29th February

Nothing really interesting or insightful to write today, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to write something on the 29th of February!

Won’t be able to do this again until 2012.

Wood Badge

Woo hoo, I’ve finally had my Leader training signed off! It’s been a long time coming, partially my fault and partially external reasons. However, once the paperwork goes through I will be awarded my Wood Badge!

Founders Day

Last Friday, 22/02/08, we celebrated Founders Day by holding a party for our Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and their parents.

Founders Day is where Scouts (Guides celebrate Thinking Day) across the world celebrate the birthday of Baden-Powell. BP would have been 151 this year!

The party was also the first event of the year to celebrate our Group's centenary.

The evening started with the District Commissioner awarding two of the Cubs their  Chief Scout's Silver Awards, the highest award a Cub can get!

Then it was silly games time. These included eating a bar of chocolate with a knife and fork and wrapping people up in loo roll to see who could make the best 'mummy'!

The parents then joined us for the talent show. It started off with the Beavers singing 'Singing in the Rain' campfire style. Then some slightly older 'Beavers' led everyone in a chant. We think they got a bit confused as Paul wore a Guide jumper,  Rachael a Burslem neckerchief and Don a Bradwell neckerchief! One of the Beavers then showed he could out stare the audience!

Five parents were then volunteered to see how many marshmallows they could fit in their mouths and still say "Chubby Bunnies"! Lyndon won by a long stretch!

The Cubs impressed us with some magic, joke telling, rolling displays and cello playing. The Scouts chickened out!

It was then time for a buffet and finally the disco and karaoke!

It was a slightly chaotic, silly, but very enjoyable evening. What more could you want??? Wink

Comfort on Trains

Last week we went down to Paignton in Devon for a couple of days. Travelling down on the train we went via Reading, which is an odd way to go as it’s a greater distance but cheaper! Anyway, to get to Reading we travelled on a CrossCountry Voyager and from Reading on a First Great Western HST.

The difference between the the 6(ish) year old Voyager and the 30(ish) year old HST is amazing. First of all the MK3 coach is a lot quieter as there isn’t a 750hp diesel engine underneath your feet. As there is no engine under the floor there is also no vibration and rattles! There is also more space for the passenger and more seats 8 coaches as opposed to 4! Shame Virgin didn’t think about this when they bought them!

100_2608 (Large) 100_2609 (Large)

The view from the train at Dawlish!

It’s also interesting to note that First Great Western are using the HSTs in a dual role as an express from London to Exeter and then as a local from Exeter to Paignton! Interesting way to do things! Shame they’ve had to start using the ‘Nodding Donkeys’ again!

It was a cold weekend with a bitter wind coming off the sea, but we had fun.

Live Music

I’ve been trying to think of all the bands / artists that I have seen live in concert. Going to Glastonbury in 1999 and 2000 certainly helped! Anyway, here goes and in no particular order –

  • Paul McCartney
  • Pink Floyd
  • U2 (twice)
  • R.E.M. (twice)
  • The Levellers (twice)
  • The Beautiful South (twice)
  • Echobelly
  • Terrorvision
  • Pet Shop Boys
  • David Bowie
  • Manic Street Preachers
  • Chemical Brothers
  • Travis (twice)
  • Eric Clapton (three times)
  • Oasis
  • Lonnie Donnigan
  • Robert Plant
  • Al Green
  • Blondie
  • Carter USM
  • Elastica
  • Jools Holland & his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra
  • Joe Strummer
  • Bonny Raitt
  • Moby

Plus a load more when I can remember!

Happy Birthday BSA

It the Boy Scouts of America’s 98th birthday on Friday 08/02/08. Happy Birthday youngsters!!!!

Steve B. from Melrose Troop 68 in Minnesota is trying to get Scouting on the front page of YouTube, by getting as many people as possible to look at Scouting videos on the day. I will be! What a fantastic idea!!

No Water!

I woke up this morning (no, this is not a Blues song!), to find we had no running water. A water main had burst in the night in Wolstanton. Luckily, we had enough in the kettle for a cuppa and to clean teeth etc.

I’ve written about this before, but it really makes you realise how dependant we are on our taps and what comes out of them. All the local schools were closed today as they had no water either. No water = no drinks, cleaning or lavatories = not good!

