Original Mountain Marathon

The Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) was founded in 1968 and is recognised as one of the world’s toughest tests of endurance and navigational skills.

Over the years races have taken place in mountainous terrains across the UK and in Norway and Switzerland.

Teams of two from all over the world are graded according to their experience and complete two-day courses of varying difficulty.

Strict rules on safety equipment have to be met before entrants are approved.

Organisers say the ethos of the event, which is always held at the end of October, is to be “totally self-reliant in the wilds.”

Those taking part have to carry all their own equipment, have no outside support and are not allowed any satellite navigation equipment or mobile phones.

All entrants are given a map detailing the route they must cover depending on their experience.

Entrants are told: “Your first source of help is your partner and if you retire you are responsible for getting yourselves back to base.

“In these days of 24/7 contact and total support this is an event to test and indeed help develop teamwork and self-reliance.”

This is from a report on the BBC. See the full report here.

This year’s event hasn’t gone quite to plan as the weather in the Lake District has been awful, with high winds and torrential rain.

However, only 12 of 2500 competitors have required hospital treatment for hypothermia and minor injuries. Although 1700 of the competitors were unaccounted for last night, most have set up their tents or found shelter and just waited for the weather to improve.

Interestingly, although the media are making a great fuss about this, there has been no tragedies or serious problems. The competitors have gone fully prepared for their event and have done the right things by stopping and camping or seeking shelter.

Sounds like the rules for Hillwalking (Terrain 2 Winter) to me. Be Prepared? They were!

Advising About Relationships etc part 2

After the media coverage of the Sexual Health policy, the SA have put together some FAQ’s and a video of a Leader and Explorer being interviewed on the BBC.

It seems that after all the silliness by some parts of the media, this was a well conducted interview and the Leader and Explorer put their points across really well.

Hopefully this will help promote the idea that Scouting isn’t stuck in the past (some sections of the media have very odd views!) and is a relevant movement for the young people of today.

Although I guess that BP would be a little surprised at the tackling of this subject, he would be proud that we are doing our best for our young people.

Completing Training

If you read this or any of the blogs I link to, you’ll see that all these Leaders are committed to and are passionate about training. Without proper training the job of a Leader can’t be done properly. As I’ve said before, I haven’t been the best at completing my training in the past, due to a combination of factors, not least the fact that I was being somewhat lazy. After I got the proverbial kick up the backside from our District Chairman, I got myself sorted and now fully intend to keep up to date.

At the weekend our Assistant Scout Leader went to the District’s training surgery to see what he needed to do. We had a chat after our Scout meeting on Tuesday and he was feeling a bit confused as to why he had to go on a weekend long course sometime in the middle of next year to complete a couple of the modules.

The Scout Association’s current training scheme is a modular one and you only complete the modules relevant to your role, and to quote from the training section on Scoutbase

The scheme recognises prior learning, experience and existing knowledge of adults. It is not necessary for adults to attend training if they can clearly show that they are able to meet module objectives by demonstrating their skills in their Scouting role.

As our ASL had been all through Cubs, Scout, Ventures and had been a Leader in the past, he was left wondering why he had to learn something he already knew! So I gave the training advisor a ring and it seemed a few wires had got crossed! Therefore after our camp next weekend, the ASL and I are going to sit down and dig out the proof of the things he’s done. It’s a good thing I’m a bit compulsive of taking photographs at any event we do! I will also write out a witness statement to say he’s done these things and along with the photos and discussion with the trainer, the modules will be signed off. There will be modules he will have to complete in training sessions, but these are new areas to him.

So our ASL will complete his training much quicker, he’ll get his Wood Badge and the Group has another fully trained Leader which will show dividends in the Scout’s programme.

Job’s a good ‘un as we say!

8 Weeks Gone By Already

It’s hard to believe that we have had eight weeks of Scout meetings since we started back after the summer holidays. In that time, we’ve started the Fitness Challenge badge as a Troop and this will be completed in two weeks. We’ve had a martial arts evening, competed in the District Archery competition and been climbing. The Creative Challenge has also been started and this will take a few weeks for the Scouts to complete.

We’ve now got a week off as it’s half term and many of the Scouts (including me this year) go away, but on the weekend of Halloween, we’re out camping at the same time as the Cubs! This is a good camp as we go with our friends from 99th Berry Hill Cub Pack and as it’s close to Bonfire Night, we always have a firework display on the Saturday night.

Then when we’re back, it’s finish off the Fitness and Creative Challenge badges, have a special commemorative night on Remembrance Day and hopefully get the Fire Service to come in and do the Fire Safety badge and the Police to talk about knives in the community, have a special football match 100 years to the day the Scout Troop played a local team and then it’s the Christmas Party!

Oh, yes I forgot, we also invested five new Scouts last week and three more after our week off.

Where’s the Autumn gone? Only another 9 weeks and it’s Christmas!

