Posts Tagged ‘scoutmaster’

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…

I guess you may now call me Scouter Steve, instead of Scoutmaster Steve. As the new year began I stepped down from the position I held for over thirty years. I am now a committee member. The troop treasurer, to be exact. It is a job with which I feel comfortable accepting. It is a job that I am familiar with even though I have never balanced the troop’s checkbook. After all, if you a scoutmaster for three decades you have a pretty good idea of the income and expenses of operating a Boy Scout troop.

Tonight was the first troop meeting of the year. The first troop meeting for the new scoutmaster. I did not attend the meeting. I thought it best to stay away, to let the scoutmaster sit in what was my usual spot (or maybe he chose a new spot), to let the Boy Scouts know that, yes, I did retire. And to let everyone start the year without me being there. The Boy Scouts know what to do. Eymard, my assistant scoutmaster for the last 24 years, was there to help Scoutmaster Mark if he needed any.

Was it easy staying at home? Yes and no. I wanted to go to see how things would work out, but I knew that if I went to the meeting it would affect how things would turn out. Does that make sense? I stayed at home and watch an episode of the tenth season of Smallville on dvd. (Yes, I am still a bit of a nerd. I did not give that up with the first of the year.)

It is now 8:30. The troop meeting has been over for thirty minutes. I did not receive a phone call asking for assistance. No one stopped by after the meeting to complain about anything, or to tell me that things fell apart. In other words, I think the meeting must have gone well. The local Scouting world did not come to an end. The troop got along without me. Life goes on.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to make a phone call to find out how things really went tonight!

Happy Scouting everyone!

It is not a secret. Some Boy Scouts get nervous when it is time to do a scoutmaster conference for a rank. As a scoutmaster I do my best to put the Scout at ease and we usually get through it without a problem. Although there was the time when I held my first Eagle Scout conference back in the late 1980’s. That young man was so nervous that he could not recite the Scout Oath, even though he had repeated it at troop meetings for over six years. Ah, the memories.

One of the Boy Scouts recently came to the house for his Star Rank scoutmaster conference. He was accompanied by his mother. It did not take long to realize that he was nervous, and that having his mother sitting across the room from him was not helping matters. In fact, I think it was making it worse.

Let me set the stage for you. My front door opens into my living room. To the right, in front of the picture window, is the sofa. Across the room are two rocking recliners. At one end of the room is a gliding rocker chair. At the other end is the television and bookcases. When the Boy Scout arrived he sat down on the left end of the sofa, near the door. His mother sat in one of the recliners. I grabbed the troop record book and sat down on the sofa to the Scout’s right.

Like I said, it did not take long to realize this Scout was a little nervous. I also noticed that he kept looking at his mother as he answered several of the questions, instead of answering to me. I moved to the other recliner across the room. This helped in that he now had an easier time looking toward me but he still looked toward his mother, as if looking for approval of his answers and comments. His mother was also commenting on some of the subjects we were discussing.

I thought it might be better to make a few changes. I asked the Boy Scout if he was a bit nervous. He replied that he was. I asked him if having his mother sitting across the room was adding to his nervous. He said yes so I offered a new seating arrangement. I asked his mother to sit in the gliding rocker at the end of the room. I had the Scout sit in the recliner his mother had been using. This put the Scout between me and his mother, thus putting his mother out of his line of sight. I also asked his mother not to respond to any questions unless they were directed to her. She understood and pulled out her smartphone to play with.

The seating arrangement did help. Once his mother was “out of the picture” the Scout was more relaxed and had an easier time talking to me. He may have still been a little nervous but the discussion moved along much better. He passed his Star Rank scoutmaster conference and his now ready for his board of review.

Have you had any interesting experiences during a scoutmaster conference? Leave a response and tell us about it.

It is time. After 30 years of serving as the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 I have decided to step down and let someone else assume the role. My last day as the adult leader of the troop will be December 31, 2011. I have had some great times and awesome experiences during those three decades, but it was not always a bed of roses. There were four times I tried to quit, when the frustrations became so intolerable that I just could not handle it anymore. But after a few good nights sleep everything seemed to be a little better so I stayed on.

