Posts Tagged ‘scoutmaster’


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.

I had been curious for a couple of weeks what the committee had planned for the retirement party. They had been very quiet whenever I was nearby. A great example of this was at the February committee meeting. I make the agenda so I listed the party under old business thinking they night bring up a few things that needed to be discussed. When the time came up one committee member passed a sheet of paper to the new scoutmaster and, well, that was it. There was not a discussion, not a word was said. My attempt to get information had failed.

Finally, the day of the party had arrived. It began at 2:00 in the afternoon with the Boy Scouts, their families, and a few troop alumni present, but people kept coming in. Shortly after 2:45 the Scenic District executive asked people to have a seat, that the program would soon begin. The five rows of tables were not quite filled but soon would be. At 3:00 the district executive, Bob Rueter, called the room to attention and asked everyone to face the flag, and to join him in the Pledge Of Allegiance. Eymard Orth, my assistant scoutmaster of 24 years and the current troop chaplain, gave the invocation.

Mr. Rueter began the ceremony with the presentation of the last leader’s knot I earned as the troop’s scoutmaster, the Unit Leader Award of Merit, followed by a brief speech about his years working with me. Mr. Orth took the podium next sharing stories of our Scouting experiences. Mark Ettel, the troop’s new scoutmaster, spoke for a few minutes and then asked the current Boy Scouts to come forward. He asked me to joined them and gave me a Norman Rockwell print of the Boy Scout standing in front of the flag of the United States of America, as seen with this post.

Mr. Ettel opened the floor for anyone to come forward to say a few words or share a story. Eleven former members of the troop took the opportunity to come to the podium. Every decade of the thirty years was represented. (Watch the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast for upcoming videos of these speeches.)

It was time for me to step up to the microphone. I joked that I could tell a story about everyone of the Scouts present but that we did not have time for that. I did thank the VFW Post 7050 for sponsoring the troop during the last 32 years. I also thanked the American Legion and the Lions Club for supporting the Scouting program. I thanked the parents, especially those who served on the committee and as assistant scoutmasters. Finally, I thanked all the boys and young men who were members of Boy Scout Troop 68 throughout the years. After all, they were they main reason I stayed on as scoutmaster for over 363 months.

I ended my talk by explaining that I had tried to quit at least four times but for some reason I always changed my mind. It was much nicer to be able to say “I retired” then “I quit”.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting with people and former troop members. All in all, it was a great afternoon.

I finally did it! On Wednesday, after thirty years of holding the position, and after one month of retiring from that position, I pulled the Scoutmaster patch off the left sleeve of my Boy Scout uniform. I have been wearing that patch since September 1981. I think I have now been traumatized. I pulled it off myself. I should have left someone else do it. It may take months of psychiatric therapy to get over this.

A few years ago I bought a new uniform, so this was actually the third shirt on which I wore that patch. And I should mention that this was not the first Scoutmaster patch that I have worn. The first patch is still on the first uniform shirt. This was the latest uniform, with the latest patch, the one with the current meaning.

That patch did not come off easily. I had decided during my lunch break to bring my uniform to a local lady who does sewing. I stopped at home, grabbed my uniform out of the closet, and grabbed a Troop Committee patch along with a new Journey To Excellence patch. (Our troop earned the silver award this year.)

I had applied the Scoutmaster patch to the sleeve with Badge Magic adhesive. I was in a hurry so I grabbed the edge of the patch and pulled. And pulled again. And yet again. It was being stubborn. It did not want to easily come off. Either the Badge Magic was working well, or the shirt did not want to lose a trusted friend. I slowly, finally removed that round piece of cloth, leaving much of the plastic backing on the sleeve. I didn’t care, much. The new patch would cover up the mess. I grabbed everything and left the house.

I do not think I will be wearing the uniform very often anymore, but is was important for me to change the patches. I have always stressed to the Boy Scouts that they should wear they uniform correctly and proudly. I scoutmaster should set the example. Only one person in the troop should be wearing that patch and that person is no longer me.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to leave for my appointment with my therapist. He is going to help me remove the scoutmaster patches from the top of my shoes, the car windshield, my neighbor’s nose…