Advising About Relationships etc

The Scout Association have launched new guidance to promote good sexual health among young people. Of course this has opened up a whole can of worms and the media are going silly saying we’re all going to be handing out condoms! You can read one of the less sensational stories on the BBC here and the actual article from the Scout Association here.

Now of course, we’re not giving sex education, that is the job of their parents and schools, just advice if asked by our young people. This is mainly going to affect the Explorer Leaders. Sensibly the SA have issued a fact sheet which covers all areas. In a nutshell, we are to point our young people in the direction of the relevant professionals

To be honest, this is a very sensible thing to do. These type of questions are likely to be asked by young people as we are probably seen as more approachable than parents or teachers and we as responsible Leaders need to be able to give accurate and unbiased advice.

I wonder if any parents say anything at Scouts tomorrow night.


That’s the Jamboree on the Internet! This is happening this weekend and I’ll be around on and off all weekend. This is a great place to meet people all over the world. So hello world!

If anyone wants to send me a validation card, just send one to user porthill and I’ll send you one back!

You can see more about it here and here.


Take Care of Your Web Domain

I was having a quick look at the PTC Media forums when I got home form work and noticed that Cubmaster Chris had made a posting saying he’d been putting some of the older Leader’s Campfire shows back on line. So I went and had a quick look to see what was there. For one of the shows was a link to a podcast I’d never heard of before, so I thought I’d take a look. However, the site turned out to be a dubious one selling certain medical ‘products’! I thought I’d made a mistake, so I had another go and it did redirect to the dodgy site. Oops! So I let Cubmaster Chris know and the link has now been removed and site seems to have gone as well.

It made me think of this thread I’d seen on the Escouts site a couple of days ago. The Group had taken its site down and let the registration of the domain lapse. However someone had reregistered the domain, put most of the Group’s pages back up (quite easy if you know where to look), but had changed some of the links to direct people to more dubious sites.

Now neither of these occurrences are the fault of either the Leader’s Campfire or the Scout Group’s people. If anyone is to blame it is the spammers (I could think of slightly less polite ways to describe them), who have taken perfectly legitimate domain names to be used for immoral purposes. In fact the one who used the Scout group’s site is at the very least guilty of copyright theft.

So what can be done? To be honest I don’t know. But if you do buy a domain, especially for your Group, Troop, Pack or whatever try to hang on to it. The one for our Group only costs me around £9 for two years so it doesn’t break my bank!

The thing is that if I let it go and a less scrupulous person got hold of it, the reflection on our Group would be bad. After all, we’ve had a presence on the web for over 9 years now and a lot of different searches point our way.

I always think it’s a shame when someone connected with a Scout Group / Troop etc. spends time, money and effort to create a site and then lets it slip or never updates it. There’s nothing worse that seeing a site with


all over it or that it was last updated sometime in 2003!

So the moral is always keep you domain registered to someone in the Group and if they leave get it transferred to someone else. Also keep your site current and up to date!

Phew, Busy Night!

Tonight we invested 5 new Scouts into the Troop, with another 4 due in a few weeks time. I would venture to suggest that we are nearly full to our capacity! That is a great situation to be in, but it means quite a bit of work!

These were the first Scouts to be invested using our new flag and I hope the are the first of many!

As usual, we invited their parents to come and watch and after the formal bits they had to stand around for a while whilst they all had their photos taken. Mums and Dads were very proud!

After they were invested, I took the opportunity to give out a load of badges that we owed the Scouts. I think every one had at least two! That was a nice way to end the evening really.


Yesterday the Scout Troop’s new flag was finally blessed in Church. I say finally as it was supposed to happen during our family celebration camp back in May, but the suppliers were too slow!

We’d decided to get a new one as the old one is, we think, over 60 years old and is showing it’s age. It sat in the District’s  cupboard for around 20 years before the Troop was restarted in 1983 and it suffered somewhat. It was given to my Grandma who was a wizard with the needle to fix up and over the last 25 years or so, it’s been back to her and my Mum  (who is also great at sewing) for more running repairs. In fact Mum has it again, along with our old Cub flag, to repair it before it’s finally laid up in Church.

We had it blessed rather than dedicated as if a flag is dedicated it cannot be removed from Church without a formal colour party. This, while making the flag very special, can be somewhat inconvenient when trying to move it around!

What was nice was the way the Vicar conducted the blessing. It was as follows –

Almighty God, we give thanks for the last 100 years of Scouting in Porthill: for the foresight of those who set up the Troop, for the dedication of those who have been its Leaders, and the loyalty for those who have been its members.

We give thanks for those who have gone on to serve their families, their communities and their nation, especially those who gave their lives at time of war.

We thank you that the values of loyalty, service and dedication are still held dear, and we pray that our Troop and the whole of the Scouting Movement may go on from strength to strength in the next 100 years. These things we pray in the name of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.


Receive this Colour on behalf of the Troop. Remember that it has been dedicated to the service of God. Let it be respected by you. Let it be a symbol of loyalty to your Troop and to your Movement the world over.


