2016fosSeveral years ago the Central Minnesota Council added a new incentive to the annual Friends Of Scouting (FOS) campaign. If you met a certain donation level you would receive a specially designed council shoulder patch (CSP). Each year would feature a different point of the Scout Law. Twelve points meant twelve patches that could be collected. Being the patch collector that I am, I was hooked from the very first year.

This year marks the ninth year of this promotion so the 2016 patch has Thrifty as its theme. The csp features a vintage Boy Scout at the bank, ready to add some money to his saving account. There is a “ghost” design on the left side of the patch of a squirrel ready to store his acorn for future use. Even the animal kingdom practices being thrifty.

This means there are only three years left of the Scout Law council shoulder patches. I wonder what the design of the next one, Brave, will look like.

Other incentives of this year’s Central Minnesota Council FOS drive included an electronics cleaning cloth, a Ripley Rendezvous water bottle or frisbee, and an Eagle Scout statuette.

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    discgolf2016The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 sure like their disc golf. They like it so well that for the last few years they have planned a disc golf outing as part of their yearly program. Central Minnesota has several disc golf courses. In fact, I believe there are nine or ten within a 35 mile range of Melrose. Grab your discs and let’s play a game!

    This last weekend was a busy one for the Scouts. Saturday began with a disc golf triathlon, followed by a junior leader training session, and ending with Sunday’s breakfast fundraiser. It would be enough to tire out Boy Scouts, adult leaders, and parents.

    Saturday morning, March 19th, began with a strong chill in the air. That chill was partially due to the snowfall we had the day before and overnight. We had been hoping for a nice day since the weekend before had seen temperatures in the upper 60’s, and those temps had melted the remaining snow. Oh well, time to lace up the boots and grab the winter jackets as we loaded up the cars to head to our first course of the triatholon.

    We drove 35 miles to get to our first stop, the Riverside Park course in St. Cloud, Minnesota. It is one of the nicest course in the county. Unfortunately, it was not a good course to play one this day. We noticed very quickly as we drove along the park that all the disc golf baskets had been removed. We did not see a single one. Not even the practice baskets were in place. We needed a different course to play.

    Fortunately, the Calvary Park 18 hole course was only a few miles away. The Scout’s smiles returned as we saw the baskets were still in place. Since it was the first time the troop had played this course it sometimes took a few minutes to discover were the next tee boxes and baskets were located. The course was challanging as it contained a wooded hillside that presented many branches to deflect throws. Not that it mattered too much. The Scouts still had plenty of fun. And to make it even better, the snow had begun to melt before we left the course.

    Since it was nearly the noon hour we stopped at White Castle for lunch. Most of the boys had never eaten at the fast food chain before this stop. Most of them ordered a four pack of Sliders, the White castle hamburger. Later that day, some of the Scouts discovered the secret meaning of the Slider name.

    The second course of the tour was the 18 baskets found at Millstream Park in St. Joseph. By the time we arrived a lot of the snow had melted. That also meant the millstream was flowing. The well known water hazards of the park would now have to be considered as we threw discs around the course. Unfortunately, some of the discs did land in the water hazards. Some discs the Scouts were able to retrieve using long sticks and branches, but four of them were left behind in the deeper bone-chilling water. The nature of this course slowed us down to the point that by the time we finished it was too late to play the third planned course. We had a junior leader training session to begin at 5:00. The triathlon had turned into a biathalon.

    Even though we lost a few discs, and two of the boys decided to test the temperature of the water by sliding into the stream toward the end of the game, we all had a great time and look forward to playing a lot more games this summer.

    DGgroup032016

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      cardisplayThe Cub Scouts of Melrose Pack 68 recently had fun making a project during the March 21st pack meeting. They boys constructed display stands for their Pinewood Derby cars. Each stand is able to display five cars, enough from 1st Grade Tiger Cubs through 5th grade Webelos Scouts. With their parents help, the Cub Scouts completed their stand during the meeting. They will be bringing them back to the April pack meeting to show how they decorated them.
      The pack would like to give a special shout out to committee member Matt H. who cut the pieces and prepped them ahead of the pack meeting.
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        imageDid you watch the Academy Awards last night? I watched the first thirty minutes and the last two hours. I thought Chris Rock did a pretty good job as the host. His opening monologue was funny and had a nice bite to it. I can not say I agree with most of the awards during the evening because, to tell the truth, I did not see most of the movies that were nominated.

