“Remember, You are Just a Man!”

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There’s this part of the Catholic Mass called the “homily.” It’s like the “sermon” of other denominations, albeit usually a lot shorter. For whatever reason, I tend to 1242681_27218650_roman_statue_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300do my most creative thinking during homilies. That’s probably true of most people. According the Catholic Encyclopedia, the homily, in brief, intends to mix the specific practicum of everyday experience with the generic spiritual/philosophical treatise offered by the Gospel. It’s said to be the oldest form of preaching. These inspirational words must therefore prod one into reflexive thought; hence, my tendency to brew ideas as the priest speaks in the most general of terms.

Today was different. Not only was it Scout Sunday and I was dressed in uniform to accompany a small covey of Boy Scouts as they brought up the gifts, but today the priest didn’t communicate merely in generalities. Today he named specific names. Today, he pointed to me and proclaimed Continue Reading ““Remember, You are Just a Man!””

The Past Signals the Future

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It was like someone hit me in the head with a sledge hammer.

Signaling_Merit_Badge_300We started the three week project during the hectic Christmas season knowing full well the clock was ticking its final seconds. Needless to say, I had my doubts, especially after the first night, a night that almost fell victim to a rush hour snowstorm. Sure, the nine boys gathered at the ready in the basement of the fire hall as the Morse Code specialist fired up his machine. Sure, they each brought their own hand made Morse Code device – some lighted, some using a beeping device.

But none of these young boys had ever heard Morse Code.Continue Reading “The Past Signals the Future”

Is it OK to Wish “Merry Christmas” in Public?

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In a PC mad nation, there was once a rush to purge “Merry Christmas” from the lexicon of polite society, or at least local school districts. For fear of offending 1125011_44284321_Merry_Christmas_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300offensive people (let’s face it, anyone offending by a joyous and peaceful religious sentiment ought to be considered at a minimum intolerant or, in a less PC vein, offensive), “Christmas” vacations became Winter breaks and “Easter” vacations became Spring break. All the while, taking the Lord’s name in vein fell under the embrace of “free speech.”

But that’s for the extremist element we all read about but rarely encounter in real life. What about us common folk who simply wanted to do the right thing? We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but we wanted to still practice our religion.

Well, I think I accidentally stumbled on an answer to the question “Is it OK to wish Continue Reading “Is it OK to Wish “Merry Christmas” in Public?”

The Top 10 Greatest Challenges Facing Today’s Boy Scout Troops

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Minutes from the November Meeting of the Towpath District Boy Scout Roundtable

We assembled at the Krieg Road LDS as usual on the cool evening of Thursday, November 4, 2010. The room filled quickly and after a series of 482033_90209043_mountain_climber_challenge_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300announcements, we divided ourselves into five patrol of 4-5 Scouters. Each patrol selected their names as follows: “Old Goats” (guess their average age); “Patrol #1” (guess their estimated self-worth); “Five Guys” (which, ironically, included four woman and one guy); “Mentally Challenged” (which pretty much tells you how much effort they put into the process); and “Knot” (signifying the contrapositive effort of the previous patrol).

It is duly noted here “Five Guys” took the unsolicited liberty of designing their own patrol logo. For going above and beyond the call of duty, each member of the entire patrol received one extra Roundtable Buck. It is also dutifully reported the whole assembly voted “Old Goats” as the “Best” (or, perhaps, “most appropriate”) Patrol Name and, in recognition of this outstanding feat, each member of that aged patrol found themselves richer by one Roundtable Buck.

For our troop activity, we spent the bulk of the meeting identifying the “Top 10 Greatest Challenges” our units face. After much deliberation, several really bad puns and a diversionary diatribe on the cultural significance of the 1984 cult classic The Adventures Continue Reading “The Top 10 Greatest Challenges Facing Today’s Boy Scout Troops”

Towpath Merit Badge Midway Proposal

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Our council, our district and the units within our district have all done an excellent job promoting and providing camping opportunities for our boys. As we know, scouting_heritage_mb_300the outdoor experience – camping, hiking, etc… – represents a critical path for boys to learn leadership and other skills for life.

But we also know Boy Scouts is more than just camping. Indeed, the capstone of any Boy Scout’s career is the Eagle Scout project – an activity that emphasizes leadership and community service and may or may not include an outdoor element.

BSA offers boys a path of discovery beyond outdoor activities that may influence the direction of one’s Eagle Continue Reading “Towpath Merit Badge Midway Proposal”

Adieu Fort A.P. Hill; Au Revoir Jamboree – Reflections on the Exciting 2010 Boy Scout Centennial Celebration

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Jambo Journal – Day #11, Wednesday, August 4, 2010 The Voyage Home.

