Posts Tagged ‘story’


christmasscoutsMerry Christmas everyone! It is time for my favorite Scouting themed Christmas story – The Christmas Scout.

In spite of the fun and laughter, 13-year-old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true he had received all the presents he wanted. And he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes. But, Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver.

Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. Frank said good-bye to his relatives and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend; and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled. Then Frank headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Though rich in wisdom, he lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived, and his patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family.

To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not at home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, through one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby . . . weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents.

A sudden thought struck Frank : he had not done his ‘good deed’ for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. ‘Yes?’ the sad voice of the woman asked. ‘May I come in?’ asked Frank. ‘You are very welcome,’ she said, seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, ‘but I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children.’

‘That’s not why I am here,’ Frank replied. ‘Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled.’

‘Why, God bless you!’ the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, the toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost cried out. Finally, the stockings were full.

‘Won’t you tell me your name?’ she asked, as Frank was leaving.

‘Just call me the Christmas Scout,’ he replied.

The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow was not the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the remainder of his gifts. The plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy.

Now Frank trudged homeward, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? ‘Where are your presents, son?’ asked his father as Frank entered the house.

Frank answered, ‘I gave them away.’

‘The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your coat from Grandma? Your flashlight? We thought you were happy with your gifts.’

‘I was very happy,’ the boy answered quietly.

‘But Frank, how could you be so impulsive?’ his mother asked. ‘How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?’

His father was firm. ‘You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents.’

With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back; however he wondered if he would ever again truly recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening, but it had been fleeting. Frank thought of his brother, and sobbed himself to sleep.

The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke: ‘Merry Christmas, everybody! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning, another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage boy who simply called himself the Christmas Scout. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself.’

Frank felt his father’s arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling through her tears. ‘Why didn’t you tell us? We didn’t understand. We are so proud of you, son.’

The carols came over the air again filling the room with music: ‘. . .Praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on Earth.’

books01The phone call surprised me Saturday night. The disc golf Tri-O was completed and the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 had left my house for their overnight camping trip. I was sitting at home watching television, thinking about going out to the campsite for a little while. The phone call was from from the acting senior patrol leader for the weekend. He was wondering if I would be joining them for supper, and if I would bring the book with the ghost stories. The Scouts wanted to hear a story or two while sitting around the campfire.

I knew which book to which he was referring. It was a collection of true ghost stories, Haunted Heartland, by Beth Scott and Michael Norman. I had mentioned this book on an outing earlier this year. Since this weekend was the weekend before Halloween I guessed the Scouts were in the mood for a couple stories of the supernatural variety.

I decided to grab two books when I left the house. In addition to the Haunted Heartland I also grabbed The Grasshopper Trap by Patrick F. McManus which is a collection of humorous stories. I thought it might be best to add a comical story or two between the scary ones since there were a few young new Boy Scouts on the campout.

The two stories I read from The Grasshopper Trap were Mean Tents and First Knife. During Mean Tents we followed a history of tents used by McManus during his camping activities, including a tent he and a childhood friend made from old gunny sacks. The Boy Scouts got a good laugh from that one. They also chuckled through the story about his First Knife that he received from his parents on his eighth birthday.

The first story from the Haunted Heartland was The Phantom Miner, a story about a terrible mining accident that happened on the Minnesota Iron Range, and how one of the victim’s ghost stopped the mine from reopening. The second story was Windego Of The North, a tale of a mythical humanoid creature occasionally seen in northern Minnesota. A sighting of the Windego foretold of a death that was soon to follow.

The Boy Scouts enjoyed the stories but I think I should have only read two, or maybe three at the most. The boys were getting a little antsy by the end of the last story.

Seven years ago I posted an article to this blog referring to campfire stories as “television of the mind”. Saturday night’s story time once again proved my theory. Even teenagers enjoy hearing a good tale told by fire light.
http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=43

Both books referred to in this article can be found on Amazon or maybe even at your local book store. Check them out. Your Scouts will enjoy them.

Birch Lake State Forest 2013I walked into my house shortly after nine o’clock tonight and I smelled it almost immediately. Smoke! No, it was not the house on fire or anything like that. It was me. More specifically, my clothes. You see, I stopped by the Birch Lake State Forest campground tonight to visit the nine Boy Scouts of Troop 68 who were camping this weekend. And as is so common when standing around a campfire, the smoke seemed to follow me no matter where I stood around the ring.