I still remember that evening in September 1981 when the troop committee appointed this young twenty one year old kid to the position of scoutmaster. I was shocked. I really did not see it coming. I was a little overwhelmed. I accepted the appointment and vowed to do my best for the troop. I took all the training offered by the district and council. I went to roundtables every month. I attended a weeklong scoutmaster training course at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1984. I wanted to be the best scoutmaster that I was capable of being.

As I step down from the position I never dreamed of holding for this long, I have to say that I will not be walking away from the Scouting program. As the first day of the new year arrives I will become a member of the troop committee. I will continue to be a merit badge councilor for eight awards. I do plan to assist the new scoutmaster as he or she prepares to assume their role in the troop. I still plan to attend some of the troop’s activities and outings.

Of course, I have mixed feeling about leaving the role I have held for sixty percent of my life, and nearly all of my adult life. I will miss sitting around the campfire on cool Minnesota evenings. I will miss working closely with Eymard, my assistant for 23 years. But most of all, I will miss working closely with the boys. The boys were my second family. They were and always will be the number one reason for remaining as the scoutmaster for as long as I have.

I do look forward to beginning a new phase of my Scouting career even though I am not quite sure what that will include. I do look forward to having Monday nights free and more weekends available to spend with family and friends. I look forward to having my very first summer vacation away from a Boy Scout camp. (Yes, I have spent every summer vacation of the past thirty one years with Boy Scouts at summer camp, Philmont Scout Ranch, or some other high adventure trip.)

I will not be able to give up Scouting completely. It has been a part of my life for too long. Lem Siddons was a scoutmaster for twenty years before he was retired by his troop. I would rather the idea to retire be mine, and not the committee’s. Reaching the twenty mark kinda became a goal of mine after watching Follow Me Boys in 1984. I never actually thought I would achieve it, but now I can say I not only achieved it but surpassed it by fifty percent. How do you like them apples Lem?

The troop committee was called to a local restaurant for a special meeting on September 13th. As the troop’s assistant scoutmaster I was invited to attend. So was the district executive. The scoutmaster was not informed of the meeting.

The troop had a problem. The current scoutmaster was not doing his job. He did not attend many of the meetings. He did not attend many of the outings. The committee needed to talk to the district executive about their options. After a short discussion one member asked the D.E. if they could fire a scoutmaster. The D.E. replied that they could. After all, it was their troop.

I had to leave the meeting at that point to go to the Cub Scout Pack’s monthly committee meeting, so I did not get to partake in the rest of the troop committee meeting. Later, on my way home, I noticed that a few of the Boy Scout committee members were still at the restaurant so I stopped to talk to them. The committee chairman invited me to sit down. They gave me a quick update about what I missed. They decided to fire the scoutmaster. They appointed me as the troop’s new scoutmaster.

I was a little stunned. No one had asked me about it. True, I was already doing most of the scoutmaster’s job, but I was only 21 years old. I was not sure I was ready for such a responsibility. The committee thought I was ready and promised their support. What could I do? I accepted the position.

That was in 1981, thirty years ago. I had been an assistant scoutmaster for only 16 months. I wanted to do a good job as scoutmaster so I took all the training the council and district provided. I attended nearly all the monthly roundtable meetings. I poured myself into the program because I believed in what Scouting had to offer.

The core principles of the program remain the same as they were thirty years ago, but their have been some changes. Women are now allowed to be scoutmasters. Two adults must now attend any troop functions. Youth protection training is now mandatory. Councils now do background checks on any adults who wish to hold a leadership position. Oh, and skill awards have disappeared from the advancement program.

The remember when the first boys joined the troop who were born after I had become a scoutmaster. “Wow. I am getting old,” I thought to myself. Then the parents of some of the Scouts were younger then me. I have now been a scoutmaster so long that those first Boy Scouts from the ealry 1980’s are old enough to have Scout-age boys of their own.

