Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’


2014 Boy Scout DVDIt is that time of year. Time to add Christmas parties to the schedule. Time to get the gift shopping done. And for me, time to create the yearly Boy Scout Troop 68 dvd’s for each member of the troop.

I began this tradition in 2004, the year I switched to digital photography. I bought a digital still camera early that year to take along on the troop’s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch that summer. I never looked back at film. The new camera allowed me take take hundreds of pictures during the year, several times more than I would have taken with film.

By the end of the year I had quite a collection of digital photos taken during troop meetings, courts of honor, and troop activities. Instead of keeping them to myself, I decided to copy them to compact discs and give a set to each Scouting family. The parents would be able to see what their boys had been up to during the year, and they could print any pictures they would like to add to their photo albums.

I also took the photos and used them to create slideshows of each troop activity, along with music. Using iDVD, I create discs of these slideshows and gave each Boy Scout one for Christmas. They became quite popular with the families. They were also fun to watch with the Scouts during the annual Christmas party.

I have completed creating the dvd+r’s of this year’s photographs. I have also created this year’s slideshows. (Is slideshow even the correct term in this day and age?) This weekend’s project is to create the slideshow dvd’s and cases. If I have enough time I may make a second disc featuring this year’s courts of honor and/or other events.

The year’s slideshow dvd will include nine videos totally about 50 minutes of memories. The picture dvd+r’s will contain about 3 GB of photos. The boys sometimes get annoyed with me during the year when I am taking the pictures but everyone like viewing them at the end of the year. The parents really like seeing them.

I only have about a week to finish this project. The troop’s Christmas party in Saturday evening, December 13th. It will be fun to watch the Scout’s reactions to this year’s videos and see if they approve of the music I used.

Does your troop do anything like this? What do think of this idea?

dining hallI arrived at the Central Minnesota Council office early for Tuesday night’s roundtable so I spent some time checking out the Scout Shop. There was only a couple of us looking around when the clerk asked me if she could help me find anything, like books, awards, Christmas items…

The mention of Christmas items caught my attention immediately. Just last week I had checked the scoutstuff.com website to see if there were any new pieces for the Scouting Village that had began two years ago. I was anxious to see if this village would be continued and what this year’s pieces would be. Unfortunately, I found nothing on the website. So when the Scout Shop clerk mentioned Christmas items I had to ask about the Scouting Village.

She replied that they had received the new pieces that very afternoon and have not had a chance to get them on the shelves yet. Awesome, I thought. I asked if I could see them and followed her into the storage room where she opened the carton. I believe I was the first Scouting volunteer in my council to see the new pieces, and this year’s building grabbed my attention.

The newest building in the series is the Lighted Dining Hall. I thought is was well designed and quite colorful, but a little small in scale for a dining hall. Only one troop would fit in here, I thought. Oh well, it is a village building piece and they are not in the same scale as the people or even other buildings. It is still a pretty cool looking piece and I am anxious to add it to my set up this year. The website states (Yes, it can now be bought online), “A welcome addition to the holiday Scouting Village, this piece enhances any collection. Porcelain rendering of a BSA camp dining hall is beautifully detailed—complete with outdoor picnic tables!”

The next piece that I noticed was the “Tree Sales” Figurine. I like this piece because it reminds me of the years that Boy Scout Troop 68 sold Christmas Trees as a fundraiser. The website says, “Premium-quality accessory adds character and dimension to your Lighted Scouting Village scenes. Polyresin tree figurine features a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Leader hard at work on a Christmas tree sales lot.” I have to agree the the figures do add quite a bit to the Scouting Village scene.

The third and final piece of this year’s collection is the “Popcorn Tree” Figurine. This piece features a Boy Scout and Cub Scout decorating a Christmas Tree. The site says, “There’s nothing more iconic to BSA than popcorn! This polyresin figurine features a Cub Scout and Boy Scout decorating a tree with popcorn garland and ornaments.” I thought this could be a great gift for the unit’s “popcorn kernel”, the chairperson of the popcorn fundraiser.

I bought all three pieces right then. I was not going to wait and have the same thing happen to me that happened two years ago when I waited too long to buy them and missed out on getting the Trading Post. (I still do not have one.) I look forward to late November when I set up my new expanded village. I think this will be the last year I will be able to use that piece of plywood I use for the base.

I was not the only person who bought the set that evening. Within ten minutes of my purchase another set was bought and the Scout Shop was out of the Lighted Dining Halls. Since I am a roundtable commissioner I also took time during the meeting to give a quick shout out for this year’s Scouting Village.

Have you been collecting the buildings and figurines? What do you think of this year’s additions?

http://www.scoutstuff.org/house-lightd-dining-hall.html

http://www.scoutstuff.org/figure-villg-tree-sales.html

http://www.scoutstuff.org/figure-villg-popcorn-tree.html

trees for sale
popcorn tree

 

christmasscoutsMerry Christmas everyone! It is time for my favorite Scouting themed Christmas story – The Christmas Scout.

