Messages 8/24/2020

Hi, scouts and parents of Troop 271,

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready to start returning to (something similar to) normal. Let’s talk Scouting!

We will have an all-troop planning meeting this Thursday, August 27 at 7:00 pm at Manhattan Park. All scouts and at least one parent per family should attend. We will discuss the following:

  • Changes this year due to COVID-19 (yeah, we’re not completely back to normal). This will include holding meetings outdoors as long as possible — so bring any creative ideas for outdoor locations you may have.
  • Outing plans for fall/early winter. Since the world is still in flux, it seems unwise to try to plan much past December. We also want to gauge the troop’s comfort level with overnight camping and shared cooking/meals. We will do our best to be creative and flexible and try to find options that fit with everyone’s comfort levels.

So bring your calendars, your camp chairs, and your Covid waivers (if you haven’t already filled them out). And as always, bring your best ideas for fun things to do this year!

See you Thursday,

Mrs Carlson

PS — The Committee will meet at 6:30 to discuss troop finances. (If you don’t know if you’re on the committee, you’re not on the committee. But all parents and adults are always welcome to attend committee meetings, so if you’re interested please feel free to join us!)

Questions, comments, and snide remarks may be directed to LaVonne Carlson,, 616.634.7322.

Messages 01/10/2020

The holidays are over, and you know what that means — it’s time to start thinking about SUMMER CAMP!!

But first, a few important announcements.

Mark your calendars now for an all parent meeting on January 31 at 7:00 at Mayflower (during the regular meeting time). We have a number of new families to initiate welcome into the troop, and it’s a good time for us more seasoned folks to reconnect and catch up on troop business. Please make sure at least one parent from each family is there.

We have had a request for some IHN help from a different church on January 26 at 8:00 am. East Congregational Church has found themselves shorthanded for their next rotation, and have asked if we can pitch in. Since this is outside our usual service scope, please email John Mish ( if you are willing to help out with this.

If you are a merit badge counselor for ANY merit badge, please come to the catch-up night on January 23. The idea is to get as many counselors as possible into one place at one time, so boys can show up and finish up those last outstanding requirements. We’ll also make sure there are people to help the younger boys with their advancement requirements.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Muskegon State Park outing on January 17-19. If there is snow, we’ll do winter sports. If not, we’ll find lots of other fun stuff to do! If you’re new to scouting and feeling a bit intimidated by the thought of camping in January — don’t be. Feel free to ask questions, and we’ll make sure you have the gear you need to stay warm. Please email Colleen Cleves at* if your son (and/or you) wants to attend. (You don’t have to stay for the whole weekend; come for as much time as you can.)

*Note that this is a new email address for Colleen. Don’t just grab the address that’s stored in your email!

And now, all about SUMMER CAMP:

If you’re a new family and your son hasn’t gone to summer camp before, I can’t stress strongly enough how important camp is as part of the scouting experience. When we ask kids what their favorite part of scouting is, summer camp is the most frequent answer. It’s a chance to play hard, work hard, earn a TON of merit badges (it’s a huge leg up on the Eagle process), learn a lot, and bond with fellow troop members. I highly encourage you to prioritize scout camp among your summer plans. (We will also need a few parents to attend for some or all of the week.)

Location: Gerber Scout Reservation, about an hour north of here — check out this video for an idea of what it’s like.

Dates: July 19-25

Cost: $330 total*
$180 due February 20
$150 due March 26

* The second sibling in a family gets a $25 discount. If cost is an issue, please let me know. The troop has resources to help you out. We never want cost to be a barrier to scouting experiences.

(tl;dr summary of upcoming events)

January 17-19: Camping at Muskegon State Park. RSVP to Colleen Cleves ( NOTE THAT THIS IS A NEW EMAIL ADDRESS.

January 23: Merit Badge and Advancement catch-up day. Please plan to attend the meeting if you are a merit badge counselor (for any badge).

January 26: IHN at East Congregational Church. RSVP to John Mish (

January 31: All Parent Meeting during the regular troop meeting. Please make sure at least one parent from every family attends.

February 20: Summer Camp down payment of $180 due.

March 26: Summer Camp final payment of $150 due.

Messages 4/13/2019


Much as I would love to send out a nice, short email… we’ve just got too much going on to make that possible. So grab a cup of coffee and your calendar, and make notes of all the following.

There will be no Troop meeting this Thursday, April 18, due to Maundy/Holy Thursday services.


