A Healthy Group

At our Group’s Leader meeting the other night, I put on the agenda that each of the Section Leaders were to report how things were going in their own section.

However, before they spoke, I decided to go first. I had realised what a good position the Group is in and how we had improved from the state we were in 4 years ago.

At this time in 2005, I’d just had the sad task of closing the Scout Troop due to lack of Leaders, we had only one official Cub Leader and no assistants and no Beaver Leader, just an Assistant Beaver Leader. Numbers were down and the Group looked rather unhealthy to say the least! We did in fact wonder if whether or not we’d be able to keep going or even if we’d reach our 100th birthday.

Fast forward four years and we have the three sections, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, the right number number of Leaders (although a few more wouldn’t be a problem!), the Executive nearly has a fully compliment and each of the sections are either full or nearly full.

A lot of the success is down to the programme provided in the section and the section Leaders. A lot of people might suggest that if a Group was in a situation as we were, that replacing all the Leaders for new ones would be the answer. In our case it wasn’t. Extra Leaders was the answer. Enough to provide a varied and interesting programme is essential. As well as the good planning, the good programme and enough Leaders, you do need a certain amount of luck!

Numbers in a Group do go up and down at times, but I guess a good Group will always be successful!

ABC_0013 (Large)

Group Scout Leader Support Day

Yesterday I went to the GSL Support Day run by the County. This was kind of a follow up to the one I went to last year and also to cover some of the topics for the GSLs who couldn’t make it to the previous session.

Now to be fair, as would be expected, quite a lot of the stuff was going over the topics covered previously. However, there was new stuff and it was useful.

With these type of events, I find that even if there is nothing specific you think you are going to get out of day, you will always pick up on bits of useful information. As expected I have some points I have to act upon and some information about some of the resources the Scout Association has on offer (they do tend to hide some things a bit).

Also it’s a chance to catch up with old friends who I may not have seen for some time. For example, I bumped into the Venture Scout Leaders from the Group which was down the road from us. I hadn’t seen him for years, but he’s just restarted being involved in Scouting as the County’s Health & Safety advisor. Which made me chuckle when I remember what we were all like about 20 years ago!

So a good day, with a useful outcome. Oh, and yes, the lunch was as boring as predicted!

Scouts and Food

While reading Lotta’s blog about the District Training weekend she’d just been on, it dawned on me how much thought we give to food and drink within Scouting.

It could be the good food that Lotta and her colleagues have at their training sessions, Scoutmaster Jerry’s quest to come up with great, but light and compact meals when out backpacking, Scouter Jeff’s Dutch oven recipes, the menu planning for Scout camps or the rather boring ‘sandwich selection’ promised for my Group Scout Leader’s conference on Saturday!

Then of course there is the strange addiction my American friends have to coffee in the morning, when everyone knows that it’s a good mug of tea that is needed first thing in the day! 😉

Of course when preparing menus for camps etc we have to ensure that the food we choose is as varied and healthy as possible. We also have to remember to be aware of any Scouts with specific food allergies and Scouts who are vegetarian or even vegan. We have one Cub who is vegan and this could be a challenge to us non vegans to get the right stuff, and to be honest, if his parents didn’t supply his food, I think we’d be a bit stuck!

The other thing is to always have plenty of drinks available. For the Scouts etc, we normally have endless amounts of water and squash and for the Leaders tea and the occasional coffee(!).

But the point to remember is to always have enough food and drink available. There is nothing worse than coming back from an event and Scouts complaining they did not have enough to eat! I remember one District camp many years ago, where the food for all the Troops was done centrally and they ran out of food at one evening meal! I seem to remember a hurried journey to the chip shop!

As for my meal suggestion, I cannot recommend a cheese and bacon oatcake highly enough!

My Evening

At the Troop meeting tonight I didn’t actually get to do much with the Scouts themselves (although there were a lot there and we seem to have a lot of Cubs joining the Troop at the moment!).

Once I’d taken in the subs, I had a chat with a parent who is going to become a Troop Assistant (the stage before Assistant Scout Leader). We talked a bit about CRB checks, the job role and how many badges her son had earned in the Pack!

Then it was on to sorting out some CRB forms for more parents who are coming to our family camp in May – if we get them sorted now, there is a chance they will be back in time!

