Posts Tagged ‘scoutmaster’


Boy Scout Troop leaders are parade grand marshals.

When I received a phone call from the Melrose Chamber of Commerce a few weeks ago I thought it might be about the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 handing out the small USA flags before the Riverfest parade again, like the troop has done for many years. I was about to receive a big surprise.

During the Chamber’s Riverfest festival planning meetings they choose a person or persons to be the grand marshal(s) of the parade. This year it was suggested the Eymard Orth and myself should be the grand marshals in recognition of the many years each of us has not only put into the local Scouting program, but also the other organizations we have been involved in over the last 4 decades.

The phone call was to ask if I would accept the honor of being a parade grand marshal. I said if Eymard would than I would also accept the honor. He did, so we are.

The local newspaper, the Melrose Beacon, interviewed the two of us last week. The article based on that interview was on the front page of this week’s edition. As always, Carol, the writer, did a great job with the article. (The picture seen with this article is the one used in the newspaper.)

So, on Saturday night, Eymard Orth and myself, Steve Borgerding, will ride down Main Street in Melrose in a red convertible. We will be wearing our Scout uniforms. We will be representing the Scouting program. We will also be drinking a lot of water since the temperature is forecasted to hit the 90s. We might even have to carry an umbrella to provide some shade along the route.

As this night approaches I can not help but think of how the movie Follow Me Boys ends with a parade for their scoutmaster of 20 years. I realize the parade we will be in is not a Scouting parade like the one in the movie, but I still feel there are a couple parallels there. Eymard now has 30 years with the troop, while I have 39 years.

My brother and I were Boy Scouts for three and a half years in the mid 1970’s. My youngest brother was a Cub Scout. My mother was a den leader, and my father was a troop committee member. Scouting was strong in my family, but not quite as strong as it was in one of my cousin’s family.

Jim Ehlert, my uncle, had five sons. All five sons were involved in the Scouting program. Jim became a scoutmaster when his oldest son was a Boy Scout. Jim held that position for a number of years as all the boys grew threw the program. In fact, all five of the young men earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Once in awhile, back in the 1970’s, our families would meet at grandma’s cabin on Kings Lake. We would sometimes exchange skits and songs that were popular in our troops. We would also swap Scouting stories and experiences as we sat around the campfire.

I was a little in awe of Jim during my teen years, as a lot of Scouts look up to the adults who are Scout Leaders. I also admired him for holding the position of scoutmaster fo so many years. When his sons finally graduated out of the troop he retired as scoutmaster and took on a different Scouting position.

Occasionally, after I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, Jim and I would have the opportunity to chat about Scouting. He would ask me how things were going in my troop, or ask me to tell him about the latest high adventure trip that we had attended. They were fun discussions.

On Tuesday, September 19, Jim passed away after a battle with kidney disease. He was in his 80’s. I guess I will not be sharing anymore Scouting stories with him. Until that is, until I join him in that great summer camp in the sky.

Snoopy_learning-the-ropes-root-1495qxi2556_1470_1It is that time of year. Hallmark is now selling the new Keepsake Ornaments for this year’s Christmas season. That means there should be a new Beagle Scout Snoopy ornament if the company is continuing the series they began several years ago. I was in St. Cloud last Saturday afternoon so I decided to stop in the store and see if there was a new one that I needed to buy. There was!

This year’s ornament is called “learning The Ropes”. According to the Hallmark web page, “Square knots, slip knots,…the Beagle Scouts have Snoopy tied up in knots. They’re not trying to be “knotty,” though, they’re just learning the ropes! This ornament would be great for a Peanuts® fan, or anyone who has experience with Scouting.” The size of the piece is only 2.58″ W x 2.09″ H x 1.83″ D, which I believe is a bit smaller than previous year’s ornaments. The price is $14.95. I believe they are for sale in the stores only, and not available online.

I picked up two them. One to use on the tree and one to keep as part of my collection. I have done the same with each year’s piece. I am thinking I may have to set up a tree this Christmas season, put all eight of my Beagle Scout Snoopy ornaments on it, take a picture of it, and post it to this blog again to see if you can find them all.

The store also had several 2013 Lego Yoda ornaments on sale for 80% off. I picked up a three of those since they were less then $4.00 each. I may place one in the tree with the Snoopy ornaments just to mess you up a bit in this year’s tree picture. The others may end up as presents for someone this holiday season.

Here is the Hallmark website page if you want to check out this year’s Beagle Scout Snoopy ornament: http://shop.hallmark.com/christmas/christmas-ornaments/learning-the-ropes-1495QXI2556.html#prefn1=characters&prefv1=Peanuts®&start=1

Philmont SMT19840008I had been a scoutmaster for only two and a half years when I received a letter in the mail inviting me to attend the Philmont Training Center (PTC) for the Scoutmaster Fundamentals course. I had always wanted to go to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico so I jumped at the opportunity. The troop committee thought it was a good idea and agreed to fund a portion of the trip. The Melrose business community provided most of the rest of the funds. So, in 1984 this 23 year old scoutmaster received his first experience at the ranch.

