Recognition & Thanks

At the end of the archery competition the other day we were given a certificate for taking part. We didn’t win, but the Scouts got some recognition for being there, having a go and trying their best.

There was only one certificate and I’ll end up keeping it and putting it away in the archives. So before I did that, I scanned it and printed out copies for the Scouts who took part. So as well as the photos I took, they have something to say they were there.

I think that it’s right to give the Scouts something for taking part as they weren’t doing it for a badge, but for fun. It’s a sign of thanks for having a go.

It’s all part of ‘being friendly and considerate’. I always thank the Leaders for coming and helping at whichever meeting I’m at, be it Beavers, Cubs or Scouts. It’s the same with the kids. If they turn up, I recognise that fact. I think it has a bit more  sway with the Beavers and Cubs as they don’t see me as often as the Scouts, but I thank them all. I make special thanks of the kids who turn up to things I know they don’t want to come to. It makes them realise that they’re not being taken for granted.

So thank you all!


Throughout the majority of my working life so far, whether it was at Asda or within the school where I now work, I have been involved in training. I’ve had to train people how to use checkouts, meat slicing machines, ovens, computers and the list goes on. And of course, I’ve been trained before I could train others. I’ve always enjoyed doing training as I’m learning something new. In fact, sometimes when there’s a timetable involved it gets more interesting. When Asda had to bring in the new Wal-Mart computer systems, I and some colleagues were trained in the systems over a two week period away from the store. When we came back to the store we had around three weeks to train all the staff, which I think was around 300 people. It was hard work, both the training we attended and the training we trained out, but it was fun and we did it successfully!

So with that background, why did I avoid doing my Scout Leader’s training for so long?

Well for one thing I think it was the way the training programme used to be. You would start at the beginning and work your way through right to the end. So the first thing you did, irrespective of whether you had walked in ‘off the street’ or been in Scouting for donkey’s years, was to be told about Scouting and its history and structure etc. I always remember that my Dad had to do the camping part of the training to get his Wood Badge, despite the fact that he’d been a Scout and run many successful camps in the past. So not wanting to be ‘bothered’ doing loads of training on things I ‘knew’, I avoided it. Quite how I kept my Warrant, I’ll never know.

Anyway, the Scout Association changed the training programme a couple of years ago to a modular one. This meant that provided you could prove that you’d done the work or got experience in that area, then you didn’t have to do the module’s training.

So after a bit of a kick up my backside from the District Chairman, I started to get myself sorted, attended a training surgery, got the majority signed off and booked myself onto the Group Scout Leader’s weekend training course. I did my ‘homework’ after the course and got signed off and was presented with my Wood Badge. I have to say I was most pleased once I got it!

So now I have to do at least 5 hours of Scout related training a year as part of my warrant review. Not a problem now!

Doing training whether it be first aid or how to do abseiling for example, is good for the Leader as it keeps them fresh and gives new ideas for their programmes and keeps the kids in their charge safe and sound.

So now I’m looking at doing an NVQ in IT to help my career and I’ve already done my Group Scout Leader’s course and my First Aider’s course this year, so I wonder what is next?

Summer’s Here!?!?

Today we took the Scouts the the District’s Archery Competition and it’s been a gloriously sunny day. This is the kind of weather we needed about two months ago!

Anyway the Scouts had a good go, but didn’t win. They gave their best shots (pardon the pun) and enjoyed themselves.

The thing is, when they go to school on Monday and they all talk to their friends and start talking of their weekends, their friends will say that they’ve been watching TV and playing on their PlayStations, where as the Scouts can say they were doing archery. Now that’s something that can’t be said every day!

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Me enjoying the sun!

The 1908 Scout

As we were doing some knots and lashings last night for the younger Scouts, it made me think what would one of our original Scouts from 1908 made of us and Porthill today?

He would probably recognise a lot of the area still as a fair proportion of the houses still around were built in his time. The Church was there already, so were the larger houses on Porthill Bank and the terrace houses near the Church.

However, what he would have known as fields a bit further away, are now covered in houses. The roads he knew would be full of cars, both parked and moving and there would be no more horses or trams. People's dress would confuse him as every man doesn't wear a hat and the women would be wearing trousers. He would have left school at 12 and would now be working. The Titanic had yet to be built, let alone sink and his future was not too secure as the Great War was only 6 years away.

