Milt Uglum (front center) dressed in traditional Native-American garb along with the men of the Walker Lions Club.

by Otto Ringle

Robert Baden-Powell was a colonel in the British Army during the Second Boer War in 1899. When he and his troops found themselves surrounded and vastly outnumbered by the Dutch colonist, Baden-Powell enlisted a local cadet corps, consisting of 12- to 15-year-old boys to help. They wore khaki uniforms and wide-brimmed hats, relayed messages and acted as scouts, leaving Baden-Powell’s adult troops free to fight the battle.

In 1908, Baden-Powell published a book, “Scouting for Boys,” which focused on skills of the outdoors, and Boy Scout Troops began popping up across the United Kingdom and the United States. Two years later in 1910 the Boy Scouts of America was formally established.

Eleven years later in 1921, a very busy minister of the Community Church in the little town of Walker was putting together his weekly sermon when he came across these words in Baden-Powell’s book, “On my honor I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country. To obey the scout law. To help other people at all times. To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

That Sunday, Rev. Bill used the words of the Scout Oath as the basis for his weekly Sunday sermon, and his congregation was so impressed that they persuaded their minister and his son, Frank Hammond, to form Walker Troop 40.

As Frank went through his many years of scouting, he sang this song to the tune of “On Wisconsin,” “Trail the Eagle, trail the Eagle, climbing all the time. First a Star and then a Life will on your bosom shine — keep scouting. Blaze the trail and we will follow, hark the Eagle’s call. On fellows, on, on on — till we’re Eagles all!”

Frank Hammond went on to become Walker’s first Eagle Scout. One hundred years have passed since Rev. Bill made that sermon.

“Blaze the trail and we will follow.” As commemoration of 100 years of scouting in Walker and in recognition of the many scoutmasters who followed Rev. Hammond, Friends of Lake May Creek would like to “blaze a trail” along Lake May Creek from Leech Lake to Lake May, and somewhere on the trail construct a Scoutmaster’s Memorial — pending approval of the DNR and the Walker City Council.

To date, Friends of Lake May Creek, have come up with 17 scoutmasters who have led Walker’s Troop 40 throughout the years. The list includes Rev. Bill Hammond, Jake Licke, Vic LaFontaine and Cliff Coombs, Jim Nelson and Gary Trimble, Milt Uglum, Don Hoppe and Tim Richardson, Dr. Hector Brown, Don Matero, Jan Nelson, Dr. Don Pfau, Dave Mueller, Dave Munson, Mark Marion and Bill Kennedy.

We are certain, however, there are more. If anybody knows of other Walker Troop 40 Scoutmasters, not mentioned above, please email ottoringle@gmail.com

When the list of past Walker Scoutmasters was first published in this column, immediately the telephone rang off the hook! Three of Milt Uglum’s past scouts, wanted to be certain their scoutmaster was added, as he was missing from the list!

Milt was one of a kind. He was in everything and extremely active in our little town. In addition to being an ace reporter for The Pilot-Independent, he was a very good Rotarian and enjoyed dressing up as an Ojibwe and introducing himself as such when attending the annual Rotary Good Will meetings in Winnipeg, Canada. That’s him in traditional garb in the center of the front row of the picture.

Milt also made certain the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe was always welcome and taken care of at their weekly drum and dance performances on the Conservation Building front lawn. It is not surprising Milt was a scoutmaster, but what about the others?

What makes a person want to take time away from their job, their family and other interests to become a scoutmaster?

Since Jake and Don were employed with the forestry, it is perhaps understandable they might also be interested in scouting. Vic, Cliff, Jim, Gary and Bill had all been in the service, so perhaps they wanted to teach the boys the discipline, regulation and authority that are all necessary, not only in the service, but for the rest of the boys’ lives.

Jan was Jim’s son, so scouting was in his blood, and Rev. Bill, Doc Pfau and Dave Munson had boys also, so their interest in scouting was perhaps understandable. However, I have no idea why the others and especially the only doctor in northern Cass County would want to take time away from his very busy medical practice to be a scoutmaster, as did Doc Brown.

Nevertheless, “Friends of Lake May Creek” believe the efforts of all these dedicated scoutmasters should be recognized, and if there is anybody who would like to help “blaze the trail,” please let us know.

The views and opinions expressed in the “The old and the new” column belong solely to the author, and not The Pilot-Independent or an organization, committee or individual.

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