Clearance-eblastThere was an email last week from the Boy Scouts of America Online Catalog. They had a sale going on. It was the Christmas in July Sale! Well, that is what they were calling it. It was actually a closeout sale. Here is what the email stated:

Think about it. There’s back-to-school, back-to-Scouting, and the actual holidays just around the corner, so a little Christmas in July really couldn’t hurt! 

Our gift to you? A chance to save up to 75% off original price on the best Scout-gear deals you can find… perfect year-round gifting ideas, nice little Christmas add-ons, and great-value gear updates for every Scout you know. 

Check out what’s new in the closeout collection, online, and in-store today. Once items sell out they’re gone, so shop now.

So what did I do? I checked it out. Was there anything the troop or pack could use? Was there any hot bargains I could use as gifts? Christmas is only 6 months away, after all. Was there anything I did not realize I needed or wanted until I saw it on sale?

As it turned out, there was quite that made the list. I found 12 items to add to the cart, several of them in more than a single quantity. I took a screen shot of the list and emailed it to my council Scout Shop. After all, I may as well give them the business if they had any of the items in stock. It turns out they only had four of the items on hand, but those four items (multiple qualities of two of them) would cost me over $80. Two items were for myself, one for the pack, and one to use as gifts. I emailed her a note that I would pick up the in stock items and would let her know about the rest of the list when I arrived to pick them up.

Have you checked out the Christmas in July Sale? Did you find anything you needed, or did not need until you saw it on sale?

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    PTC Trip 2014 - 175Today is the day that seven Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68, along with two adults, head out for the trip of a lifetime. They are going to Philmont Scout Ranch for a ten day backpacking trek in the backcountry of one of Scouting’s favorite locations. They will be driving to the ranch with a stop at Mount Rushmore.

    I have been to Philmont seven times, five times on treks and two times for training. I know the Scouts are going to have a great time. In some ways I wish I was going with them but I also realize it is time for others to pick up the mantle and help the new generation learns about the magic of Philmont.

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      MPSC 2016 patchThe Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have completed their weeklong summer camp for the year. Once again, the troop went to Many Point Scout Camp which is located northwest of Park Rapids in Minnesota. Only four Scouts of the troop attended camp because the older boys will be going on a high adventure trip this week.

      Three adults spent a week at the camp, two fathers and Eymard, our 89 year old assistant scoutmaster. I believe this was Eymard’s 27th year attending summer camp, and his 24th or 25th year at Many Point. I did not spend the week at camp but did take one day off work to visit the troop, and it was a full scheduled Thursday that I picked to spend with the boys.

      I arrived at camp an hour later then I had planned. I forgot it took 2.5 hours to get there. For some reason I was thinking it was only going to take two hours. I walked into the Seton Campsite at the Buckskin Camp at 10:00 that morning. I was not to worried about missing anything though. I knew the Scouts had merit badge sessions in the morning and would be scattered around the camp. I took a few minutes to chat with Eymard and Dave, the dad who was there for his second year of camp, to see how things were going before I grabbed my camera and started the hunt to find the Scouts. Jason, the other dad and first time camp attendee, was checking out the older boy program camp.

      I discovered I was not the hunter, or at least not a very good one. The Scouts found me. As I walked past the old handicrafts lodge, which I now call the gaming lodge since it is the location of the Chess and Game Design merit badges, I heard someone yell my name. As I turned around I saw three of the four Scouts standing in the doorway inviting me into the lodge to see what they had been doing. I quickly discovered all four Scouts were in the building working on the Game Design merit badge.

      As the next merit badge session began, the boys separated as they headed to three different classes. I visited each class and took a few pictures of each of the Scouts. After all, that was my unofficial job, troop cameraman. It was funny when one of the Scouts made a comment that now someone will be taking pictures during camp. I guess he thought the dads had been a little lax in this area. But than, in their defense, I am well known for taking lots of pictures. I do mean lots of pictures. I went home after that one day of camp with nearly 180 pictures. Yeah, maybe I take too many, but you know, everyone likes to look at them later.

      We did not eat lunch in the dining hall. Instead, we grabbed bagged lunches because we were going on a field trip. We were going to spend the afternoon at Itasca State Park, which is located only 45 minutes from camp. It was time for the Scouts to see the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. There would be a lot of photo taking opportunities for me.

      We arrived back in camp the the 4:00 merit badge session. There was a little free time after that session to goof around and chat. Then it was time to retire the colors and head to supper at the dining hall. After being well fed the Scouts did some merit badge homework and attended some of the  open programs. When the boys started coming back to the campsite about 8:30 we prepared to start a fire for making s’mores. I had stopped on the way to camp that morning to pick up the ingredients.

