Bob a Job

First of all, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and Santa brought you what you asked for!

Looking through the business section of Sunday’s Telegraph , I saw this article (it is also in Monday’s Independent) about the revival of Bob a Job week or Scout Job week.

Bob a Job week was introduced in the late 1940’s as a way of raising money for Scout Groups. The basic premise was that a Cub or Scout would knock on the doors of people in their street and ask to do jobs for the people in return  for a ‘bob’. A ‘bob’ was the slang name for 1 Shilling which was part of the pre decimal monetary system we had in the UK prior to 1971 and to quote Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman in the book ‘Good Omens’

the British resisted the contaminated foreign notion of decimal currency for a long time because (a) it was foreign; and (b) they thought it was too complicated.

1 Shilling when decimalised was the equivalent of 5 pence and as an example 1 Shilling in, say, 1960, would be worth around £2 today.

The name of Bob a Job week was changed to Scout Job week sometime after decimalisation as it was wanted to get away from only getting 5p for a job. Indeed I can remember being somewhat miffed at doing a load of work for someone in the early 1980’s and only getting 5p!

I know our Cub Pack always participated in Job week and Akela, or to give him his official title ‘Dad’, gave prizes to the three Cubs who raised the most money. I don’t remember doing it in Scouts though.

Job week was stopped in that form in the 1990’s when, quite rightly, there were concerns about young kids knocking on stranger’s doors asking to come in and do jobs for them. And so other ways of raising money were devised. Although there was an attempt to revise it in 2001 by getting Groups to do bag packing in branches of Asda (I was so pleased to spend my birthday that year, on my day off, bag packing in the store where I worked!).

It seems as though the Scout Association are to re-launch it in 2012, but with more of a business feel to it. The idea is being run by the chief exec of an insurance company who is also a Scouting Ambassador, who says –

We want young people to come together as teams rather than working individually – it’s about putting the Scouts back at the heart of the community.

I was a Scout and I had 11 business learnings before the age of 20. The biggest single one is making things happen and getting on and doing it. It is about determination and persistence, never giving up and sticking with it. It’s what makes good Scouts and good business leaders.

I have to admit that I do like the idea of Job Week as it does instil into the Scouts that we can’t just get something for nothing and they have to work to get the money. It will also be interesting to see how it all works out with the business context.

I’m sure more information will be released in the near future and I’m sure I’ll be writing about it!

Happy Christmas

I’d like to wish everyone who visits my site, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Many thanks to those of you who have taken the time and effort to comment on my posts and I hope to see you all in 2011.

Alternatively, please have a Merry Non-Denominational Winter Festive Period 😉

Chief Scout Visit in 1963

As many of you will know, one of the things I’m interested in is the history of my Group. So the other week this letter in the local newspaper caught my eye. It was about the filming of the then Chief Scout’s (Sir Charles Maclean) visit to Kibblestone Camp site in 1963. On the off chance it showed some of our Scouts, I contacted the chap who made it asking if he would send me a copy. And he did!

It came on DVD, which was a transfer from the original 16mm film. In 1963 the standard format of home movie film was 8mm, so to have this as a 16mm film shows that it was produced to a professional standard (the BBC often used this format for filmed TV shows and the Beatles film Let It Be was filmed on 16mm).

Watching the film there does appear to be one Scout who is highly likely to be from Porthill.


That’s him at the back in the middle.

The only down side is I have no idea who he is! It looks like he was with Scouts from Bradwell, who we have always had a close association with.

It also seems that our Cubs may have been there as well.


The Cubs on the right in the red neckerchiefs could be ours, but it’s very difficult to know where the are actually from. However there is a leader on the left wearing a light green shirt and red neckerchief who looks very much like the Cub Master of the time.

You can see the film and more information on my Group’s History site here.

It is very interesting to see all those Scouts and the campsite nearly 50 years ago. Especially as Kibblestone is my local site and I’ve been there many times. It’s also interesting to see the swimming pool and rope swings in use as the pool is now a ‘caving experience’ and the rope swings removed due to ‘safety issues’, and yes I am having a pop at the camp site here!

The original film was presented to the Stoke-on-Trent & Newcastle Boys Scouts Association (now Stoke-on-Trent & Newcastle Divisional Scout council) and to the Boy Scouts Association (now the Scout Association) at Gilwell, but has only been shown a limited number of times since it was shot. I am going to ask the chap who shot the film if he did any other for the Scouts, as this film, and possibly others, deserve to be seen as they are important parts of our local Scouting history.

