Mountain Walking and Being Prepared

While we were on holiday, one item on the local news caught my eye. The Mountain Rescue Teams in the Lake District have been called out more times this year than last and the Keswick team (where coincidentally we were staying) had 70% more call outs than last year.

The main reason for this is people going into the hills and not being prepared for hill walking. From experience, I’ve seen people trying to go on challenging hill walks wearing t-shirt, jeans and trainers and carrying their lunch in a carrier bag. They have no map, compass or waterproofs, but they do have their mobile phone!

And this is where the problems start. When people get into trouble or lost for example, they call Mountain Rescue and expect them to be there in an instant. The thing is that the mountain rescue teams are all volunteers and it’s paid for by donations and not by a government agency. So by people not taking the right equipment and by not planning properly they are putting greater and greater pressure on these teams.

One example given in the news was of a couple who decided to walk up a mountain and and then didn’t turn up in the evening. In the end two rescue teams were tied up for the best part of a night as the couple changed their mind and gone up another mountain without telling anyone, got lost and eventually came down in the middle of the night!

I often think when I go out walking that I take too much stuff with me, but at least I know that if something goes wrong, I have the right gear with me and that other people know where I should be and at roughly what time.

I think I’ll let the Mountain Rescue Team video speak for itself.


1st Gilwell Park Scout Group Website

It’s gone live! The world’s largest Scout Group’s website is now up and running. Kind of! It is actually live now, but in final testing and will be fully operational for the Gilwell reunion on 5th September.

All Scouts, from all around the world that hold the Wood Badge are members of the 1st Gilwell Park Scout Group, so it is a truly worldwide site.

Take a look here.

I’m glad it’s finally up and running as the site has been promised since October last year, but it’s been delayed by some technical problems. I look forward to being able to sign up to the site when it’s fully live next week.

Holidays, Camping and Electronics

We’ve just got back from our holiday in the Lake District. Of course, being the Lakes, it rained, but we weren’t too bothered as we had our waterproofs with us so we were ready for anything!

As I now have a digital SLR camera, when we go away I take my laptop with me, so I can download my photos and view them properly at the end of the day. I also take my mobile broadband dongle as well so we can keep in touch with the world through the internet (and keep and eye on our bunny who has his own webcam!). However, there wasn’t any signal where we were, so no interweb. We were disappointed – yes (couldn’t keep an eye on the bunny for a start), was it a problem – no.

We did have our phones, the radio & TV, so we weren’t exactly cut off from the outside world, but it got me back to thinking about having all sorts of electronic goodies out when taking the Scouts etc. camping. This has been discussed a lot recently on PTC Media and Escouts and by coincidence SM Shawn is talking about the same subject on his True North Show number 11.

When we go camping, we say at EVERY camp that electronic devices are banned, however the message seems to fail to get through. We do make sure everyone is aware that if things get broken or lost then we as Leaders are not responsible. Last Scout camp two mobile phones got lost in the river we were camping beside!

We put the blanket ban on gadgets and phones after we went camping in the Lakes one year and one Scout, unbeknown to the Leaders, was supposed to phone his Mum each day on his mobile. But, as we were in a field, surrounded by sheep and in the middle of nowhere there was no signal. Apparently Mum nearly had mountain rescue out looking for the Scout until she got through to one of the Leaders on their phone (different phone company).

The difficulty is what do you allow and what do you ban? Personally, I think that mobile phones, MP3 and music players and electronic games consoles (PSP etc) are definite things that must stay at home, but cameras are ok. Although I realise a camera is an expensive item, it’s good to be able to take photos to remember your time away but the same caveat applies, it is the Scout’s own responsibility to look after the camera. 

These electronic items are great in their proper place! And camp isn’t that place!

Girls and BBQs (Podcast)

Podcast number 16. Talking about girls in Scouting and BBQs!

The Scout Association’s One Movement Pages here and here.

Volunteering Awards

I’ve had an email from vinspired which talks about the awards they are doing for young people who volunteer. So please read on –

My name is Laurence from Cake Public Relations contacting you on behalf of Youth Volunteering Charity vinspired. I am contacting you as I’ve noticed that you’ve previously blogged about volunteering/scouting and I hope this piece of news will be of interest.