  • April 16: This Tuesday at 7:00, come join the Cubs of Pack 3301 as they hike in Manhattan Park. Share some Boy Scout awesomeness and recruit a few new kids to our Troop!
  • April 26-27: Camp Rota Kiwan and Aviation Merit Badge at the Kalamazoo Airzoo. Costs $28/scout and $15/adult chaperone. Bring a lunch for Saturday or extra money to buy junk food at the museum. Click here for more info.
  • May 17-19: Mark your calendars and sign up now for the Sleeping Bear Dunes outing. This one is a perennial favorite.
  • June 13-16: Hocking Hills Adventure! The votes are in, and the most popular activity choices are climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, and hiking. Alex O’Brien is double checking all the rules to be sure we are meeting BSA safety requirements. If you and/or your son are going, we will need BSA Health Forms (parts A, B, and C). If we have a health form from summer camp last year, it will cover this trip. If not, make that doctor’s appointment ASAP!
  • September 18ish-22: Mackinac Rendezvous, with a possible extra adventure to the UP. Registration info for this will be coming soon.

Summer Camp

  • The final payment of $180/scout ($155 for the second brother) is due April 25. Pay up before they start charging late fees!
  • There are also several boys who have not turned in their merit badge request forms. Please remind them to do so.

Service Projects

  • May 4: Mulching at Mayflower. Please come help our Chartered Org look beautiful! Bring gloves, rakes, shovels, pitchforks, wheelbarrows, push brooms, and leaf blowers (preferably gas powered or cordless).
  • June 21 & 22: Reed’s Lake Run. This is both a service project and a troop fundraiser. A lot of families already have vacation plans for this weekend, so if you’re not out of town, please prioritize this project!

Airzoo Outing

Thank you to all that responded to my email during Spring Break. I have received confirmation that we are scheduled for the Aviation Merit Badge at the AirZoo on Saturday April 27th. We will be working alongside another Troop. The schedule for the day is listed below. 

If you did not get back to me but you would like to go please let me know. Thaila from the Air Zoo said that we can add as long as we let her know this week. 

I have the following people attending. Please let me know if missed anyone or if you want your name to be added. More details to follow the closer we get. Please let me know if there are any questions.

Scouts (Adults)

Christien (Alan) Fanta
Josh & Aiden Santiago
Drew Keil
Gabe & William Hilary (Wendy)
Corbin DeVilbiss
Christopher O’Brien (Alex)
Jackson Deane
Jay, Colin Carlson (LaVonne)

Have a great night and day.

Colleen Cleves

Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badge Schedule

8:45 – 9:00 Check In
9:00 – 9:30 Pre-Flight Check with Docents
9:30 – 10:45 Classroom Activities – Forces of Flight (Wrong Brother’s Video, Types of Engines, Four Forces of Flight, Controlled Flight)
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 11:30 Classroom Activities – Careers and Certifications
11:30 – 12:00 Classroom Activities – Gliders
12:00 – 5:00 Free to Experience the Air Zoo

Messages 3/10/2019

As we all (should) know, Mayflower is unavailable to us this week due to IHN. Shawn May has kindly offered to open up Seymour Church, at 840 Alger St SE, to us on Thursday. PLC/Greenbar will meet at 6:00, followed by a regular troop meeting at 7:00. See you at Seymour!

The next camping trip will be next weekend, March 15-17, at Three Huts on a Cliff (near Muskegon). This is a great outing for our cold-weather-adverse adults to join us on, as there are indoor sleeping options available. So far, we only have 7 scouts committed—please sign up if you’re planning to come (use the link in your Weekly Newsletter or reply to this email). We’ll be learning and practicing semaphore, enjoying spectacular views, and singing songs around the campfire (or not).

The next service project will be the IHN teardown next Sunday at 8:30am at Mayflower. If you aren’t camping, you should be serving!

The next Court of Honor is March 21. Mark your calendars and get ready to eat fabulous desserts and celebrate all that our boys have accomplished since the fall.

Summer Camp merit badge registration forms will be coming home this week. Please help your son/s choose wisely (but make sure they some fun, too). If it’s your son’s first time at Gerber, please talk to one of the adult leaders for information about Eagle Quest and other merit badge issues to consider.

Adventure planning continues to progress. Keep your eyes open soon for a signup sheet for various activities, so we can begin to narrow our options.

XC Ski Day Details

Hi All,

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to go cross-country skiing tomorrow! 38 degrees will feel positively balmy, and hopefully there won’t be much rain.

Here are the details:

We will meet at the ski lodge at 9:00 am. You can rent skis there (if needed: cost is $5/hr for youth and $8/hr for adults). If you decide at the last minute that you want to come, please text me so we know to wait for you. (616-634-7322)

We will ski for a couple of hours and then gather at the group camp site sometime between 11:00-12:00. We’ll eat something warm and yummy, drink hot cocoa, go over a few of the Winter Sports merit badge requirements, and possibly rescue someone from the woods as part of the E-Prep merit badge.

