Golden moments

One of my scouts has managed to gain her Chief Scout Gold Award!

*does a little dance*

For those of you outside of the UK, or just outside of scouting. The award is the highest award that a member of the scout section can get. Out of the 9 possible challenge badges available in the scout section, they have to complete 8 of them. And those challenge badges ain't exactly easy... they take months to complete.

So I will happily admit that I am rather proud at the moment.

Lincoln District held an award ceremony at RAF Waddington this week for all those that gained the award, and I got to tag along as her leader. We had a tour and got to see some parts of the base that aren't open to the public before the Station Commander presented the awards.

Unfortunately the spot lighting kinda caused a bit of a glare on the award itself! Hopefully the professional photos that they took turned out better than my iphone ones.

I did collar her before leaving the hall tho to get another photo.

Congratulations Jess!

Note: before any of you say anything about my 'no photos of the sprogs' rule... I asked for specific permission from her and her parents if it would be ok to post a photo here to mark the occasion.

Apparently I'm now an elf

One of the explorers in the Jamboree Unit just posted this on the groups facebook page and I just had to share it with you...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

That's the 4 unit leaders!

... I have to say, hats off to the lad, it's definitely the most bizarre thank you I've ever received.

Twister + Record Cards + Investiture = An Impossible To Title Blog Post

Tonight was a bit of a mash up for the scouts as the radio station we were planning to visit never got back in contact with us. M'eh, it happens... you plan things, you try to arrange them and for some reason the planets don't align and it doesn't go ahead.

This is why we have back up plans.

I will admit that it was Mim that came up with this particular back up plan. (Yeah, buying a house really takes up a lot of your time... they should come with a health warning or something)
Also... be careful of giants
After a quick game and introducing a newbie (a cub moving up- huzzah!) we got on with one of our activities for the night. OS Symbol Twister! We taped 16 OS symbols in a 4x4 grid on the floor, one grid for each patrol.... and then we randomly shouted out hand/foot and symbol combinations.

Sprogs should not be that flexible.

Both hilarious and disturbing at the same time, arms and legs all over the place.... one tiny little scout cowering completely underneath her PL. Slightly more disturbing when one of the sprogs asked "where's my left foot...?" *facepalm*

Once they had finally all fallen over Niall and Jason went on to do 4 and 6 figure grid references with them, while I pulled one of them aside and went through their Record Card, and it was a good thing that we went through it, as we had found that she had completed a couple of challenge badges.

The end of the night came along and I got to present a whole host of badges, most of them challenge badges.

And what's more I got to invest a PL.

Yes, I invest my PLs. It isn't normal practice, but I've found that it helps give them some confidence in taking on the role and it helps the others recognise the authority that they have. The investiture runs like any other investiture, but with a modified promise that I came up with.

Patrol Leaders Promise
On my honour I promise, 
That I shall lead my patrol to the best of my abilities,
And that I shall remain worthy of the position of Patrol Leader,
For the sake of my Patrol, my Troop and the Scout Movement.

It doesn't seam like much, but my scouts have taken it all to heart. You should have seen the beaming smile he had when I told him that I was going to invest him as a PL.

Does this mean that I will need to change the name of my blog?

You know how recently I have been kinda teasing you... saying that I have some secret stuff going on and that I couldn't tell you about them until the time is right.

Well, the time has come! 

*villagers rejoicing and dancing in the streets*

So huddle in and pinkie promise swear you won't tell anyone...

*deep breath*

.... I'm changing sections to be an Assistant Explorer Scout Leader!

There are a number of reasons why I am wanting to make the move, but the main one is that is it a section that I have always wanted to work with and all my recent work with the Jamboree reminded me of that and made me want it even more. I haven't made the change yet tho. That's going to happen after Christmas, to give me time to get all my loose ends sorted out in the scout troop (like updating blooming record cards).