When the Scouts left for the campground last night (Friday) the weather was wonderful. The sun was shining. It was just cool enough to wear a jacket or not, depending on how warm blooded you were. It was going to be a cool but clear night, great for camping.

But this afternoon (Saturday) a low front moved into the area and the rain began. I kept thinking about the Scouts as I sat in my warm, dry living room at home. Four of the nine Scouts had just joined the troop. This was their first Scout overnight weekend camping experience. I wondered if they had brought raingear. Were they having a good time or were they miserable and wanting to go home?

I was invited to my parents for supper. It was still raining slightly when I left their home, but instead of turning to the left I turned to the right and headed out of town to Birch Lake State Forest to pay the Scout troop a quick visit. The park was less than ten miles from town. It was raining lightly when I arrived at their campsite. Only four of the nine Scouts were there to greet me. The other five had gone fishing. I soon discovered that all the boys were having a good time, even though they were damp. I did not hear any of them say a word about going home.

As darkness fell the Scouts wanted me to tell a story, but not a scary one. We decided on a story with suspense, not too scary, since there were first time campers among us. The story chosen was the Purple Gorilla. Yes, it was a long story that took place out in the middle of nowhere, during a terrible thunderstorm, that brought the main character of our story to a lonely old rundown looking farm place with no cell phone coverage. The new Scouts were listening to every word. Even the Boy Scouts who heard the story last spring paid attention to hear how I changed up the story a bit. This was the first time that cell phone became a major prop in the story.

After the story, and the end of the rain, we left the shelter of the tarp we were sitting under, and stood around the campfire. As the fire died and the coals glowed bright, it was time for me to teach the boys a couple campfire songs. The first was a song I learned as a Boy Scout at summer camp in the mid 1970′s, “The Hole in the Ground Song”. The second song I learned at Many Point Scout Camp in the 1980′s, “Vista!” Both are “repeat after me” type songs that get faster as the song goes on. I think the boys had fun signing them. I know my voice was just about shot when I was done. It was time for me to go home.

Sunday morning, after breakfast and one last time fishing, the Scouts will came back to town and end their camping trip. I have a feeling they all will be counting this trip as one for the good memories mental scrapbook. I was only there for two hours and I can tell you I added it to mine.

campfire45Here is a story for your next troop campfire. I do not know who wrote it, or even remember where I picked it up, but it is a good story. Iy is a story about a promise made by two Eagle Scouts who were best friends and even worked at summer camp together. There is even a bit of a ghost story involved. How far would you go to keep your promises?

“Tom and Paul were best friends. They went to the same schools, right from kindergarten. They were best friends right from the beginning. Tom was a little bigger, not afraid of anything. Paul was smart, inquisitive, and ready to try whatever Tom came up with.

Their families got used to seeing them together, more like brothers than friends. They were Cub Scouts in the same Den, and they both got their Arrow of Light at the same ceremony and crossed over into Boy Scouts together. They joined Troop 17, it met at the Methodist Church and had a reputation as a Troop that did a lot of camping.

They were active Scouts, picked up rank, went on almost all the camp outs. Tom was a Patrol Leader when he made Star, and Senior Patrol Leader as a Life Scout. Paul was Quartermaster the same year, 1965.

They weren’t just Scouts, of course. They had school and girlfriends, family, part time jobs. Tom worked summers on his grandfather’s farm. Paul lifeguarded at the community pool. The summer they graduated from high school, class of 1966, they both decided to work at Scout Camp. Tom got assigned to the Camp Quartermaster, drove the camp truck and worked maintenance jobs. Paul had his Red Cross certifications, and he worked at the waterfront.

They had a great summer, and promised each other they would come back the following year. Well, more than promised, really. They swore an oath, on their honor, that they would come back to camp together, that nothing, not girlfriends or jobs or anything, would prevent them from coming back to camp.

Promises like that are hard to keep.

Paul went to college in the fall, he had decided to study engineering, and joined Navy ROTC. It would help pay for school, and in those years, it meant he had a sure deferment from the draft.

Tom got drafted. He went to Army basic training and shipped out to Vietnam. He wrote letters home, even sent a couple to Paul. He had been there eight months, and his unit had seen a lot of action, when he sent on a patrol as part of a larger operation. His platoon got ambushed. The after action reports pretty much told the tale, they got hit hard, and in the effort to set up a defense and bring in the wounded, Tom had gone out under fire three times. On the way back that last time he was shot and fatally wounded.

