Top Tips, Blogs & Pod Casts

I was listening to Jerry’s Scoutmaster Minute Pod Cast show 17 on Saturday (where do you get the time Jerry???), and one of the things he and his guest Shawn were talking about was promoting their Packs and Troops. When talking about Pack / Troop etc. web sites, one of the suggestions Shawn had for these sites was to have a calendar. He suggested Google Calendars as a good, free solution. I was aware of Google’s calendars, but had forgotten about them.

A few weeks ago, I totally redesigned our Group’s site (I went from a Joomla based one to a WordPress one) and I found a calendar plug in, but it didn’t work properly! You could see the current month, but not go forward or backwards – most unhelpful! Anyway, after Shawn’s suggestion, I’ve put the Google Calendar into our site (which was easy) and I’m now in the process of populating it. The main thing is that it works ‘out of the box’ and is free. These are both important for organisations where there isn’t a lot of ‘computing knowledge’ (not meant as in insult, just an observation) and they don’t want to be spending oodles of money on non activity and meeting related items. Job done!

I got me thinking of all the computing ‘freebies’ out there that can be used by Scout Leaders to promote their Groups / Troops etc. without spending lots of money on commercial products. So below is a non definitive list of programmes that can be used on your computer to help the promotion and organisation of the Group / Troop etc.

However, a quick thought. There seems to be a considerable number of Scout Leaders (I’m using the all encompassing UK term here) in the US, who take the time and effort to produce web sites, blogs and pod casts with the purpose of passing on their knowledge and experience to others in the movement, especially the BSA (makes sense to talk of what you know!). I enjoy reading these and listening to them all and keep coming across new ones all the time (just listening to An Hour A Week? by Cubmaster Chris for the first time). And while these are interesting and provide good ideas, they all, of course, relate to the BSA, which runs their Scouting slightly differently to the SA. So where are the blogs etc. in the UK? The answer is, I don’t know! My blog has started to become more Scout based in the last year or so, but I still talk about other stuff. But I haven’t found anything similar. Escouts provides forums for Leaders to discuss issues.
In the mean time I’ll still enjoy reading and listening to what my colleagues across the Pond have to say!

So here’s the list of useful, free programmes –

  • Ubuntu Linux – Got a PC and don’t want to have a less than legal version of Windows on it and can’t afford to buy one, then try this. A relatively straightforward operating system, which comes with most things you will need to surf the net and type stuff. Does need a bit of technical know how though.
  • – Want to type letters etc. but can’t afford Office (this isn’t going to be an anti Microsoft rant – see later), try this. It has a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation functions which are all compatible with MS Office.
  • PDFCreator – Make all your documents available to all by being able to create PDF files.
  • Firefox – A great browser which has lots of add on’s available – IE Tab, Morning Coffee and Foxmarks being my favourites.
  • Windows Live Programmes – Windows Live Writer (which I’m using to write this) to publish to blogs, Windows Live Photo Gallery to view and fix your photos and Windows Live Messenger, MSN Messenger as was. There are a few others, but these are the ones I use. See, told you the list wasn’t and MS bash!
  • Paint.NET – A image manipulation programme, which is almost as powerful as Photoshop and around £600 cheaper!
  • WordPress and Blogger – Provide free blogging software and hosting.
  • AVG Free – Popular anti virus software. Something to never be without, especially if you use a PC!
  • Zone Alarm – Popular free firewall software. See above.

There is loads more out there, just check out File Hippo, but that will do for my list! A lot of the above are cross platform, but some are Windows only.


No, I’m not going all Fr. Jack, ARRSE refers to the British ARmy Rumour SErvice.

I received an email last night from a frequent contributor to those message boards saying how he’d stumbled across my Scout Group’s web site, that he was impressed with our Remembrance Web Site and that he’d posted something to that effect. Since then we’ve had loads of hits on the site!

It’s nice that it is appreciated by someone who is not from a Scouting background, but a military one. These are the people who really know what war, fighting and remembering are about.

It also made me realise that these men who were Scouts in our Troop, have not been forgotten and we now know something about them and even what a couple of them looked like thanks to some recently discovered photos. They are no longer just names on a memorial, but they were real people who did the same things that we as Scouts, 60 – 90 years later, still do.

Here’s to their memory.

School’s Out

In the words of Alice Cooper, School's Out for summer! Well, if you can call the awful weather we're having 'summer'!

Only four weeks to go before I'm on holiday Crying. At least it's quiet and I can get my work done!

A Scouter

I hope Gary, the Lone Star Scouter doesn’t mind me lifting this directly from his blog, but I think it’s so true –

If you are paid to do Scouting, you are called a Professional.
If you are not paid to do Scouting, you are called a Volunteer.
If you pay to do Scouting, you are called… … A Scouter.

History of a Group

I was reading this thread on the Escouts site the other day, which was talking about the history of Scout Troops / Groups. The chap who’d started the thread stated –

I know there is a cracking history section at a Group in Staffordshire but I’ve lost the link.

So I replied that I thought it might have been ours and it was! Embarrassed

Reading through the rest of the posts, there are some fascinating histories out there and it’s very important to remember where our Troop / Groups came from. When I started to look into our Group, I didn’t have much info going back before the 1960’s and couldn’t prove when we started. I can now!

It’s quite humbling to think that the info on my Group has inspired someone else to look into theirs. It’s also really interesting researching the history and I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon reading some old District minute books and I’m going to the library tomorrow to look something up in the local newspaper!

A few interesting histories –

1st Brede Scouts

43rd Huddersfield

Troop 68 – The Early Years – A video history of Troop 68, Melrose, Minnesota, USA. Steve B their Scoutmaster, is very good at Scouting videos.

Whitley Beaumont Camp Site – Written by Ewan Scott who posted the original thread.

Anyway, lets remember our past, but always look to the future!


Apparently, I’m supposed to be on strike on Wednesday and Thursday over pay (or lack of pay increase)! Apart from a letter from UNISON’s HQ and one from the local branch, I’ve heard nothing. There has been no mention of it at work!

Having said that, I won’t strike anyway as I don’t think it’s right to strike in a school – it’s not fair to the kids.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens! We’ll see…….

A Scout belongs to the world-wide family of Scouts.

Number 4 in the Scout Law.

It’s a very true statement. I have regular contact with Scout Leaders in the US, I’ve chatted on line with Leaders in New Zealand and in the real world, I’ve camped with Greek and Swedish Scouts. Some of my Scouts will be going to a camp next month where they will be hosting some Norwegian Scouts.

Isn’t it a good idea to belong to an organisation where you have friends all over the world who share the same beliefs?

1st Gilwell Park Scout Group

I was presented with my Wood Badge last night at our AGM, so I’m now officially a member of the largest Scout Group in the world! 1st Gilwell is the Group every Scouter belongs to when they get their Wood Badge.

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Me getting my beads from the District Commissioner

Ralph for President

I was reading this post by Jerry of the on the qualities needed for a US President. He was saying that if the President and politicians followed the (US) Scout Law, then he or she couldn't go too far wrong!

A very good idea I thought, until my mischievous side remembered seeing this –


Ralph Wiggum for President in 2008!

I decided not to post this as a comment on Jerry's blog as it would detract from his sensible comment. So I hope Jerry can forgive me for the slight mickey take!

Bye Bye

Back in 1999, I signed up to to provide my dial up internet connection. Since then I continued to use the email address that was associated with the account as it was easy to remember and was my name. However, the BBC decided to close the service and it was shut down yesterday. 🙁

The thing with this email address was that I never had a single bit of spam through it. Not bad for 9 years use!