Posts Tagged ‘Service’


MikeL30(The following article was written by Mike Linnemann, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Mike was a member of the troop from 1997 to 2003. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It is the fifth of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

Scouting: An Investment of Character
By Mike Linnemann

I’m an Eagle Scout and my Scouting experience, like my present tense designation, has not ceased.
Spending over six years as a teenager was nothing short of transformative during those tumultuous hormonally unbalanced years. I look back at my experience as a Boy Scout not as one of developing skills from merit badges, learning synonyms to describe myself from the Scout Law and living up to a higher ideal. I think of my time as learning experiences in innovative thinking.

At the time, I went through my advancement like most boys. Upon achieving one rank, the next would fall in line. Not unlike a job progression in a career, a linear path was always laid out before me. While along this journey, a seminal moment made me pause.

Upon reaching the rank of Eagle Scout, I briefly examined how this feat affected my future. While doing so, it felt like a moment. Looking back, I stopped my advancement as soon as I realized. I earned zero palms and only a few mere more merit badges with my remaining two years. I sacrificed my drive to understand the greater situation. I think similar aspects happen when apprentices, students really, achieve most milestones. I thought of my individual experiences while in my troop very rarely. I was in varsity school sports and one goal turned into another. New paths always came from another’s end. At that time, aged sixteen, I had been in the troop for five years and many of my friends had left the troop and I finally became aware of it.

Upon arriving as an eleven year old, I came into my troop with two patrols. Half of my friends were in each Cub Scout den. We decided to keep the dens as patrols. Due to the division, my friends slowly trickled off, along with most of the other members to pursue academic interests or the other short list of rural activities that boys partake in. At age sixteen, finally, I was able to look objectively at our issue. Were we to separate the haves from the have-nots and could I have accepted seeing six to eight people quit immediately? I was aware of the odds at the time. It was a visceral feeling that I knew would benefit me greatly on a personal level, but I would actively be sacrificing others. Advice from other scouts told me what was inevitable, that many would quit before reaching their full Scouting tenure. We made the right choice and I wouldn’t change it.

These aspects of brotherhood aren’t shown, nor discussed openly. My troop and community taught us life’s rules but also showed how to bend and change that which can negatively affect our lives to benefit the greater community.

While writing this, it’s eye opening to see how much we impacted our local community. I saw “our,” because an individual can only do so much. That is, until I met our gay Scout.

In fact, he is an Eagle Scout and wasn’t “out” at the time. He was a shining example of what a teenage citizen means and my community rallied around that ideal. He stood out and we knew it. I thought nothing of it at the time but now, I utilize my troop and community’s reaction to this one Scout. The Boy Scouts very recently voted to include gay scouts, relenting on such stringent admission standards for mere boys who just want to be part of something greater than themselves. We all knew of him and it didn’t matter. Looking back, this only illuminates how important troops were to development of model citizens, beacons of good in a community. In our troop, we bent the rules to accommodate.

That’s what I learned from Scouting. Do the right thing, despite what the odds or the negative reactions will invariably be.

Doing the right thing is a part of being prepared, our own Scout motto. There are ideals greater than you or I, or even humanity itself. Our religious basis shuns the self and prepares us for humble lifelong service. Only Eagle Scouts place their honor on their resume but the relevant past that binds Scouts together, whether they reach the pinnacle or mere tenderfoots is real. That stickiness of Scouting usually leaves members if they leave a community, but the character building is with us always.

These minor incidents of compromise, inclusiveness and respectfulness are footnotes in our lives. We think to them when issues arise and I’m happy to think that my foundation is solid. It’s hard to describe to a parent why Scouting builds character and how the intangible parts of Scouting far outweigh any cost.

In short, Scouting is an investment of character and my community invested well.

Mike is an art director in Minneapolis, married and living with his three dachshunds.

FirstClassSmallThe Boy Scouts of America offers a unique youth program. It has five distinct features that other clubs and organizations do not offer today’s youth. Granted, some clubs do offer one or two of these features, but no other youth organization offers all five of them.

What are these features that makes Scouting so special?

Scouting is a value based program. The B.S.A. asks boys to take an oath when they join, and then live up to that oath. Scouting teaches values, promotes good citizenship, and provides good adult role models. The program is diversified. It is not the same thing every day as some youth activities can be. In fact, Scouting compliments other organizations by providing program that they may be missing.

Developing leadership is another feature of Scouting. The boys plan their own troop program. They learn new things through hands-on experiences, not just by text book learning. They will receive the chance to be a leader by holding a position of responsibility in the troop. (Troop 68 holds elections every 6 months so many of its members will be given the chance to hold a troop or patrol office.)