I have returned to Philmont five times to participate in backcountry hiking treks, but I have never returned to the PTC for another training training course. The last time I was at Philmont was in 2004 when I was an advisor for a trek crew. As the years slipped by I began to think that would be my last trip to the ranch. I was beginning to miss the place.

I received an invitation to attend the training of my choice at PTC early this year. I was thrilled to receive the letter but also a little skeptical since I had stepped down as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 two years ago. Yes, I remain active with the troop and serve on the committee but why would the council recommend me for training at Philmont Scout Ranch? No particular course was recommended this time. I would be allowed to sign up for whatever interested me.

I called Bob, our district executive, and asked him what was up with this. He replied, nothing special, no particular reason. The council thought I might be interested, that’s all. We chatted a few times about this over the course of the next few weeks. Before I knew it we had both registered to take a course in June, this month.

I am thrilled to be going back to Philmont. The course is just the carrot on the stick for me. I am really looking forward to seeing the silver on the sage, starlight skies above, and aspen covered hills once again. Philmont truly is a Scouting paradise. And a great place to have a training center.

I wonder if the old stagecoach is still there.

beagle-scouts-rock-keepsake-ornamentIt is August 1st, and that means this year’s new Hallmark Keepsake ornaments are in the stores and ready to sell. Beagle Scout Snoopy and his friends once again make an appearance as the Scouting series continues. This year captures the Beagle Scout as he  climbs to the top of the mountain with the help of Woodstock and his friends. It is a fitting theme when you think about how popular rock climbing has become with Boy Scouts and how many summer camps now feature climbing towers.

Unfortunately, it is not one of my favorite Beagle Scout Snoopy ornaments. To me it looks like the characters are climbing a piece of frosting covered chocolate. Maybe the characters are climbing a gigantic s’more instead of a mountain! That would be quite tasty. The sticky marshmallow topping would make the climb a little easier, or would it make it worse?

Anyway, I bought two when I was in the store today. One will actually be used on the tree, and one will be stored away as part of my collection. I believe this is the seventh Beagle Scout ornament in my collection. Here are my articles from the previous years:
Campfire Fun 2007
Beagle Scout Day Out (canoeing) 2008
A Spooky Story 2009
The Fearless Crew 2010
Holiday En-tree-preneurs (selling Christmas trees) 2011
Salute The Flag 2012
Beagle Scouts Rock! (this year’s)
http://www.hallmark.com/products/general/keepsake-ornaments/beagle-scouts-rock-1495QXI2175_DK/

It looks like you may have to find a store to buy it. The Hallmark website does not to seem to include it as an online purchase. Will you be picking one up for yourself or that special Scout in your life?

1947handbooksmThe Boy Scouts of America’s website states this about the the Aims of Scouting: The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America — incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916 — is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.

Character, citizenship, and personal fitness. Those are three outstanding goals to teach our young men. The site lists the methods, or building blocks of Scouting, as nine points: Advancement, Community Organizations and Scouting Councils, Personal Growth, Leadership, the Order of the Arrow, the Outdoors, the Patrol Method, Scouting Values, and Scouts with Special Needs. (See http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/TheBuildingBlocksofScouting.aspx )

While the main goals of Scouting have stayed the same through the decades there have been changes in the way the B.S.A. has stated these aims and methods. I decided to pull down a couple versions of the Scoutmaster Handbook from my collection to read what they say about these subjects, and see what, if any, differences there are between then and now.

First, let’s look back to the 1990 version of The Scoutmaster Handbook.
The Aims of Scouting are listed on page 69. They are:
Aim 1 – To build character.
Aim 2 – To foster citizenship.
Aim 3 – To develop fitness.

The book goes on to explain character on page 70.
It’s a “complex of mental and ethical traits”, says one dictionary. It’s “moral or ethical quality” says another. It’s qualities of honesty, courage, and integrity”, says a third. To these perfectly good descriptions we add four “self” qualities that Scouting, over the years, has been especially successful in developing in boys, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-respect. When a boy begins to develop these, he begins to develop character.

This book says about citizenship: The wise Scoutmaster can guide his Scouts not only to love their country, but to understand it, know more about its heritage and history, encounter the democracy that knits together its many cultures into a nation that welcomes them all. And thus find joy in serving it.It is growth in your Scouts to that level of citizenship in which you, as Scoutmaster, will find your joy.

The book says about Aim 3, developing fitness – The third aim, developing fitness, covers a broader territory, for Scouting recognizes four areas of fitness: physical, mental, emotional, and moral. I sometimes see today’s Scout leaders emphasizing the physical fitness and forgetting about the other three, which is a shame.

That 1990 version of the handbook lists the eight (yes, eight) Methods of Scouting as: Ideals, Patrols, Outdoors, Advancement, Personal Growth, Adult Association, Leadership development, and Uniform. These were the methods I based my 30 years of scoutmastership upon. This list is a bit different then found on today’s website. I have a question for the national office. When was Adult Association dropped from the list? When did the Order of the Arrow make this list?

