A New Scout

Kind of! One of the Scout’s parents kindly knitted a little jumper and necker for Rachael when she was born and last night she wore it for the first time when she visited the Beavers and Cubs!

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She wasn’t phased by all the noise, although she did jump slightly at the beginning of the Cub’s Grand Howl!

Someone Needs to Re-read His Scout Law

I was looking at the Scout Association’s website this morning and an article on the front page caught my eye. It seems that National Chairman of The Ugandan Scout Association David Bahati, who is a member of the Ugandan Parliament, is the author of a Private Members Bill which calls for the death sentence for repeat practicing of homosexuality.

The UK Scout Association has issued this statement –

Statement on Ugandan Private Members Bill


In mid-January, Headquarters became aware of a Private Members Bill being tabled in the Ugandan Parliament by David Bahati MP, who is also the National Chairman of The Ugandan Scout Association.

We noted that the legislation being proposed appeared incompatible with our understanding of Scouting’s values and principles. Our immediate response was to raise the matter directly with the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) who have responsibility for coordinating Scouting on a global level.

Following these representations, and progress thus far, we are now issuing a formal statement that details the latest position in the development of this issue:


Since the mid-1990s, The Scout Association has been clear and unequivocal in our equal opportunities policy and practice especially regarding sexual orientation, as befitting our role in contemporary society.

We are recently aware that the Ugandan Parliament has received a Bill that calls for the death sentence for repeat practicing of homosexuality. This Bill is presented by a Ugandan MP (David Bahati) who is also currently the National Chairman of the Uganda Scout Association. In terms of our own policies and understandings, we find the Bill not only discriminatory and contrary to the sanctity of life, but also completely incompatible with our interpretation of the values of our worldwide Scouting Movement.

We have already drawn our grave concerns on this to the attention of the Secretary General of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), and we are subsequently aware that the issues are now subject both to WOSM’s direct engagement with the Chief Scout of Uganda (Mrs Maggie Kigozi) and to ongoing global consideration by members of the World Scout Committee.

We hope that the bilateral and very positive educational and solidarity projects that have been fostered for many years between Scout Groups in the UK and Scout Groups in Uganda on such matters as health and community development will not be prejudiced or compromised by this situation; we await the formal and public response from the Scout Association of Uganda and from WOSM, whereupon we will review our position.

Alan Craft, Chair of Trustees,

Derek Twine, Chief Executive

23 February 2010

Now two things come to mind. First of all he needs to remember the forth part of the Ugandan Scout Law

4. A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout.

His bill is hardly friendly is it?

Second, the Ugandan Scouts need to drop this nasty piece of work as soon as possible. Again on the Mission page of their website it states –

The mission of Scouting is to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law, to help build a better world (my italics) where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.

Hmmm, can’t really build a better world if you want to go around executing a proportion of the population because of the way they are.

It’s good to read that the SA have raised this with the WOSM, but it will be interesting to see how they respond and what, if any, action they take. This kind of attitude has no place in today’s society and in Scouting and indeed never has done!

Safe & Legal Use of Computers & The Web

One of the things my Scout Group has been considering for a while is getting a computer.

We’ve been really lucky recently as I’ve been able to get a couple donated to us, so there is no cost to the Group. They’re not new or anywhere near top of the range, but they’ll do what we want them to do!

As well as computers, the other thought was to get the internet at the hall where we meet. Again not much of a problem as we can get a connection for a reasonable price that won’t be a drain on the finances. Although I will say that we’re only going to have it for 12 – 18 months initially (depending on the contract) and then see if we actually get reasonable use from it.

Now we’ve got the computers and we’re getting net access comes the ‘problems’. We have to be sure that the PCs are totally legal with regards to the operating system they run and the programmes on them.

One of the PCs comes with fully licence Windows XP, but no Office and the other is a laptop which is licensed for Windows ME (Mistake Edition!), but will happily run XP. However it has no XP licence and we can’t really justify spending any more money! Ubuntu to the rescue! This Linux distribution has OpenOffice included, so we have an Office compatible suite with an operating system which is, for a user, not too difficult to master. OpenOffice is also going on the Windows XP machine, along with a few other free and Open Source programmes. The computers will be locked up so only an administrator (me) can add or remove programmes. This means we won’t be breaking any licensing rules – and quite rightly so!

The other thing we have to be very aware of, is content on the internet. If our Beavers, Cubs & Scouts are going to use the web when they are under our supervision, it is our responsibility to ensure that they don’t access anything that is, for want of a better phrase, dodgy.

