Posts Tagged ‘meetings’


2014pinewoodderbyThe Scouting program snuck up on me a little as this week became a bit busier than usual. I guess I knew of everything that was coming up, but I was not really paying attention. Oh well, I can not think of many other programs I would rather spend my time on.

On Monday the patrol leader council of Troop 68 met at my house for their monthly planning meeting. It did not take them long to plan the three March meetings, the court of honor, and other things, plus review how things went in February. They began at 6:30 and were finished before 8:00. That included eating the meat and cheese tray I set out during the meeting.

On Tuesday I attended Cub Scout Pack 68′s Pinewood Derby. Thirteen Scouts participated in this year’s event. It was the first time I had seen a derby since the pack bought a new track with an electronic timer. I attended the activity to take some pictures. I ended up being the official photographer. I might have gone a little overboard. I ended up with over 100 pictures of the boys and their cars. I am going to burn the pictures to cd’s and give one to each family who had a Scout participate in the derby.

On Friday the members of the Striking Cobra Patrol will be coming over for pizza, sodas, and a movie. They won the patrol flag competition in December. I am not sure what movie the Scouts will decide to watch but I have a feeling I better have at least two large pizzas ready for them. Boy Scouts always seem to be hungry, especially for pizza.

How has your Scouting week been going? Is it a busy one?

Jaycee Park, MelroseEven before I took over as the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 68 in Melrose, troop meetings were sometimes held at the Jaycee Park. After I took the scoutmaster position, we began to use the park for our summer meetings, from May through September. It was nice being outside for meetings. We could practice outdoor skills and play different games. Granted, rain messed things up once in awhile but there was a shelter we could usually run to to stay dry. The hockey rink was used as a ball field for many kickball and softball games. The large pine trees provided plenty of shade. The Scouts would play Tip and impromptu games of disc golf through the pine trees. The Cub Scout Pack has held meetings there. The district has used it for Cub Scout Day Camps. The Lake Wobegon Trail is only half a block away. It worked well for the troop. We still use the park for our current summer meetings.

Over the last 15 or so years the City of Melrose has been selling off chunks of this park. The western two thirds has been sold for townhouse developments. I understand the city needed this type of housing, and that the townhouse development was well done, but it was sad to see so much of the park disappear. The existing park is still large enough for a shelter, a playground, a volleyball court, and two hockey rinks. It is still a nice park and is used quite a bit by the local residents. One of our Eagle Scouts even did his project in the park, but nothing of that project remains after the townhouse developments.

Last month, the City of Melrose sold the park to CentraCare, our local hospital and clinic campus which is right next door to the park. I think it is great that CentraCare is willing and able to expand its facitilities. It shows a commitment to the city. Unfortunately, it means that someday we will lose that park. The first planned expansion will require that the park shelter be removed. The playground and the hockey rinks will remain for awhile yet, maybe even several years. The city will be renting the remaining park land for one dollar a year as long as CentraCare does not require it.

Unfortunately, it seems that the City of Melrose does not seem to have a plan to replace this park, even though they have been selling off portions of it for over 15 years. Granted, we will still have a smaller park in place for years yet, but I am surprised, or should I say shocked, that the city may just let one park disappear from the town in the future.

Troop Meeting TrainingI have collected a fair number of Scouting related items during the thirty-plus years I have been involved with our local Boy Scout Troop. One of these items is a vhs tape of Boy Scout Leader Fast Start Orientation from 2002. You see, there was a time, not that long ago, when adult leaders could not readily go to the internet to watch training videos. They had to borrow a vhs tape from their council office. I know, hard to believe.

While I am stuck at home recovering from neck surgery, I decided to make a digital copy of this 2002 training tape I received from the council when they decided to throw it out several years ago. Once I had a digital copy of it I thought it might be fun to share this 11 year old production with the viewers of the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. The whole video is 32 minutes long so I broke it down into three parts.

This first part takes us through the process of planning and conducting a Boy Scout troop meeting. The video covers things very well and is still very reverent to today’s program. Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 has followed this format for decades with a lot of success. If you have new adult leaders in your troop I would recommend they sit down and watch this. I also think it is fun to watch a training video from 11 years ago.