After that, we’ll look at the time and weather and decide if we want to go snowshoeing, build snow caves, drink more cocoa, or just head home.

Please bring money as needed for rentals, and don’t forget to dress in lots of layers. Remember to wear your wool socks!! (And it wouldn’t hurt to bring an extra pair in case the first pair gets wet.) It looks like most of the people who are coming are bringing a parent, but if anyone needs a ride, please call me at 616.634.7322.

You can find directions to Pigeon Creek Park here, and there is a map of the Park attached. If you’re not planning to stay with your son, please also bring a permission slip.

Messages 1/25/2019


I hope you all enjoyed your holiday with no emails from me. To make up for it, this one will be long—but as always, the more you read, the more you know.

The February outing date has been changed to February 1-3. Since we weren’t able to use our Pigeon Creek reservation in January, we have moved that outing’s activities to February (and had to take the dates that were available). Please let me know by Monday, January 28, if your son wants to go. We will be cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and possibly even building snow caves!

  • Summer Camp is closer than you think. It may seem hard to believe, but it’s already time to put a deposit down on our spots at Gerber. We generally assume that most boys will come to camp, but please let me know ASAP if your son is not planning to come this year. The dates are July 14-20.
  • Accounting email coming soon. Our treasurer has been hard at work to bring our troop accounting up to date. Keep your eyes open for an email telling you how your scout accounts stand.
  • Next Service Project: Eastown Pancake Breakfast on February 8. You can work from 8-10 or 10-12 (or do all 4 hours if you really want to), and eat pancakes! Please sign up through the Weekly Newsletter so we know how many to expect for each shift.

I also want to say a word of thanks to the people who have stepped up to counsel merit badges over the last couple of months. Chemistry is pretty much done (just make sure your son has finished getting his blue card signed off), Emergency Preparedness is going strong, and we will start Communications next week. Also, if your son is doing Personal Management, check in with him to be sure he’s tracking all the stuff he should be tracking!

Finally, a word about girls and Troop 271:

As we all know by now, the BSA has decided to allow girls to join the newly renamed “Scouts BSA.” The intent behind this was never to create co-ed troops; all boy and girl troops must have separate youth leadership and separate Scoutmasters. However, girl and boy troops are allowed to share some resources, such as meeting space and Troop Committees.

Although the Committee of Troop 271 is generally happy to see girls gaining access to the same awesome Scouting program we all love, we feel that it is currently in our best interest to keep our focus on our boy troop. We feel that trying to charter a second troop out of our Committee would spread our resources too thin to allow us to provide an excellent program to either boys or girls. Therefore, at this time, we have no intention of trying to establish a girl troop at Mayflower.

Please feel free to contact Erik, me, or any committee member if you have any questions about this or anything else Scouting related.


PS—to the person or people who are doing the snow dance: Go You!! Keep up the great work! However, maybe you could petition the weather gods for slightly higher temperatures for next weekend?

Messages 12/02/18

Season’s Greetings!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Christmas caroling today. It was a lot of fun, and the Sisters really seemed to enjoy it.

Here is what you need to know about troop activities for December:


  • December 6: we will hold a brief Court of Honor at the beginning of the meeting. If your son is advancing in rank, please come to celebrate his progress! (no need to bring food this time.) Then, during the regular part of the meeting, we will start working on Chemistry or Emergency Preparedness.
  • December 13: regular meeting, continuing with Chemistry and E Prep. There will be a PLC/Greenbar meeting at 6:00.
  • December 20: Game Night! Bring your favorite board or card game (you know John will have a cribbage set) and come have fun. We may also have a Christmas movie playing, so send your suggestions in if you have a favorite. There will be a Committee meeting at 6:00.
  • We will not meet on December 27 or January 3.

Outing: Chicago City Hike, next Saturday December 8

  • Meet at Mayflower at 6:00 am, take the train from Michigan City to Chicago, “hike” around the city with stops at the Lego Store, the Christkindlemarkt, Navy Pier, and of course, Giordano’s Pizza.
  • Send your kids with $15 for the train, $10 for pizza, and whatever spending money they want to bring (and you want to allow). This is a great time for them to do their Christmas shopping!
  • Return to Grand Rapids around 9:00 pm.
  • Please sign up for this ASAP through your Weekly Newsletter!

Service Project:

  • Christmas Baskets at St Stephen’s
  • Saturday December 22 at 8:45 am
  • Get more details and sign up through your Weekly Newsletter.

Messages 11/2/18


It’s November already (how did that happen?), and we have an exciting month of cooking, camping, and service lined up for the troop. Here’s what’s coming up:

November 3: Max’s final (we hope) Eagle Project workday.
Meet at Whistle Stop Preschool at 2:00pm to do some painting.

