Posts Tagged ‘summer camp’

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 (

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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Earlier this year I heard about a new documentary about a Boy Scout troop from Harlem. The film followed four Boy Scouts from Troop 759 as they went to summer camp. The film centers on Keith, the newest Scout as he attends his first long week of camp out in the woods.

I looked forward to seeing this film coming out in theaters, but soon discovered that it was only being shown in special screening around the country. There were rumors that the film would be shown on PBS stations in 2010 so I though I may have to wait until then to see it, or buy the dvd which became available this fall.

I thought is was great that two films about Boy Scouting had been released on dvd this year. The first, Scout Camp: The Movie, had come out on dvd in June. This new film, 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem, came out later this summer. (I guess if you want to include Russell from UP, the new Pixar movie, you could say there were three movies about Scouting released in 2009.)
In September, Cubmaster Chris (of the An Hour A Week and The Leaders Campfire podcasts) and I received an email from our friend Scott at the InsaneScouter website. He wanted to know if we would like to interview one of the directors of 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem, Justin Szlasa, for an episode of The Leaders Campfire. Chris and I had interviewed Garret Batty, the director and writer of Scout Camp: The Movie earlier this summer, and the show had been quite popular. We thought it would be a great idea to interview Mr. Szlasa.
After several weeks of emailing back and forth we were about to set a date to record a show. Mr. Szlasa was a great person to interview. He and his brothers are Eagle Scouts so he knew a lot about the Scouting program. We talked about the special challenges of filming a documentary, the Boy Scouts of Troop 759, and the camp featured in the film. He even had a couple stories to share with us. Chris and I had fun interviewing him, and I think that comes through on the podcast.
The podcast episode ended up being #73 of the Leaders Campfire podcast. It can be found at PTC Media (click here). The podcast can be subscribed through PTC Media or through the iTunes music store (link here). The dvd of 759: Boy Scouts Of Harlem can be ordered through the website at . I suggest you get a copy. It is an enjoyable film.

I recently scanned the pictures I have as a Boy Scout of Melrose Troop 68 in the 1970′s. Then I uploaded them to my Flickr account so that I could make a slideshow to share with you. The pictures are of Scout Sunday in 1975, my photo story for the photography merit badge that I never quite completed, and pictures from summer camp at Parker Scout Reservation in 1976 and 1977. Don’t laugh too hard when you notice the clothing worn back then.

The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 have been performing a little skit/song called Star Trekking since the mid-eighties. (See blog post from August 2, 2006) It has been quite popular with most campfire audiences. In 1990 (wow, eighteen years ago) the troop performed this skit on a local television station station. This video was taped by one of the parents, luckily. Two and a half years ago I placed the video online at YouTube for the world to see. Since then, the video has received over 39,000 views, and averages somewhere around 50-60 views per day.

Well, it seems that several of this year’s Buckskin staff at Many Point Scout Camp has seen the video. Some more then once. One Friday, the last full day of camp, our camp commissioner visited our campsite and asked me if I was the one in the video that was on YouTube. I said I was and gave him a quick explanation how that all came about. He was grinning from ear to ear when he asked me to sign his cap, and then asked me if I would perform the skit with some of the camp’s staff during the Friday night closing campfire program. I agreed, but wondered when we would have time to practice. After all, the staff would be busy all day. He replied that I should meet them at the camp lodge at 9:00 that evening.

The campfire was scheduled to start at 9:30 pm. Not much time to practice.

I was at the lodge at 9:00, which was a one minute walk from our troop’s campsite. Only half of the staff that were to be a part of the skit were there. The rest showed up as they arrived from their program areas. Unfortunately, we did not really have much time to practice. In fact, all we had time to do was to choose who would play what roles, go over each person’s lines once, and practice the refrain. We did not even get to run through the song one time. This could be interesting, I thought to myself as I walked back to my campsite. Luckily, most of the participants had viewed the skit on YouTube and had a good idea how it was done.

I brought my camcorder along to the campfire program and was able to find another staff member to record the skit. When the time came, I left my seat in the audience to join the staff at the side. As we walked out to center stage I could not help but think of the possibility of the train wreck that was about to occur. After all, we really had not practiced together.

I did not have to worry. The staff came through with flying colors. And better yet, the hundreds of Scouts and adult leaders in the audience loved it. The cheering at the end of the skit was overwhelming. We had pulled it off, and pulled it off well.

Once I returned home from summer camp I had a problem with the camcorder. It began eating my tapes. One of the tapes it tried eating was the one that had the footage of Star Trekking. I had promised the staff that I would put this video online for them to see. I needed that footage. I bought a new camcorder, and luckily was able to retrieve the video from the campfire program. In fact, I should be able to get a few podcasts from the footage. Unfortunately, the footage is pretty dark since it was filmed after sunset.

