Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Scoutcraft skills key to camporee success

The weekend of March 31 to April 2, Troop 50 Scouts and leaders joined five other Saugahatchee District troops at Chewacla State Park for the district's annual Frank Horky Spring Camporee.

As in year’s past, the spring camporee events are centered around the experiences of Scouting’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell, during the Siege of Mafeking during the Second Boer War. Baden-Powell, a British colonel, was charged with defending the South African town during the 217 days the siege extended from 1899 to 1900. Because of the shortage of manpower in the town, boys below the official fighting age volunteered to support the troops, carry messages and help in the hospital. This freed up men for military duties, and kept the boys occupied.

The Mafeking Cadet Corps are sometimes considered as forerunners of the modern Scouting movement, which Baden-Powell founded in England in 1907 before it migrated to the United States in 1910. They were given khaki uniforms and a wide-brimmed hat, and the townspeople often commented on their smartness. Returning home from the war in 1903, Baden-Powell found that he had become a national hero. He also found that the small handbook he had written for soldiers, Aids to Scouting, was being used by boys throughout England to learn observation, woodcraft and outdoor skills.

Camporee events mimicked many of the observation, navigation, outdoor survival skills Baden-Powell imparted to his soldiers and cadets, and to those who benefited from his Aids to Scouting handbook. In line with the Siege of the Mafeking experience, and to heighten the level of complexity, events began in the darkness of Friday night at 9 p.m. and concluded at 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Twelve different patrols from six troops competed in 13 different camporee competitions. Those that Troop 50 patrols placed in included:
  • Overall: 3rd place, Leadership Corps
  • Electric Fence: work as a team to move the entire group over an electrified fence — 2nd place, Leadership Corps
  • Enemy Spies: maneuver around the searchlight beams of an enemy camp  — 2nd place, Armored Armadillos Patrol
  • Man Down!: provide first aid and transport a member of your patrol wounded by enemy sniper fire — 1st place, Leadership Corps; 2nd place, Patriots Patrol
  • Map Sketch: recall from memory and sketch out the elements of an enemy encampment — 3rd place, Armored Armadillos Patrol
  • Navigators' Nightmare: using your compass, follow the course provided — 1st place, Armored Armadillos Patrol; 2nd place: Patriots Patrol
  • Observation Post: recall from memory a collection of items viewed for only 90 seconds — 3rd place, Armored Armadillos Patrol
  • River Crossing: estimate the width of a river crossing without conventional measuring instruments — 3rd place, Leadership Corps
  • Signal for Help: send and receive a message by Morse code — 3rd place, Leadership Corps
  • Starlight, Star Bright: without using a compass, find a given direction — 1st place (tie), Leadership Corps
  • Tower of Power: build a tripod to test your speed and strength — 2nd place, Leadership Corps

The troop readies to hit the trails in search of litter.

Between a late night of competitions and an afternoon of
mountain biking, Scouts like Trey were tuckered out!
After sleeping in a little later on Saturday morning and preparing breakfast, the troop participated in a camporee-wide service project benefiting Chewacla State Park. Each troop was assigned a portion of the park's walking trails and popular gathering areas to pick up litter. Scouts then returned to the campsite to prepare lunch before participating in one of several afternoon activities. Scouts divided themselves between field sports, geocaching (led by Scoutmaster Andrew Baird), hiking, and mountain biking (led by Assistant Scoutmaster Clyde Wikle).

Saturday evening's camporee-wide campfire provided
opportunities for fellowship, entertainment and
awards presentations.
After resting some, Scouts then went about preparing dinner before Saturday evening's camporee-wide campfire and awards ceremony. The troop's two patrols, as well as the Leadership Corps, performed skits for the troops in attendance.

Scouts awoke Sunday morning to prepare breakfast, attend the closing flag ceremony and participate in a camporee-wide devotional service led by the troop's chartered organization representative, Michael Tullier.

At the Patrol Leaders Council meeting on Monday, the troop's youth leadership praised the camporee competitions and the patrols' performance, as well as the variety of Saturday afternoon activities; the Saturday campfire featuring performances by other troops; the leadership provided by the troop's patrol leaders; the food prepared by the patrols; campout setup on Friday and take down on Sunday; and campsite noise levels. The PLC noted that a central location for event schedules and other event information would help reduce questions and keep Scouts informed throughout the event.

For more photos from the spring camporee, visit the troop's online photo album.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Melkerson honored as troop's 12th Eagle Scout

On April 2, Troop 50 bestowed the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank during a ceremony honoring new Eagle Scout Ian Melkerson. The ceremony occurred at Auburn's First Presbyterian Church, where the troop meets weekly. Troop Committee Chair Rob Stanford served as the master of ceremonies.

The troop's current senior patrol leader, Josh, called the court of honor to order with a presentation of the colors that included Troop 50 Scouts Nicky and Trey. Tyler, an Eagle Scout from Troop 29, offered an opening prayer. Next, as Ian lit red, white and blue candles, Mr. Stanford and Nicky read a narrative outlining the relevance of the Scout Law in our daily lives.

Scoutmaster Andrew Baird then invited Eagle Scouts in attendance to join Ian in front of the audience for the Eagle Scout charge. The nine Eagle Scouts, including Mr. Baird, represented Ian's friends, fellow Scouts and Scouting leaders — and spanned five decades from the 1970s through 2010s. 