        It seems that each year the host has to do something out of the ordinary to put his or her mark on the show. Ellen did one of the best ones when she posted the celebrity selfie. I like Chris’ little stunt this year. He had his daughter’s Girl Scout Troop sell cookies to the millionaire stars of the Academy. Talk about a great night for cookie sales. How can a millionaire say no to buying cookies when they are live on television? The girls sold over $65,000 worth of the treats.

        So here is my question. Do the Boy Scouts get to sell popcorn at next year’s Oscars celebration? Think about all the caramel corn and chocolate covered popcorn they could sell. Think of the p.r. the Boy Scouts could get with over a billion people watching worldwide. It would be awesome.

        Of course, I know it will not happen. Unless, maybe, next year’s host has a son or two who are Boy Scouts. I have to give Chris Rock a thumb’s up. It was a great way to sell a lot of cookies.

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          blueandgold13The Cub Scouts and families of Melrose Pack 68 held their annual Blue and Gold Banquet on Monday, February 15th at the Melrose American Legion. Sixteen of the eighteen Cub Scouts attended the event. I was quite happy with the turnout.

          The Central Minnesota Council sent a representative to talk about Friends of Scouting, the yearly fundraiser for the council. If the pack met its goal of about $650 it would receive free rank patches for the year. I was very surprised when the pack not only met the goal but surpassed it by collecting over $1000 in donation and pledges. It was great to see the parents demonstrating how they value the Scouting program.

          After the meal we began the award ceremony. The commander of the American Legion gave a short talk and stated the Legion was proud to be the sponsor for the Cub Scout Pack. The Legion allows us the use of their facility for both the banquet and the Pinewood Derby. It is great to have a charter sponsor that is more than just a signature on the recharter once a year.

          The award ceremony began with each of the Cub Scouts receiving a patch for attending the Blue and Gold Banquet. A few dozen belt loops were presented to the Tigers, Wolves, and Bears. It was the most belt loops I have ever had the pleasure of awarding the Scouts. The boys were quite excited as they stepped up to the stage, by den, to receive their achievements. The first year Webelos Scouts also did quite well. Each of them received two activity pins to add to their shoulder colors. Those strips will look very sharp by the end of the year of they keep this up, as will the belts of the younger Scouts.

          As the meeting drew to an end I had a little surprise for the Scouts. Last year I presented each of the boys a comic book donated by a local comic book store. This year, in a nod to the new movie, each Cub Scout received a Star Wars: The Force Awakens trading card. Each card had been inserted back into a wrapper so the boys did not know which one they received until they returned to their seat. They Scouts seemed quite excited about receiving a trading card.

          I had enough Star Wars cards left over so I invited each of the siblings who had attended the banquet to come up and choose one for themselves. Their grins were ear to ear, just like the Cub Scouts, as they stepped up to the stage to collect one. Ever the older siblings seemed to appreciate receiving a card.

          After the families had gone homeI stayed around for awhile talking to the Legion Commander and the caretaker of the facility. Both people expressed how pleased they were of the Cub Scouts and their families. The pack had cleaned the tables and stacked the chairs without being asked to do so. I think they were even a little proud of this Cub Scout pack they sponsored.

          The pack’s next activity will be a trip to the St. John University climbing wall. It will be fun to watch the boys test their skills, and courage, and they scale the 30 foot walls. It should be quite an interesting afternoon.

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            2016DerbyCars - 1I realize that many packs have completed their Pinewood Derbies, but I recently found this in my archives and thought it would be fun to share it again. Maybe these could be read during your council Pinewood Derby.

            In December of 2008, Len of Pack 15 sent out a mailing to those of us in the Yahoo “Cub Scout Talk” group that included a couple of poems about Pinewood derbies. I thought they were pretty good and thought you might enjoy reading them.

