Another 1st Gilwell Website Update

I got another update on the 1st Gilwell Scout Group / Troop 1 Gilwell website today –

The website for Members of the 1st Gilwell Park Scout Group is almost ready after a very long wait. There will be a testing period at the beginning of August which we will be sharing with you. After receiving and implementing the feedback the live site will be ready by the end of August, just in time for Gilwell Reunion.
Some of the exciting content we have includes: the history of Gilwell Park around the time it was bought for Scouting, old photos of Gilwell including Baden-Powell at Gilwell, the origins of the Wood Badge and the Gilwell Scarf and Woggle, photos of previous and current Gilwell Reunions, timeline of Gilwell, how to book a tour and lots, lots more.
You can follow what is happening at Gilwell Park on Facebook and Twitter whilst waiting for the new website.
Please feel free to share this with your Wood Badge friends and encourage them to sign-up too.
We would like to share with you the number of different Countries that have signed up to the website so far. We think it is about 25 but it would help us to confirm this if you could Update your Country or confirm it as soon as possible please.

Many thanks,

The 1st Gilwell Park Team

I hadn’t realised Gilwell is on Facebook – I’d better look them up. So it’s good to see coming soon.

International Rover Net Moot

As anyone who reads these pages regularly will know, I find the combination of the internet and international Scouting most fascinating (hello USA, Canada, Sweden, South Africa, Bradwell(!) and anyone from any other location who happens to be passing by!) and I have gained may new friends because of it.

So I’m quite interested by an email I got this morning telling me of the International Rover Scout Moot which is being held in the Sultanate of Oman from the 12th August for 42 hours. According to the WSOM page about it –international_rover_net_moot (Medium)

Participants..  will be able to connect and communicate during 42 hours with people worldwide through the use of Internet technologies, such as MIRC & teamspeak.

The email came from someone who I am guessing I must have chatted to on one of the JOTI weekends as I don’t immediately recognise his name, but I am grateful for him doing so as I wouldn’t have found out otherwise.

I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more info and I’ll post it when I know more, and it will be an interesting event to take part in and learn about Scouting in the Middle East.


Perception of Scouting

I was talking to a colleague at work the other day and he brought up the subject of Scouting. He had seen us at our Annual General Meeting as we had hired my School’s sports hall and he uses  part of it to run his fitness business.

He was telling me that he was very impressed at the number of young people who were there and also the number of parents present. As a side note, I think we had around 2/3 of the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts there. He mentioned that he thought when his grandson was old enough, he would be likely to join us.

My colleague went on to say he was very impressed to hear that Bear Grylls was our Chief Scout. He thought that he is a good role model for our young people as he is an obvious outdoorsy type of person.

While talking to my colleague, he admitted he didn’t know too much about the Scouts and that he’d never given the movement much thought. But by seeing the number of young people and parents we had at our AGM and by the Scout Association’s publicity regarding our new Chief Scout, he told me how impressed he was and what a good job we were obviously doing!

By promoting Scouting at both the national and local levels, a good perception can be cultivated in people who don’t necessarily know much about us and this can only be a good thing.

If nothing else, I think in a few years time we will have gained a new Beaver!

Scouts, Water, Drains and the House of Commons!

Scout Groups who own their own buildings have been hit with a new charge from the water regulator OFWAT and the water companies. They will now be charged for the disposal of rain water which runs into the drains and sewers on their premises. Some Groups, it would appear, are now being charged over £500 a year and this constitutes, along with the actual charges for water to their headquarters, to around one third of their total yearly budgets!

The Scout Association have, quite sensibly, been campaigning along with other charities to try to stop this policy and to ensure that a social tariff is introduced for all community and voluntary groups. You can read all about it here.

One of the things planned is to lobby MPs, next week on St. Swithun’s Day. As part of this the idea is to get as many Cubs and Scouts there to participate in the event at Westminster Hall. Which is where the problems started!

The House of Commons authorities tried to cancel the event as the Cubs are ‘not old enough to vote’! Obviously this has upset and annoyed a lot of people, not least as MPs and politicians in general have a poor image at the moment! One MP said –

All constituents, regardless of age, should be free to lobby their MPs.

Quite right too! However the new House of Commons Speaker has over ruled the decision and the Cubs and Scouts will be able to attend the event!

The Speaker welcomes the visit by the Cub Scouts to the House of Commons on July 15 and has given permission to allow them to meet MPs in Westminster Hall.

All this has two very obvious points. First is the financial implications to Groups who will suddenly have to find hundreds of pounds to pay out (I’m sure I read somewhere it could be £1000’s for a couple of Groups!). It’s hard enough for these Groups to finance and maintain their own buildings without having to suddenly pay out loads more money for no tangible gain! I am kind of glad we don’t have our own premises when I hear of things like this!

