Founders Day

Last Friday, 22/02/08, we celebrated Founders Day by holding a party for our Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and their parents.

Founders Day is where Scouts (Guides celebrate Thinking Day) across the world celebrate the birthday of Baden-Powell. BP would have been 151 this year!

The party was also the first event of the year to celebrate our Group's centenary.

The evening started with the District Commissioner awarding two of the Cubs their  Chief Scout's Silver Awards, the highest award a Cub can get!

Then it was silly games time. These included eating a bar of chocolate with a knife and fork and wrapping people up in loo roll to see who could make the best 'mummy'!

The parents then joined us for the talent show. It started off with the Beavers singing 'Singing in the Rain' campfire style. Then some slightly older 'Beavers' led everyone in a chant. We think they got a bit confused as Paul wore a Guide jumper,  Rachael a Burslem neckerchief and Don a Bradwell neckerchief! One of the Beavers then showed he could out stare the audience!

Five parents were then volunteered to see how many marshmallows they could fit in their mouths and still say "Chubby Bunnies"! Lyndon won by a long stretch!

The Cubs impressed us with some magic, joke telling, rolling displays and cello playing. The Scouts chickened out!

It was then time for a buffet and finally the disco and karaoke!

It was a slightly chaotic, silly, but very enjoyable evening. What more could you want??? Wink

Happy Birthday BSA

It the Boy Scouts of America’s 98th birthday on Friday 08/02/08. Happy Birthday youngsters!!!!

Steve B. from Melrose Troop 68 in Minnesota is trying to get Scouting on the front page of YouTube, by getting as many people as possible to look at Scouting videos on the day. I will be! What a fantastic idea!!

Another Scout Bashing Organisation

From today’s Daily Telegraph

Scout’s oath ‘is religious discrimination’

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The Scout Association has been reported to the equality watchdog for allegedly discriminating against atheists by making them swear an oath to God.

Ever since Lord Baden-Powell founded the 100-year-old organisation, the promise by scouts to do their duty to God and the Queen has been as much a part of their movement as jamborees, woggles and the three-fingered salute.


Scouting for Boys author Lord Baden-Powell: “discriminates against atheists”

Now, however, it has become the latest target of secularists when the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

They are furious that the Scout Association is refusing to scrap the pledge required of every new member, which they said was excluding “a growing number of children without belief”.
Members in Britain, where there are nearly half a million scouts, have to promise to “do their best to do their duty to God and to the Queen”, to help other people and to keep Scout law.
To accommodate the movement’s 28 million members around the world, the words can be modified to encompass non-Christian faiths.
The Scout guidelines state: “The phrase ‘to love God’ and ‘duty to God’ implies belief in a supreme being and the acceptance of divine guidance and therefore the word ‘God’ can be replaced by ‘Allah’, ‘my Dharma’ or others as appropriate to suit the faith or religion of the individual concerned.”

But the two secular bodies said in a joint letter to Derek Twine, the chief executive of the Scout Association, that the requirement for members to have a faith should now be made optional.

They said that the Association’s stance was “completely unacceptable” for an organisation “that is so committed to personal development of young people and that claims to foster mutual understanding between different beliefs, which of course should include those of no belief.”

They also criticised it for claiming on its website that it was “inclusive”, and called on it to make ambiguously clear that it was a religious organisation. Scouting leaders said that they had no intention of changing the oath drawn up by Lord Baden-Powell, a “muscular Christian” who believed that faith was an essential element in the development of young people.

Stephen Peck, the Association’s director of programmes and development, said: “It is fundamental to scouting that young people are helped to understand their spirituality. It is in our lifeblood.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which was set up in October and which is headed by Trevor Phillips, said it was committed to a vision of fairness, but it was too early to comment on this case.

Scout Oath (or Promise)

On my honour,
I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
To help other people
And to keep the Scout Law.

I give up Angry

Why is it people are always negative about Scouting? Stuff all the positive thing we do!