There was a military funeral, and a small collection of ribbons, including a Silver Star. Paul spoke at the funeral, and told everyone of the promise they had made and how now it could not be kept, of their adventures, and the trouble they got into now and then, and what it was like to have a friend like Tom.

Paul graduated from college in 1970. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, and selected for flight school.

He wanted to be a fighter pilot, just like everyone who goes to flight school, and he came close, but didn’t make the cut. He was assigned to A-6 Intruders, and excelled at that. He qualified for carriers, joined up with a Squadron and went to war. The Vietnam War was in it’s final years, but there was still a lot of air support missions being flown, and his carrier was off the coast of Vietnam most of his first year at sea.

He was on a close air support mission, trying to protect South Vietnamese troops and their American advisors when his plane was hit. He came up off the target, but before he regained control, his plane crashed into the jungle. The plane burned, he and his copilot were never recovered.

Now that’s just a sad story from the past, I suppose, two good men, two Eagle Scouts, both lost in the Vietnam War, but there’s some more to this story. Because they had made a promise, an oath, on their honor, to spend at least one more summer at this camp, and they didn’t give themselves an out just because they died.

The first I heard of it was in the 80′s, an 8 year old Cub Scout on a family overnight got lost on the trail out to the Wilderness area. All the Scout troops in camp and the local Sheriff’s department had started a search. A Scoutmaster found him walking out of the woods up on the hill by the horse barns. The kid said 2 adults in Scout uniforms had walked him up there, only when they asked him to describe what they looked like, he described the old green uniforms that were used in the 60s.

The next time was a Scout on wilderness survival overnight on the ridge. He had built his shelter and was bedded down when he saw 2 Scouts walking along together. Same description, young adults in old time uniforms. They looked over at him, but didn’t stop, just continued their hike out on the ridge trail. He was pretty spooked by it, being alone overnight and trying to tell his Scoutmaster the next morning. That time the word got around and it turned out some of the Staff at camp said that they had seen them too.

Now, I never saw them, but the camp ranger says he did, winter before last, right after that big snow in February. He had walked into camp late in the day, going to the dining hall and the bath house to check the pipes. He said they were in front of him on the main trail, in those same uniforms, walking along like it was a summer day. He was bundled up against the cold, crunching through the snow, and started to speed up to catch them. He said he wasn’t thinking about it too clearly, just wanted to know who the heck was in camp when they weren’t supposed to be.

He stopped when they turned around. Because when he saw their faces, well, the camp ranger used to be a Boy Scout, too. A Boy Scout in Troop 17, and when he made First Class in 1965, his Senior Patrol Leader was named Tom and his Quartermaster was named Paul. He still had Troop pictures, but he wouldn’t have forgotten what they looked liked, especially in their summer uniforms. He said they smiled, and Tom waved, and then they turned and hiked down the trail toward the waterfront like they were on patrol.

The night the ranger told me this, he didn’t expect me to believe any of it, and I don’t expect you to believe me, either. But he stood there for a few minutes as dusk gathered, and when he looked down, there weren’t any tracks in the snow. He looked back and his footprints were right there in the snow, but only his, and none on the trail in front of him.

He told me he believed that they had kept their oath. That they were here in camp, and that they were content, that they had come back to the camp they had loved.

So when you’re out on the trail in the evening tonight, or on an overnight somewhere remote in the Wilderness, remember those two Scouts and their promise, and how maybe, just maybe, they managed to keep it after all.

Good Night, Scouts.”

cmpfr3How about a short story for your next troop outing? – - -

A Grandmother, a Boy Scout, a Teacher, and the smartest man in the world were on a plane. After a while, it became known that plane was failing and was about to crash. There were only three parachutes, and four passengers. Being the smartest man in the world, he took a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

The teacher, also being smart, thought to herself, ‘Teachers are needed in the world to teach their knowledge to others.’ So with that, she took a parachute and jumped out the plane.

The Grandmother, being very wise, said to the boy scout, “I am old. I have lived my life. You are still a young boy. Go, take the last parachute.” But the Boy scout said, “No, it’s okay. There are two parachutes left. The smartest man in the world took my backpack.”

Two new boys joined us for their first Boy Scout camping trip at Camp Watchamagumee over the weekend of May 6-8, 2011. They had a great time on the outing but we did have an interesting and unexpected experience Friday night.