Thirty years. Wow. I have seen hundreds of boys go through the Scouting program. I have been to the Charles Sommers Canoe Base, attended a national jamboree, and been on five treks at Philmont Scout Ranch. I have participated in two dozen week long summer camps and attended nearly a thousand troop meetings. I have seen 19 boys earn the Eagle Scout award while a member of Troop 68. Hopefully there will be one more before the end of the year.

During the last couple of months I have been thinking about retiring as the troop’s scoutmaster. Thirty years is a long time. I have accomplished my goals. I have given it a good run, but I have been growing tired of the meetings and outings. I do not think I have much more to offer as a scoutmaster. Another factor is that Melrose has not been supporting Scouting like it once did. The troop is down to nine members. Only two of them live in town. If the community is not willing to support a Scouting program by getting involved then maybe it is time to let it go.

Like I said, thirty years is a long time, but I do not regret it. Sure, there have been some rough times, but there were a lot more great times and great boys that came through the program. I think I can honestly say I have done well as the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68.

If I hadn’t done a good job, the committee would have fired me. Wouldn’t they?

How did you do with the trivia quiz, part one? Are you ready for my Follow Me Boys trivia quiz, part 2? You must be, or why are you here? Get your pencil and paper ready. (I recommend a pencil in case you need to erase an answer. Let’s get started.

1) How much did Ralph Hastings say the lake property was worth if properly developed?

2) Who did Whitey marry when he grew up?

3) What year did the formal Scout camp start being built on the donated lake property?

4) Who made the decision that Lem needed to retire as scoutmaster when his health started failing?

5) What title did the troop committee give to Lem when he retired as scoutmaster?

6) What was the house number of Lem and Vida’s house?

7) Which one of Lem Siddons’ Boy Scouts became the governor?

8 ) What was the name given to the Scout camp built on the donated Siebert property?

9) What actor played the young Whitey?

10) What year was Follow Me Boys first released in the United Sates?

Remember to double check your answers before scrolling down.

Exchange your quiz paper with the person to your right.

No cheating is allowed.

You are trustworthy, aren’t you?

A Scout is all 12 points of the Scout law.

Do you think you did better this time?

Okay, enough of this.

Here are the answers.

That is, if you are ready for them.

If not, go back to the top of the page.

1) Half a million dollars.
2) Nora Thompson
3) 1950
4) The troop committee.
5) scoutmaster emiritus
6) 244
7) HooDoo
8 ) Camp Siddons
9) Kurt Russell
10) 1966

How did you do this time?

This episode of Around The Scouting Campfire is dedicated to a special individual of Boy Scout Troop 68, Eymard, our assistant scoutmaster. Eymard is 83 years old and has been with the troop for 23 years. Buttons and Steve thought it was about time to recognize Eymard on the podcast.

In addition to Steve’s story about Eymard and Buttons interview with him we also get to hear the Buckskin staff of Many Point Scout Camp as they lead the campers in the Bear Hunt song. Steve has a scoutmaster conference about being clean. Buttons shares some feedback on past shows, including one comment he does not like very well.

Steve and Buttons thank PTC Media ( for allowing this program to be a part of the family of Scouting related podcasts. We also thank the Boy Scout Store ( for sponsoring the show. Be sure to take a moment to check out their website. Finally, we would like to thank you, our listeners, for downloading Around The Scouting Campfire.

Send us your emails. You can contact Buttons at You may contact Scoutmaster Steve at Please rate the show and/or leave a comment at the iTunes store. You can also follow the hosts on Twitter at or
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Show notes:
The Eighty Year Old Assistant Scoutmaster – Eighty Year Old Assistant Scoutmaster
MSPP #64: MPSC The Bear Hunt – MSPP #64: The Bear Hunt
MSPP #16: Buttons Interviews Eymard – MSPP #16: Buttons Interviews Eymard