I don’t see them having a go at the Guides, Boys Brigade or Girls Brigade. I guess we’re just a big target! So I’ve grumbled to them!

Dear Sirs,
I am rather disappointed to read about your joint attack on The Scout Association and religion.
First of all, let me state my position. I am a Group Scout Leader with a very long established Scout Group (we are 100 this year in fact). We are a Group which is sponsored by a local Church of England Parish. Being sponsored by the Church means that we get the use of the Church’s hall facilities free of charge and occasional financial support for Leader training. In return we help out at the Church’s Summer and Christmas Fairs to help raise money for the Church’s upkeep. We also attend Church services four times a year.
The vicar of the Church will pop in to one of our meetings occasionally to say hello and speak to our young people.
At no point do we ‘force’ religion down our young people’s throats or try to ‘convert them’ to believe in Christianity. Nor do we or can we force our young people to attend services and we will not penalise them for not doing so.
Scouting is open to all young people without prejudice to their faith (or lack of), sexuality or needs. The general idea is to have fun, do new things, to learn new skills whilst doing so and to be well rounded citizens.
If a young person wanted to join us and specifically stated that they were an atheist that would be fine. When explaining the Promise, I would say that Duty to God means their own personal God. If they do not believe in a Supreme Being then I would say that it refers to their personal beliefs and morals. I assume that not believing in God does not preclude the person from having strong moral and ethical beliefs.
I notice that your complaint is just about the Scout Association. Why not the Guides, Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade? As I understand it, the Guides operate a similar position to the Scouts and the Boys and Girls Brigades actually promote Christianity.
Please do not make frivolous complaints about organisations whose primary concerns are the development of young people and those young people enjoying themselves. Your complaint can only detract from this and cost all organisations involved money which would be better spent on young people. 
Bet I get a wishy washy reply.

Preserving Our Past

At the weekend I went and did a bit of research on our Scout Group at the County Records Office and in the Scout Divisional and County archive.

At the County Records Office, you are not allowed to take bags in the reading area, you can only use pencil to make notes, books etc. are put on cushions to protect spines and everything is carefully preserved. In fact, you're not even allowed to photocopy items!

It was quite interesting looking through all the Church minute books. Especially when in the 1940's, names I recognised start to appear. Also in the late 1950's the writing gets much easier to read as it was written by my Grandpa! Again in the late 1960's reading becomes a lot less trouble as my Dad wrote it! I can tell when he's getting tired from the writing getting worse. Also, there seems to be a lot of scrap paper related to British Rail…..

Contrast with the Scout Divisional / County archive. It's all kept in random cupboards and boxes in a very damp, cold and dark room. Some of the minute books even had mildew on them – yuk! It was rather depressing to see albums full of newspaper cuttings from the last 60 – 80 years, specially recorded 78 rpm records of Gang Shows, audio tape, cine film and various minute books and photographs  let literally lying around and not cared for.

These are the records of what our predecessors got up to and in a couple of cases record the start of Scouting in North Staffordshire.

I've spoken to a Divisional high up about this and I think something may happen to get the archive organised and safe. We'll have to wait and see.

On the plus side, I found some old Burslem District minute books, some interesting newspaper clipping and a book listing all the Troop in existence in 1908, names of the Scout Masters and even the names of the boys in the Patrols! Existence in 1908 proved!!!! We are officially 100 this year!!!


100 Years of Scouting in Porthill

About 18 months ago with the build up to the 2007 Scouting Centenary celebrations looming, I thought I’d look into my own Group’s history. We’d (the Scout Group) always known that there had been Scouts in Porthill since 1908, but could I actually prove it?

That’s where life started to get interesting! I got in touch with the Scout Association and they told me of a leader who was registered as holding a warrant in December 1908 as a Leader, but, and of course there is a but, there are no details about which Troop!

The problem is that Scouting started started rather quickly with no real ‘organisation’ as such until BP retired from the Army in 1908. Boys just set up their own patrols and followed what was written in ‘Scouting for Boys’.