When he saw the current Scouts he would notice that they wouldn't be wearing hats, had no Scout Staff, they wore shirts and long trousers! Of course the biggest change would be that there were girls in the Troop!

He would recognise the fact that the Scouts are still in patrols with animal names, we break and salute our flag at the beginning of every meeting and we still do knots and lashings and go camping. He might not recognise what the Street Sports badge is about, but he'd still recognise what a lot of the badges and awards are for.

I think he'd also be pleasantly surprised to find out that the Troop he helped start 100 years ago was still going strong and was now a Group with Beavers and Cubs and is very proud of its past.

Different Hats

It's interesting how much of a day can be taken up by my role as a Scout Leader / Group Scout Leader (this isn't a negative rant by the way!).

This morning was part one of the District's archery competition. This was where each of the Troops was allotted 3/4 of an hour to practice their shooting. Not a bad thing as some of the Scouts, not just ours, had never shot a bow and arrow before. One of our Scouts, when he stepped out of the car, announced that he was going to be useless at it. Half an hour later, he was hitting the target every time. Mission accomplished. I don't think they'll win next week, but they will put up a respectable performance.

Once we were finished it was time for a quick chat with some of the District people and then home for lunch. Then it was time to type up the Scout's programme for the rest of the year, type up and sort out a few other bits and pieces, type up minutes and agendas and start to organise everything for the next executive committee meeting.

Before the archery, I'd popped round to see our Vicar to get him to sign a couple of Adult Application forms for some new Leaders. He was out doing a service at another Church, so I left them with Mrs. Vicar so I could pick them up later. However, my Mum saw him later in the day, so I got them from her (after helping my Dad to put a door back on it's hinges). Then it was off to the Appointments Secretary to hand in the forms.

Phew, all Scout related things finished for the day!

I do wonder sometimes what I'd do with all my spare time if it wasn't for my Scout 'jobs', probably things around the house :-(, but they wouldn't be as much fun!

I’m Glad I’m a Scout Leader…

As you tend to be able to cope with the unexpected. For example –

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I’d run an option group for the kids at work on photography (bearing in mind I’m not a teacher). So I said I’d have a think about it and let the assistant head know. We were just back from the holidays and my colleague is off work after an operation, so I’m covering 2 jobs on 2 sites 6 miles apart.

However, the assistant head asked me again on Monday and asked in a way that implied that it was really needed that I do this session. So I said yes and then thought what to do.First thing I did was to look up the criteria for the Scout’s photographers badge! That gave me the ideas and I was sorted.

Today when it came to running the session, I didn’t get all the kids I was expecting and got one I wasn’t. Quick rethink to adjust for the new student who has slightly greater learning difficulties than I planned for and we were away. This particular student hadn’t initially wanted to do anything and was found hiding under a table. However, once we got going she had a great time and took some lovely photos.

So a quick bit of rethinking and the session was saved. You have to be able to think on your feet as a Leader, so this was a good opportunity to do so.

End result, happy students with nice photos, happy assistant head and relived Nick at job well done!

The Scoutmaster Minute Podcast

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a very pleasant and enjoyable two or more hours chatting to Jerry of the Scoutmaster Minute. Jerry had wanted to have a chat for his podcast to get a different angle on Scouting. So as we’d been ‘chatting’ by email for some time, he asked me!

We were only able to talk for this amount of time as we both had access to Skype. If it weren’t for Skype, the conversation we had would not have been possible around 5 years ago without one of us racking up a huge international phone bill!

It was kind of odd initially talking to someone from so far away (about 4780 miles as the crow flies), who I’ve never met, about things we share in common. After not very long, we were chatting away as if we’d known each other for years.

We actually only recorded about an hours worth for the show itself and there is more to come at a future date. Having listened back to the show, it’s quite an odd experience listening to myself, especially as I don’t sound like what I think I sound like! I can also hear my North Staffordshire accent quite clearly as well. I did have to be a little careful not to slip into using local slang as I didn’t want to confuse anyone.

So thanks again to Jerry for having me on his show and I really admire his dedication as he got up at 6.00 am to talk to me, while I was having a leisurely afternoon!

Go here or here to listen to the show.

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Now all I’ve got to do is find a convenient time to have a chat to Commissioner Cleary! We got close yesterday……..