      Unfortunately, I was not able to stay around to enjoy the campfire. I had to go to work the next morning. I left camp at 9:30 that evening to start the long journey home. I walked into my house at midnight, tired, but glad I had spent a day at camp. I had a good time, and it looked like the boys and adults were having a great time.

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        service-starWow. I just realized I missed the anniversary of this blog. It is hard to believe all the years that I have been sharing my thoughts, activities, and special events with you through this site known as A Scoutmaster’s Blog. How many years is that, you ask? Well, let’s see. The first blog article was posted on May 18, 2006. This blog is now ten years old! Again, I say WOW! (Do I get a ten year pin for this?)

        I never would have dreamed back in 2006 that I would still be writing articles about Troop 68 ten years later. I have shared a lot of articles about the comings and goings of the local troop. I have also shared a lot of my own thoughts during the last decade. When I started this blog there were not many Scoutmasters who had one. There still are not many, but there are a few others out their nearly as old as this one, and probably much better than mine.

        Here are a few statistics of this blog. There have been over 1000 articles written. Most have been written by me, but I did allow a few troop alumni to write articles about their memories of being a Boy Scout. Hundreds of pictures have been shared with you. The blog has received nearly half a million page views, which I think is something to be proud of. This blog got me into podcasting both a video and an audio podcast for several years, and introduced me to other Scouting themed podcasters. Together we formed PTC Media, a network of Scouting themed podcasts.

        I sometimes think I should take all these articles and form them into a book format, but when I think about all the work that would involve I forget about it and move onto something else. Maybe after I retire and find I need something to do with all that time I will have on my hands…

        After I retired as the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68 at the end of 2011, I thought about changing the name of the blog, but I decided to keep it. It is where people have come to know me and I did not want to ruin that. I figure that after spending 35 years as a scoutmaster I maybe deserve the right to keep the name of this blog as it is. Even though I do not write as often as I used to, I still write most of my articles about Boy Scouting.

        Will I be writing for another ten years? I have no idea. Probably, if I am still involved with Scouting. After all, it only takes an hour a week you know.

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          Disc Golf Ribbon Cutting2

          A year and a half ago I wrote a couple of articles about how the Melrose Boy Scout Troop had inspired the Melrose city officials to think about having a nine basket disc golf course installed in the main city park. A quickly planned but simple service project activity during the city’s 2014 Night To Unite evening started the ball rolling on something I would have liked to have seen in town two decades earlier. You can read these posts Here and Here.

          It recently occurred to me that I did not write any follow up articles to let you all know how things turned out. As stated in one of the earlier posts, I thought the Boy Scouts would assist in helping the city staff assemble the course equipment and installing it in the park. Well, it did not quite happen that way. The city park staff assembled everything themselves during the winter months, and installed all the signs and baskets early in the spring while the Scouts were still in school. At least a couple of the Scouts, who happened to be working on their Citizenship in the Community merit badge, were able to assist in creating the tee signs for each hole.

          The Sauk River Park disc golf course was finished the first Monday of May in 2015. On a rainy night two weeks later, the Boy Scouts were present with various city and park officials for the official ribbon cutting. As the person who did a lot of the planning and design work for the park, I was given a scissors to cut the ribbon. Then the Scouts lined up for a picture throwing their discs at the basket for the local paper. The adults that were present also lined up for a similar picture. The newspaper did a great write up about the course.

          The disc golf course received a good amount of use during the year of 2015. The local teenagers started making use of the course immediately, and many families discovered it was an activity they could do together. Even the high school started using the course as a Phys Ed activity since the course is located across the street from the school. Both city officials and the park board were happy with the use the course was getting, which made me feel good after the time and effort I had poured into the project. Not many people get to say they brought something to their city which everyone can play and have fun doing.

          A few weeks ago we began a disc golf league in Melrose. There are about fourteen people in the league, most of them teenagers, and four of them Boy Scouts. There is even one Cub Scout and his father who play. Ages range from 9 years old to 55 years old. We have been having a great time playing and meeting the new members. I just wish I would have thrown a bit better last week, but then, we all wish to do better than we usually do when we play.

          I sometimes still find it hard to believe that this course happened because of a little project in the park one night prepared by the Boy Scouts. It just goes to show, you never know…

           

          Disc Golf Ribbon Cutting6

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            IMG_0148This year marked the eighth year that the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have handed out 4″ x 6″ United States flags before the Riverfest parade in Melrose. Once again the Scouts walked along the parade route and gave away 1250 flags, curtesy of the Melrose American Legion. People love receiving them, from the youngest toddler to the oldest senior citizen. And they are better for you than all the Tootsie Rolls that are thrown out during the parade, don’t you agree?