Scouting is an educational program. Through the advancement program a boy will learn many new skills. Some of these will be just for fun, but many will help him later on in life. Subjects introduced through the merit badge program may help a boy discover a new life-long hobby or even a career choice. As he earns his merit badges and ranks he is recognized in front of his parents and peers for his accomplishments. This builds self esteem and helps him to develop a sense of pride.

Scouting encourages service to the community. An important part of Scouting is doing service for others. The Scout Slogan states that a Scout will “Do a Good Turn Daily”. Troops do countless hours of service conducting food drives, road and park cleanups, and conservation work, to name a few. By doing service a boy develops a pride in his community, a pride that will carry into adulthood.

Scouting can be a vehicle to bring families together. Many families find scouting to be a neutral topic, one in which parents and children can participate together. It offers parents a chance to spend ‘quality time’ with their sons. And the program is already there. All you have to do is participate.

The Scouting program does has its advantages. And families that participate in the program can attest that Scouting pays good dividends.

In the previous post to A Scoutmaster’s Blog, I wrote about the local American Legion’s Ceremony for Disposal of Unserviceable Flags, and the Boy Scouts’ participation in the ceremony. Mel-TV, our local community television access station, was on hand to film the event. The station’s co-ordinator was kind enough to let me borrow the video tape so that I could make a podcast video from it. I edited the footage down and added photographs that I took during the event.


Even though I edited out some footage I did not feel was needed, the video was still a bit longer than I would have liked it to be. But I wanted to be sure to include the whole ceremony and add several of the pictures. I would be curious to know if your Boy Scouts have participated in such a ceremony, and what their part was during it.

Leave a comment using the link below, or at the PTC Media forums. You can also rate the videos of Melrose Scouting Productions at the iTunes Music Store. By leaving a comment you will help us achieve a higher rating in iTunes. It really is great to hear what you think about the podcast videos.

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Subscribe to Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast through iTunes.
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The Melrose Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were recently invited to participate in a United Sates flag disposal ceremony by the local American Legion. Three of our six Boy Scouts were able to attend, along with one of the Girl Scouts.

The ceremony began shortly before dusk. Members of five American Legion clubs were in attendance, along with some local citizens who brought flags to be retired. The ceremony was very dignified. Unfortunately, due to the wind and my location, I was not able to hear much of what was being said.
The Scout’s part of the ceremony was to unload the flags from the vehicle and present them to the American Legion members who inspected the flags before their final disposal into the fire barrel. The Scouts were also allowed to place a few flags into the barrel, which I think helped to bring the impact of the ceremony closer to home.
The local media was also in attendance. The Melrose Beacon and the Sauk Centre Herald sent reporters. The local television cable access station, Mel-TV, was on hand to videotape the event. I look forward to seeing if the Boy Scouts made it into any pictures posted in the newspapers or were captured on the video.

Up until now, Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, has always been about the Boy Scouting program. He has talked about the Scout Oath and Law, being physically fit, how to tell when you know you are a Boy Scout, and has interviewed a Cub Scout and an assistant scoutmaster. Today, he begins to expand his Scouting knowledge into something he has never talked about before – Girl Scouting!

In the United States, boys and girls have separate Scouting programs (except for Exploring). Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting are very different programs even though they share many of the same goals. In both programs the members may chose to earn the highest award available to them. In Boy Scouting that would be the rank of Eagle Scout. In Girl Scouting it is the Gold Award.

I recently had the honor of attending the Gold Award ceremony of my niece and two other Girl Scouts. It was very impressive, and I learned a few things about Girl Scouting that I did not know. I video recorded the ceremony at the request of my sister, and we plan to broadcast it over our local community television station.

After the ceremony, I had the chance to congratulate each of the girls, and ask them if they would be willing to be interviewed by Buttons, the radical Scout. They had all seen a Buttons video or two so they knew what I was asking. To my pleasant surprise, they all said yes to the idea.

This video posting to the Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast is the first of these videos. Ali Kociemba, one of the Gold Award recipients, is the first Girl Scout to be interviewed by Buttons. They discuss the different age groups of Girl Scouting, what some of the awards are, service projects, what Ali did for her Gold award, and what her favorite troop activities were. It turned out to be a nice introduction to Girl Scouting.

You are invited to leave a comment using the link below, or at the iTunes Music Store, or at the PTC Media forums. Drop me an email at webmaster@melrosetroop68.org. It really is great to hear what you think about the podcast videos.

Click here to DOWNLOAD this Podcast
Subscribe to Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast through iTunes.
or at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
Check out other Scouting podcasts at PTC Media.