In spite of the fun and laughter, 13-year-old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true he had received all the presents he wanted. And he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes. But, Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver.

Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. Frank said good-bye to his relatives and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend; and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled. Then Frank headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Though rich in wisdom, he lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived, and his patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family.

To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not at home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, through one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby . . . weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents.

A sudden thought struck Frank : he had not done his ‘good deed’ for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. ‘Yes?’ the sad voice of the woman asked. ‘May I come in?’ asked Frank. ‘You are very welcome,’ she said, seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, ‘but I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children.’

‘That’s not why I am here,’ Frank replied. ‘Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled.’

‘Why, God bless you!’ the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, the toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost cried out. Finally, the stockings were full.

‘Won’t you tell me your name?’ she asked, as Frank was leaving.

‘Just call me the Christmas Scout,’ he replied.

The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow was not the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the remainder of his gifts. The plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy.

Now Frank trudged homeward, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? ‘Where are your presents, son?’ asked his father as Frank entered the house.

Frank answered, ‘I gave them away.’

‘The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your coat from Grandma? Your flashlight? We thought you were happy with your gifts.’

‘I was very happy,’ the boy answered quietly.

‘But Frank, how could you be so impulsive?’ his mother asked. ‘How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?’

His father was firm. ‘You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents.’

With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back; however he wondered if he would ever again truly recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening, but it had been fleeting. Frank thought of his brother, and sobbed himself to sleep.

The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke: ‘Merry Christmas, everybody! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning, another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage boy who simply called himself the Christmas Scout. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself.’

Frank felt his father’s arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling through her tears. ‘Why didn’t you tell us? We didn’t understand. We are so proud of you, son.’

The carols came over the air again filling the room with music: ‘. . .Praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on Earth.’

Scouting Village 2013It is finished. I have set up my Scouting Village for the 2013 Christmas season. What do you think of it?

The village fills a 2.5 foor by 3.5 foot sheet of plywood. It contains the 2012 and 2013 collection pieces. Except for the Trading Post, that is. But at least I have two Ranger Cabins. ( I am still a little upset with myself over that.) I also bought two lighted tents because a campsite is just not a troop campsite with only one tent. I set the church higher than the rest because it is a smaller scale. I thought it might help it look further away and more in proportion to the rest of the scene. The campsite is across the river from base camp because I do not think a troop would want to camp next to the busiest part of camp.

The “snow” was picked up at a hobby store. The blue river is simply felt paper. The scene contains two sets of the trees from the Scouting Village collection. The rest of the trees came from my Dept. 56 Dickensville collection. I think the trees really add to the looks of the campsite. I also found a little wood pile which fits well with the Boy Scout cutting wood for the evening fire.

Have you set up your Scouting Village yet? How does it look? Send a picture or two to me and I will feature it in a post to this blog.
Click on the pictures to see the scene in more detail.

ScoutVillage2013.16


ScoutVillage2013.40

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I wonder what pieces will be added to the village next year. I bet I will need a bigger sheet of plywood.

I screwed up. I took out all my Scouting Village pieces this afternoon to set them up for Christmas. I was kind of excited because not only was I able to get all of this year’s pieces but my local Scout Shop was able to find the piece I missed from last year, the lighted Ranger’s Cabin. I thought I would be able to set up the whole collection!

I was wrong.

I discovered that I now own two Ranger’s Cabins. I was not missing the cabin. I was missing last year’s Trading Post! Arrrrrggggg! I should have looked in the cabinet one more time before I had the Scout Shop find me the piece I thought I was missing. I am rather upset with myself. I thought I would be able to post a picture to this blog featuring both year’s collections.

I took a quick look on eBay and did not like what I found. People are selling the $12.99 Trading Post for $75.00 as a starting bid. The cheapest bidding I found was for $40.00, but there are three days left in the auction so I know where that is going. One seller posted a Trading Post as a “buy it now” purchase of $129.00. Sorry, but I am not interested in paying that much for one piece. This are not Dept. 56 Village pieces, you know.

Well, I guess my Scouting village will have two Ranger’s Cabins. I will have to pretend that one is used as a trading post.

Christmas at Philmont

If you have been on a Philmont trek that included the northern and central portions of the ranch, then chances are good that you have hiked through Santa Claus Camp. The camp is located in Santa Claus Canyon, north of Bear Canyon and southeast of Head of Dean Camp.

I have been through Santa Claus Camp a few times on my Philmont treks. Usually, it was an unstaffed camp, but in 1992 I was surprised to discover that it had become a staffed camp, complete with a volleyball court for the day and a telescope for the evening. The crew had a great time there.