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New Flag    –      Old Flag

I must admit, I prefer the old one partly because of its history and also it looks nicer as it was silk screen printed rather than having the letters sewn on. But as you can see from the patches it needed to be retired! Hope the new one lasts over 60 years!

Planning, Remembering & BP

When we worked out the Scout’s programme for the rest of this year, we noticed that Remembrance Day, 11th November, fell on a Troop meeting night. So we decided that this would be the theme for the evening and then left it at that.

Last night I started to look at some ideas of what to do during the evening. The first thing that came to mind was to print out the certificates of Remembrance for each of our Scouts who have been killed in wars from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s web site to put around the Hall. See the Troop’s Remembrance Site and an example of a certificate.

Then with this year being the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War, I thought I’d see if I could find what BP had to say about it. On the World Organisation of the Scout Movement’s web site, I found this quote that he wrote in 1917 –

The roots of Scouting have grown among young people of all civilised countries and are developing more each day. It might be thought that if in years to come, a considerable proportion of the future citizens of each nation forms part of this brotherhood, they will be joined by a bond of personal friendship and mutual understanding such as has never existed before, which will help to find a solution to terrible international conflicts.

It is apparent that he found the whole idea of the Great War horrific and decided to make Scouting less militaristic and move towards an international outlook and promoting friendship through understanding. This, of course, is still very relevant today.

Then I came across this sound clip of BP talking about the start of Scouting in around 1930 – click here. In it he talks about Scouts being the world wide brotherhood that the movement has now become (perhaps I should substitute family for brotherhood, due the fact girls are now in many Scout organisations across the world). Quite fascinating to hear it all from THE Chief Scout.

So now I have my print outs, a couple of quotes from BP and I can tie the events of over 90 years ago to our Troop to bring home to our present Scouts that wars don’t happen to ‘other people’. I’ve still got a way to go before the night’s programme is complete, but it’s a start.

Has anyone out there in cyberspace, run an evening’s programme on such a theme? I’d be interested to hear what ideas you came up with.


Last night when I popped in to see the Cubs, I made the mistake of mentioning that I was off to Hanley today to get a load of badges. I’m investing five or six (I really ought to know how many I’m doing, shouldn’t I?) Scouts on Tuesday, so needed the relevant badges. I’ve also been trawling through the record cards to pick up if we’ve missed any badges that need to be awarded.

As soon as I mentioned that I was getting badges, both the Beaver Leader and Cub Leader pounced on me as they wanted some as well!

So off I went this morning to the shop which sells badges. Now this isn’t a Scout Shop, but it’s the only place which sells badges locally. it is getting noticeable how they are getting less interested in selling Scout uniforms, badges and the associated paperwork etc. Of the badges I asked for, they did not have any World Scout badges or County badges. When I asked when they would be in, I was told ‘at least 2 – 3 weeks’. Hmm, now I can understand not having the full range of badges and not stocking the more obscure ones, but these are the ones that EVERYONE has.

I have to say that considering I spent £54 and had around £20 worth on order, they didn’t seem too bothered. Not very good really smile_sad

I’ll now have to borrow some badges from the Cubs so I can do the investitures.

All Change Please

As I’ve been blogging more and more, I’ve noticed that the majority of my posts have been Scout related. And as the people who have been good enough to link to me from their blogs are also Scout related, it made me think that the majority of them aren’t all that interested in me waffling on about trains etc (correct me if I’m wrong someone).

So I’ve decided to spin off the non Scouting bits to Nick’s Other Ramblings Blog and keep this on just for Scouts. All the previous content will stay in place here and the other categories will survive as well and I may duplicate some posts on both. But generally non Scouting related stuff will be on number 2.

Lets just hope I can cope with two!


They’re Out To Get Me!!

Tonight we took some of the Scouts up to visit the new indoor climbing wall at Goldenhill’s Scout Hut. They’ve just spent a lot of money restoring their building, making it more secure and they’ve installed a new indoor climbing wall.

We went as our Assistant Scout Leader is working towards his indoor climbing certification and needs to log some hours. We shared the evening with some Scouts from Audley as their Leader was running the climbing.

The Scouts from both Troops had a great time as they each had a go at bouldering, climbing and belaying.

Once the Scouts had all had a go, I was able to have a quick climb. I only had one go, but it was good fun. However, on the way down, the person belaying, let the rope go a bit too quick, so I landed on the mat on my back and was giggling my head off!

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Me lying on the floor!

The rest of the Leaders joked that it wasn’t a mistake, but a deliberate way to get rid of a Group Scout Leader. At least I think they were joking!


Well, That Was Different…

Tonight the Scouts were able to watch a demonstration of Jujitsu and also take part. Some of the Scouts take part in various Martial Arts, but this was the first time for some of them, and they all seemed to enjoy it. We thought it would be an interesting new experience for them – and it was!

Must try that again in the future! Tomorrow night, the indoor climbing wall!