Posts Tagged ‘summer camp’

I may not be a scoutmaster anymore, but Boy Scouting is still in my blood. I may not have gone with the troop to summer camp last week, but I could not completely stay away. I took a day off work last Friday spent the day with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 at Many Point Scout Camp.

I arrived at the troop’s campsite during the second merit badge session. (See previous blog post.) When the troop was back together after the third session we had a short time to visit before walking to the Buckskin dining hall for a lunch of hot dogs, beans, and chips. During the meal I caught up on what had been happening during the week, and how the Scouts had been enjoying the program.

The troop had three activities planned for the afternoon. At 1:00, it was time for camp reflection. This is time for each troop to go back to its campsite and discuss how things had gone during the week. The Melrose Scouts seem to have been having a busy but fun week and really did not have any negative comments about the camp program. I found the old scoutmaster in me came out a couple times when I asked a few questions to keep the discussions going a bit longer.

The troop’s 2:00 activity was a round of disc golf on the camp’s nine hole course. As we walked toward the admin building to pick up the golf discs, I could not help but remember that last year we only played three holes because the mosquitoes were so bad they drove us off the course. Thankfully, the bloodsuckers where not very bad this year, but the horseflies did their best to bug us.

One of the Scouts, Alex, was determined to win the disc gold game this year. The boys and I have played a few times over the past twelve months and though we have tied a couple times, Alex had not yet beaten my score. Darren, our new assistant scoutmaster, was our score keeper. After the game was played, and the discs had been returned to the admin building, Darren announced the scores. I had a hunch the Alex may have finally beaten me by one throw but when Darren announced the results he declared… a tie! Alex and I had the same score again. Alex grabbed the score sheet from Darren’s hands and added the numbers himself. Sure enough, we were tied. If only it had not taken him five throws to get the disc into the basket on hole #2.

We went back to camp and the boys changed into their swim suits for the third afternoon activity, snorkeling. Noah, one of the younger Scouts, used the opportunity at the beach to complete his swimmer’s test and thus finish his First Class Rank. My job during this hour was to stand on the dock,  take a few pictures, and throw a clam shell into the water for the Scouts to find. It was a very warm afternoon and the boys enjoyed being in the lake.

The fourth merit badge session was held at 4:00. Only one of the Scouts had a class to attend so the other two boys had some free time to enjoy. Assistant scoutmaster Eymard and the boys sat around the table to enjoy a game of cards. As the supper hour arrived the troop changed into their uniforms and we walked to the camp’s parade ground near the dining hall. Troop 68 was scheduled to retire the colors and lead the camp in grace before supper. I felt a little out of place being one of the few people not wearing a Boy Scout uniform.

All program area were open after supper. I joined a couple of the boys as they went to the outdoor skills area. Alex wanted to show me the project he had been working on during his pioneering class. From there I walked to the ranges to check on Noah who was trying to finish his shooting for the Rifle Merit Badge. A short time later, Daniel arrived to work on his skills at the archery range, until Darren came to tell him the Alex was waiting for him in camp to go to the beach. I checked on Noah again and than went back to the troop’s campsite.

I decided to leave camp as the Boy Scouts were preparing to go to the camp’s closing campfire program which began at 9:30 that evening. I wanted to be home by midnight and had over a two hour drive ahead of me. I was already tired and did not want to stick around for the campfire.

I had a great time during my visit to camp. In one way, it seemed like coming home. I think the Boy Scouts appreciated that I stopped by for the day. It was a great way to spend a day of vacation from work.

Doesn’t it seem like every time you go to summer camp you end up bringing things home with you that were not in your pack when you arrived at camp? The camp trading post can be a dangerous place. Money can quickly disappear from your pockets. Strange items vanish from the shelves and somehow reappear in your tent when it comes time to pack up to return home. It can be very strange.

In my younger days I would usually come home from camp with a new tee shirt or two, or maybe a bolo tie, or a coffee mug, or some other items I just felt I had to have. Many years it was three, four, or five items. These items accumulated after a couple decades. I finally had to find the willpower to stop buying stuff while at camp. Unfortunately, it was sometimes hard to find Will Power.

This year I attended camp for only one day. I only made two quick trips to the trading post. As I walked around the store I heard the souvenirs call out to me… “Pick me!” said the tee shirts. “Buy me”, yelled the tall glass mugs. “Take me home with you”, whispered the colorful magnets. “I will keep you warm on those cool nights”, tempted the sweatshirts and jackets.

I did not leave empty handed. I bought four small items to take home. Two were Order of the Arrow lodge patches to add to my collection. One was the 2012 Many Point Scout Camp patch. (I did attend camp after all, even if it was just for a day.) The fourth item was a small furry raccoon wearing a tee shirt that said “I Love Many Point”. (If it would have been written out.) It was just too cute to pass up. It thought it would look great on the shelf with the other Scouting related critters I have collected over the years.

Did you buy any souvenirs at camp this year? What snuck into your pack for the journey home?

I did not go along with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 when they left for their weeklong stay at Many Point Scout Camp on Sunday, July 8th. The boys and the camp were on my mind all week though. I sort of missed being up there with the troop during their summer camp adventure so on Friday, July 13th, I took a day of vacation from work and spent it at MPSC.