You actually have no idea how much I wanted to tell you all that sooner. I shadowed an Explorer Unit here in Lincoln for a couple of months to get a feel for the section and I loved it and I wanted to share it all with you. Like the refugee experience, or the murder mystery night at halloween or the Guy Fawkes night... but I couldn't as my scouts didn't know I will be leaving them.

Not long now until Christmas, and I am so excited!

Oh, and that other secret project of mine... all in good time... you'll find out soon enough.

I did warn you they would get messy...

Recently (well, recent enough...) it was halloween!

You know, that time of year when sprogs dress up, asks for sweets and the challenge for scout leaders everywhere is to throw a party. My rule of thumb with this: the messier they leave the better.

But before I share with you my recipe for a messy child, I'll share with you some photos of the pumpkins that we got them to carve.

Recipe for a Messy Child

Sprog                                   x many
Costume                              x one per Sprog
Apples                                 x numerous
Water                                   x bucket loads
Marshmallows                    x more than a mouth full
Flour                                    x a bouquet
Doughnuts                          x enough to choke a giant
Treacle/Golden Syrup      x enough to grease a small monkey

  • Inspect sprog in costume, it may be necessary to remove articles for movement/breathing proposes
  • Float apples in buckets of water
  • Insert sprogs head
  • String up doughnuts on a rope so they all dangle freely. Coat doughnuts in treacle/syrup
  • Hang doughnuts above sprogs heads and let them apply treacle and syrup to face/hair/body/costume as they attempt to consume them.
  • Once all sprogs are damp and coated in treacle/syrup, bring out marshmallows on a plate covered in a large heaped pile of flour.
  • Insert sprogs head, flour should stick rather successfully to water and treacle mixture
We finished off the night with a game of Fluffy Bunnies. If you don't know what that is, you take turns putting a marshmallow in your mouth and saying 'fluffy bunnies'. You are not allowed to chew or swallow at any point or you're out. Needless to say, this was played round a bin for them to eventually throw up into.

What's a halloween party without a game that includes vomiting?

They all loved it really, chasing each other round and putting treacle and flour in each others faces, drooling down their tops while trying not to spit up marshmallows. Of course when their parents showed up and saw how messy they were it was 'horrible'...

I've since learned (from one of the parents) that it took one of the sprogs several days to remove all the treacle/flour.... SUCCESS!!

Lest We Forget

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month and at the 11th hour we will pause to remember.

Usually scouts will attend church this Sunday, in full uniform and in parade to mark the occasion. My scouts wont. Not because we don't remember, but because the Salvation Army church we are linked to goes elsewhere to help others mark the occasion. So we usually have our own form of remembrance.

The past couple of years I have dedicated a whole scout evening to remembrance, and one of the things that I have always struggled to get my head round... and something that I am sure that the scouts have struggled to grasp... is the shear numbers involved.

When told about the numbers that died, the numbers are so huge that my brain just can't imagine anything that size. So a while back I worked out a way to highlight it, a way to make the numbers real. I think I have talked about it in the past, but never actually posted up the numbers and the process, so here it goes.

I found out, from the internet, how many grains of sugar are in a gram (15.432 on average) and then figured out how many grains were in a 1kg bag of sugar. Then equating 1 grain of sugar to 1 soul I worked out how many bags of sugar were needed to illustrate the numbers.

The numbers were still huge.

So I took along one bag of sugar, and emptied it out across the floor. Getting the kids to see just how many grains were in that one bag... and then went through how many bags were needed for each war and other events to help put things into perspective.

And here are those numbers:

World War 1                      15000000-20000000 dead             972-1296 bags
World War 2                      40000000-72000000 dead             2592-4666 bags

Genocides of Nazi Germany     4871000-11000000 dead          316-713 bags
Auschwitz-Birkenau                  800000-1500000 dead             52-97 bags

Indian Ocean (boxing day) Tsunami         230210 dead              15 bags
Haiti Earthquake                                      222000 dead              14 bags

9/11 Attacks (excluding hijackers)           2977 dead                   0.19 bags
7/7 Bombings                                          52 dead                       0.003 bags
War on Terror                              at least 47183 dead                3 bags

These numbers always humble me, and remind me of how privilaged I am.

