Group Scout Leader (podcast)

I’ve done another podcast and this time it’s on the role of Group Scout Leader and the GSL’s conference I went on a fortnight ago (see previous post here).

As before, let me know what you think, I do appreciate all feedback.

Gang Show

On Wednesday evening Carol and I went with a group of our Cubs, Scouts and Leaders to see our old District’s Gang Show, Burdi Boys. The slightly odd name comes from the District’s name and the fact that there were only boys in Scouting at that time, hence BURslem DIstrict Boys. They are also celebrating their Golden Jubilee this year!

Two of our Leaders were in the show and one of our old Leaders who is now with another Group. It was also  good to see many old friends from our old District.

The Beavers and Cubs nearly stole the show and considering they are so young they did really well. They were a credit to their Groups.

I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about going as when I went to see their previous show, it wasn’t too good. However, this time it was great & we all had a thoroughly good time – well done to all involved!

One slight downer was the young Scout who fainted during the finale. We hope he was ok, although I am trying find out!


The Scout who fainted is fine, but a lot of the cast and crew are struggling with coughs and colds!

A Podcasting Experiment

I’ve been meaning to have a go at a podcast for a while now and so here it is! After appearing on Jerry’s Scoutmaster Minute show back in September, I thought it would be interesting to try myself.

It’s a lot harder than it seemed, especially as I’m effectively talking to myself. Chatting to Jerry on his show was a whole lot easier!

I’ve talked about my Scouting career so far and a bit about my Group.

Please give me feedback both positive and negative (or ‘areas for improvement’ as it’s called these days) and let me know of any topics you think I should cover. If you think it’s great or sucks, let me know.

Listen to it or download it below.


On Tuesday I had to leave Scouts early as Carol’s Mum is in hospital and Carol had gone to visit her and I had to pick up Carol at the end of visiting time. So instead of my uniform I put on my Group T-shirt, which we wear for camps and when some identity is needed but uniform isn’t necessary, and normal trousers.

But last night I got to thinking, why didn’t I wear my uniform? I’m not embarrassed to wear it, all my friends and most of my work colleagues know what I do in my spare time. Perhaps I subconsciously didn’t want to be bothered with those people who mock and criticise Scouting and a T-shirt is less obvious, as long as you ignore the big badge on the front!

Thinking about it, I must be a bit personally embarrassed for not being me.

I suppose I shouldn’t really give a damn what others think if they are that stupid or narrow minded.

Bit of food for thought really. What does everyone think?


Pound One of the joys of being in a volunteer organisation is that we have to raise our own funds, we don’t just get money thrown at us. Our Group doesn’t own its own buildings so we are not constantly having to raise money to pay for its upkeep. Having your own buildings are both a blessing and a curse as you have the flexibility of having the full use of the building whenever the Group wants, but they are a tremendous financial burden. The same applies to mini buses. We’ve had three at various times in the past and very useful they were too, but we didn’t use them often enough to justify them and we didn’t have a secure place to keep them.

But no matter what you own, you have to have a healthy bank balance to ensure that the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts have all the equipment they need.

This year we’ve been offered the opportunity to do some bag packing at Sainsbury’s the weekend before Christmas. Now personally, I HATE bag packing. This has a lot to do with the 13 years I spent working for Asda and the fact I spent my 30th birthday doing it on my day off! However, putting my personal grumbles aside, we cannot pass up this opportunity to fund raise in this way as I’m guessing that we will be able to make around £1500 or more over the two days! If this guess is correct then we won’t need to do any more fundraising in the coming year unless we come up with idea that’s going to cost a lot!

So that weekend will see me bag packing and hopefully collecting loads of cash for the Group, not my favourite way of spending a weekend, but the outcome will be worthwhile.

112 Year Old Scout!

I’ve just read that Henry Allingham, the oldest man in the UK and Europe and the oldest survivor of the First World War, has been invested as a Scout with the 6th Brighton Group last weekend!


Photo lifted from the SA’s website

He became a Scout 100 years ago but had to leave after 6 weeks as his mother could not afford to buy the uniform! You can read about it here and here.