Rice Crispy Cakes

As a Group Scout Leader, I get to wear lots of hats. I’m in charge of all the Leaders in the Group (I’m their line manager don’t y’know!), I’m responsible for safety in the Group, I have to go to meetings to represent the Group and if something goes wrong, I’m the first port of call!

However, I do get to do the fun stuff with all the sections as well. So last night I was at Beavers and Cubs as their Leaders had gone away for the weekend. Cubs was fun, with a serious side as they were completing their faith badge. The main activity in Beavers last night, apart from investing two new members, was making rice crispy cakes! This is something I haven’t done since I was a kid myself but it was great fun – and very nice to eat afterwards! This was a nice, easy and fun activity for the Beavers to do and at least one of the Leaders (can’t speak for the others!) enjoyed eating his afterwards!

11th September

A day of mixed emotions for me.

I remember what I was doing in 2001. I was on holiday from work for two weeks, messing round at home and I remember at around lunch time hearing on the radio that something was going on in New York and that there had been an accident where an aircraft had crashed into a building. As time went on, I put the TV on and remember seeing the second crash. This was no longer an accident. There were reports of other aircraft flying into the Pentagon and crashing. Then the towers fell down – this was very very serious. I kept watching the TV to see what was going on and it was very clear many people had been killed. Not a good day (bit of understatement).

Fast forward to 2004. It’s a Saturday and Carol and I got married! The funny thing is, I don’t remember as much about that day, even though it was a much happier and personal occasion to me. I think it’s because there was so much going on and we were the centre of attention (well Carol was, as the bride always is!). A great day (bit of understatement)!

People said to us that we shouldn’t get married or won’t it be odd getting married on that day, but we said that it’s a day the same as any other. Just one that an appalling event happened on. You could say the same about many dates – 4th August (WW1 started), 26th December (Indian Ocean Tsunami), 8th December (John Lennon killed) or 20th April (Adolf Hitler born).

We actually went to New York on our honeymoon and saw parts of the WTC at USS Intrepid and even a bit of one of the aircraft – very eerie.


So as I remember with sadness those innocent people in America who died in the attacks, I also celebrate with joy our 4th wedding anniversary.


Bit of a Dilemma

Over the summer three of our Scouts left us to join Explorers as they are now 14. At the same time, we've got six new Scouts joining us from the Cub pack. This means we have had to create a new patrol and three new patrol leaders.

And there lies the problem. We are a young Troop, the oldest members are about 12 and the majority are 10. Some of the Scouts who we have considered for Patrol Leader were those who caused us some problems with their behaviour earlier in the year.

So after a lot of thought, we decided to make some of the 'challenging' Scouts patrol leaders, but on a trial basis. They have until mid November to prove themselves and they are under no illusions that if they prat about, they will lose their position.

I do believe that if they put their minds to it they will all succeed. In fact, one of them decided that there was a specific game he wanted to play last week, so we agreed and he arranged it and told everyone the rules. It went well!

So I'm feeling cautiously optimistic that with the extra responsibility will come a bit of sense and a bit better behaviour and manners.

We’re Still Here and Not Been Sucked Into a Black Hole!

The Large Hadron Collider has been started up this morning and we’re all still in one piece! However, they don’t start smashing the particles into each other until next month so we will have to wait and see.

Community & Green Fair

About a month ago I was sent an email by our DC telling me about a Community & Green Fair that was to be held at our local high school, which incidentally was my old school. We were asked to do a stall to promote Scouting.

The DC sent the email to the other two Groups in the immediate area and the Local Explorer Group, so we organised a stall and arranged to man it.

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We got there yesterday, set up and then waited for the crowds – which didn’t come! We got the feeling it wasn’t well publicised and the fact that it was throwing down with rain didn’t exactly help!

There were some great displays of belly dancing and a group doing Chinese Dragon dancing which helped to pass the time!

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However, despite the fact we didn’t see many people, there were kids from the school there and we had a chat with them and drummed up some interest. We also spoke to the school’s new Head and some of the teachers and got some good contacts there.

So although we didn’t recruit hundreds of kids for all three Groups and Explorers, if we encouraged at least one young person to join, then we succeeded. It’s on again today, although I’m not going, so it will be interesting to see how it goes on.

Scouting & Politics

After my post below about the Scout Association going to the party conferences to raise awareness about young people’s issues with our politicians, comes this interesting post from Clarke on his Scoutmaster blog.

Although he quotes the BSA’s rules, it applies to any Scout no matter what country.