            NIGHT BEFORE PINEWOOD
            (A Poem)

            ‘Twas the night before Pinewood,
            His car still needed lead,
            He had done his very best,
            When his mom yelled “Get to bed!”
            He climbed under his blanket,
            His car wasn’t ready to race,
            The pinewood derby was tomorrow,
            There was a frown on his face.
            Just as his eyes closed, He heard something spin,
            It was Scout Saint Nick, coming to help him win!
            As he peeked from under the covers,
            Scout Saint Nick started to drill,
            To help his car speed, On its way down the hill.
            He splashed on some paint,
            And stuck on some wheels,
            He put the car on its stand,
            And clicked his boot heels.
            This woke the young scout,
            A happy Pinewood to all,
            And to all a good race!

            A PINEWOOD DERBY READING

            When I make my car, I hope that I can win.
            Everything is ready, the weight & shine & spin.
            The first race is the real test, to see how good it is.
            My helper is happy too, you’d think the car is his!
            Eventually I lose a race, and it is hard to take,
            But my helper and I sure had fun,
            Pinewood Derby car to make!

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              scout_ranksI have recently accepted the position of advancement coordinator for Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, so I have been checking out the 2013 Committee Guidebook to see what my new responsibilities will be, and how much work I have gotten myself into. Let’s take a look.

              1) Encourage Scouts to advance in rank.

              This one should be easy enough. I was a scoutmaster for thirty years. I was always encouraging the Scout to advance. Now I will do it while wearing a different title.

              2) Work with the troop scribe to maintain all advancement records.

              This will be an interesting challenge since our troop has never asked this of the Boy Scout who holds the position of Troop Scribe. Do any of you readers have any suggestions that have worked well in your troop?

              3) Arrange quarterly board of reviews and courts of honor.

              This is an easy one. Our troop already does board of reviews as needed during committee meetings, once a month. Quarterly courts of honor have been a part of our yearly program since the early 1980’s.

              4) Develop and maintain a merit badge counselor list.

              This one is going to require some work. Our council is in the process of updating its counselor list so that will help a little. I think my goal needs to be finding more local counselors. We only have a few within Melrose. I will start with the parents of the Boy Scouts, and then try to find more outside of the troop. I think it would be great to find a local counselor for at least each of the Eagle Rank required merit badges.

              5) Make a prompt report on the correct form to the council service center when a troop board of review is held. Secure badges and certificates.

              We already do this quite well on the committee. This duty should not be a problem.

              6) Work with the troop librarian to build and maintain a troop library of merit badge pamphlets and other advancement literature.

              The troop librarian already has a small collection of merit badge pamphlets but it may be time to go through it with him and see if the books are outdated and need replacement, along with what other pamphlets may be needed.

              7) Report to the troop committee at each meeting.

              When I was the scoutmaster I made regular advancement reports at each committee meeting. The current scoutmaster does the same thing. I guess the main goal here would be to check in with him each month, at least once if not more, to catch up on the latest advancement completed and possible needs. Is there a way to help him achieve more advancement?

              One thing not listed as a responsibility but something encouraged by the committee guidebook is to check out internet advancement. Our troop has never used it. As a scoutmaster I could not use it because, at the time, it was not compatible with the Macintosh computer I use at home. No one on the committee back then was interested in taking on that responsibility. I understand that today it should work on a Macintosh computer so I shall have to check it out sometime. Until then we will continue to use the Troop Advancement Report form and turn it into the council office when we pick up the awards.

              Are there any other things your troop advancement coordinator does?

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                As a take a break from writing today I thought it would be a good time to introduce to you, or reintroduce to you, a song performed by the Boy Scouts of Troop 68. Years ago the troop would do an annual show they called Laughs For Lunch. It was a two hour campfire style show that featured songs and skits that were performed around many Scouting campfires. The troop did thirteen of these shows over the years but had to quit when the membership shrunk to seven Scouts.

                This song was performed by the Scouts as the opening song of one show. I think it reflects their humor quite well, and they did a good job with it. What do you think of it?

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