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Every month the patrol leader council of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 meets to plan the meetings and activities for the next month. When I was the scoutmaster I did not want the boys falling into a rut by using the same opening and closing for every meeting, three times a month, month after month. I wanted the Scouts to add variety to their meetings, and to think about what could be used for openings and closings.

I gave them a challenge (okay, I told them) to have different opening and closing ceremonies at each meeting during the month. The opening must contain something patriotic and something Scout related.  When they plan the next month they could use only one opening and one closing that was used during the previous month. This way there would be at least five different opening and closing ceremonies used during a two month period. It has worked well over the decades and the Scouts seem to enjoy the variety.

When I stepped down as the scoutmaster last year I thought the boys may drop this guideline, but I did not need to worry about it. They have decided to continue this tradition, which has made me and the new scoutmaster happy. It is a challenge for the patrol leader council sometimes to rotate the various ceremonies (they try to avoid singing) but they have done well during the last nine months.

So, what do they do instead of the basic Scout Law and Scout Oath at every meeting? Here are a few of the ceremonies they have used:

OPENINGS
Pledge Of Allegiance
America Yell
God Bless America
The National Anthem
American Creed
Scout Law (or variations of)
Scout Oath (or variations of)
The Knight’s Code
Gilwell Song
Tommy Tenderfoot (song)

CLOSINGS
“Be Prepared” Song
Patrol Calls
Scout Benediction
Scout Vespers
Scout Slogan
Scout Motto
Taps

What does your troop do for its opening and closing ceremonies? Do you have any good ones to add to this list?

I received a call this morning from a father of one the Boy Scouts, who is also a troop committee member, asking if I was going to attend the troop meeting tonight. He and his family would be gone on vacation next week and his son would not be able to attend the committee meeting for a board of review. I said I could be at the troop meeting but other committee members would have to be called. Little did I know it would be a weird, but fun and interesting evening.

As a new committee member and former scoutmaster I find that I sometimes need to pull back from things I am used to doing myself, and learning how to help others in new ways. For example, at the board of review tonight, I found that I wanted to step in and ask questions, lots of questions. But it was not my place to do so. There were two other people sitting on this board, not just me. I was now part of a team, not the scoutmaster doing a conference. Added to the situation was a new advancement chairperson who was learning his new responsiblities. Yes, I had to bite my tongue a couple times so that I would not dominate the board of review.

The Boy Scouts are getting used to the idea of a new scoutmaster. (He just registered last Tuesday.) He is very serious about talking on this new role. The boys get along with him but I needed to remind a couple of them that I am no longer the one to be talking to about some things. They need to go to the new scoutmaster. I had to smile to myself and they headed off to get their question answered.

Could I have answered their questions? Yes, I could have, but I need the boys to realize that I am not the scoutmaster anymore. And besides that, I want the new scoutmaster to build that bond with the boys. That will not happen very well if the boys keep coming to me every time they need something.

Once the First Class board of review was completed I noticed one of the Life Rank Scouts was not doing anything at the moment so I called him over to the board for an update on his Eagle Rank. We took a few minutes to find out what his plans were. After all, he turns 18 years old in four or five months. I think I caught him a bit off guard but we had a good discussion. I will be meeting him later this week to review his eagle packet. Why am I doing this? Because the new scoutmaster already has enough on his plate this month learning his responsibilities so I thought I could help hm out on this one.

After the troop meeting the scoutmaster and I spent some time reviewing the new tour permit, or troop outing guide, or whatever they call it now. We also talked about other things. I like that he is pouring himself into his new role and is trying to learn things as quickly as he is able. I think he will do well as the new troop leader.

So what was weird about tonight? That it seemed that I was still in the middle of things, even though I am not the scoutmaster. It is like my troop is now made up of adults. Instead of training boys I have now moved to the position of training parents in their roles.

And you know what. I am kinda enjoying it. It is a different challenge. And I am having fun.

I was a twenty-three year old scoutmaster when I attended a week of training at the Philmont Training Center in 1984. One evening, the staff brought out a reel to reel movie projector and we watched a movie from Disney titled Follow Me Boys. I really enjoyed the movie, as did everyone else in the dining hall that night.