November 9-11: Thanksgiving Campout.
WE NEED ADULTS TO HELP COOK TURKEYS FOR THIS! If you’ve never cooked a turkey outdoors before, don’t worry—John Mish is an expert and will give you good supervision. We will also need someone to help keep the boys on track so the turkey and sides are ready at the same time (3:00pm). Let John ( know if you can come at 11:00 or so to help with the food.

We need an accurate count of how many people (scouts and adults) to expect for this outing. Please sign up by Wednesday, November 7, through your Weekly Newsletter, or (if you must) by RSVPing to me. Be sure to note if you plan to camp or only come for the food.

November 8: PLC/Greenbar.
If your son is in leadership, he should arrive at Mayflower at 6:00. Pizza will be served.

November 11: Veteran’s Day Service at St. Stephen’s Church.
Scouts in uniform are welcome to help honor veterans at St. Stephen’s Church during and after the 10:30 Mass. You don’t have to be Catholic to participate!

November 15: Committee Meeting.
All parents are welcome. Committee members should arrive at Mayflower at 6:00.

November 17: Thanksgiving Food Baskets.
We will load food baskets from St. Stephen’s Church into vehicles for distribution to the needy. Time TBD. (They traditionally provide doughnuts for us at this service project, btw.)

Gear alert!! If you haven’t discovered Hiker Direct yet, now is a great time to do so. They sell high quality gear at ridiculous discounts to Boy Scouts. Right now, their Starter Kits are on sale—a great combination of everything your scout will need to get started car camping or backpacking. Check out the flyer, and then go to the Sales Page to get started shopping. (Visit the Order Page to get started setting up your account so you can take advantage of Scout discounts.)

Summer Adventure Plans

Greetings, Troop 271,

Thank you to everyone who came out for the Court of Honor on Thursday and participated in the discussion of what we should do with our summer.

Deciding on camping priorities

To recap: Our Scoutmaster has proposed that, instead of going to Gerber for summer camp as usual this year, we should consider creating our own summer trip. We set aside (for now) all discussion of where we would go and what we would do on our own, and focused more on simply deciding what, if anything, we want to do about summer camp.

Some of the key points that came up in the discussion included:

  • Creating a trip of our own would be an excellent opportunity to try something new and adventurous.
  • Camp Gerber’s programming hasn’t been as good in the last couple of years as it was in the past.
  • We would be able to choose which merit badges to work on, but the whole troop would be working on the same badges during the trip.
  • We would not have Eagle Quest for new scouts; however, older scouts could teach younger scouts most of the Eagle Quest skills.
  • There are other Scout camps in Michigan and throughout the US that we could try.
  • Gerber is dependent on regular campers for revenue; abandoning them this year may make programming even weaker in the future.
  • We would not be able to do OA ordeals on our own.
  • We don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other; we could try to do both.

As discussion progressed, five options for next summer emerged:

  1. Gerber as usual
  2. Choose our own adventure instead of Gerber
  3. Try a different Scout camp or BSA destination instead of Gerber
  4. Do both Gerber AND a weeklong adventure on our own
  5. Do “enhanced outings” (4-5 day trips over long weekends) during the spring and early summer, and go to Gerber in July

The boys’ decision

We put this to a vote among the boys by ranking their top three options, and they voted overwhelmingly in favor of continuing to go to Gerber while also having a new adventure. Their first preference is to do both Gerber and an additional weeklong outing in the early summer; second is to do Gerber and “enhanced outings” in the spring.

Adult response

So, adults, now it’s up to us! I’d love to see us pull off some bigger adventures, but either of these two options will require a lot of extra planning (and probably fundraising) to pull off. And, frankly, it’s going to need some folks who aren’t already on the Committee to step forward and be willing to spearhead the organization (with plenty of Committee support, of course).

Here are some of the tasks I would envision the Adventure Planners doing (this is a sketchy list, to be considered as a starting point):

  • By October 31:
    commit to being an Adventure Planner (we’ll need 2-3).
  • By November 30:
    decide whether to do a weeklong outing or several shorter outings; establish dates; make sure there is enough commitment to participate from both boys and adults to make the trip/s feasible.
  • By December 31:
    work with the boys to decide where we’re going and what we’re doing; create a cost estimate so we can determine what fundraising (if any) will be needed.
  • Starting January 2 (you can have New Year’s Day off):
    plan logistics: reservations for travel and lodging, food options, etc…

Act this month

First things first: please let me know by October 31 (sooner, if possible) if you are willing to be an Adventure Planner. Once we have at least a couple people in place for that, we can move on to the next steps.

On a personal note, I would like to say that I am pretty excited about this. Camping, exploring, trying new things and testing limits a bit is such a huge part of what Scouting is all about. I’m looking forward to what the troop comes up with!

In anticipation,