Category Archives: scouting

Stan Dup or Ben Dover?

Yesterday was St. George’s Day. It may not be of much significance to most people. One exception are English patriots and churchgoers as St. George is England’s patron saint.

Another exception is scouts. As steady readers of this blog know I’m a scout, and though I belong to a non-denominational scout corps we still celebrate St. George’s day. We hear or re-enact the story of George before he was a saint and just was a soldier. He slayed a dragon and so saved not just a village but also a fair princess about to be sacrificed to the dragon. And then he turned down her father’s offer of half the relam and her hand in marriage because a good man does not help for personal gain. He helps because it is his duty to help his fellow man (and princess!)

So we tell the scouts that story and remind them that helping others should always be second nature to a true scout.

Then there’s the part they all look forward to: The handing out of stars.

When I was a girl scout in the YWCA they were real, metal stars. Nowadays they’re just embroidered material that you stitch on to your left uniform pocket. On the star the number shows how many years you’ve been a scout.

My new star says 8. And in my group there’s a custom that once you get that you get no more stars. Instead you just tilt it to show the sign of eternity.

So: Should my star stand up or bend over?

Think I’ll leave it standing. And next year break group consensus and swap it for my old “6”. Upside down, of course.

You have to haggle!

Or: How I bartered my nice neighbour for laminated copies of dead currency

Scouts are an odd bunch. I speak from knowledge as I’ in my eight year as a scout, and that’s just counting my adult scout years.

So let me expound on odd: We pay good money just to be allowed to be with other peoples’ children in our spare time. Often as not away from our own families. We volunteer to stand post at night even in winter and rain. We think woodsmoke is the best perfume imaginable. We walk our feet sore beyond belief for a tiny badge to show off on our uniforms. And just to top it we know no greater joy than adhering to a concept for an entire week-end, using a story frame to play silly buggers.

So this week-end I spent with the scouts. Nothing we did was any surprise to me as I volunteered to help plan the whole thing.

We set the story frame to be ancient Rome: The rooms in the cabin were adorned with signs saying “culina”, “dormitorium”, “triclinium”, “vestibulum”, and “cubiculum”. Not one cub had a clue why. The older scouts either asked about is a dozen times – each –  or overlooked it.

Friday evening the 10-12 YOs built role play weapons and shields while the 12-16 YOs built an acquaduct out of discarded plastic tubes from a carpet store.

Saturday saw the arrival of the cubs. They set to work adorning triclinium with columns (more tubes) and stick-on mosaics while the others practised weaponry / built a steam hut to double as a “caldarium”.

Saturday afternoon saw all scouts invade European regions to spread Roman civilisation. In Slavia they had to crawl belly-up, crab-style over odds and ends to feel for their patrol tote animal. They fired a catapult in Bohemia to get a very silly dining rule: “Always top your neighbour’s glass”, “Always stand while Ceasar sits”, “Make sure potatoes and meat DO NOT touch” etc. Had to give up conquering the Gauls. That kind of thing.

Saturday evening late saw the 10-16 YOs meet the red tape of Roman civilisation. The idea was to turn the rule democratic. My post was one as a slave keeper at the Colosseum. They had to haggle with me to buy free my enslaved neighbour, and I was tough on those scouts.

Yesterday I felt great again after a 12-hour night’s sleep. So now I’m ready to go again next Saturday.

Yes, we are an odd bunch. But the badges are neat!

A friendly pat on the back: Well done, cubs

ulvepote

This weekend was spent with “my” cub scouts and co-leaders. It was the yearly long weekend with two nights away, a walk in the dark Friday evening and a long walk – some 7 kilometres – Saturday. As a recognition I print a wolf paw on their uniforms. They are after alle only 7-9 years old and find the weekend to be a challenge in different ways.

The problem is it’s a challenge for me too: I get far too little sleep. And Saturday afternoon I had a screeching pain in my sinuses from fatigue, had to lie down for just half an hour before I could face the stack of 26 uniforms.

But now it’s done. With wear and sun-bleaching those paws will become more and more visible. Just like mine in the snap above.

Tartar sauce sandwiches and the laws of physics

Warning: It’s another scouting post. Anyone severely anti-scouts can stop reading now, unless you’re into Newton, physics and general sillyness.

So: Saturday was regional tounrnament with the scouts. These things always revolve around a theme, and this one was about the works of a beloved children’s books author Ole Lund Kirkegaard. He worked as a teacher and genuinely loved it. Was always on the side of his pupils, never got really mad, encouraged imagination and wrote books accordingly.

The one my group got tells the story of some children who pursue and catch a thief who goes around on a push-scooter while dealing with a terrible grouch of a man, learning tricks from a 16-year old and starting school.

One trick is how to drive a teacher mad: Just arm yourself with open tartar-sauce sandwiches, throw them at the blackboard / chalkboard and hope he gets so mad he steps into the waste-paper bin. (Or she. In the book the teacher is a man).

So what we had them do was sneak past Mr. Storm, the grouch, as best they could, pinch leads as to where stuff was hidden while disturbing the push-scooter thief and of course make and throw tartar-sauce sandwiches.

For the last part we / I devised what I thought was an ingenious sandwich catapult out of two milk crates, a narrow board, a metal rod from a scrap heap, a tiny bit of electricians’ tube, gaffer tape and binder twine. The board was suspended between the crates via the metal rod inside the tube bit taped onto the board. See-saw style.

So why is there no snap of this wonder? Weeeellll – because I’d plain forgotten Newton’s laws. Instead of catapulting forward, it worked as any see-saw. Scout number one placed the sandwich, sauce facing up, on one end. Whacked the other end with a rubber-head hammer (usually for tent pegs). Up shot the sandwich, some 25 meters I was told (almost 80 feet!). Then it lost momentum, went into a backward, steep curve and managed to land on the neck of another scout. Sauce facing down.

Apparently, they tried once more, only this time hitting the board with less force. The result was that the sandwich merely fell off the board. It was then discarded and disassembled before I could get a photo op.

At least the rest of our activity and the rest of that day was a success. And we had great fun too playing silly buggers for some 8 hours.

Scouts are serious, great, innovative, quick to ad-lib. And sometimes very, very silly.

The Seventh year stitch(es)

Yes I know full well I’ve been at it before. And now I’m at it again: Scouting. Well it’s just a sign that it takes up a lot of mental room. Hardly surprising since I have this proof of just how long time ago I first donned my blue uniform:

årsstjerne

7 years in blue. And ridiculously proud to show it. As a girl I was in the YWCA for 6 years. And no that doesn’t mean I should have a star saying 13 years on my pocket, which is where it’s sewn on. Because I’m in the non-denominational uni-sex Danish Scout Corps now.

And I think I’m ready for seven more years, one at a time. So is it much of a craft to sew on a small piece of material? Not really, though our uniforms are made of sturdy cotton woven the same way as denim.

What is a genuine craft is coming up with idea upon idea on how to train each girl and boy scouting skills, cooperation, cameraderie, how to overcome being homesick, pitching tents et c. And still keep up your own enthusiasm. OIt’s only possible because scouting is so wonderful it attracts other adults that become friends. Oh yes, I am SO ready for seven more years. Itching to get back to it all!