At vinspired we believe in giving amazing young volunteers the recognition they deserve. That’s why over the last year we have been working with our v20 members to develop ten new national awards. These exciting new awards, developed by young people, will enable us to recognise exceptional individuals, who have made a big difference to other people or the environment. Your readers could nominate someone for a vinspired National Award, and give a special someone the chance to:

Become a Regional Winner and hence

* Attend an exciting celebration event on November 26th 2009 at indigo @ the o2

* Get recognised in regional press

* Inspire others by having their achievements showcased

Become a National Winner and hence

* Receive an award at a celebration event on November 26th 2009 at indigo @ the o2

* Have their achievements showcased at the event in front of other young people, Chief execs of big organisations and government big wigs…

* Get recognised in regional and national press

* Inspire others by having their achievements showcased

Anyone can nominate although you cannot nominate yourself. These awards are all about saying THANK YOU for the amazing things that young volunteers are doing to change the world. Anyone aged 16 – 25 and living in England can be nominated. They must have made a difference to a community by volunteering since 1st June 2008.

For more information you can head over to: or watch an introductory video here:

I was wondering if you could help us spread the word about the vinspired awards by writing a post about the event on your blog.

Do not hesitate to contact me for further information about vinspired or the awards!

All the best


Vinspired Press Office

I’ve heard about this organisation as we recently had a letter from the County Council’s youth department asking if we’d like to sign up with them. What this means is that our details are put on their website and if anyone between 16 & 25 fancies doing some volunteering with us, then they get in touch with the vinspired people. Great idea really!

Training Leaders

When a potential new Leader attends their initial interview one of the things that happens is that they are assigned a Training Assessor. The TA’s job is to take the new Leader through the training modules and assess which ones they need to complete and by which methods.

Well, that’s the theory. My Group has a new Beaver Leader and Assistant Beaver Leader who officially started in May. However they do not have a TA and have no idea what they need to do to start their training as we are rather short of them at the moment as a District. So I decided to take a look at it with them and have a go myself. We did quite well and there were only a couple of places where I got a bit stuck, but as I’ve said that I’m willing to become a TA, hopefully I’ll know what to do in the near future.

We owe it to our new adult Leaders to make sure they are trained properly and not left flapping around, trying their best, but not knowing what to do!

Scouter Jeff Speaks!

I was chatting to Scouter Jeff the other night (or afternoon in his part of the world – California) and he mentioned that he’s started a podcast. So I checked it out. And very good it is too.

He talks about about himself, gives a camping tip, a Leader’s tip, his Favourite (ok I’ve used English English spelling here!) Cub Scout memory and talks about adult Leader mentorship.

So please take the time to have a listen. I’m sure there will be Dutch Oven recipes coming in the future, which will be interesting as I’m quite interested in trying one of these sometime.

You can get his first podcast here or on iTunes!

Update 21/05/12: Sadly Jeff’s podcasts are no longer available 🙁

Talking to Oman

I did something today that I’ve never done before. I spoke to Scouts in Oman, Jordan and Bali! All this was courtesy of the International Rover Scout Net Moot. I first mentioned this last month, when I received an email about it.

It was fascinating talking to these Rover Scouts from areas of the world that I have little knowledge of. They have the ability to use IRC chat or audio software. They also have a streaming video feed, so you can actually see what is going on at the Moot.

I really enjoyed chatting to these Scouts and listening to their differing stories and being impressed with their excellent English. Take a look at their site and talk to them. They will be online until midnight (GMT) Friday, so I’ll be popping back.

And look, I got a certificate! 🙂

card web

Old Newspapers

As those of you who stop by here on a regular basis will know, I’m interested (obsessed?) in finding out the history of my Group. When you’ve got over 100 years to go at there is a lot interesting stuff out there!

A really good source of information is the local newspaper. However, normally to search the old newspapers you have to look at each page which has been transferred onto microfilm and they are searched using the ‘Mark One Eyeball’.

