This old Scouter would like to wish every Scouting family out there a very Merry Christmas. May you have a great time with your family and friends, and safe journey as you go out to celebrate the holiday.

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    P68Christmas - 1I am currently serving as the cubmaster of Melrose Pack 68. I am into my second year of holding this position. While it was not a position I was looking for when I joined the Cub Scout pack committee, I have been having fun. I tell you, Cub Scouts are a lot different than Boy Scouts. And I am not just talking about the size difference.

    I wanted to do something a little different for the December Pack Meeting this year. I had bought each of the Cub Scouts a little gift (a Star Wars tote bag and play pack) and wanted to do something more fun than just handing them out. After a couple of days of thinking I came up with a plan to be Scouter Claus!

    Scouter Claus would be similar to Santa Claus but not quite the same. I did not want the boys and other children to actually think I was the jolly old man. I bought a red Santa hat and a cheap four dollar beard that I thought would not put me in the league of the real Santa. Instead of a red suit, I would wear my Scouting uniform with my red wool Scout jacket. No one should mistake me for Santa Claus but we should still be able to have fun with it.

    The evening began with the Cub Scouts making Christmas cards for the residents of Pine Villa nursing home. Then we began the pack meeting to recognize the Scouts who had earned awards. As the Scouts and families had cookies and juice after the pack meeting, I left the room to become Scouter Claus.

    Most of the Cub Scouts recognized me right away as I walk into the room in my costume, but I think a couple of the younger children were not quite sure what was going on for a moment or two. A few of the Scouts wanted to pull my beard but of course, Scouter Claus could not let that happen. The boys enjoyed the Scouter Claus idea. Even the parents where smiling and seemed to be enjoying it.

    The Cub Scouts were quite excited to receive the Star Wars items, especially since that little movie had just been released. All eighteen Scouts were in attendance. There were about six different designs on the tote bags so I had handed them out right down the line and told the boys they would swap with each other if they liked, and swapped they did. The boys were having a blast.

    Each of the Scouts also received a dvd of slideshows featuring photos from pack meetings and activities during the 2015 year, along with a disc of photos for their computers. I have done this for several years with the Boy Scout troop and decided to also do it for the Pack this year since I had taken a lot of photos during the year. I also gave a box of chocolates to each of the three committee members who have done a great during the year and, with tongue in cheek, told them not to share the candies with the Cub Scouts.

    Did your Pack do anything special to celebrate the Christmas season?

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      P68movie - 1Melrose Cub Scout Pack 68 currently has 18 members from Tiger Cubs through Webelos Scouts. The pack committee has been doing a great job of finding things to keep the Scouts interested in Scouting and things that are fun to do. A case in point was their November outing.

      Everyone has been to a movie theater to watch a motion picture. But how many times have you had the chance to get a “backstage” tour of the facility? On Sunday, November 22, seventeen Pack 68 Cub Scouts and their parents had the chance to go upstairs at the Main Street Theater in Sauk Centre and see what goes on in the projection booth. Bob Douvier, owner of the theater, gave the boys and their parents a tour of the room and explanation of how things operate. He even had the old film projector next to the new digital projector so the boys could see the difference in technologies over the last several years.

      The Cub Scouts had plenty of questions for Mr. Douvier. A few questions were also asked by the parents. I think everyone had a great time with the short tour, parents included. After the tour the Cub Scouts and their parents watched The Peanuts Movie which was actually quite good.

      The photo is of the article that appeared in the Melrose Beacon, our local newspaper.

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        P68FoodDrive - 1The committee of Melrose Cub Scout Pack 68 would like to see the Scouts earn the Journey To Excellence patch for 2015 so they have been coming up with service projects for the boys. In June the pack did a cleanup project in the city park, picking up trash along the pond and softball field. In November, the pack conducted a food drive.

        During their November dens meetings the Cub Scouts decorated cardboard boxes to be placed at businesses throughout a few communities in our school district. The Cub Scouts worked hard to get these boxes ready. Not only did they color and draw on them but they also had some designs printed out on paper that they could cut out and glue to the boxes. I believe each of the four dens made three boxes for the food drive. The parents took the boxes home and were in charge of placing the boxes in businesses and establishments that had agreed to working with the pack for the drive. They would pick up the boxes in two weeks to bring to the pack meeting.

        When the pack meeting arrived the Cub Scouts discovered more information about the drive. A representative from the local food shelf was on hand to talk to the Scouts about the food shelf and the local needs. She also answered quite a few questions that the boys came up with. It looked like everyone was having fun and maybe even leaning something at the same time.

