End of Fall Season 2016

2016-ornamentsGreetings, Stockade and Battalion families!  We’ve had a great season, punctuated with holidays and the typical “busy-ness” of autumn schedules (i.e. back to school, sports events, school and church events, gatherings for Thanksgiving, et.al.).

Still, when we look back, we’ve gotten a good bit accomplished and we’re well primed for the new season that lays ahead of us in 2017:

  • Stockaders built posterboard gliders, we explored the world of cars and trucks as a glider-close-up-2preliminary step towards building shape-n-race derby cars.  Preliminary car plans were drawn up by each boy and we have the wood blocks ready for cutting, sanding and painting in the new year.  At our last meeting, each boy created three craft projects (Christmas ornament, greeting card, snowflakes) and we saw a brief video and enjoyed some snacks, too.
  • Battalion has gone well on alternating Friday evenings and we’ve made progress through our video series titled “Stepping Up: A call to courageous manhood” by Family Life Ministries.  Tonight (12/9/2016) is our final Battalion meeting of the calendar year.

So what does our calendar look like for the new year?

  • gliders-lots-of-themJan 9 – first meeting of the new year.  We’ll revisit our derby car plans, and start working on the basic cuts and fabrication.  Boys will need to take turns and be patient for safety’s sake – – we’ll work in smaller teams that night.  More details to follow.
  • Jan 16 (MLK B-day, will NOT meet)
  • Jan 23
  • Jan 30
  • Feb 6
  • Feb 13
  • Feb 20 (President’s Day, OFF – NO MEETING)
  • Feb 27
  • Mar 6
  • Mar 13
  • Mar 20
  • Mar 27
  • Apr 3
  • Apr 10 (Spring Break for area schools – OFF – NO MEETING)
  • Apr 17 (TAX DAY)
  • Apr 24
  • May 1
  • May 8 (Gal’s Tea – likely to use the lower auditorium and boys be in the white house annex (board game night?))
  • May 15 (Final Club Night Picnic/BBQ in parking lot)

We’re still working on the Battalion schedule…more to come.

Thank you to all the families who’ve participated, we trust your sons have had a good time and are learning and growing through their involvement.



No Meeting Tonight (2.15.2016)

IMGP6935Due to many of the local schools being off for President’s Day, we will not be meeting tonight.

Reflect on the holiday and pray for those in authority over us that they may fulfill God’s purposes and plans.

  • 1 Timothy 2:1-6 – I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.


The Pinnacle of the Program

Many youth programs have awards to recognize either individual or team achievement.  Award programs have many pros and cons that are well beyond the scope of this article – suffice to say, well designed programs help to recognize healthy achievement, personal growth and commitment to big goals.

Within Christian Service Brigade, there is a pinnacle point where a young man has gleaned a lot from participating in the program — both from adult interactions, bible study and enjoying the fun of program activities while leading other boys in the program.

The Herald of Christ Award is the name given to this ultimate step in the program and CSB Ministries recently provided a wealth of detail about the award and how to set about completing it’s requirements….http://csbministries.blogspot.com/2016/01/heralding-christ.html

I encourage you to review their blog posting to learn more about this fantastic program for young men.

Happy 2016, Got Resolutions?

This is the narrator’s script for tonight’s Stockade story circle (devotional). It is a free-lanced program, not taken from the standard ministry curriculum so that we could highlight a specific theme.

Have you heard of people making “New Year’s Resolutions?” What does that mean to you? Resolution is pretty big word that comes from the idea of being firmly resolved or pledged by oath to commit to do something.

Have you heard anyone in your family or among your friends make a resolution at New Years? What sorts of things might a typical New Year’s Resolution include? I’ve heard of people resolving to:

  • Lose weightIMGP6935
  • Exercise more
  • Save money
  • Work harder on personal habits (be nice, argue less, spend less time on face-book, etc.)
  • Pray more, read the bible more, etc.

What typically happens to these resolutions? Do people start the year and do a good job of sticking to their plan? Do they eventually fail to follow through?

Why do you think people fail to follow through on their resolutions? Studies have actually been done on this issue, and from most common to least common the factors include:

  1. Setting Unrealistic or Poorly Defined Goals
  2. Failing to Keep Track of Personal Progress
  3. Simply Forgetting About it (no partner to hold them accountable)

Is setting a goal for the New Year a good idea or a bad idea? Is it just a joke – something to laugh about, or is it something we should consider as a serious commitment for self-improvement?

What does the Bible say about setting resolutions? Quite a lot, actually.

First of all, we don’t need to resolve to save ourselves from sin and damnation. We can’t do it on our own, and God’s already provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him (we sinned – broke His law – but Jesus paid the penalty for us).

I need two volunteer readers:

  • Someone read Ephesians 2:1-10 to the group. Notice how it says in verse five “by grace you have been saved” and in verse eight it says “and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
  • Someone read Titus 3:4-8. Please tell me what you hear in these verses – are there two different messages related to each other? In verses 4 thru 7 we’re told that our salvation is clearly an act of God, but the direction or reminder in verse 8 is to do good works once we have believed and been saved. Why do you think Paul wrote this to Titus in this letter?