And this caused me to do a bit of head scratching. How to filter what they can see? In school, of course, young people access the internet behind very strong filtering, but in the outside world it is open to everything and therefore a bit more tricky!

Until that is I was looking at Kevin’s blog the other day (thanks Kevin) and I noticed a button on there like this –


So I clicked on it (try it, it works here!) and found that they offer a filtering service and it’s free! Well, you can pay for extra services, but the cost is not excessive. The good thing is that it’s not set up on an individual computer, but on the router you use to connect to the interweb! This of course means that if we let a Scout bring in their own laptop or PSP, for example, and let them connect to the net, then they will be safe (well about as safe as you can be) from inappropriate content!

The great thing is that if you have young kids at home and you want them to be safe on the net, you can do this at home as well (and I will be in a couple of years time!).

A Complete Guide To Scouting Skills – A Review

image As I mentioned before, the kind people at Random House have sent me a copy of this book to review, so here goes.

Although it is produced by The Scout Association and the foreword is by the Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, it’s not specifically targeted at Scouts. The idea is for any young person, Scout or not, to be able get up from the computer or games console and go out and enjoy the outdoors and do it safely. Indeed, although knots (always a Scouting favourite!) are covered, as Bear says

When we show you knots, we’ll only show you the most useful.

So the book covers what you need to know. It’s designed to be dipped into for the specific area you are looking at, although reading from cover to cover is an informative and enjoyable experience.

Of course, when I first got the book, I thought ‘Ha, there won’t be anything in there I don’t know! I’m a Queen’s Scout and a Group Scout Leader!’ – I WAS WRONG! Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, I know I don’t know that much, but even the most experienced outdoorsy type (& that’s not me) will find new information to pique their interest, whether it information on camping, fire lighting or water activities.

The first chapter is titled ‘Being Prepared’ (snappy title, wonder where they got it from?) and this isn’t just about planning your activity, it’s about teamwork and your health. So even from the start, the book breaks down what you need to do to ensure you’re ready and safe for your outdoor activity and this concept continues throughout the book.

I’d use it to brush up on skills when I am next showing the Scouts how to do various outdoor activities. In fact it would be useful to have around on a meeting night just in case I needed to be reminded of something or find out something I didn’t know while going over an area with the Scouts.

I’d also recommend it to parents wishing to buy something for their Scout as a gift. There would also be the added bonus that the parents would be able to read the book and gain some idea of the outdoor experiences Scouting offers the child and help them when it come to, for example, preparing for camp!

I especially like the Quick Tips section at the back. Here’s a good one –

No Spiders

A dixie lid full of conkers at the door of the tent keeps the spiders out!

UPDATE: a translation of the very British terms ‘Dixie’ and ‘Conkers’ are in the Comments section!

So in conclusion, an interesting and very useful book for non Scouts, Scouts and Scout Leaders. I will recommend it to my Group’s Leaders and to the Scouts as an excellent source of reference.

A Complete Guide to Scouting Skills is published on 4th March 2010 and the retail cost is £14.99. I know it will be available on Amazon for £9.74 which is a bargain, and that also means that if any of my international readers are interested in getting their hands on a copy it’ll be easy for them to do so!

Chris at Jabbering and Adam at Woggleknot are also getting copies and will be reviewing the book themselves, so keep an eye on their blogs.

UPDATE 2: I forgot to add the link to the site with some sample pages from the book. It can be seen here.

A Sad Loss to Scouting

Back on the 18th December 2007, I wrote about an Explorer Scout who had just spent a year living in a tent to raise money for a children’s hospice.

Unhappily, it appears this young man passed away a couple of days ago whilst walking in the hills in Scotland.

From the Scout Association

Scouting saddened by death of hill walker


The Scout Association is deeply saddened to confirm the death of Stephen Young, a trustee of Kent Scout County. Stephen’s death occurred on 15 February following an avalanche in the Cairngorm region of Scotland.
Stephen was part of an experienced, all adult group who were in Cairngorms as part of their annual trip to the region to expand their winter hill walking skills.
In 2007 Stephen raised £2,500 for a local hospice by sleeping in a tent for the whole of Scouting’s centenary year. His challenge had only been due to last 100 nights, but he decided to spend 365 under canvas to raise as much money as possible for the Demelza House Children’s Hospice.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Stephen’s mother, Judy, and his family and friends at this very difficult time.