Secondly, what image does it portray of our political system if young people who are not old enough to vote are not allowed to make their point to politicians at Westminster? It could have put them off voting or trying to get involved in making their local communities better places.

At least one of these issues has been resolved. Let’s hope a sensible outcome is achieved for the water billing issue.

An Old Resource

I was sorting through some stuff at my parents house last night with a view of chucking some of it out (told you I am a hoarder!), when I came across some stuff I’d done for a qualification in greengrocery when I worked at Asda. One of the things I had to do was to find recipes for all the stuff we sold. As I did this in 2000 / 2001 and the internet wasn’t as useful or as fast, so I used a little Scouting database programme I’d downloaded called ‘Resource Information Management System’ and it was put together in 1994 by someone called M. L. McLaren.

I looked around some of my old backups, found it and tried to run it on my current Vista machine. And despite being that old and originally made to be run in DOS, it still works!

scout info 1

By the looks of it, it was made by a Canadian, but has information from the UK, USA, Canada and even some from BP himself. I’ve no idea where I got it from originally and I can’t find any mention of it on the net today. Presumably I downloaded it from somewhere and I guess it was originally shared by zipping it up and spanning it over 6/7 floppy discs (it’s a whopping 8Mb in size!).

scout info 2

All you do is select the section or age range you want, select the area and then select the thing that grabs your interest.

scout info 3

You can even print out the article (although I haven’t got it to work yet) or export to a text file – simple.

M. L. McLaren obviously put a lot of time and effort into creating this resource (the games and recipe sections are huge), so it seems a shame not to use it! I will be going through it and picking out the bits I think are interesting and we maybe doing some interesting new recipes on camp soon.

If anyone is interested in having a copy, drop me a line and I’ll email it to you. I’ve no idea if it will run on a Mac, sorry Apple people!

Free Money!

Bet that got your attention!

The reason for this is that today my Group got a cheque from Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue (the taxman!) as part of their Gift Aid scheme.


Gift Aid is a scheme for charities which means that for every £1 given to the charity, the charity can claim back 25p from the taxman!

To be able to do this, we have to register with HMRC, get each parent to sign a form saying they are happy for us to claim Gift Aid on their behlaf, record money given to the Group by each parent and apply for the money once a year.

We can claim for money given to the Group for Capitation fees or weekly subs, but not for camps. Basically if you get a specific ‘thing’ for the money, we cannot claim against it. Fair enough!

It does require some work on the Group Treasurer’s part and a little bit on mine as Group Scout Scout Leader, but for the small amount of work we have to do, we get about the same amount of money as we get when we spend a whole day bag packing at one of the local supermarkets!

This is a great scheme which helps many UK charities and not just Scouting, but I find it extremely surprising that some Scout Groups don’t do it as they think it is ‘too complicated’.

When I was talking to our Treasurer earlier today, he reminded me that when we started applying for Gift Aid we didn’t think we would get much cash back from the scheme, but we were initially surprised at how much we got and we have been surprised every year since. As the Group is growing, the  amount of money coming in is going up and then the money we can claim back goes up. Win win really!

If you are a Scout Group (or any charity really) and don’t do Gift Aid, get it sorted! After all you get free money! And of course, this goes to provide great equipment and activities for the Group’s members!

Careful of Possessions and Property

I must admit that I’m a bit of a hoarder (ask my parents & my wife!) and I hate to throw anything away. This is a bit of a family trait to be honest. My Grandparents were all born in the early part of the 20th Century and were never what you’d call ‘rich’. My parents were born during the Second World War and then lived during the years of austerity following the War and all of this has rubbed off on me.

I never like to throw things away ‘just in case’ they may be useful in the future.

Today, I went for a meeting at my School’s other site (we have 2  six miles apart) and in the room noticed that there were three laser printers in the room. I joked to my colleague that he was starting his own private collection! In fact two of the printers were broken and were about to be thrown away.

As one of them is the same as a model I have at my site, I asked about taking it with me and as it was only going to be chucked, this was not a problem (my colleague had tried to have it repaired, but it’s a bit old, so the parts weren’t available).

After the meeting, I stripped it down and was able to repair two similar printers that had minor physical damage. So although we had to dispose of one printer, I was able to repair the damage and ensure the printers have a much longer life.

If all things were so easy to repair!

This comes under the part of the Scout Law that says that ‘A Scout Makes Good Use of time and is Careful of Possessions and Property’ and I guess it falls in the BSA’s Scout Law as ‘Thrifty’ .

If only more people were able to follow this simple rule, then there would be a lot less waste in the world!

