Adult Training (podcast)

Podcast number 11. This is the one where I talk a bit about the adult training programme and Woodbadge. See here for the Scout Association’s web site on training.

Burundi Tragedy

I’ve just had a message from my friend in Sweden, Lotta, who read in the Swedish newspapers yesterday of the shooting of some unarmed Scouts. Three were wounded and one later died. Here is what she posted –

Swedish newspapers reported yesterday about a governmental official in the Kayogoro district of Burundu having been arrested for his involvement in the shooting of 3 young boys, one of which later died in hospital, who were at camp, preparing to give their scout oath.
The boys had been forced to lay down on the ground before the police opened fire on them. The police at first claimed that the scouts had opened fire on the police, and that they had shot the boys in self defence. This was later taken back, and five police men have been arrested and admitted having been involved in the incident. One is still in hiding.

BBC seem to mention the incident at but I can’t find any English source of confirmation. Can the international friends of scouting do anything to support the group?

As far as I can tell there is only one story in English on the web and that’s here. Hopefully something else will come out soon.

If anyone does find anything else please let me know.

UPDATE 01/06/09 – No real updates as such, but another site with the story here .

The European Elections

EU_Flag What’s that got to do with the price of kippers??? Er, sorry Scouting?

Now as I’ve often said, party politics and Scouting are a big no no. However engaging our politicians with issues relevant to young people and Scouting is a sensible thing.

With the forthcoming European Elections, the WSOM have issued what they are calling their ‘Purple Manifesto’ to be given to European politicians. The main aims are –

• Empower Volunteers
• Better Social Inclusion of Young People
• Strengthen Global Partnerships for Development
• Remove obstacles to Scouting
• Make employability of young people a priority in European Union (EC)
• Integrate young people in shaping Europe

Good ideas, but I wonder how many candidates and then MEPs will actually read it? To be honest, I wouldn’t know which MEPs represented me (we get 6 for our region) if they ran past my house shouting ‘woo hoo I’m your MEP’!

I’d love to think this document will make a difference, time will tell.

Campfire Songs (video)

At the weekend I had a great time camping with our Cub Pack at Kibblestone.

We had a great time and the weather behaved itself and there was no rain!

As the days are longer and it stays lighter later, when we had our campfire it was still light. I took advantage of this and recorded a few of the songs on video.

A couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, the quality of the video isn’t great as it was recorded on my stills camera.

The other is that the very poor singing on the first song and giggling on the others is me – couldn’t be helped!

Bill Webber

It is with great sadness that I have heard of the death of Bill Webber. Bill was for many years the Divisional Secretary and held many positions within our old District, Burslem.

He also wrote a regular column in the our local newspaper, which promoted Scouting to the people of North Staffordshire.

Bill was of great help to my Group when we restarted the Scout Troop in 1983 and managed to find our old flag at the old Divisional Office.

I believe he retired in the early 1990’s.

Of course, most people who read this will never have heard of Bill. However, it is safe to say that without him Scouting in our area would not have been so successful and so well run, and so I believe it is worth mentioning his passing here.

I offer my condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed.

1st Gilwell Website Delayed a Bit Longer!

Back in October last year, I wrote about the 1st Gilwell Scout Group getting its own website. It should have launched at the end of 2008, but by the beginning of 2009 it had been delayed.

As it’s now May and nothing more has happened I thought I’d find out what was happening.

I emailed Gilwell and this is the reply I got –

Hi Nick

Thanks for your email and I can understand the disappointment of not yet being able to see the website, especially when we thought it would be completed by now.

We have just about all of the content ready to go but there are internal problems which means we are probably going to use an external company to do the background work! The new date for the website is likely to be by the end of August in time for Gilwell Reunion in September.

We will be contacting everyone who is currently signed up to hear about the website to share this information in the next few days.

It’s a shame that it’s going to be so late, but hopefully it will be an excellent site to reflect the worldwide nature and size of the 1st Gilwell Park Scout Group / Troop 1 Gilwell!

New Chief Scout

The UK’s new Chief Scout was announced today and he is Bear Grylls!


Of course, he is only Chief of the UK Scout Association, as there has not been a Chief Scout of the World since THE Chief Scout, BP!

The SA have also appointed a UK Chief Commissioner, Wayne Bilpitt who will work in conjunction with Bear to grow Scouting in the UK.

This seems like a good appointment as he’s a well known figure who leads an adventurous life. Listening to some of the interviews he’s given so far today, he’s really pushing the fact that we’re short of adult help and this seems that it’s going to be a theme of his term as Chief, which can only be a good thing.

It seems the PR team at Gilwell have been really on their toes and the story is all over the news and press today and it all appears to be positive! See here.

So does this now mean we’ll have an Everest climbing badge??? 😉

More Old Troop Photos

While talking to my Dad this afternoon, he showed me a couple of photos he’d dug out. These are for a small display that is going up at the Church’s Hall which is 100 years old this year (youngsters! The Church itself was built in 1881).

