I have cut way back on the snacking. I very seldom eat at fast food joints anymore. I have cut back on the size of the portions at mealtime. I still get a little hungry between meals but my efforts have paid off. I am on target and have lost 16 pounds so far! There was no fancy diet plan, no exercising until I drop from exhaustion.

              It was nice to have to punch a new hole in my belt to hold my pants up. My shirts and jackets are fitting much better. It is great to be back in a suitable area on the Boy Scout physical weight chart. I look forward to reaching my goal just a few weeks before I head to Philmont Training Center in June. And yes, I do realize that once I hit my goal weight I will always have to watch what I eat to maintain it, but I have a positive outlook.

              Sorry Burger King and McDonalds. You will not be seeing me often anymore.

              Thanks for Sharing!

                Boys Life poster picIf case you do not know it yet, today, May 4th, is Star Wars day. That means it is time to say, May the fourth be with you! Yes, it is a bit of a silly pun, but it is a fun silly pun. The folks at Boys Life Magazine have decided to have a spot of fun with Star Wars day by creating their own poster to celebrate the new holiday. What is your favorite part of the design? Is it Pedro the burro as Luke Skywalker? Or could it be Pee Wee and Westly as the two droids? How about the Death Star depicted as a glazed donut? I do not think I would care for the alfalfa shake, even with the cherry on top.

                The poster can be downloaded at http://boyslife.org/poster/  .

                Thanks for Sharing!