Eagle Scouts representing five decades stand with Ian for the Eagle Scout charge.

Ian's mother, Nancy, pins the Eagle
Scout medal on his uniform.
Ian's parents — John and Nancy — then presented him with the Eagle Scout insignia, which included his Eagle Scout medal, rank patch and neckerchief slide. He in return awarded his parents with Eagle Scout mother and father pins. After Ian's parents were seated, Michael Tullier, the troop's charter organization representative, joined Mr. Stanford to present to Ian membership in the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA), which the troop provides to each of its new Eagle Scouts.

As the ceremony neared its conclusion, Ian expressed his appreciation to everyone who attend, as well as those who mentored him throughout his Scouting participation. He paid special tribute to two individuals who contributed greatly to the success of his Eagle Scout project: his Eagle Scout coach, Rob Stanford; and Rebecca Bresler, the Jule Collins Smith Museum's former K-12 education curator with whom he worked to complete his project to benefit the museum.

Ian joined the Boy Scouts in 2011 as a member of Troop 29, where he served the troop as its webmaster. In 2016, he became a member of Troop 50, and since then has served the majority of that time as an instructor. Through his Scouting participation, he earned 42 merit badges; accrued 49 nights of camping; was elected as a member of the Order of the Arrow, the national Boy Scout honor society; and completed National Youth Leadership Training, a six-day course equipping Scouts with leadership skills and experience applicable to both Scouting and personal situations.

Ian's completed wheeled paper sorter for the museum's
K-12 educational outreach programs
For his Eagle Scout leadership service project, Ian designed and constructed for the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University a wheeled paper sorter to store and sort the large-format papers and cutting boards used by the museum’s K-12 educational staff. His project accrued 150 volunteer hours from planning to completion, including the 60 hours he spent personally planning, leading and supervising the various stages of the project.

Ian with his parents following his
Eagle Scout Board of Review.
After completing the Eagle Scout rank requirements, which included planning and executing his service project, Ian appeared before the Saugahatchee District’s Eagle Scout Board on December 20, 2016. In addition to being the district's last Eagle Scout of 2016, he is among the four Troop 50 Scouts to earn his Eagle in 2016, and the 13 Scouts to earn the Eagle Scout rank since the troop’s founding in 2012. He is among the 55,186 Boy Scouts nationally who comprise the 2016 class of Eagle Scouts.

Ian is the son of John and Nancy Melkerson of Auburn. He will graduate from Everest Academy this June. Currently, he plans to attend the University of West Alabama, where he intends to begin studies toward a technological-focused degree discipline on a Trustee Scholarship for academics and leadership.

For more photos from Ian's Eagle Scout Court of Honor, visit the troop's online photo album.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Partners in service

On Saturday, March 25, Troop 50 Scouts, leaders and family members joined with its chartering organization, the Rotary Club of Auburn, as part of the Rotary Club's annual workday at Auburn's Hickory Dickory Park. Each year, Auburn Rotarians converge on the part as part of its "March Mulch Madness" to refresh the mulch beds that pad the park's various play areas and to put into practice Rotary International's motto of "service above self." The 11 Troop 50 volunteers were part of a group of 45 total volunteers that also included Rotarians and their family members.

Tyson (with the shovel) and
Rusty (maneuvering the wheelbarrow)
Normally, the Auburn Rotary Club budgets four hours to complete the mulching of the play areas and the spraying of wooden surfaces to eliminate mildew. However, thanks to the unusually large group of volunteers, the work was completed in half the time. The troop accumulated more than 20 service hours through the contributions of its volunteers. For some Scouts, those service hours will go toward requirements to earn their next rank or to complete a variety of merit badges.

For more photos from the Rotary Club service day, visit the troop's online photo album.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Scout is helpful

On Saturday, Feb. 25, Troop 50 Scouts, leaders and parents joined with others throughout the Saugahatchee District to participate in the annual Scouting for Food drive benefiting the Food Bank of East Alabama. This year's drive represents the fourth year that the troop has provided the Food Bank with on-site support during the Scouting for Food effort.

(Left to right) Joe, Trey, Michael and Boone help repackage
bulk food donations into smaller boxes for distribution to Food Bank
member agencies that in turn redistribute food to the less fortunate.
While Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops went door to door throughout the county collecting food left on doorsteps and by mailboxes, Troop 50 staffed the Food Bank and readied to receive, unload and sort the thousands of pounds of food expected Saturday morning. As Scouts waited for those deliveries, they assisted Food Bank staff with repackaging the bulk food shipments it received into smaller boxes that would be picked up by the organizations that distribute food on behalf of the Food Bank to the less fortunate.

The Food Bank is a centralized warehouse that stores and distributes donated and purchased perishable and nonperishable food items. It distributes food to low-income people through member agencies, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs that serve the ill, needy and infants.The Food Bank works to reduce food waste, feed hungry people and raise public awareness of issues related to food and hunger.

Jacob helps receive and sort some of the donations
collected and delivered by the district's other packs and troops
As packs and troops began arriving with the food donations they collected, Troop 50 mobilized teams to unload the donated food, weigh it as part of the Food Bank's receiving process, then sort it into various categories that make storage and distribution by Food Bank volunteers and staff easier. By the conclusion of the Scouting for Food drive, the Food Bank had received 5,045 pounds of donated food.

For more photos from the troop's time at the Food Bank, visit our online photo gallery.