Anyway one of the photos was this one –

Scouts (Large)

We think this is from the late 1950’s and shows some of our Cubs and Scouts along with some of the Church’s Guides with the Church Queen. We think the flag they are holding is the Troop flag we’ve just retired.

The other photo was of a dinner held at the Hall in the mid 1970’s. This in itself isn’t that interesting on the Scouting front, but in the background is something we’ve been searching for for a couple of years.

Old Scouts (Large)

It’s a framed photo of the Troop in the late 1910’s or early 1920’s (I think) and it’s the earliest photo of the Troop we know of. The trouble is, we don’t know where it is! A few members of the Group have vague recollections of it (me included), but no one knows what actually happened to it!

I really hope that it hasn’t been thrown away and I’d be quite disappointed if it has. We’re hoping it’s hidden away somewhere in the Hall. There is a rumour that it could be under the stage somewhere – I hope so.

We have the negative of the above photo, so when my Mum digs it out, I’m going to scan it with my negative scanner and hope that I get get a slightly better image.

I would be great, however, to find the original!

My Podcast is Back (kind of!)

After a long gap here is a short podcast to show I haven’t forgotten about doing them! The topic I want to talk about has been held over, so this is a quick recap of what my Group has been up to recently and a few forthcoming things.

Please feel free to leave feedback – always appreciated.

Short Updates

Couple of quick updates.

I’ve recently come across a blog from an Assistant Scout Leader from Watford. So that’s now two I know of in this country! I like his most recent post on fire lighting at camp – all so true!

Monday will be interesting as the new UK Chief Scout will be announced. He or she will replace our current Chief, Peter Duncan. The are a lot of rumours being put about (not least by Moley UPDATE 18/05/09 This was a Twitter account that now seems to have gone!) that it will be Bear Grylls. More about all this on Monday.

I’ve been looking at the Group’s calendar and it seems we have quite a busy time over the next couple of months and I’ll keep you all posted here. Cub camp at Kibblestone next weekend – looking forward to it!

The Reply

Well, my union have apologised over their dodgy cartoon!

UNISON Letter edit (Large)

It reads –

Your complaint about the cartoon in the most recent issue of UNISON Labour Link has been passed to me – I am very sorry that you found the cartoon offensive, and I can assure you that there was no intention to denigrate the Scout movement. On looking at it again, I can see how this could be upsetting – please accept my apologies.
The brief for the cartoon was to illustrate the very serious threat to the pensions of many UNISON members posed by David Cameron and George Osborne, hence the idea they are picking the pockets of low-paid workers. In the original sketch we didn’t pick up the detail of the dress, which I don’t think contributes anything to the political message.

So there we go. I just wish people and / organisations wouldn’t use Scouting for their own political ends. We are apolitical and intend to stay that way.

Scouting and Party Politics – NO!

They do not and should never mix. We can engage with our politicians to ensure that the things we care about, whether it be knife crime or the environment, for example, but Party Politics are off limits.

The Scout Association have got it right in the past by getting Scouts to talk to the politicians on things they care about, but they have done it by talking to each of the major political parties.

It is also not on for political parties to use Scouts to make cheap political points.

I am a member of the UNISON union and today I got their quarterly magazine. With it came the magazine that members who donate money to Labour party via the union get. I don’t normally get this as I pay into an apolitical fund. However, it has gone to all members of the union as they want to make some point or other. Yawn, I’m not really bothered!

What does bother me was this cartoon (click on it to see the larger version) –

Scout Unison (Large)

In it you can see the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, asking a man for money, while the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron, picks his pocket. They are clearly dressed as Scouts.

You will pardon my language, but this makes me bloody furious! How dare they use the image of Scouts in a bad light to score cheap political points and make them look like thieves?

I rang the union to complain and the lady I spoke to wasn’t sure who I needed to speak to, but she has said she will let me know.

I then gave the Scout Association a bell as I thought they wouldn’t be too impressed and I was told to get in touch with the Assistant Director Marketing and Communications. I was right and he isn’t very pleased and will be complaining to the union as well.

UNISON should know better than this. They go to great lengths to ensure they are ‘correct’ in every way (over the top sometimes if you ask me!) and yet they let this slip through. The union I belong to and pay money to for the privilege, is having a laugh at my expense and the expense of all the Scouts in the country and indeed the world. As usual it doesn’t matter what good Scouting does, they must feel we are an organisation to be mocked and portrayed in a negative image.

AngryBaring teethAngryBaring teeth

I’m waiting to see what they have to say for themselves and also what the SA has to say. I’ll keep you posted!

I’m now going to lie down and think calming thoughts…………


As Scout Groups we rely on donations to keep us going. Whether they are directly from the parents or we get them by doing bag packing at the local supermarket. It’s not just money we get given to us, but equipment as well.

I popped up to see the Beavers and Cubs last night and one of the helpers came up to me and said he’d got a laptop to give to us! Now this isn’t the most up to date model, in fact I guess it’s over ten years old, but it works and the battery in it isn’t too bad (i.e. it actually runs on the battery!). It has MS Office installed and is usable.