A very sad loss and my thoughts and condolences are with his family.

An Interesting Book

A few days ago I got an email from the publishers of the forthcoming book ‘Scouting Skills: A Complete Guide’ asking if I’d be interested in having a copy and maybe doing a review. ‘Yes please!’ was the reply, so it appeared in the post this morning. I haven’t had time to read it properly yet, but initial thoughts are very positive. Maybe book reviewing could be a new thing for me?

You can take a look at a few of the pages here and I will give a more detailed account in a few more days.

Thanks to the kind people at Random House for the copy.

Keep Calm and Carry On


This is a poster that was produced by the Ministry of Information in 1939 and was to have been used if Britain had been invaded by the Nazis. We weren’t, so it wasn’t! However a copy was rediscovered in 2000 (read about it here) and has since gone on to be quite popular.

Despite the fact it’s a very ‘British’ type of statement (the country’s been invaded, but just get on with life!), it is a very good concept for life in general. A simple yet powerful statement!

Happy 100th Birthday Boy Scouts of America and….

image Today, Monday 8th February 2010, marks the 100th birthday of the world’s second largest national Scouting organisation, the BSA. So, a big Happy Birthday to the whole organisation and to its many members! I’m sure that there will be a lot to hear and read about from my friends in the USA whose blogs and podcasts are in my links. Please take a minute to check them out – they’re all rather good!

However, it’s not just the BSA who are celebrating the impressive achievement of being 100 years old this year. I know of at least 3 other parts of the Scouting family celebrating their Centenaries this year. Of course there are oodles more, but these are just the ones I know of!

First of all the Guides are 100 this year. They were created by BP and his sister to cater for the growing number of girls who wanted to be Scouts, but Edwardian sensibilities wouldn’t allow them to do so.

Then there are the Scouts in Falkenberg Sweden who are 100 this year. They have already started their celebrations and you can read about them here (this is the link to the Google translation from Swedish into English. I hope it does them justice).

And last but not least, is 11th Stoke-on-Trent & Newcastle, 1st Kidsgrove Scout Group. They are just up the road from my Group, so it’s nice to have a local Group celebrating its Centenary this year as well.

So congratulations on all the good work these four organisations have done over the last 100 years and I hope you all have many more to come!

Of course, just to show off, my Group will be 102 this year!!!!!


The first part of the UK Scout Law states that ‘A Scout is to be Trusted’. This law applies to both young people and Leaders alike, no exception. SM Jerry has posed something similar recently when he talks about honesty and setting a good example.

So it is quite sad to read in our local newspaper that an ex Scout Leader from a local Troop has been convicted of benefit fraud and sentenced to pay back over £3000 and do 60 days community service.

The account in the paper has all the usual scouting clichés that are used when reporting something to do with Scouts.

Now I do not know him, nor to my knowledge have I ever met him, but there do seem to be a couple of points of interest here. First of all he was claiming incapacity benefit for a damaged back and was unable to walk without a stick, but was ‘caught’ doing Scouting activities like hiking. Secondly on the comments section of the online reports I’ve read, a couple of his ex Scouts have written to say what a good Leader he was and how much he taught them.

So it seems that, possibly, he mad some silly decisions regarding his claims, but was a good Leader. However he and to some degree his Group are now tarred with a bad name. Which is a shame as someone with a previously good name and has done good work in the community is now a criminal 🙁

Old Film

I found this site the other day which allows people to create their own videos by using old archive ones. So I had a look and came up with some that showed local Scouts in years gone by.

There are, in fact, four videos here that I have stitched together.

The first is the visit by King George V and Queen Mary to Stoke-on-Trent in 1925. Although no Scouts are shown, it would be highly improbable that they wouldn’t be there for such an important visitor.

The second shows Scouts parading with their band in Dresden in 1941. There is a shot of some Guides at the end as well.

The next shows the VE Day celebrations on 8th May 1945, in, and I’m guessing here, Hanley. Some Brownies and Guides can be seen before the Scouts are shown throwing an effigy of Lord Haw Haw on a bonfire!

Finally, there is clip of the Scout Rally held at Port Vale’s football ground in 1951.

When I get chance, I’ll have a look at some of the old documents I am looking after to see if there is any mention of King George’s visit and the Rally. I’m quite sure that some of my Group’s Scouts and Cubs would have attended the Rally, so it will be interesting to see what I can find out about it. Watch this space!