So here is that video of Star Trekking, performed at the Many Point Scout Camp closing campfire program on July 18, 2008. This video is dedicated to the 2008 Buckskin camp staff, and to the camp’s Ranger Scott, who appears in that YouTube video.

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Yes, I was a Boy Scout. For three and one half years I was a member of Troop 68 in Melrose, Minnesota. The troop had about a dozen members or so, divided into two patrols, the Falcons and the Cougars.

I am the oldest of three brothers. My brothers were Cub Scouts. Unfortunately, when I was Cub Scout age there was not an active pack in town. However, I did get to participate in a couple Webelos den activities with my brother Dan. At the time I wished I could be a Scout.

About the time when Dan’s den was ready to graduate into Boy Scouting a troop was formed in town. I joined the troop right away. I started out as the oldest member of the troop at 13 years old. The rest of the troop members were 11 or 12 years old. It did not take long for me to become the senior patrol leader, a position I held for most of the years I was in Scouting.

I have forgotten more about my time as a Scout then I remember. I am sure there are a few things best left unremembered. But there are also a few things I will never forget.

I remember going to summer camp for three years at Parker Scout Reservation. Two of those years were spent at the Bear Skin campsite. We (all the campers) would sing songs before supper in the dining hall. I earned pioneering merit badge although I had a lot of trouble trying to learn how to splice ropes. I saw a skunk and it’s little ones for the first time as it crossed the trail on my way back to the campsite. I remember one afternoon when my fellow troop members and I sat in a tent and discussed things that were important to us at the time, including the existence of God. I remember one patrol event which involved getting the patrol up into a tree as fast as possible. Friday night campfires were great, and my troop even performed a skit at one which involved Dracula, the werewolf, the mummy, and Frankenstein’s monster, but I don’t remember what it was about anymore. In other words, I had fun at summer camp.

One year my scoutmaster wanted everyone to wear his uniform to school for Scout Day. At the time, I was the only student in the high school who was a Boy Scout. I knew I would be the only boy in school wearing that uniform, but I wore it because I was proud to be a Boy Scout.

I prepared myself for the snide comments I expected to receive in school, but they never came. No one made fun of me and my uniform, at least not to my face. In fact, I had people asking me about the patches on my shirt and what they represented.

As the scoutmaster of that same troop today, I do not ask the boys to wear their uniform to school. Society has changed somewhat during the last 30 years. But you know, when you stop and think about it, Scouting is as much fun today as it was back then. Don’t cha think?

Many Point Scout Camp 2003I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of heavy rain falling on the canvas tent. “Boy, it is raining pretty hard,” I thought as I rolled over on my cot and fell back to sleep.

I was with the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 for a week at Many Point Scout Camp. We were staying in the Tyler Campsite in Buckskin Camp. Tyler is located at the north end of the road that runs through Buckskin. It is the campsite that is furthest away from the dining hall and beach. Due to it’s location, it is also the most quiet campsite in Buckskin, which is one of the reasons we like it. The campsite is located on a hillside so it has wooden platforms for the tents.

When we woke up that morning we noticed everything around camp was soaked. A couple of the Scouts complained that they had some wet gear, but nothing too serious. We also noticed that there was water in the deep ditch along the campsite. Due to the sandy soil we had very seldom seen standing water in the ditch. We thought it must have rained a couple of inches during the night.

Little did we realize how wrong we were.

As we walked through Buckskin on our way to the dining hall for breakfast we began to realize how much it had actually rained overnight. The lower-lying campsites had been flooded. Dozens of campers has drenched gear and soaked sleeping bags.

The worst damage had been done to Ten Chiefs Camp, located south of Buckskin. The road through Ten Chiefs crossed streams on each end of the camp. Both of these creeks had overflowed their banks during the night and had washed out the road on both ends of camp. Ten Chiefs had, temporarily, become an island. Food had to be brought to the campers by boat on that day.

The camp had received seven inches of rain during the storm. The water level of the lake had risen two inches.

The Boy Scouts and adults of Troop 68 that were staying in Tyler were very grateful that we had slept on a sandy and hilly campsite that night.

Spending a week at summer camp has been an annual event for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 since 1981. The summer of 2006 was no exception. Seven Scouts and two adult leaders from Troop 68 attended Many Point Scout Camp during the week of July 16-22. Attending camp were Jonah, Zach, Chris, Dakota, Alex, Jeff, and Chris. Steve and Eymard were the adult advisers.