Someone from the District then popped in to present some of the Scouts with woggles to commemorate a camp they’d been on.

Then it was chatting to the Young Leaders (Explorers) and finally after the meeting was over, to the rest of the Leaders to arrange a date for a Leader’s meeting!

The thing is though, although I had little contact with the Scouts tonight, the stuff I did was important and necessary. I do enjoy getting the ‘paperwork type stuff’ done as it means that the Group runs smoothly, just so long as the paperwork doesn’t take over from the fun stuff!

Something Silly

After the seriousness of the last couple of days, here is something silly –

On the Ning Nang Nong

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
And the Monkeys all say Boo!
There’s a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots Jibber Jabber Joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang!
And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!
So it’s Ning Nang Nong!
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning!
Trees go Ping!
Nong Ning Nang!
The mice go Clang!

What a noisy place to belong,
Is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

Spike Milligan from Silly Verse for Kids, 1968

The Soldier (War Sonnets No. 5)

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blessed by the suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts a peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)

Please take a look at the on line memorial to the members of my Scout Group who have been killed in previous wars.

I can’t really put anything else down about Remembrance Day better than I did last year – so I won’t!

The Remembrance Day Parade

Today’s parade at church went really well!

When I got to church this morning, the Scouts who were there to carry the flag and escort it, were already there and looking very smart. The Assistant Scout Leader and I then went to have a chat with the stand in vicar. Turns out he hadn’t had any info about how the service was going to go and was feeling, understandably, a bit annoyed! So we explained how we thought the bit outside, around the war memorial with the two minutes silence should go, and he was agreed with our thoughts.

The actual Act of Remembrance went well. All the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides got to their correct places, they held their flags correctly and dipped them properly at the beginning of the two minutes silence and then raised them at the end. The poppy wreath was placed on the war memorial by a Beaver and a Guide and then we all went back inside, the flags were placed by the altar and we all went to our seats for the rest of the service.

All in all, it went very well and we’ve decided that we make sure we do exactly the same next year.

But the best bit was that all the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts were all smartly dressed and extremely well behaved and many people in church commented on these facts to me.

I was very proud of them all today!

Cooperating and Planning

Tomorrow (Sunday), is Remembrance Sunday, which is an important date in the Scouting calendar, and indeed the country’s calendar. This is the time we remember those who have served and died in the armed forces in the various wars. As part of this people gather around war memorials and observe the two minutes silence at 11 o’clock.

As part of this act of Remembrance, the Scouts will be our church’s service along with the Guides.

With this in mind, we met up with the Guides last night to plan what we were going to do, reminding everyone how to hold their flags, how and when to dip them and to remember not to take out the church’s door frames with the flags when walking through them!

We’ve stated to do this kind of rehearsal over the last couple of years as before it always seemed somewhat last minute and a bit messy and this year is the first time the Guides have come to rehearse. So we think we have it sorted.

The other point of this rehearsal is that no one in the church seems to know how the service is going to proceed! The current vicar is on extended holiday and is also in the process of leaving the Parish and no one really knows the vicar who is standing in! So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to sort out what we’re going to do and then we’ll gently suggest that our way is how it’s going to happen!

At least then there shouldn’t be too much chaos to detract from the reason we’re there, which is to remember the dead and those who served to ensure our freedoms.

Please take a look at the on line memorial to the members of my Scout Group who have been killed in previous wars.


Not a very pleasant topic, but one we potentially have to deal with. A while ago I came back from a meeting having found out that my Group should have an anti bullying policy (see here). So I wrote one and the Group’s Executive agreed it with some changes and it’s now Group policy.

Now bullying is something that we as Leaders would hope to never come across, but as we live in the real world, unhappily, sometimes we do. Of course the vast majority of Scout Leaders are not educational or child care experts, but people doing a vast variety of jobs, so knowing about the signs of bullying and how to deal with it is very important. With that in mind the SA have just released a new booklet and poster to ‘prevent bullying and help tackle the issue should it occur in your Group or Section’ and you can see them here (thanks for pointing me at it Chris).

Hopefully with this new resource it will be possible to stop bullying wherever possible.