However, I found out today that there are a few of our local paper which are online and searchable. There are newspapers from 1875 (interesting but pretty useless in this context), 1915 & 1925. So I did some searching and only came up with a couple of bits of info, but they are very interesting.

First is from 19th August 1925. The article describes the Troop’s recent summer camp –

Camp 1925-08-19 (Large) 

Click on the cutting to read it

The quality isn’t great and does take some reading, but it is most interesting.

The other one I found was from Saturday June 12th 1915. During the Great War every time a local man was killed or injured, a piece about him would be put in the paper along with a photograph. I found one of our Scouts, Pte. Tom Lewis of the 1st / 5th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment. See our Remembrance pages for more details about him. So not only do we now have some more information on him and his family, but also a photo (I haven’t had chance to edit the page yet so it can be put here).

When I get the time, I will go and look up the others and add them all to the history and remembrance pages.

All this proves that there is a wealth of information out there, you just have to hunt it down!

History (Podcast)

Podcast number 15. Talking about remembering your Group’s past whether it is 5 years old or 100 years old.

Colin ‘Johnny’ Walker’s Scouting Milestones

Money (That’s What I Want)

OK, I’m not going to go on about the song sung by The Beatles and Barrett Strong!

Yesterday I got round to finalising the Scout Troop’s money for the last term. Now for reasons too boring to go into here, I look after the Troop’s subs money. Once I’d tallied all the cash up, two things surprised me. First that it balanced first time and second that the Troop had a lot more cash than I thought!

Now when I say I was surprised that it balanced against the accounts I keep, I mean that I normally make a mistake and miscount or miss an item from the accounts themselves! As to the amount, we always try to make sure that any money we have in the section’s own ‘kitties’ is less than £100. Any surplus goes to the Group. This ensures that we don’t have lots of cash around our homes and that it’s in a more secure place – the bank! So I have a trip round to the Group’s Treasurer very soon.

Keeping money for an organisation, even just the weekly subs, is quite a responsibility and you have to be accurate in all that is done and ensure that everything is properly recorded. The ‘fingers in the till’ situation must never happen. This is another reason we keep section money below £100.

I Won!


Back in April on the Leader’s Campfire show number 62, there was a trivia show. At the end of the show, a competition was launched for listeners to answer the questions that the show’s participants weren’t able to answer. All the questions came from the BSA’s 1984 Boy Scout Handbook.

So I thought I’d have a go! First of all I am at an instant disadvantage as I’ve never seen a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook and nor am I likely to unless I send off to the States for one. However I have a computer (obviously!) and Google! So I looked up what I thought the answers would be, and sent off my email thinking I’d never hear any more of it.

However, on show 63, they announced that I’d come second! I was amazed to be honest.

Today my prize arrived and it looks like I haven’t bankrupted PTC Media through postage charges. I’ve had some badges (which will go on my blanket) and a DVD (yes 1.6 Gb full of goodies) with loads of resources courtesy of InsaneScouter. That should keep me good for a while!

So a big thank you to all at PTC media and InsaneScouter, it was very good of you to send me the stuff, especially as it was more expensive to send it to the UK!


With the current economic climate, the availability of jobs is getting less and when a job does become available, competition for the post is often fierce.

Therefore, when companies are looking at candidate’s Curriculum Vitaes, they are not only looking at the person’s suitability and qualifications for the job they’ve applied for, but what they do outside of work. So by being in a volunteer organisation, such as the Scouts, is seen as the person not just sitting at home and watching TV, but making an impact on and helping their their local community. Which is see as the person having character and the willingness to do things for others.

I got a letter in the post this morning from the Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services telling me that they wish to put my Group’s details on a website that promotes volunteering opportunities for young people between the ages of 16 – 25. They have consulted with Staffordshire Scout County and our District and they have virtually filled in all the forms I need to complete for me! Can’t complain there then!

So the forms are now in the post on their way to them. I’ve put down for extra Assistant Beaver, Cub & Scout Leaders, so now we wait to see what will happens.

It will be interesting to see if anyone gets in touch, but if we do get one extra Leader of of it, then we’ve done well.