So I’ve brought it home to check it out and other than a few minor ‘tweaks’ it will be going back to the Hall for the Beavers and Cubs to use on their meeting nights.

I’ll also take a printer up that I was given for the Group and now, if necessary, we will be able to write letters home at a meeting if necessary!

So a great donation, and one that will prove most useful!

Using Different Stoves

The Scouts are currently looking at various criteria for camping to gain their Outdoor Challenge or Outdoor Challenge Plus badges. One of the areas they are looking at is there various types of stoves available. Last night they tried a Trangia, a Coleman stove, a couple of portable gas stoves and an old Primus stove. Once all were lit, we boiled some water on each to see which was the quickest. The oldest, the Primus, narrowly won!

 05052009448 [1024x768]05052009464 [1024x768]


It was a bit of a job getting the Primus stove to light as it was quite windy. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of using a Primus, paraffin stove, here is how it works and how it is lit, courtesy of the Base Camp web site

On pressurising the fuel tank, Paraffin, (kerosene), is forced from the fuel tank through the rising tube. The burner tubes are pre-heated by methylated spirit, (alcohol), in the spirit cup below the burner.
When sufficiently heated a fine spray of hot paraffin gas leaves through a jet at the centre of the burner, air mixes with the gas and the mixture hits the burner plate where the flame ring directs the gas into a circle. Here the gas burns with the characteristic sound that gives this style of burner the name ‘Roarer’. 

Lighting procedure for a Paraffin stove is as follows:-

1) Make sure the air screw is loose to release any existing pressure.
2) Unscrew filler cap and ensure there is sufficient paraffin,(kerosene), in the tank, approx. 3/4 full, replace cap.
3) Fill the preheater cup with methylated spirit, (alcohol) and light. Ensure stove is sheltered from the wind or fit the windshield.
4) LEAVE THE STOVE ALONE!!, don’t fiddle!, when the spirit is almost burned out close the air screw and give a few strokes on the pump, the stove should light at the top of the burner. Have a match or lighter ready in case the stove does not light immediately.
5) Should the flame burn unevenly around the burner the jet may be blocked.Wire cleaning needles or ‘prickers’ are used to reach into the flame and clean the jet. Use the correct diameter ‘pricker’ for the stove, 0.2mm – 0.3mm, bent pieces of wire etc. will damage the fine jet.
6) If the stove flares release the pressure by opening the air screw and allow to burn down. Before re-lighting the stove always loosen the air screw to release any pressure present.
7) To adjust the height of the flame at the burner loosen the air screw gradually, this releases some pressure and the flame will go down. To increase the flame again increase pressure by gentle pumping, do not over-pump or the tank can be damaged.
With practice it will take less time to light your stove than read these instructions!

Phew! It is a bit more awkward to light one of these than a modern gas stove, but once they are going they are great!

However, they are extremely robust and last forever! Similarly, when camping we use Tilley type lamps to light us up at night. Again, they are a little more effort to get going but are worth while.

In fact our lamps are ex MOD ones which were bought ‘as new’ and they were made in the 1950’s. The stoves are all well over 40 years old and all still work. I’m going to have to bring the lamps home soon to give them a bit of an overhaul and some TLC, same with the stoves, but they will continue to work for many years to come. Built to last!


The Missing Scout’s Memorial

A couple of years ago, when I was in our Group’s Church, I was looking at the plaque on the wall which commemorates the Scouts from our Troop that died in the Great War (First World War). I decided to try and find out more about them as they were the pioneers of our Group and without them we wouldn’t be here (in more ways than one if you think about it!).

Memorial (Medium)

So I started to look them all up on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s web site and put together our own online memorial to them. A couple were a bit difficult to locate and I’ve made a couple of educated ‘guesses’ about the details, but one or two escaped me.

Yesterday, I was able to find the last one. A chap who has been researching the details of the people listed on the Wolstanton War Memorial got in touch with me as he’d been looking at the Porthill one as well and was interested in the memorial I’d put together.

He found the details of the missing Scout, Harold Bailey, in an old issue of the local newspaper

Sentinel 28th September 1918
Harold Bailey killed in action on the 25th March 1918 of the KOYLI eldest son of the late Charles Frederick Bailey of Porthill & Tunstall, he was aged 19.

So I looked him up on the CWGC website and there he was.

Interestingly, he was killed 4 days before, and I assume in the same battle, as my Great Grandfather and is also commemorated at the same memorial in France. Neither have a know grave, although I  am looking forward to when the Red Cross’s WW1 casualty records become available.

I did look to see if Harold was mentioned in a hand written book I have which lists all the names of the boys in the Troop in 1909 or 1910 (see here , but beware, it is a large download), but he isn’t. In fact only one of the Scouts killed in WW1 is mentioned and that was Joseph W Simpson, who, interestingly is commemorated at the Basra Memorial. Shows how time may go on, but some things don’t change.

I’m glad I‘ve found this last Scout, as they all deserve to be remembered properly by the current members of the Group.