Shameless Self Promotion and a Question!

Just a quick reminder that any podcast I do is available through iTunes, so please take a look and have a listen!

And now the question. If a review or a rating is left on iTunes do you get any notification?

The reason I wonder about this aloud is that as I access iTunes through the UK store (naturally), when I look at the PTC Media shows, for example, none have any reviews or ratings. I know these shows do have lots feedback (& quite rightly so). This makes me wonder that if any of my friends in the USA have left any feedback etc. for me, how do I know?

This isn’t a ‘please leave me lots of great reviews’ type thing, but just a genuine interest to see if the UK and US iTunes stores are ‘separate’ when it comes to free podcasts.

If anyone knows the answer please let me know (feedback, contact form, email, carrier pigeon……).

Some Photos from Last Night’s Awards

Here are a few photo’s from my Group’s AGM last night. The rest can be seen here in the Group’s photo gallery.

One of the things we have to do is to elect a Group Executive Committee and each of the committee members got given a hat to show who they are and what jobs they did. I ended up wearing three! Group Scout Leader, Group Chairman & Group Secretary. I’ve been relieved of one of these already.

IMG_3174 (Large)

Then I got my Award for Merit.

IMG_3186 (Large)

It was a very good evening and a lot of parents turned up. You can read a bit more about the AGM on the Group’s Site.

Lots of Awards at the Group’s Annual General Meeting

Tonight we held the Group’s AGM and I’m going to do a podcast about AGMs soon.

But one of the things we did was give out some awards. The first, and most important, was the Cub of the Year Award. This is given every year to one of the older Cubs who will be moving on to the Troop soon. The award is given to the Cub who excels in all they do throughout the year.

The next award was a surprise as the Cub Leader was given her 25 Years Service Award. The District Commissioner gave her the badge and certificate and the Group gave her a bunch of flowers, a framed photo of all the Leaders and a bottle of wine! The flowers were presented by my Dad who recruited her to be an Assistant all those years ago, the photo was presented by the Cub who got the Cub of the Year Award and the wine by me as Group Scout Leader. She was most surprised we’d done anything!

Next came our Assistant Scout Leader who was presented his Woodbadge. This now means we have 5 Leaders in the Group with their Woodbadge – the most we’ve ever had!

And then it was my turn! As I said at the beginning of the month, I’ve been awarded the Award for Merit, which is a real honour!

I have to say I’m really proud of all my Group’s Leaders and especially those who got the awards tonight and the Cub who got his.

Well done and thank you to all!

I’m going to put some photos up later when I get my hands on some.

Scouting Resources

I’ve just come across an excellent site called Scouting Resources. This site is run by an Assistant Cub Leader from North East London and has LOADS of useful information and resources on it (hence the name). And while it has a UK slant, there is lots of stuff on there which will be of use to Scouts and Leaders all around the world.

Take a look, it’s great!

Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day. To be honest,  I’ve often thought that it was nothing more than a ‘Hallmark Holiday’!

This is because it doesn’t seem to have any historical context, unlike Mother’s Day, which is based on the Christian Church’s Mothering Sunday (at least in the UK).

However, although I’m not a father myself (ok, technically I am, as Carol is 14 weeks pregnant, but I guess it doesn’t count yet!), I now understand the need to have a day for our Dads.

My Dad has been a constant guide in my life and I am grateful for this. When I need answers to questions, I always ask him (I hope I can live up to this).

In my role as Group Scout Leader, I kind of fill the father role of the Group. I steer it in the right direction and when people need help it’s me they ask.

Of course, BP is the Father of Scouting and for this again I am grateful.

So a belated Happy Father’s Day to all fathers of all kinds!


Me & my Dad

Old (ish) Photos

I’m in the process of sorting out some of my photographs so they are better organised and backed up in more then one place, which is always a sensible precaution.

Doing this, I’ve come across some of the oldest digital photos I have of the Scout Group, so I’ve put them into our Gallery. Some were already there, but in worse resolution and a lot smaller size.

Bridge without rope 3 (Large)

A Bridge built without rope at our Group Camp in 1988

(I’m the one in the green cap!)


Our trip to London in 2001

(I’m lurking at the back on this one!)

So now we have some photos of the Group Camp in 1988, the Scout’s London Trips in 2001 and 2003, the Group’s Family Evening in 2003 and the Scout’s camp in  July 2004.

It’s always interesting to look back over our recent past and some of those camps don’t seem that long ago!

Interestingly, the picture from London was taken with a digital camera / web cam that I had recently bought. If I remember correctly, it cost me over £100 and was considered at the time to be of high quality! My mobile phone takes better quality photos now (even Carol’s iPhone does!). Shows how technology has moved on!