            Last year we had a shortage of Boy Scouts attend the service project so this year we invited the Cub Scout to help out, hoping we would get enough Scouts to break up into four teams. The plan was to have two teams start on each end of the parade route, each team taking one side of the street, and meet up somewhere in the middle. Hopefully, by the time we would meet, we would be out of flags.

            We ended up with plenty of Scouts. Six Cub Scouts and five Boy Scouts showed up for the project, in addition to five parents and Scout leaders. About 30 minutes before the parade was scheduled to begin, we split up and began handing out the flags. My team consisted of three Cub Scout brothers who were excited to participate in such a project. They were all smiles as they handed out the flags one by one, receiving smiles in return from the people who accepted them.

            My team was starting to run low on flags by the time we met up with the Scouts who had started at the other end of the route. They still had a few hundred flags due to many people not being seated yet for the parade as they walked by. I had noticed a lot of people coming in after we had walked by a our route so my team took the extra flags and started retracing our steps, handing out flags to people who had recently arrived along the parade route. We even had a couple kids run across the street to get flags from us.

            By the time we got to the spot were the Cub Scout’s parents were sitting for watching the parade, we had handed out all the flags. And just in time. The honor guard that was leading the parade was marching only a few blocks away from us. The parade had started. The only thing the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and leadership had left to do was to sit back and enjoy the parade. And eat the Tootsie Rolls thrown to us, of course.

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              roundtableThe District Roundtable. That once a month training meeting for all Scout Leaders. They are a good meetings for all Scouters to attend, filled with lots of ideas and knowledge, but in reality only a small percentage of Scouters attend them. It is really a shame.

              I began attending roundtable about the time I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68 in 1981, thirty five years ago. During most of those years I was a regular attendee, maybe missing one or two a year, usually to weather issues, like snowstorms. I thought I had a very good attendance record, especially when you consider that I live 35 miles from the council service center.

              I was recruited as an assistant roundtable commissioner in the late 1980’s, and continued through the early 1990’s. For a couple of years we even held junior leader roundtables for senior patrol leaders, patrol leaders, and other youth officers. I finally stepped away from the roundtable staff because I needed to clean my plate of a few positions. I did not want to burn out after all. I did continue to attend the monthly meetings, just not as a staff member.

              A few years ago I decided to offer my assistance once again to the roundtable commissioner. Al had been running the roundtables himself. I know from experience that a helping hand not only makes things easier, but it also makes it more fun. He quickly accepted my offer and I became an assistant roundtable commissioner once again.

              In May I finished my third year as Al’s assistant. May is also the month that Al and I decided to retire as the roundtable staff. It was a good run, and we both had fun, but we both felt it was time for new leadership to take over.

              I had an additional reason to step down from the position. I currently serve as the Cubmaster for Melrose Pack 68. The committee has decided to try moving den and pack meetings from Monday nights to Tuesday nights during the 2016-2017 program year. The Scenic District roundtable are held on the first Tuesday night of the month. I have not yet discovered how to be in two places at one time. This coming year could be the first Scouting program year that I will not attend a roundtable meeting since 1980. That is going to bit a little weird for me.

              I do not know who will take over the roundtable staff positions this fall but I wish them the best of luck. It is a great experience and can be a lot of fun with just a little bit of planning.

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                bookstandI have been on the Melrose Area History Museum board of directors for a little over a year now. I have been finding it to be interesting. I have a feeling that if I am still on the board when I am old enough to retire from work I may spend quite a bit of time there helping out with various projects. Unfortunately, since I am working full time I do not get to spend very much time with the museum, other than going to board meetings.

                Since Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting are such a big part of my life, I have been trying to do little things at the museum to improve the Scouting display and make it look better. I do mean little things. A year ago I built a little Scouting coffee mug stand for the display case and provided enough Scouting themed mugs to display on it. This past winter I printed and framed a photo of each of the troop’s Eagle Scouts (of the last thirty years) for the museum. Previous articles to this blog describe these projects in more detail.

                My latest project is more of an experiment. The Scouting display has a few handbooks and other misc. books that people can only see the edge binding of because we really do not have good way to display them. I have decided to try making a book display using some odd jamb material found at the lumber yard I work at. The moulding gives the backboard a slight back tilt which should help display the books, but yet keep enough weight at the bottom of the rack to keep the display from tipping over.

                The picture above shows the display before I painted it white this past weekend. I am thinking of looking through my Scouting collection to find doubles of Cub Scout handbooks since there is not very much Cub Scout related material in the display yet. If this display works well, I plan to make one or two more for the cases. After all, the museum display already has some books that need to be shown off better then they currently are displayed.

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