The four boys attending the outing had joined us at the adult’s campsite to sit around the campfire. Eymard, my assistant scoutmaster, had made popcorn. One of the boys had brought marshmallows. The boys wanted me to tell them a story but I kept changing the subject, pushing it off a little longer, letting it get good and dark.

Suddenly, we heard distant barking. I thought it was the dogs of a nearby home but the barking was coming from the wrong direction. When it turned to howling we realized it was coyotes, a pack of them from the sound of it. The mood around the campfire changed instantly. I could the younger boys become a bit anxious so we discussed the nature of coyotes and that those animals usually avoided human contact. They really did not need to be worried.

I waited several minutes before I began the story of the Purple Gorilla. The story begins with a salesman traveling on night through a terrible thunderstorm and finally ends up spending the night at a farmhouse far away from any cities. During the story, the salesman must go through ten doors to find a suspense filled discovery. I was having fun building up the scenario but I was also keeping an eye on the new boys. As I described the opening of the third door we all heard movement in the woods near the boy’s campsite. It sounded like something large.

Interest in the story evaporated as everyone’s thoughts turned to the coyotes we had heard earlier. The young boys were very nervous. I was a little nervous also, I have to admit. All four boys huddled close to me as we grabbed our flashlights and walked to their campsite to discover what had caused the noise. We walked around the site, shining our flashlights in all directions, but seeing nothing. The younger boys wanted me to check out the inside of their tent to be sure nothing had crawled into it. We found nothing in the tent or around the campsite. We heard nothing more. I told the boys it was probably a deer that was passing nearby.

The boys were relieved that we did not find anything, but decided that it was time to go to turn in for the night. The new boys asked me to stay near their tent as they prepared to go to bed. Then I checked on the other boys and walked back to my own campsite.

The story of the Purple Gorilla was all but forgotten. I will have to finish the story at a future outing. As I distinguished the fire I thought that it was a good thing I had not told the story of the Wolfen. If I had, the two new boys probably would not have gone back to their tents.

(By the way, the picture shown was not from this outing but from a weekend in the 1980′s. I do not remember what story they were listening to when I took the picture.)

100 Days Of Scouting: Day 96.

Scoutmaster Steve and Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, have put together a special Christmas show for your enjoyment. The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 sing Jingle Bells and Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer. Stories include the Christmas Scout, the legend of Santa Claus Camp, and Matthew’s Christmas story.

Steve and Buttons wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. They also thank you for being a fan and listening to the podcast.

Send us your emails. You can contact Buttons at buttonst68@yahoo.com. You may contact Scoutmaster Steve at stevejb68@yahoo.com. Please rate the show and/or leave a comment at the iTunes store.

You can also follow the hosts on Twitter at twitter.com/stevejb68 or twitter.com/buttonst68 .

Download the episode by clicking HERE.
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Show notes:
The Christmas Scout – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=204
The Legend of Santa Claus Camp – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=201
Troop 68 Boy Scout sings Christmas Songs – http://www.ptcmedia.net/podpress_trac/web/2478/0/Christmas_Scouts.m4v

Boots Hanson was the first caretaker of Many Point Scout Camp. In fact, he and the other council leaders created a new style summer camp in which Boy Scouts would camp together with members of their own troop. His hard work and great love of the outdoors and Scouting brought this new idea to reality. According to the Many Point Alumni website (http://mpalumni.nsbsa.org/lanternslight/SU1991.pdf):

As the Chief Ranger, Boots came to have a unique and uncommon understanding of the function and purpose of a Scout Camp. This he fathomed better than most and even better than many Professional Scouters. He recognized that the purpose of a Scout Camp was much more than badges and awards, swim meets and canoe trips, campfires and ceremonies. He understood, in his quiet way, that the primary purpose of a Boy Scout Camp was to offer the troop and its leaders an experience in the daily chores, cares and joys of shared Troop Community living which would prepare them for an even richer Scouting experience in the Troop Room back home. From this Scouts would glean the skills and values needed for contributing citizens as adults. Every nail pounded, every campsite cleared, every trail and road built was done with this in mind.
Every week at Many Point Scout Camp, during the opening campfire, the camp director tells the story of Boots Hanson and the meaning of the red lantern, an icon at camp. In this 2007 video Kevin, the director of the Buckskin Camp, tells the story to the new campers in the dining hall. (It was raining that evening.)




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Check out other great Scouting podcasts at PTC Media, including The Leader’s Campfire and Around The Scouting Campfire.