So if God has saved us from sin and damnation, what would we have left to do? I’m handing out some verses for volunteers to read. Take a moment and read the verse to yourself. Think about what it is suggesting that you take action to do. What is it that we could resolve ourselves to practice consistently throughout the year and throughout our lives? Now let’s take turns – read your verse and tell the group what you think we are called to do by that verse. (Psalm 119:9-16; Titus 3:1-2; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:10; Micah 6:8; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 John 1:9; Philippians 4:8; Joshua 1:8)

There are many more verses we could study, and that’s why Joshua 1:8 is a great example – a call to dig deeper into the Bible – to learn what it has to say, and to apply the principles and practices it suggests or commands us to do on a daily basis.

IMGP6811New Year’s Resolutions can become pretty silly if we let them, and as a tradition it can become something unhealthy if we spend too much time obsessing over the practice. I think it’s a good reminder that we have commitments that we ought to be reading the Bible, helping other people, and such every day of the year – not just around the start of a new year.

Even more importantly, it’s critical to remember we do these things to show our gratitude for what God has already done for us (not as a way to “earn” salvation), and that it’s a healthy response to what God has done (it’s the next step in our growth as Christians).

If you want to incorporate some of these verses into your daily routine, remember you may have more success if you write down your goal, post it someplace you’ll see it each morning, get someone to help you stay on track, and keep a journal to show your progress, and to help you see that you’re doing well (stay encouraged).

If you’d like to learn more about CSB Ministries or Northern Valley Evangelical Free Church, just click on their names (hyperlinks open in new windows).



Stockade Meeting 10/5/2015

Our second meeting of the new year was a lot of fun.

For games, we tried something new – “blindfolded steal the bacon“.  It was a lot of laughter, shouting and team work which enabled each team to guide their captain to discover the ball (the “bacon”) and then carry it to the finish marker while blindfolded.  While it started slowly, the excitement grew as each boy realized he wanted a turn to be blindfolded and learn to trust his team mates to direct him to the goal.

This evening’s activity time was focused on additional team work challenges.  It’s good to start the year with team building efforts so that boys who are new to the program get to work side by side with others and get to learn each others names, etc.

The first challenge was a water bucket brigade relay race.  The leader in each team had a dixie cup and had to draw water from a five gallon bucket.  In turn each team member had to extend their own cup to receive the drawn water and then pour it into the next boy’s cup.  Ultimately, if there was un-spilt water left at the end of the chain, it was carefully poured into a one liter soda bottle.  The race continued until one of the teams managed to fill their soda bottle.  OF course, if the teams were so sloppy as to run out of water in the five gallon bucket, then neither team would earn any points.

Perhaps it is needless to say, but this event is best done outside!

Upon returning to our activity room, the teams were split for two remaining challenges:  The Art Gallery and Ships in the Fog.

  • The Art Gallery consists of a series of portraits hung on the wall with painter’s tape.  A mix of historical and current people of notoriety as well as some cartoon characters (for fun) were numbered 1 to 30.  The team had to elect a scribe and carefully list all of the names of the people or characters featured.  One team scored 13 correct names and the other team scored 22 correct names.
  • Ships in the Fog uses a set of trolley shuttles (skis built for three people to share and walk in unison), a blindfold on the leader, and the remainder of the team shouting directions and encouragement.  The troop of three boys must learn to walk together, and navigate their ship through the fog (blindfold) and into the harbor (a slalom course through folding chairs and through a pair of chairs representing the harbor entrance).  Of course, this is fun for both the boys on the skis and those trying to direct them from the sidelines.

Although we ran out of time, we had a fourth station ready to go with brain teasers which could be used as a tie breaker competition.  For example:

A mother had decided to make peach jam and thought she remembered the recipe perfectly.  After reducing peaches to a puree, she realized that the directions called for adding a very specific amount of lemon juice – too little or too much would ruin the effort completely.  The directions specified one lemon’s juice for every dozen peaches.  How did she know how many lemons she’d need since she had not kept count of peaches earlier (and now they were a mass of goo)?

So we’ll save those riddles for another night.

Chief Ranger Leslie Lin handed story circle time by going over key facts about the Bible so that stockaders would be more comfortable with some of the basics as we often use the Bible as a resource in our story circle times.

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

[sorry for the delay in posting articles – started a new job and there’s been little time to blog – PHF]

What do you think of when I say “Christmas time”? Do you think of candy canes, gingerbread men, decorated pine trees, houses lit up at night with twinkling lights?  Of all these sorts of images, what excites you the most?  What makes Christmas fun and exciting?

I have to be honest, for me I’ve always been thrilled by beautifully wrapped presents. There’s a lot of excitement associated with receiving a gift – the anticipation of waiting to unwrap it, the wondering about what it may contain and the hope that it will be something that I will treasure or cherish for years to come.

What makes a gift really special to you?  What makes it memorable for years to come?