Yesterday’s entry: Life Happens When You’re Having Fun

In the journalism biz, of 890532_16433007_Farewell_to_the_Sun_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300which I’ve had an off-again on-again affair with since my salad days, there’s a trade secret regarding writing non-news stories on a tight deadline: write the story before the event actually happens. That way, you can quickly tweak it for facts based on what really happened and still have an excellent piece before the editor demands, “The presses are running now! Give me whatever you got!”

I figured nothing says “tight deadline” than shipping out day, when chaos lords over the earth and misdirection rules the day. In that spirit, I figured I’d use that ol’ trade secret. Here’s what I wrote Tuesday with what I intended to serve as the first paragraph for this entry:

The day begins early after a dewy night. We’ve already positioned our gear in the staging area near Troop 314. Now we just wait for our trucks. The buses will be coming an hour later. There’s a chance the military may require the trucks to wait for the buses. This would prove problematic if true.

Events have overwhelmed my corner-cutting strategy and would soon have me Continue Reading “Adieu Fort A.P. Hill; Au Revoir Jamboree – Reflections on the Exciting 2010 Boy Scout Centennial Celebration”

Life Happens When You’re Having Fun

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Jambo Journal – Day #10, Tuesday, August 3, 2010 The Last Day.

Yesterday’s entry: Smitten Again By a Bug You Don’t Want

Last night at dinner we 1174317_40471385_early_bird_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300reviewed the progress the boys were making towards earning their Jamboree Rocker patches. Imagine the “diversity” requirements colleges have to make sure you don’t just take courses from one academic department. Jamboree officials created the rocker patches for the same reason. They don’t want the boys spending all their time at Merit Badge Midway or just the Activity Centers or just in the water. (I guess they didn’t count on the impact of patch trading, though.) They also want to encourage the boys to travel to every corner of the camp. (Wait, maybe that’s where the patch trading comes in.)

We haven’t prodded the boys on earning their rockers. One of the primary principles of Continue Reading “Life Happens When You’re Having Fun”

Smitten Again By a Bug You Don’t Want

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Jambo Journal – Day #9, Monday, August 2, 2010 A Day of Rest.

Yesterday’s entry: Have Fun: Do Nothing.

I finally did it. I didn’t want to. 1067182_slice_of_pizzaI’ve been there before and I know the consequences. It took a lot of years to go through detox. I have a family now. I don’t want to go there again. But I can’t say no. I am again consumed by this awful temptress.

But, more on that story in a moment. First, I’ll give you the lowdown on the current plan for the new Jamboree site.

I went to The Summit exhibition in the morning. We (my son and another scoutmaster) walked there after waiting a half hour for a bus. It takes a half hour to walk to the National Exhibits area from our camp site. The air was cool and comfortable while we waited, but the sun Continue Reading “Smitten Again By a Bug You Don’t Want”

Have Fun: Do Nothing.

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Jambo Journal – Day #8, Sunday, August 1, 2010 A Day of Rest.

Yesterday’s entry: How to Lose 75,000 Votes in Ninety Seconds.

I thought the last time I’d be 397709_6500_cheese_plate_stock_xchng_royalty_freewearing this particular Jamboree Class A uniform (I have two) was last night. When I realize we have to walk back to the same arena we came from last night to go to the Catholic Mass, I decide God doesn’t care if I smell. He’d understand my desire to keep one clean shirt for the ride home.

Though early in the morning, the shade of the trees cannot hide the growing heat of the day. The undulating trail, with its extended inclines, makes the trek hard work. I realize I made an unfortunate choice to wear an undershirt (I didn’t the night before). When I get to the arena I’m spent. I’m also amazed. There’s about 15,000 people. I wonder how they’re all going to get communion.

Then God shows his grace. As the Mass starts, I notice the backs of the neckerchiefs inContinue Reading “Have Fun: Do Nothing.”

How to Lose 75,000 Votes in Ninety Seconds

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Jambo Journal – Day #7, Saturday, July 31, 2010 Closing Ceremony.

Yesterday’s entry: How to Train a Teenage Boy.

I don’t know if this is true or not, 697306_99080393_beware_of_ice_stock_xchng_royalty_freebut when I was a kid listening to Danny Nevereth in the morning on WKBW radio (1510 on the AM) out of Buffalo, he once told the story of the origin of the name of the band “Three Dog Night.” He said in ancient times – I can’t remember if it was in Alaska or just some lore from an American Indian tribe – on cold nights you slept with a dog to keep you warm. On really cold nights you brought in two canine critters. And on really, really, cold nights, you needed three dogs to keep warm.

In that vein, last night was a three-layer night. My wife questioned my wisdom in bringing an extra set of warm clothes on a campout that would probably include triple-digit heat. Last night made me look like a genius. It very likely got down into the upper 50’s, despite just tipping 90° during the mid-day heat. During the night I slipped on not one, Continue Reading “How to Lose 75,000 Votes in Ninety Seconds”