I hope the Scouts get to talk to this remarkable man who credits his longevity to –

cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women—and a good sense of humour!

He certainly is an asset to his new Group!

Group Scout Leader’s Conference

Yesterday I spent the day in Telford at a Group Scout Leader’s Conference run by Headquarters. It was for all the GSLs from the Counties of the West Midlands region.

First thing they talked about was the FISH philosophy, which was quite interesting and not some horrible HR thing as I thought it might be!

We then split off into workshops which covered various aspects of the GSL’s job and how we can improve our Groups. We also got to meet our Regional Development Team, which was good as I now know they exist and what their role is! The other thing they asked was what could HQ do to improve our lives as GSLs and how could communications be improved!

The thing that disappointed me however, was that there were only around 30 GSLs there and only one other one from my own District. Now although there was one event a couple of weeks ago in our area and there’s another in the new year, the numbers did seem a lot lower than they should have been.

What did impress me was that here were 30 people from 30 Groups from quite varying areas of the country giving up their Sunday and getting together get ideas to improve their Groups, improve the Scouting they offer and make things more enjoyable, interesting and stimulating for the young people in their Groups.

Now compare this to the woman who had a go a Scoutmaster Jerry last week. This type of person is not just confined to the US. Some people are quite happy to complain and disagree with Scouting, but they never seem to want to put anything positive into their communities. So you don’t agree with Scouting’s values and rules? That’s ok, but go and do something worthwhile with a youth club for example!

Anyway, back to the conference, I came away feeling quite positive and realising I have some work to do to ensure that we offer the right programme and that all the correct procedures are in place. My colleague from my District had the same thoughts as well. Now this doesn’t mean that we are operating badly and the section’s programmes are poor, it just means that there is some ‘tweaking’ to be done to ensure we are doing our best.

A day well spent I thought (although Carol was grumbling that I was off for another day away from her!).

Barack Obama was a (Cub) Scout!

I’ve just been on the Scout Association’s web site to look up some information on something I’m doing this weekend and I decided while I was there to look at the news section. In there was this article about Barack Obama being a Scout when he lived in Indonesia. From his age I guess he must have actually been a Cub Scout however.

So I thought the Boy Scouts of America must be making a big thing of this fact. So I went to their web site and found nothing! In fact the last news item they had was from September.

I must admit I found this quite strange. The SA are always very good at positive publicity and are quick to point out ‘famous’ ex Scouts. I also know the BSA are extremely proud to say that of the 12 men to walk on the moon, 11 were Scouts!

So are American Scouts aware that their next Leader was a Cub Scout? Or in fact George W Bush was a Cub Scout as well (I didn’t until a few minutes ago!)?

When Scoutmaster Jerry wrote this on his blog or Scoutmaster Steve started the ‘Buttons for President’ campaign, I wonder if they knew? I also wonder if Mr. Obama can live up to those values? Time will tell.

It Was Going So Well

At our Scout meeting last night, as it was Remembrance Day, we had a theme of Remembrance.

I’d put up the memorial certificates from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for our Scouts who had been killed in wars, we’d had bases where the Scouts tried to do everyday tasks but they were blindfolded or couldn’t use an arm and discussed how people adapt and we tried to play football by the light of a couple of hurricane lamps.

At the end of our meeting, I was to play a recording of the Last Post, read the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, one of the Scouts would then lower the flag and we’d dismiss.

It was all going well and the Scouts were genuinely thoughtful about past wars, current conflicts and how people who return have to adjust their lives after fighting whether due to mental or physical issues.

BUT, when it came to the Last Post, I was to play the recording on my mobile phone, I couldn’t get it to play. Trying to get it to play, I pressed the wrong button and played a silly ring tone Embarrassed.

Well that kind of destroyed them moment. However the Scouts, to their credit, didn’t laugh too much and we finished as planned. I was mortified though! I thought things had been going too well.

The rest of the Leaders said the evening went well except for that little cock up!

The Guns Fell Silent…

90 years ago today at 11.00. The Great War, the War to End All Wars was over. Except it wasn’t. World War 2, the Cold War, Vietnam, The Falklands, The Gulf Wars 1 & 2, Iraq and Afghanistan subsequently happened. The list is much much longer and I’ve picked the most prominent ones from my perspective.