I also own a 1947 printing of the Handbook For Scoutmasters. Things are written a bit differently in that version. On page 10, right at the begining of the book, it states: THE AIM OF SCOUTING.
Scouting trains for citizenship by inculcating in the boy, from within instead of from without, the qualities of Character, Health and Strength, Handcraft and Skill, Service to Others.

That is somewhat different than how the aims are listed today. Some of it still exists today using different language but I find it interesting that Handcraft and Skill has been dropped. I had to look up the word inculcating because I have never seen it used before. It means: Instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction.

Also on page 10 the 1947 handbook talks about the Methods of Scouting. Scouting is game played by boys in boy gangs under boy leaders chosen by the gang, guided by a man backed by other men of the community. Scouting provides the boy with an active outdoor life, grants him recognition for mastering various skills, and gives him a chance to wear an attractive uniform. It holds before him the ideals of a true Scout, and encourages him to “help other people at all times”.

The Scout Way – 1) A Game, not a Science.
Patrol Method – 2) The Scout Patrol, 3) Boy Leadership
Men In Scouting – 4) The Scoutmaster, 5) Troop committee and local Council Scouters
Activities – 6) Adventure in the out-of-doors, 7) Scout Advancement
Uniform – 8) The Scout Uniform
Ideals and Service – 9) The Scout Law, 10) The Scout Oath, or Promise – Service: Good Turns.

I love looking at the old literature and seeing how differently things were written back then. Of course, the biggest difference between Scouting in the 1940’s and today’s Scouting is that women can now serve as scoutmasters and other adult leadership positions. Back then they wrote “out-of-doors” instead of outdoors. Patrols are not called gangs in Scouting these days. I also like they way that Scouts have a chance to wear an attractive uniform. Have you seen the uniforms from the 1940’s?

This article is not meant as rant or a statement about Scouting as it is today. It is meant to show the differences in the way Scouting language has changed through the decades. I would challenge you to find some old handbooks and read them and see for yourself the way it has changed over its 100 year history. Or is it still the same?

crthonorI do not know if you have ever read this poem but I thought you may enjoy it. It is a poem by Bill Chiappi about the adult Boy Scout leader. It is called “The Scouter”. I happen to come across this many years ago. This might come in handy for that special event.

He hasn’t much in worldly goods,
Yet he’s richer than you know,
For he’s chosen to be a Scouter
And his spirits are aglow.

He’s just a Scouter, nothing more,
But he molds the lives of boys.
He teaches them how to do their best,
And he shares their many joys.

They work on badges, go on hikes,
Share campfires in the night.
They practice skills and follow laws,
And learn to do things right.

He watches them grow from boys to men,
And it makes it all worthwhile,
When they turn to him and say, “Gee Thanks!”
And their face wears a golden smile.

Boy Scout Troop 68 has a problem. We are looking for someone to become the scoutmaster. Unfortunately, no one seems interested in the position at this time. Having a small troop does not seem to be helping matters. Being in a community that has not been interested in having their boys in the Scout program has definitely made it tougher. (Only three of our eight Boy Scouts live in town.)

When I retired from the position after being the troop’s scoutmaster for 30 years I had a feeling it would be tough finding someone to take over. Luckily, one father stepped up to the plate. After five months he has decided to step down. I had a hunch this might happen. Why? Because he is also the Cubmaster of our Pack. Holding two “full time” volunteer Scouting positions would be tough for anyone to handle. Add to this that his sons are heavy into sports and extracurricular activities, and that he owns his own business, I knew it would be a challenge for him. But I have to give him credit. He gave it a good try. He did a good job. But there just was not enough time in the week to do it all, and do it well. He continues to serve as the Cubmaster.

So, the troop is once again looking for a scoutmaster. I have received several “hints” that a few people in the troop (Scouts and parents) would like to see me return to the position. I have no plans to do so. I am worn out and burned out. I actually began to hate going to Scout functions during my last year as scoutmaster. I do not want to return to the routine of weekly meetings and monthly activities. While I really enjoy working with the boys I do not want the responsibility any longer. I like my new position on the committee.

Sometimes I think thirty years was too long to be the scoutmaster. People got to the point where they would just assume that I would take care of things, and I usually did. People are now scared of the role. I am not quite sure why they should be. I took the position when I was a “wet behind the ear” 21 year old. I did okay with almost no experience. I had a committee that supported me. I was willing to take training, and that made a huge difference.

We have the month of June pretty well covered. I guess I will be the acting scoutmaster. Next month is summer camp, so the troop will not have any meetings. But by August we need to have someone step up to the plate. If we don’t, the council could get antsy and apply pressure to find someone quick. Or else. Troop 68 went through that in 1981. We went through four men as scoutmaster that year. (I was the fourth.) I would hate to see that happen to the troop again. I would really hate to see the troop lose its charter because no one was willing to take the position.

It would be sad to see the troop fold after 32 continuous years.