One thing that doesn’t seem to change is the fact that the Chief Scout tried to speak to as many of the Scouts as possible (the commentary says he spoke to all!) and this is something the current Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, is also very keen to do when he goes on Scouting activities.


Today I came across a new online radio station I’d not heard of before called Red Shift Radio. It’s based just up the road from me in Crewe and they have a show on Saturday lunchtime called ‘Scout and About’. To quote their Twitter account

Radio show about Scouting and the local community. Hosted by the Explorer Scouts and Leaders of 1st Alsager Scout Group. Saturdays 12-2

Alsager Group are a few months older than my own Group having also started in 1908. The are geographically in Cheshire but for Scouting purposes they are in Staffordshire and in Potteries North District.

I listened to their show for the first time today and it seemed quite interesting. It is done in the style of a traditional radio show with talking and music (no music on the listen again feature though). They had picked up on the fire at Kidsgrove Scout Group the day before, so they are obviously keeping their eye out for local stories. They also covered stuff in the latest Scouting magazine, student tuition fees and the videos the Scout Association puts out.

Based on listening to one show, it sounded good, so if you get chance please have a listen.


It was very sad to read today that our close neighbours, 1st Kidsgrove Scout Group, had suffered an arson attack. It seems someone had set fire to one of their outbuildings which was used to store archery and air rifle shooting equipment amongst others.

It was lucky it was just an outbuilding and not their main meeting hall. It would have been catastrophic for the Group if the main building was targeted as this is where they store all their music equipment (they have a very active Scout band) and all their camping gear, and of course they wouldn’t have anywhere to meet.

I wonder what kind of person sets fire to buildings belonging to a charity which does a lot of work and good for the young people in their community? I think my idea of enjoyment is somewhat different to these fools (I’m being VERY polite here!).

Good luck to Kidsgrove getting everything sorted out after this mindless and unprovoked attack.

The Woodcraft Folk

I read an article this morning about the Woodcraft Folk taking young people aged 11 / 13 (depending where you read) to the demonstrations about the proposed rises in university tuition fees. The article I read was in the Daily Telegraph (but I can’t find it online – p16 of the paper though!) or a much shortened version in the Evening Standard.

Now it’s all well and good to protest against things that you disagree with, but I don’t think that taking young people who are that young to protests which have a very high chance of violence breaking out is very clever. Having taken groups of Scouts to London in the past, I know it’s hard enough keeping everyone together normally, let alone in a protest where things could go wrong at any moment.

The Woodcraft Folk are, to quote from their website

A movement for children and young people, open to everyone from birth to adult. We offer a place where children will grow in confidence, learn about the world and start to understand how to value our planet and each other.

Sounds good. But there are a couple of issues I have with them.

First of all, it might be worth while mentioning that I may be a little biased against them, based on the one time I met some Woodcraft Folk. I was on summer camp as a Scout and we had gone somewhere for the day (no idea where) and we came across these scouty type people who obviously weren’t Scouts. We said hello to one of their leaders and asked who they were. The leader replied along the lines of ‘ Woodcraft Folk, don’t you know your Scouting history?’ and stomped off! So, being the mature Scouts we were, we immediately renamed them the ‘Flower Fairies’ and proceeded to take the mickey out of them (out of their hearing of course!).

So please feel free to carry on reading and let me tell you about my reservations about this organisation, but please take a look at their website, have a read and make your own mind up!

They started in the 1920’s and to quote them –

Just after the First World War one of the leading figures in the Scouting movement broke away from what he considered to be its militaristic approach…

Now I find this a bit odd as in 1917, in the middle of the Great War, Baden-Powell was horrified at the thought of all the men who had been Scouts being slaughtered on the battlefields (this was no longer the type of war he himself fought, but a highly mechanised one) and he wrote –

The roots of Scouting have grown among young people of all civilised countries and are developing more each day. It might be thought that if in years to come, a considerable proportion of the future citizens of each nation forms part of this brotherhood, they will be joined by a bond of personal friendship and mutual understanding such as has never existed before, which will help to find a solution to terrible international conflicts.