        As you can see in the picture below, the pack did quite well with the drive. It was a little different than the Scouting For Food drives in the past, but I think the Cub Scouts invested a bit more of themselves in this year’s drive.

         

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          IMG_4450Most of the time when you hear of someone talking about their Eagle project they are referring to their project for their Eagle Scout Rank. I am too old for that type of Eagle project. However, my Eagle project does involve work for a local organization. No, it is not a group that works with rehabilitating wounded birds. The organization is our community museum. My project is to have a framed 5×7 picture of each of the young men of Boy Scout Troop 68 who have earned their Eagle Scout Rank on display at the museum.

          There have been 22 Eagle Scouts of Troop 68 over the decades. The first was earned in the 1960’s, I believe, before I became a Boy Scout. The rest were earned from the 1980’s to present day. Eighteen of these Scouts became Eagles during my tenure as the troop’s scoutmaster. My project is to make a display featuring every one of these special Boy Scouts. Each photo also contains the Scout’s name and the year they earned the award. You can see in the picture above that I have most of them framed and ready to go. Unfortunately, I ran out of frames so it is time to run to the store and find some more.

          Does your troop have a special “Eagle Scout Hall of Fame” or wall of fame? Do you have a local museum that features an Boy Scout display? Right a comment and let us know about it.

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            I set up my Scouting Village today and decided to share the flyover video. (It takes a small drone to video this. lol)

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              roundtable_4350Once a year the roundtable staff of the Central Minnesota Council,  Scenic District, invites the Eagle Board chairman, the district advancement chairman, and other key people to attend a meeting to discuss Eagle Scout projects, workbooks, and board of reviews. Boy Scouts are invited to attend and encouraged to ask questions.

              When this meeting was held in the fall of 2014 we were surprised with once of the best attendances for a roundtable that we have had in many years. We had to set up more chairs and almost remove tables to create enough seating. I would guess that maybe 12 to 15 Boy Scouts came to the meeting with their parents or troop leaders. We were very pleased with the turnout and many questions were answered.

              As the room was being set up for this year’s Eagle meeting, which was held Tuesday night, only two tables were set up at the front of the room for the Eagle speakers, and a few tables were left set up in the back. We were hoping for a turnout as good as last year’s, maybe even better.

              As the clock approached the 7:00 starting time we realized more chairs would be needed then were set up. Boy Scouts, parents, committee members and troop leaders filled the room. It was a good thing the tables had been removed. I counted thirty Boy Scouts in attendance. I think that could be a new record.

              The meeting went very well. The three member panel talked about what they expect from the Scouts, what the Eagle Scout process includes, and the common mistakes to avoid. A lot of questions were asked by the adult leadership and the Scouts. Everyone seemed to be pleased as the meeting came to an end.

              I was expecting a decent turnout so I thought it might be nice to have a door prize for the Boy Scouts who came to the session. I had grabbed a 1965 Boy Scout handbook from my collection to use for the drawing. Near the halfway point of the meeting we drew a winning name from my cap. The Boy Scout who won was grinning widely as he came forward to collect the handbook. He seemed quite pleased to be able to add it to his collection, or maybe it was the start of his collection.

              I noticed several young Boy Scouts mixed in the crowd so toward the end of the meeting I asked for a show of hands of the the Life Scouts in the room. Most of the boys raised their hand. I asked the Star Scouts to raise they hand. Several hands went up but I noticed a few still had not lifted theirs. When I asked for the First Class Scouts to raise their hands the last four or five Scouts were recognized. I could not help myself. I commended these young men for thinking ahead as they plan to reach their goal of attaining Boy Scouting highest rank.

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                booIn my last post I wrote I mentioned a story I used to end the roundtable meeting. It was about two Boy Scouts who were best of friends and who had made a promise to each other, I promise they kept even after death. I am not sure were I found this story but it is a good one. Here it is for you to read and use within your own troop or pack.

                “Tom and Paul were best friends. They went to the same schools, right from kindergarten. They were best friends right from the beginning. Tom was a little bigger, not afraid of anything. Paul was smart, inquisitive, and ready to try whatever Tom came up with. 

                Their families got used to seeing them together, more like brothers than friends. They were Cub Scouts in the same Den, and they both got their Arrow of Light at the same ceremony and crossed over into Boy Scouts together. They joined Troop 17, it met at the Methodist Church and had a reputation as a Troop that did a lot of camping.

                They were active Scouts, picked up rank, went on almost all the camp outs. Tom was a Patrol Leader when he made Star, and Senior Patrol Leader as a Life Scout. Paul was Quartermaster the same year, 1965. 

