We will remember them

The other week we covered a subject that I take rather seriously. We were covering Remembrance Day.

Usually all a Scout Troop will do for Remembrance is to go to church parade, well... some of the kids would go on parade if they bothered or their parents made them... and that would be it. Nothing really on why we should be remembering or for that matter what and who we should be remembering.

I'll admit that I have never been in a war situation personally, none of my family have gone off to war... even my grandparents were excluded from going off to battle as they were engineers and were needed in the factories back at home.

And if I am honest I don't know if I could do it. I don't know if I would be able to lay down my life or my well being. And frankly, I don't really want to be put in the situation where I would have to find out. That's why I have the upmost respect and gratitude for those that do, and it's this point that I tried to get across to the scouts.

Not that that is a particularly easy concept to try to get across.

Last year (and I refer back to last year because I did something similar, but it was during a while where I fell out of the habit of blogging so it hasn't been covered online) I did a lot of searching. Going through loads of websites with activities to do, and tips and advice on conveying this rather large (and at times scary) topic. A lot of the activities I passed off as too childish, not conveying the right level of seriousness that I wanted to get across... other activities were at the other extreme. Nothing really seamed to fit, so I made up something myself.

But before I go off describing all that and forgetting to actually cover the scout night, well, the plan was going to be simple for tonight:
Getting some programme ideas from kids (as next so many weeks were blank in the plan and we also wanted to find out what countries they wanted me to look into for 2012)

pretty simple... but nothing simple ever runs like that.
flagbreak *tick*
Gam... *mphf... mphf... mplaaaahhhhhhhh*  <= that would be a sprog, vomiting all over the hall floor

... Where's the mop and bucket?


... Sprog, did you have pineapple for dinner?

The next 10/15mins were spent cleaning up the floor while the other sprogs played cards and tried to think up program ideas in another room (we didn't want a chain reaction starting).

Well, we were going to play dodgeball, but given the huge wet patch covering the middle of the hall it was decided to do a chair race where they wouldn't touch the floor at all. (I think it was appreciated)

And onto the main activity, trying to get the importance of Remembrance across to the Scouts.

Now a lot of numbers generally get batted about when it comes to casualities of war, some very large numbers which can be rather difficult to visualise. So last year I used sugar. I found out online how many grains of sugar are in a gram and from that figured out how many were in a bag. Taking one grain of sugar to equate to one life I got the Scouts to try and guess how many bags it would take to account for certain wars. To add to the effect I got a 1kg bag of sugar and poured some of it over the floor so they could actually see just how many grains are in a bag (that would be 15432 lifes roughly).

So how many bags would it take for different events?

Would you believe that it would take somewhere in the region of 2592-4666 bags of sugar to account for the 2nd World War?! To put that in perspective, the War on Terror claimed 3 bags (including non-allied forces... which believe me is difficult to find the numbers for) and the Haiti Earthquake would be 14 bags.

This year I tried to think of a different way to get these numbers across, my flatmate kindly suggested time. If you were to start killing one person a second when would you finish to match the different wars?

It's a long time, between 2 and 3 years for the 2nd World War!

After going through these numbers with them I got the scouts to lay out on the floor (which was thankfully now dry). They were to completely relax, clear their minds... and put themselves into the situations and stories that I would tell them. To imagine that they were there and what would they be thinking and doing. Last year I had given some general descriptions of conditions in war. This year I gave real life accounts given from survivors.

They could be rather powerful, especially when imaging yourself being there.

I'll post the spreadsheets with all my numbers and the true stories that I used in the meditation in the resourses page I have (I'll post a link when I have done it). Feel free to use and adapt it for your own scouts.

Just realised that I haven't actually blogged the week after this one. It was simple enough, we did some circus skills with the scouts... so it was just a fun night with the circus gear I take round other groups. Thanks to Gav for helling out as I was a little short on leaders.