The 1992 staff invited campers to write a story about how Santa Claus Camp received its name. A few members of my crew took the challenge. Al, one of our crew advisers, wrote a great story about the history of the site. Since it is the Christmas season I would like to share it with you.

There was a lot of snow that winter of 1853, too much for the horses and tired people moving through the mountains of northern New Mexico. They had left in a train of wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, but were down to one wagon for two families; and they were lost. The wagon master, who knew the way to Cimarron, had died of typhoid on the plains of eastern Colorado. Now, they were nearing exhaustion as they searched through the canyons for human life.

It was December 24, and there were tears in the eyes of the parents as they kissed their children good night, for there was a chance that some of them would never wake up.


The sky was clear, with uncountable millions of stars, but the beauty of the night was swallowed by the intense cold. The Borgerdings and the Hansons were typical pioneer families, and they were near to meeting the fate that so many others met on the Westward march.


It took a few minutes before they realized that there was a stranger at the fire, before their cold-numbed senses could react. He was an old mountain man that the Utes called White Cheeks due to the soft white beard on his face. He had on snow shoes and a pack which was full of freshly butchered mountain lion.
Asking no questions, he stepped up to the fire and cooked his lion steaks for everyone. After eating he led them up to his cabin and safety.

Of course the children called him Santa Claus, and since he offered no other name, the parents joined in. The mountain man stayed with them through that long winter, teaching them the skills they needed to survive in the mountains.
In the spring, he loaded his beaver pelts in his pack and headed for the Taos Rendezvous. The Borgerdings and Hansons followed the clearly given directions to Cimarron where they told the story of Santa Claus to its inhabitants.

White Cheeks never got to Taos, nor was he ever again seen alive. The people who come to his canyon on Christmas Eve know that there is an old white faced mountain man sitting over a fire, and even though no lion has lived here for many years, there are always plenty of lion steaks for everyone. If you ask him, he’ll tell you about the winter of 1853, and the families that called him Santa Claus.

Do you have any Christmas stories about your Scouts? Share them with us and leave a comment.

Boy Scouts disc golfI have been giving the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 a small Christmas present each year for 30 years. It is not a very big present, just something to make the season a little more fun, and to give the Scouts a little something to look forward to during our troop Christmas party. Gifts in the past have included balls, fire starters, water bottles, and small lunch coolers. It is easier to find things these years with a small troop. It was tough finding something when we had forty members in the troop. Have you ever tried to find 40 of something in a store? You should see the look on a checkout person’s face when you bring two shopping carts full of red four-square balls to the counter.

This year I had to push my gift giving up a couple months, to last night’s troop meeting. You see, the gift is something the Scouts can use at this weekend’s troop outing. On Saturday, the troop will be traveling to three different cities to play one of their favorite games, disc golf. Many of the Scouts did not own a disc made for the game so that became this year’s Christmas gift from me.

I came up with the idea when I noticed on the scoutstuff.com website that there was a closeout going on of the leftover 2013 National Jamboree merchandise. Disc golf discs were going for 50% off the regular price which brought to price down to $4.98 per disc. That is the cheapest price I have ever seen on discs. And they were discs made by Innova, one of the main manufacturers of supplies for the sport, so they were not some cheap unknown brand name discs. I ordered three sets for myself and one midrange disc for each of the Scouts.

The Boy Scouts seemed to like the gift. There was various colors to chose from so instead of having a free-for-all and stampede to see who would get what color I started with the newest member of the troop and worked my way up to the Scout with the longest membership. Seniority did not count this time. I also told the boys to write their names on their discs in case that get lost on the course, and so that we know whose disc is whose when we play a game.

Saturday is the big tournament day. The troop will start at the Albany disc golf course, move to St. Joseph for the second game, and end at Riverside Park in St. Cloud. It is going to be a long day. There is going to be a lot of throws. And I would bet there is going to be a lot of very tired Boy Scouts crawling into their sleeping bags Saturday night.

Does your troop play disc golf?

wood badge ChristmasYes, I know it is not even Halloween yet, but Christmas commercials are already on television and the stores have already begun decorating for the season, so I thought now would be a great time to tell those of you who have completed their Wood Badge training to check out the scoutstuff.org website for this year’s Wood Badge themed Christmas cards. That is correct. There is now a Christmas card featuring all our Wood Badge animal pals as they try to help pull Santa’s toy filled sleigh.

Well, except for the beaver and the fox, who have decided that a snowball is much more fun then helping to spread the joy of Christmas. The owl almost seem poised to join them. And why is the bear riding in the sleigh? Should he not be helping the buffalo to pull it? For some reason the antelope thinks this is funny. At least the eagle is bringing the lights to brighten the way. The bobwhite is were he should be, overlooking everything and trying to be in charge. Note that I said trying.

By the way, in case you have not figured it out yet, I am a member of the Bobwhite Patrol. NC-269.

You can order the Christmas cards at http://www.scoutstuff.org/set-card-wb-10pk.html