I think some of the ways that gifts become really special might include:

  • When the giver is someone very important to us
  • When it’s obvious that they went out of their way to get us this gift
  • When the gift shows us that the giver really cares about us
  • When the gift shows that the giver really knows us intimately – they understand what we need and what we value
  • When the gift lifts our spirit – makes us happy and joyful each time we see it because it is of such lasting value that we never tire of having it around

Lastly, a real gift is not given out of a sense of obligation or duty, but as a demonstration of love done willingly and voluntarily.

So at Christmas, what are we really celebrating?  Is it all about Santa and Snowmen or something else?

In Luke Chapter 2, verses 8 thru 11, it tells us why we celebrate at Christmas:

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

The announcement by the angels tells us a lot in very few words – they were telling the shepherds (and us) that God was granting us a free gift.  When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed between people and God – we broke the only rule that God gave us and we gave up a great relationship with God.  Now, God was doing something extraordinary to give us a way to be friends with God again.  He didn’t design a checklist of things we need to do, and He didn’t make more rules for us to follow – instead He gave us a free gift.

Here’s what the Bible has to say about that gift:

  • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
  • James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
  • Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


Christmas is about God giving us a gift, and we celebrate the birth of Jesus since his appearance on earth was the start of the plan to give us a way to be reconciled to God.  We are so joyful over God’s love for us that we share gifts with each other at Christmas time, but these ought to remind us of the most important gift we could ever receive – God wanting us to be at peace with Him forever.

Meeting Recap (11/10/2014)

dipping applesFollowing the opening ceremony, the boys were able to visit the church kitchen where Ranger Rob discussed and demonstrated how to make caramel apples from scratch. While it’s not a particularly difficult process, it is a stove top safety hazard so we talked about both the ingredients and how to handle with appropriate supervision.

The boys took turns dipping their apples with Ranger Rob’s assistance, and all were set aside to cool while we returned to our normal meeting room for activities.

Tonight’s activities focused on ways people communicate with each other and how those communications can become distorted.  We broke into teams of four and set up tables with chairs for each team.  We also assigned a Junior Ranger to each team to help facilitate the activities.

Here is the worksheet that we shared with each Junior Ranger:

communicationCommunication Skills

Game one:  How do we communicate?

  1. Divide into teams and sit at tables.
  2. Everyone gets a piece of paper and a pencil/pen/marker
  3. Silently write down as many ways people communicate with each other as you can
  4. When the leader at your table says so, discuss your responses with each other at the table and count the number of unique ways we communicate
  5. Team with most responses gets 10 points, second best gets 5 points, every other team gets 3 points

Game two: Communicating badly

  1. Look at your table’s list from game #1.
  2. Silently write down when that type of communication would be a poor choice (example = texting while driving a car)
  3. When the leader at your table says so, discuss your responses with each other at the table and count the number of unique ways we communicate
  4. Team with most responses gets 10 points, second best gets 5 points, every other team gets 3 points

Game three: Whisper down the lane

  1. phonegameTake your team and make a line – spread each team member out a bit.
  2. Leader will provide a written message to the first person at the end of the line. He will read it and give the paper back to the leader.
  3. The first person will whisper the message to the second person so that no one else can hear it.
  4. The second person will whisper the message to the third person so that no one else can hear it.
  5. And so on until the last person hears the message and tells it to the leader or writes it down.
  6. Compare the initial message to the final message – did it change? Did it stay the same?  If it changed, why do you think it changed?  If it stayed the same, what helped to keep it clear?
  7. Each team to get this done quietly and calmly gets 10 Points, those who run around or mis-behave get fewer points as determined by their leader.

Game Four: Broken Picture Phone

  1. Teams sit at tables. Every other person gets paper and markers/pencils, etc.
  2. Leader reads a message to the person #1 who then draws a picture to communicate the idea of the message.
  3. Person #2 looks at the drawing and guesses at the meaning
  4. Person #2 writes down their guess of the meaning.
  5. Person #3 looks at Person #2’s drawing and guesses at the meaning, then writes down their guess to share with Person #4 (and so on until it’s back to the leader)
  6. As a group, the leader now reads the first message out loud. Person #1 explains what they drew (and shows the group), then Person #2 explains how they interpreted the picture, etc.
  7. Should be laughter – but not poking fun at any one person.
  8. 10 Points if everyone participates and has fun.

Game Five:  44 ways to use paperclips (100 point bonus to any team that gets 44 or more ways)

Game Six:  Introductions. Each member of group takes a turn to introduce themselves to the rest of the group (name, age, favorite class topic at school, career goal, what I like about CSB group) – 5 Points for each introduction

Junior Rangers helped boys who were struggling with drawings or had a tough time making additional or fresh connections; however, most everyone eagerly participated and did a great job within their teams.


Ranger Ken led the devotional which also tied into the theme of communication.  His devotional is summed up in a related article.

After closing circle, we had the boys retrieve their fresh caramel apples and sent them home.  Another great club night at NVEFC.

dipped apples