Tag Archives: #DutyToOthers

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.

A shiny new coat

Bird houses for Burundi. It actually makes sense if you hear the whole story:

A retired Dane went into his garage out of boredom, emerged with five identical bird houses and hung them on his fence. He ran out of space in the garage. While making some more he was disturbed by a rap on the door. How much did those bird houses cost? He said he had to ask his wife.

The wife was – still is – a woman of business and compassion. She told her husband to ask ca. 50 dollars apiece but paint them first. The surplus would support a development project in Burundi, a country riddled by mines and other scars of war.

By now they have turned a tent camp into a regular village complete with a soap factory, a tailoring shop, a school, an bicycle ambulance et c. All on the proceeds of bird houses. They have different people paint them and sell / auction them off.

In between a man with a gardening program with lots of wievers heard about it and made half an hour’s TV about it. And I saw it. Convinced my fellow scout leaders that we should paint and sell bird houses with our cub scouts to perform duty to others.

Today I gave them a final coat of lacquer to preserve the paint in rainy weather. I spent 3 hours in boredom and fumes, and it felt great.

Because when the parents buy those houses, we’re helping a couple more families get home, jobs and education.

I love being a scout!