So Scouting itself was becoming an organisation dedicated to peace and friendship amongst countries. Indeed in 1937, the World Conference resolved –

The Conference resolves that the International Committee be requested to do all that it can to ensure that Scouting and Rovering in all countries, while fostering true patriotism, are genuinely kept within the limits of international cooperation and friendship, irrespective of creed and race, as has always been outlined by the Chief Scout (Baden-Powell). Thus, any steps to the militarization of Scouting or the introduction of political aims, which might cause misunderstanding and thus handicap our work for peace and good will among nations and individuals should be entirely avoided in our programmes.

(see here).
So the Scouts were hardly militaristic even then. The Woodland Folk seem to have a huge chip on their shoulders about the Scouts and similar organisations. The leader who spoke to me and my fellow Scouts is a case in point, but so are the Oxford Woodcraft Folk.

On their webpage it asks –


Camping, making stuff, building rafts, archery, abseiling, singing, high ropes, rock climbing, making brilliant friends, putting on shows, helping others, doing lots of really cool stuff?

Sounds good to me! But then asks –


Marching, saluting flags, uniforms, bossy adults?

Marching – Scouts are not known for square bashing, that’s the Cadets. We do a bit very occasionally, on Remembrance Day (and badly!), for example, but that’s it.

Saluting Flags – OK guilty as charged. But there is nothing wrong in showing respect to the symbol of your country and what it stands for.

Uniforms – Guilty again. But what is that young girl on your webpage wearing? Oh, it’s your uniform!

Bossy Adults – Erm I’m lost here. It doesn’t matter what organisation you belong to, some leaders / adults are going to be bossy, shouty, annoying, kind, helpful or inspirational.

The other thing is that I’m not too sure about their politics. I’ve said before that Scouting should be apolitical (here and here), but should engage our young people to take an interest in the issues that affect them and should converse with all political parties.

But isn’t that what the Woodcraft Folk are doing by attending these protests? Well no. They are taking a particular side and not engaging all parts of the political spectrum. In fact a lot of the protests just annoy many people and reduce the sympathy for the students and potential students!

Yes, talk to the politicians (of all parties) and get the young people to raise their concerns, but don’t take them to demonstrations where it is possible they could get hurt. Indeed there is a report in the Telegraph of a 15 year old girl being ‘beaten up by the police’ & ‘.. they broke her foot..’. Now that’s not good and deserves some further investigation, but can you imagine if I’d taken a Scout and that had happened?? Not worth thinking about.

So there you go. As far as the Woodcraft Folk are concerned, for me, the outdoorsy stuff is brilliant, they need to get rid of the chip on their collective shoulder about Scouting and engage in politics but stop being Political.

Please, though, make your own mind up!


A lot is said today about the need for people to do stuff for their local communities. The idea being that by doing things in the community, people are giving back.

Of course, Scouts (and other youth organisations to be fair) have been doing this for well over 100 years, from the traditional image of helping old ladies cross the road to going to help at refugee camps in Africa.

Recently, my Group planted lot of Daffodil bulbs (well over 1000 actually) in the grounds of the Church that sponsors us and at its sister Church as well. We’d also planted some bulbs and trees at the campsite the Cubs had been camping at the weekend before.

Also, we paraded from our meeting place to the Church on Remembrance Day and by doing this we commemorated those who had been killed in war (including the 13 from our own Group).

Both the bulb planting and the parade were well attended, and the planting at least, was enjoyed by all who came. However, these type of activities are not the, for want of a better word, ‘sexy’ ones! They can be most rewarding personally though.

When I was doing my Queens Scout Award, we did some work at the local convent over a couple of summers. This was a huge old house which had been donated to the Community of St. Francis by the old lady who owned it. She kept part of the house and the nuns kept an eye on her. As kids I’d been there often with my Mum and sister to visit the old lady, so when it was time to do some community work for the Queens Scout Award, the nuns knew me and gave us some jobs. We enjoyed working there as we were in and around the large gardens and it was a lovely environment to be in. We were a touch naughty by playing music somewhat loudly (including the most certainly unsuitable for a convent, Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack!), but the nuns tolerated us! I enjoyed those two summer’s work and I always think it was a shame when the nuns sold the house and left.

As Scouts we need to carry on doing work in, and for, the community, but perhaps we do need to ‘blow our own trumpets’ a bit more often, to show that our young people are putting stuff back into their communities and not just taking.