One of the things that stood out from the movie in my mind was that Lem Siddons’ Boy Scout troop had a building to call its home. A club house, if you will. I thought it would be great for my troop to have a place to call home, but alas, it was not to be for Troop 68 of Melrose. Even after thirty years we still have no place to call home. Not even a meeting room of our own.

Troop 68 holds their meetings at the Jaycee Park during the summer months, May through September. During the colder months we meet at St. Mary’s School gym. Both places have worked well for us. We plan our meeting activities and games to fit the place we are meeting that month. The park works well for outdoor skills and open air games. The gym is large enough to break into various groups for skill development and is a natural area for indoor competitions.

Unfortunately, neither place is really a “home” for the troop. We cannot leave troop gear at either place. We cannot leave troop photos, awards, or advancement charts hanging on the walls. We do not have a place to store the troop library or the flags and stands.

The closest thing to a troop home is my house. The troop gear is stored in a shed in my backyard. The group photos hang on the walls of my stairway and recreation room. One wall is dedicated to the Troop 68 Eagle Scouts. The troop library currently has a spot in a closet. The troop flags and stands are kept in the garage or the trunk of the scoutmaster’s vehicle. My rec room has been the site of patrol leader council and committee meetings for the last fourteen years.

It would be nice to have a meeting place of our own, or a club house like Lem’s troop. But then, we would also probably have monthly heating, electrical, and water bills. We would have building maintenance costs. We would need to carry property insurance. In other words, we would probably need another yearly fundraiser or two just to pay for this place.

Yes, it might be nice to have a place to call home, but we have done well with the places we do use. The boys enjoy their meetings (usually). If we had a different meeting place they may not be able to play the rough and tumble games they are so found of. What would a meeting be if the Scouts could not hurl balls at each other during some point of the evening?

Monday nights are troop meeting nights. Tonight the older boys will be reviewing things for the Personal Management merit badge. Our two younger Boy Scouts will be finishing their Tenderfoot Ranks requirements (at least, that it the plan). I am hoping that the boy who came to our meeting last week to “test the Scouting waters” will be back this week. I also plan to show the Cubmaster the first draft of the Pinewood Derby trading cards I made to see what he thinks about them.

It will be a busy night, but I am used to it. I have been doing it for 30 years. In fact, if this troop ever folds, or if I decide to resign someday, I am going to have a hard time filling all the free time I will suddenly have.

Those of you who read this blog and follow me on Twitter (stevejb68) may have noticed that out troop has been having some rough times. Last month I sat down with the Boy Scouts during a troop meeting and discussed the future of the troop with them. We needed to make some changes. They seemed to be ready to do what needs to be done. Tonight was a night that really began to take us in that direction.

Tonight’s troop meeting would be the first one in which the new senior patrol leader and his assistant would really take charge of the troop. They had been elected last month but last month’s meetings were a little chaotic and not planned well. This month’s had been planned by the new ASPL (the only Scout who attended the patrol leader council meeting) and were planned out very well.

Even though I have been a scoutmaster for 29 years I have been finding myself being up in front of the boys too much during a troop meeting. Tonight would be different. I pulled my assistant scoutmaster off to the side when he arrived and explained that we are going to sit in back of the room tonight and let the boys run the meeting, something we should have always been doing but were not. I wanted to be behind the boys tonight, out of direct eyesight with them.

The boys did pretty well. Oh, everyone was a bit late coming to the meeting. Yes, there was some goofing off and joking around but they did get much of the meeting’s agenda covered. I only stepped in front of the troop twice for short moments; once to ask a few questions about the menu and plans for the weekend outing at the end of the month followed by a quick uniform inspection, and at the end of the meeting to give announcements and a scoutmaster minute. All in all, it was a successful meeting.

It will be interesting to see how things go during the next few meetings. Actually, for the next few months. I have decided to step back, like a scoutmaster should, and let the boys handle things. It is the best way for them to learn. Unfortunately, I have to re-learn a few things again. Or, may not so much re-learn as much as re-apply the things I already know.