                They weren’t just Scouts, of course. They had school and girlfriends, family, part time jobs. Tom worked summers on his grandfather’s farm. Paul lifeguarded at the community pool. The summer they graduated from high school, class of 1966, they both decided to work at Scout Camp. Tom got assigned to the Camp Quartermaster, drove the camp truck and worked maintenance jobs. Paul had his Red Cross certifications, and he worked at the waterfront.

                They had a great summer, and promised each other they would come back the following year. Well, more than promised, really. They swore an oath, on their honor, that they would come back to camp together, that nothing, not girlfriends or jobs or anything, would prevent them from coming back to camp.

                Promises like that are hard to keep. 

                Paul went to college in the fall, he had decided to study engineering, and joined Navy ROTC. It would help pay for school, and in those years, it meant he had a sure deferment from the draft. 

                Tom got drafted. He went to Army basic training and shipped out to Vietnam. He wrote letters home, even sent a couple to Paul. He had been there eight months, and his unit had seen a lot of action, when he sent on a patrol as part of a larger operation. His platoon got ambushed. The after action reports pretty much told the tale, they got hit hard, and in the effort to set up a defense and bring in the wounded, Tom had gone out under fire three times. On the way back that last time he was shot and fatally wounded.

                There was a military funeral, and a small collection of ribbons, including a Silver Star. Paul spoke at the funeral, and told everyone of the promise they had made and how now it could not be kept, of their adventures, and the trouble they got into now and then, and what it was like to have a friend like Tom. 

                Paul graduated from college in 1970. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, and selected for flight school.

                He wanted to be a fighter pilot, just like everyone who goes to flight school, and he came close, but didn’t make the cut. He was assigned to A-6 Intruders, and excelled at that. He qualified for carriers, joined up with a Squadron and went to war. The Vietnam War was in it’s final years, but there was still a lot of air support missions being flown, and his carrier was off the coast of Vietnam most of his first year at sea.

                He was on a close air support mission, trying to protect South Vietnamese troops and their American advisors when his plane was hit. He came up off the target, but before he regained control, his plane crashed into the jungle. The plane burned, he and his copilot were never recovered.

                Now that’s just a sad story from the past, I suppose, two good men, two Eagle Scouts, both lost in the Vietnam War, but there’s some more to this story. Because they had made a promise, an oath, on their honor, to spend at least one more summer at this camp, and they didn’t give themselves an out just because they died. 

                The first I heard of it was in the 80’s, an 8 year old Cub Scout on a family overnight got lost on the trail out to the Wilderness area. All the Scout troops in camp and the local Sheriff’s department had started a search. A Scoutmaster found him walking out of the woods up on the hill by the horse barns. The kid said 2 adults in Scout uniforms had walked him up there, only when they asked him to describe what they looked like, he described the old green uniforms that were used in the 60s.

                The next time was a Scout on wilderness survival overnight on the ridge. He had built his shelter and was bedded down when he saw 2 Scouts walking along together. Same description, young adults in old time uniforms. They looked over at him, but didn’t stop, just continued their hike out on the ridge trail. He was pretty spooked by it, being alone overnight and trying to tell his Scoutmaster the next morning. That time the word got around and it turned out some of the Staff at camp said that they had seen them too.

                Now, I never saw them, but the camp ranger says he did, winter before last, right after that big snow in February. He had walked into camp late in the day, going to the dining hall and the bath house to check the pipes. He said they were in front of him on the main trail, in those same uniforms, walking along like it was a summer day. He was bundled up against the cold, crunching through the snow, and started to speed up to catch them. He said he wasn’t thinking about it too clearly, just wanted to know who the heck was in camp when they weren’t supposed to be.

                He stopped when they turned around. Because when he saw their faces, well, the camp ranger used to be a Boy Scout, too. A Boy Scout in Troop 17, and when he made First Class in 1965, his Senior Patrol Leader was named Tom and his Quartermaster was named Paul. He still had Troop pictures, but he wouldn’t have forgotten what they looked liked, especially in their summer uniforms. He said they smiled, and Tom waved, and then they turned and hiked down the trail toward the waterfront like they were on patrol.

                The night the ranger told me this, he didn’t expect me to believe any of it, and I don’t expect you to believe me, either. But he stood there for a few minutes as dusk gathered, and when he looked down, there weren’t any tracks in the snow. He looked back and his footprints were right there in the snow, but only his, and none on the trail in front of him.

                He told me he believed that they had kept their oath. That they were here in camp, and that they were content, that they had come back to the camp they had loved. 

                So when you’re out on the trail in the evening tonight, or on an overnight somewhere remote in the Wilderness, remember those two Scouts and their promise, and how maybe, just maybe, they managed to keep it after all.

                Good Night, Scouts.”

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