From where I sit now in my warm and safe home, these wars seem to have little impact on me.

BUT, just looking at the Great War, my Great Grandfather, William Wood, was hit by a shell and killed on 28th March 1918, one day before my Grandpa’s 5th birthday. So he never knew his father and his brother was less than one year old when he was killed. My Dad and Uncle never knew their Grandfather and they all missed out on the influence he would have had on them.

W.E.Wood1 [1024x768]

William Wood is on the back row on the left right.

We think this photo was taken while he was training with the Royal Engineers although he was later transferred to, and served with, the Durham Light Infantry.

Then there are the 12 members of my Scout Troop who didn’t survive the First War and the 1 member who didn’t survive the Second War. One of the Troop’s Leaders won the Military Cross for bravery (see the memorial here). What effect would this extremely brave Priest have had on the boys of the Troop? Would the others have played any other part in the life of the Troop? We will never know.

To my knowledge, I only ever met one Great War veteran. Harry Goodwin, lived next door to my Grandparents. My main memory of him was that he was great at gardening and was somewhat deaf. He showed me how to take a cutting form a rose bush and grow a new rose bush from it. The only reason I know he had served in the First World War was that for some reason he was telling me and my Grandma about the severe dysentery he suffered from while he was serving in the trenches. Quite why he decided to share this information with us is now completely beyond me! Still I remember he served.

The main thing is to remember and to hope for peace. Harry Patch, the last British Tommy to have served in the trenches, said when he met Charles Kuentz, a German WW1 soldier, ‘”I was a bit doubtful before meeting a German soldier. Herr Kuentz is a very nice gentleman however. He is all for a united Europe and peace – and so am I”.

Today remember those who were killed in the World Wars and subsequent and current wars. It doesn’t matter whether you approve of those conflicts, if they are historical or current, the people who served in the Forces of the UK or of our Allies and friends gave their lives in the service of their countries.

But as well as remembering those who died, remember those who have been injured and the families of those who did not come home.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Scouts in the 1950’s

Back in May I wrote that I’d been lent some photos of the Group in the 1950’s by the Scout Master of the time, Bob.

I’ve finally got round to scanning the rest and I’ve put them on the Group’s Gallery.

It’s fascinating looking at the pictures as when you look at them you realise that Scouting at its most basic levels hasn’t changed much in over 50 years.

August 1950 1 [1024x768]

Another Three!

We invested another three Scouts last night, with another two due in a couple of weeks time. I know there are another two or three Beavers due to be invested soon as well!

All great for Group numbers! We must be doing something right 😉

The Weather

It’s a very British thing to do to talk about the weather! However, when doing outdoor activities it’s always necessary to know what you are in for. Of course here it’s mainly rain (especially after the awful summer we’ve had!) for which you need to always be prepared. With that thought in mind here is a song by Flanders & Swann which when you have read it will ensure you are ready for the vagaries of the British weather!

January brings the snow
Makes your feet and fingers glow
February’s ice and sleet
Freeze the toes right off your feet
Welcome March with wintry wind
Would thou wer’t not so unkind
April brings the sweet spring showers
On and on for hours and hours
Farmers fear unkindly May
Frost by night and hail by day
June just rains and never stops
Thirty days and spoils the crops
In July the sun is hot
Is it shining? No, it’s not
August cold, and dank, and wet
Brings more rain than any yet
Bleak September’s mist and mud
Is enough to chill the blood
Then October adds a gale
Wind and slush and rain and hail
Dark November brings the fog
Should not do it to a dog
Freezing wet December then:
Bloody January again!
(January brings the snow
Makes your feet and fingers glow).

Michael Flanders


Sorry for the language, but Mr. Flanders does apologise for the ‘Bloody’ on the record!

A New Candidate!

It appears there is a new candidate for the US President. Buttons the Radical Boy Scout is standing as well!


So if you're in the US vote Buttons, you know there's at least one candidate you can trust! 😉

Wonder if he has a cousin in the UK for our next general election?