There is documentation from 1915 from our District, of which I have a copy, but no where does anything say a thing about 1908.

Looking at the War Memorial for the members of the Troop killed in the Great War and checking their details on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s web site it was noticeable that most of them would have been between the ages of ten and twelve in 1908. However, this is not absolute proof.

A few people in administrative positions within the District have said we started in 1908 and in fact wrote so in an article in the local newspaper written in 1983 when we restarted our Scout Troop (we’d only had Cubs for about 20 years).

So it was time to dig deeper. It seems that none of the Church’s (who sponsor us and let us use the Hall for free) records before 1920 have survived. Although having said that, I’m going to our county record office to look at them this weekend.

I was getting a bit stuck at this point! I decided to take a look at some of the old local newspapers from 1908. These are available at our local library on microfilm.

Looking through the Staffordshire Sentinel football edition of Saturday 5th December 1908, I saw this in the Stop Press –

Porthill Football match 05-12-1908_Page_1_Image_0003

And there it is – Porthill Scouts 4 : May Bank Boys 1.

The bit about Mr. Lloyd George and the Suffragettes gives it quite a nice ‘timely’ feel.

In the same paper the following week, Saturday 12th December 1908 is this –

Porthill Football match 05-12-1908_Page_2_Image_0001

So there we are. I think it highly unlikely there were to groups of young people called Porthill Scouts!

It might be an interesting idea to hold a football match on 5th December this year to commemorate this. Perhaps our friends from Basford Scouts could fill in for May Bank Boys? It would be nice to think that we would win 😉

15 Years!

Last night at the District’s Executive Committee meeting, I was awarded my 15 years long service award!

Fifteen years as a Scout Leader, well Assistant Beaver Leader, Assistant Scout Leader, Scout Leader and finally Group Scout Leader!

Where did that go???

New Badges Announced

Seems that the Scout Association are having another publicity blitz with the launching of the new proficiency badges. From what I’ve read in the media and on various web sites (see the BBC’s coverage here), the coverage is still positive. Of course there are those that always make the snide remarks, but we have to put up with such ill informed journalists.

Looks like they’re trying to cover a whole range of activities and yet keep all the traditional stuff. That’s what keeps the kids interested folks!

Interestingly enough, I was showing our Scouts how to use hurricane lamps the other day and they sat there thoroughly interested. Now I’d like to say that I was really engaging and interesting, but it may have had something to do with setting light to things!!!

I Need to Learn to Read!

Oh dear. Last night I was getting ready to go to a Group Scout Leader's training weekend, which was to run today and tomorrow. Carol asked to see a copy of the programme, so I printed it out and showed it to her.

She then pointed out to me that it was actually arranged for next weekend. Did I feel silly? I would have felt a right fool if I had turned up today!

I think I need a lie down……… 

We Need a Quartermaster

On Friday I went with some of our Leaders to tidy up our Gear Store. This in part preparation for some new storage lockers and cupboards we are going to have built later in the year. 

Anyway, we managed to find the floor(!) and discover a load of kit that hadn’t been seen for years! We also found what was good, what was bad and what needed repairing. Actually, the only repairs needed are to four Tilley type paraffin lamps which need new glass globes. We threw our a load of junk and some old tents that were long past it. It was interesting to check over three patrol (ridge) tents we bought in 1984 & 1986. These are a little worn and have been repaired a few times, but, and this is the main thing, they are still useable! I would like to see some of our modern dome type tents last that long. That’s the thing with using ‘proper’ canvas, it’s heavy duty and easily repairable. I guess using these tent again and again is a sign of good Scouting – ‘Careful of Possessions and Property’ (Scout Law).

Once we’ve got our new cupboards etc. we will need to appoint a proper quartermaster to ensure we don’t get in a mess again!

Goodbye 2007

As 2007 closes, time to look back at the year. Only positive and good things I think, there’s too much doom and gloom around already!

2007 has seen a number of centenaries both personal to me and personal to everyone else.