We are really lucky that we can just turn on a tap and out the water comes!

Another Scout Bashing Organisation

From today’s Daily Telegraph

Scout’s oath ‘is religious discrimination’

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The Scout Association has been reported to the equality watchdog for allegedly discriminating against atheists by making them swear an oath to God.

Ever since Lord Baden-Powell founded the 100-year-old organisation, the promise by scouts to do their duty to God and the Queen has been as much a part of their movement as jamborees, woggles and the three-fingered salute.


Scouting for Boys author Lord Baden-Powell: “discriminates against atheists”

Now, however, it has become the latest target of secularists when the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

They are furious that the Scout Association is refusing to scrap the pledge required of every new member, which they said was excluding “a growing number of children without belief”.
Members in Britain, where there are nearly half a million scouts, have to promise to “do their best to do their duty to God and to the Queen”, to help other people and to keep Scout law.
To accommodate the movement’s 28 million members around the world, the words can be modified to encompass non-Christian faiths.
The Scout guidelines state: “The phrase ‘to love God’ and ‘duty to God’ implies belief in a supreme being and the acceptance of divine guidance and therefore the word ‘God’ can be replaced by ‘Allah’, ‘my Dharma’ or others as appropriate to suit the faith or religion of the individual concerned.”

But the two secular bodies said in a joint letter to Derek Twine, the chief executive of the Scout Association, that the requirement for members to have a faith should now be made optional.

They said that the Association’s stance was “completely unacceptable” for an organisation “that is so committed to personal development of young people and that claims to foster mutual understanding between different beliefs, which of course should include those of no belief.”

They also criticised it for claiming on its website that it was “inclusive”, and called on it to make ambiguously clear that it was a religious organisation. Scouting leaders said that they had no intention of changing the oath drawn up by Lord Baden-Powell, a “muscular Christian” who believed that faith was an essential element in the development of young people.

Stephen Peck, the Association’s director of programmes and development, said: “It is fundamental to scouting that young people are helped to understand their spirituality. It is in our lifeblood.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which was set up in October and which is headed by Trevor Phillips, said it was committed to a vision of fairness, but it was too early to comment on this case.

Scout Oath (or Promise)

On my honour,
I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
To help other people
And to keep the Scout Law.

I give up Angry

Why is it people are always negative about Scouting? Stuff all the positive thing we do!

I don’t see them having a go at the Guides, Boys Brigade or Girls Brigade. I guess we’re just a big target! So I’ve grumbled to them!

Dear Sirs,
I am rather disappointed to read about your joint attack on The Scout Association and religion.
First of all, let me state my position. I am a Group Scout Leader with a very long established Scout Group (we are 100 this year in fact). We are a Group which is sponsored by a local Church of England Parish. Being sponsored by the Church means that we get the use of the Church’s hall facilities free of charge and occasional financial support for Leader training. In return we help out at the Church’s Summer and Christmas Fairs to help raise money for the Church’s upkeep. We also attend Church services four times a year.
The vicar of the Church will pop in to one of our meetings occasionally to say hello and speak to our young people.
At no point do we ‘force’ religion down our young people’s throats or try to ‘convert them’ to believe in Christianity. Nor do we or can we force our young people to attend services and we will not penalise them for not doing so.
Scouting is open to all young people without prejudice to their faith (or lack of), sexuality or needs. The general idea is to have fun, do new things, to learn new skills whilst doing so and to be well rounded citizens.
If a young person wanted to join us and specifically stated that they were an atheist that would be fine. When explaining the Promise, I would say that Duty to God means their own personal God. If they do not believe in a Supreme Being then I would say that it refers to their personal beliefs and morals. I assume that not believing in God does not preclude the person from having strong moral and ethical beliefs.
I notice that your complaint is just about the Scout Association. Why not the Guides, Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade? As I understand it, the Guides operate a similar position to the Scouts and the Boys and Girls Brigades actually promote Christianity.
Please do not make frivolous complaints about organisations whose primary concerns are the development of young people and those young people enjoying themselves. Your complaint can only detract from this and cost all organisations involved money which would be better spent on young people. 
Bet I get a wishy washy reply.