I left home at about 8:00 in the morning. I planned to arrive at camp while the Scouts were at their merit badge sessions. I would join them for lunch and their afternoon activities. I even thought about staying long enough to watch the closing campfire in the evening. I did not plan to stay overnight. I purposely left my sleeping bag and cot at home so I would not be tempted.

I arrived at MPSC shortly after 10:00 am. By 10:30 I walked into the Seton campsite of the Buckskin Camp to find assistant scoutmaster Eymard busy in the screen porch reading a novel he had brought along. I took a few pictures around the campsite and sat down for an update of how the week was going. We were the only two people in camp. It was very peaceful.

I had noticed a new building under construction across the road from our campsite. We got up from our chairs and Eymard lead the way to what would be the new Buckskin Handicrafts Lodge. The shell of the building was complete but it still needed siding, screening, and interior finishing. The new building was somewhat larger than the old building which was located about about four or five hundred yards south of the new site. This new lodge also had a basement which could be used as a storm shelter during inclement weather.

Eymard and I took a short walk to the Buckskin Lodge. I was shocked and surprised to see the two buildings (the lodge and the nearby trading post) had been remodeled into one large building. The lodge interior had been totally redesigned to create a larger meeting room, new staff office, and separate staff kitchen/dining room. I think I stood their for a moment with my mouth open as I walked into the lodge. It was no longer the building I had known for the last 25 years, but I liked the way they had remodeled the area. I had know about the new Handicrafts building, but the lodge was a complete surprise.

One new feature of the Buckskin Lodge caught my attention almost immediately and brought home how our lifestyles have changed over the last decade. The small mail cubicles for each campsite had been replaced by new larger cubicles, each having its own electrical outlet for adult leaders to plug in their cell phone chargers and other electronic devices. I was told this was a suggestion from Granny, the camp’s chief cook, who had seen a lot of devices plugged in at the dining hall over the last few years. She thought there must be a better way, so the staff came up with a great solution.

One of the troop’s Boy Scouts was at the trading post when Eymard and I walked in. Eymard decided to go back to the campsite so Alex said he would take me to the other new addition to Buckskin Camp.

A few years ago Many Point closed the old conservation lodge so it could be used for a new purpose. A yurt was erected in Buckskin to serve as the Nature Center. A new permanent nature lodge is now under construction near the yurt. It looks like this new building will also have a basement that will be able to serve as a storm shelter. The yurt may become a small zoo of local critters found in the area.

These new changes have me already thinking that I will need to pay the troop a visit next year when they attend Many Point Scout Camp. I want to see how everything turns out and what, if any, new programs will be provided.



Leadership is the theme of Around The Scouting Campfire, show #17. Scoutmaster Steve and Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, begin the show by discussing Steve’s list of ten reasons to become a Scout leader. Steve tells us a story about a high school twerp who would become a scoutmaster. The Many Point Scout Camp staff tells us about the legend of Boots Hanson, the original caretaker of the camp. Buttons compares leadership styles to the rides at Disney World. We hear the second of three radio spots produced by the Bot Scouts of America. The show ends with a scoutmaster minute about being brave and a little feedback from our listeners.

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 this 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:
Ten Reasons to be an a Scout Leader –
The Twerp Who Would Become Scoutmaster –
The Legend of Boots Hanson (video) –
Which Ride Are You? –

I was listening to some music at work this afternoon when the Village People’s Y.M.C.A. was played. Suddenly, I was transported back to summer camp several years ago. Troop 68 liked taking songs, changing the words, and making a new campfire song. Y.M.C.A. happened to be one of those songs.

We had attended Many Point Scout Camp for several years and I thought we might be able to change Y.M.C.A. to M.P.S.C.  We worked on the lyrics and it did not take long to come up with a new song and actions to go along with it. When we performed it at the Friday night closing campfire it became a hit. The staff joined us onstage for the refrain and the campers and leaders joined us in the actions. We have performed the song several times since then. If I find a decent video of the troop’s performance I will be sure to get it online. Until then, here are the words to our version of M.P.S.C. –

1)  Young man, When you need to get out,
I said, young man, get away from the crowds.
I said, young man, don’t just sit there and pout.
Get up and camp with the Boy Scouts.

That’s where, you can shoot 22’s.
I said, that’s where, there’s always something to do.
I said, that’s where, you can eats lots of stew,
get belly aches and turn shades of blue.

It’s fun to go to the M.P.S.C.  You’ve got to go to the M.P.S.C.
You can tie a few knots, you can cook your own meal,
You can do whatever you feel.

M.P.S.C.  You’ve got to go to the M.P.S.C.
Young man, young man, don’t just sit on your tail.
Young man, young man, get yourself on the trail.

2)  Voyagers, is the place you should be
if you want to, cook your food as you please.
Then there’s Ten Chiefs, out among all the trees,
with no shower facility.

Buck Skin, is the camp where you call
patrol members, to eat in the dining hall.
Project Cope is, the place where you do it all
even experience free fall.

3)  Young man, the bathrooms are quite unique.
I said, young man, wait till you get a peek.
I said, young man, it’s the place that you seek
When you can’t wait any longer.

Then there’s, the bedroom facilities
Where you can get, a bit caught up on your zz’s
Where the canvas, let’s in all the bugs and fleas
Unless you’ve got mosquito netting.

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.