My Mum’s parents were both born in 1907. It’s hard to think of them as being 100, although Grandma nearly made it to 92!

Grandma's 75th (Medium)

Grandma’s 75th birthday.

Mr. William Thomas Vickers and Mrs. Alice Irene Vickers

I could have got into real trouble for announcing to the world that Grandma’s first name was Alice! It’s a shame Grandad never got to see all the computer and interweb stuff as he would have been fascinated. The first radio (wireless) he had, he built himself!

Newcastle (Staffs and District) Camera Club was 100. Grandad and Mum were / are members and they had an exhibition to mark their centenary. Mum had a couple of here photos displayed.

Of course, one of the big events of the year was the Scout Centenary. Looking back at some of my scribblings from 2007 and looking at my Scout Group’s web site you can see some of the things we did. I think my highlight was restarting the Scout Troop after 18 months and investing the new Leader and new Scouts at our District’s Centenary camp.

The other two personal highlights were finally seeing Paul McCartney live and actually driving a real locomotive – albeit up and down the yard at Cheddleton a couple of times!

Goodbye 2007 and hello 2008.


We've now completed the Scout's Christmas parties. Last week we took 30 or so Beavers & Cubs to see the Bee Movie at the cinema. They all had a good time and behaved really well, albeit a bit noisily (you have to hear thirty 6 – 10 year olds to believe it)!

Then last night I went with the Scouts bowling. Another good evening with some interesting new styles of bowling being exhibited by the Scouts!

But the thing that got me, was that one of the parents came up to all the Leaders and gave us all a Christmas present for looking after 'little Johnny' for the last year! I had to pick myself up off the floor!

In the 18 or so years I've been a Scout Leader of one sort or another, I've never had this happen. Normally, it's unusual enough to get a 'thank you' from a parent let alone a gift. Now of course, we don't do Scouting for personal gain, but the occasional Thank You is always appreciated. Especially after a week long camp!

Anyway, thank you to the parent for the most unexpected gift!

Explorer Scout Spends a Year Under Canvas

Just read this article in the Telegraph about an Explorer Scout who has spent one year under canvas to raise money for a children’s hospice.

Well done to him! I hope the Scout Association recognises him in some way!

Special Needs

I was chatting to my sister last night and she asked me ‘what would you do if a parent with a child who has special needs came to you and asked if their child could join Beavers, Cubs or Scouts?’ So I said I have a chat with the parents, see what their child’s needs were, check with the District’s special needs advisors and then if the child was able to join us draw up a ‘contract’ between the Group and the parents stating what we can and can’t do, what help we’d need from the parents and reminding the parents that we’re not child care professionals, but we will do our best to get their child to join in and enjoy Scouting.

She was a bit shocked as a colleague of hers had been told by a client (they’re both psychologists dealing with children with special needs), that a local group had turned their child down flat!

As we’ve had two young people in the Group in the past who’d both had Asperger’s Syndrome I was a bit shocked. You don’t just say ‘No’.

Scouting should be available to all young people irrespective of their background or circumstances. Even if they couldn’t accommodate a young person with special needs, at least they should have tried and then seen if there were alternatives. Saying ‘No’ is just not on.

How Many Activities?

I’ve spent the last couple of days writing a newsletter for the parents of our Beavers, Cubs & Scouts. I got landed with, er, volunteered for the job at our Group Executive last week.

Now I’ve finished it (just a load of printing to do now), I’ve realised what a lot of activities we’ve put on for the young people in our Group over the last year. Even though it’s nearly the end of the year there’s still activities to come. The Scouts even had a martial art demonstration last night in which they all participated in as part of their fitness challenge.  In fact we’ve got loads planned for next year as well.

End of Centenary Celebrations

Yesterday I attended a service of thanksgiving for 100 years of Scouting at Lichfield Cathedral organised by the County. It was a nice way to end the year’s celebrations on a slightly more formal but relaxed note. This compares with the camps and other events we’ve been on!

100_2572 (Medium)

The Cathedral at 16.30

Here’s to 2008!