Upon arriving at Many Point on Sunday the Scouts went to work setting up the campsite that would be their home for the next six nights. Then it was off to the beach for swim checks and other parts of the camp for demonstrations. The Many Point Buckskin staff really kicked the week off on a high note with an enthusiastic opening campfire program in the evening.

A typical day of camp was divided into three parts. The mornings were used to work on new skills, earn merit badges and other advancements. Afternoons were used for troop activities. All program areas were opened in the evenings for Scouts to freely roam from one area to another, or they could sit back in camp and relax.

The Scouts from Melrose kept themselves very busy during their stay at camp. On Monday, three boys took part in Project Cope, a team building program. The other Scouts spent the afternoon making and eating an apple cobbler at Scoutcraft, shooting 22 rifles at the range, and playing water polo at the beach.

On Tuesday the boys tried their skill at sailing, worked on a campsite project, and then headed to the beach for the Iron-man triathlon which consisted of canoeing, swimming, and running.

Wednesday afternoon was spent at the beach. The activities started with an hour of rafting and canoeing, following by several DELTA games, and finishing with an hour of free swim.

The troop left camp Thursday afternoon for a field trip to Itasca State Park to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Not only did the Scouts get to do some site seeing and walk across the headwaters of the mighty river, but they also got to meet Smokey the Bear.

Three Scouts from Melrose had an afternoon of wild wet fun when they attended the Huck Finn raft on Friday. The rest of the troop had a blast at the climbing tower and bouldering wall, and the archery range.

This year was the 60th anniversary of the opening of Many Point Scout Camp. In honor of this the Many Point staff held a medallion hunt. Campers were given one clue per day if they participated in a special activity in the evening. The Melrose Scouts set their sights on finding the medallion. They beat the other 200 campers that week by finding the silver lantern on Wednesday night.

The week of fun came to an end Friday night during the evening’s closing campfire program. Almost every troop in camp performed a song or skit. The Melrose Scouts did the “How to spot a Pickpocket” skit to the delight of the other campers and staff. Troop 68 was also recognized for finding the medallion and for earning the Super Troop Award.

The Scouts learned a few new skills while they were at camp. They also had a lot of fun and came home with a lot of great memories. Plans have already been made to attend Many Point Scout Camp Next year.

cwazyrabbita1In the last blog I wrote about Cwazy Rabbit Patrol and how they earned a pizza that was paid for by their scoutmaster. This turned out to be the first of three instances in which the spirit of the Cwazy Wabbit made itself known to the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68.

The troop went to a week long summer camp adventure at Many Point Scout Camp in 2005. Four boys attended along with myself and my assistant scoutmaster. Also attending camp that week was Paul, a friend of mine, with his troop of boys from Minneapolis. Paul has been a Scouting friend of mine for over twenty years.

Paul and I planned a few activities for our troops to do together during the week. One activity was a medallion hunt. Paul brought the coin, gave it to me, and put me in charge of the activity. I hid the coin in a public area of the camp and wrote ten rhyming clues which would be given out and meal times. The first few clues were pretty vague, of course, but then they started getting more helpful.

After they received the ninth clue one of my Scouts was sure he knew were the medallion was hidden. He ran to that place in camp and looked for it but was not having any luck finding it. Then a rabbit caught his eye. As boys will be, he momentarily forgot about the medallion and began following the rabbit. He followed the rabbit until he was behind the trading post. Then the Scout glanced up and noticed the medallion taped to the back of the 2×4 on which hung the trading post sign.

The Cwazy Wabbit seemed to have helped the boys from Troop 68 win their second competition.

In 2006, we attended Many Point Scout Camp for summer camp as it celebrated it’s 60th anniversary. This year, the camp staff had hidden a medallion as a special activity for the anniversary. Three clues would be given to the Scout campers during the week. The troop that found the medallion (actually it was a silver colored lantern) would receive a special prize at the Friday evening closing campfire program.

Wednesday night, after receiving the third clue, the Scouts from Melrose Troop 68 thought they knew the location of the medallion. The rushed off the that area of camp in which they thought it had been hidden. They searched the area. Just as they were about to give up one of the boys found the lantern. When he yelled for the other boys to join him he saw a rabbit hop out from under the nearby building. The spirit of the Cwazy Wabbit had made itself know once again.

Unfortunately for me, the scoutmaster, I had made a deal with the boys that if they found the medallion we would stop on the way home on Saturday for pizza, and that I would pick up the bill. I think the spirit of the Cwazy Wabbit enjoys emptying the wallet of the deal-making scoutmaster.