Thank you, for all that you gave, I will try to live my life to the fullest and remember.

Stuff I've been doing while I've not been here

Recently I have been ______________________________

Baking like a fiend: Over the past year and a half or so I have gotten quite into baking. It started off with making some cupcakes and treats for my weekly 'Sunday Gathering' with my mates and quickly evolved into full on birthday cake baking and decorating. It's gotten to the point now that my friends are putting orders in, I kid you not.
I made this for my nieces first birthday
They're watching me!?
Only the other week I baked about 50odd biscuits. Some were getting posted up to my sister for her birthday, some to Cheshire to one of my friends who was going through a rough patch (cause receiving baked goods in the post is bound to cheer anybody up) and all the rest were getting sold in my office to help raise money for Jeans for Genes.

And I'm currently trying to figure out how to do a turn-table cake for someone in work and have been asked to do 2 wedding cakes!

Not buying a house: This is in spite of going to numerous house viewings (6 this week) and the estate agents getting to the "You've been looking for a while now" stage of proceedings. Which is basically them trying to tell me not to be so picky and buy a house already.
Sure the view would be stunning... but the commute would be terrible
And, unfortunately, it's not like my previous experiences in buying stuff. Normally when I go shopping, I walk into the store, see if I like stuff, put myself into a mini-guilt trip about wanting to spend money, leave the store, decide that I want it anyway, return to store, check out everything again (just in case something better magically appears on the shelf) and then eventually buy it anyway.

Dead easy.

Not like houses. That requires dealing with idiotic estate agents, arguments about getting things in writing, getting lawyers and people just to convince other people to lend me money. And the odd guilt trip about spending money... cause, well, it's still me we're talking about.

Buying a house would be so much easier if it worked like any other normal shop. Tho I would expect that the shopping trolleys would be huge.

So if anyone has a really nice house in Lincoln that they are willing to sell me for hardly anything I would be really grateful. I may even bake you something.

Getting most of the ground floor in the house I am currently living in torn out: Dan, the guy that owns the house I live in (he doesn't like it when I call him my landlord), came round with his parents to decorate the house. All was going fine, until the paint that they were putting up on the walls was flaking off as soon as it had dried. It was then decided that we should get someone in to check for damp.

Turns out most of the ground floor, up to about waist height, has really bad damp. Which would explain the huge bulge in the wall by the kitchen door. The guy came back about 2 weeks ago to gut the place and damp-proof and replaster everything.

Some of it still isn't dry... so he hasn't been back yet to re-attach the skirting boards.

Given that I hate tidying/cleaning at the best of times, I didn't want to clean everything until he has finished... cause that plaster dust gets EVERYWHERE. Even in rooms upstairs. With the door closed.

... everywhere...

Geocaching in formal wear: Yes, you read that correctly. Geocaching. In formal wear.

My friend, Stacey (who you may remember used to be the Scout Leader for the 9th Lincoln) got married! And, stupidly, she invited Mim and I to attend. You would have thought that having left the group that she would have taken advantage of the situation and be rid of us, but no.

While the photographs were being taken Mim and I saw this tower...

South Kyme Tower
... and I commented that the area was just begging for a cache. Turns out there was one... and it was within 200m of where we were standing. It would have been rude for us not to. And during the break between the meal and the evening do, when everyone went to the pub... we may or may not have gone out and got 3 more.
See... actual proper formal wear
Beating sprogs at monopoly: This one is actually scout related! We had a board games night at the scouts a while back and I played some of the sprogs at monopoly.
That was what I ended up owning... pretty much the whole board
Yeah... they lost. Badly

Signing myself up for more work: Yup, I am actually a glutton for punishment. I've managed to sign myself up for not one but two new scouty projects.

You can stop shaking your head in dismay now...

First, I've been asked to be a subcamp leader at Poacher 2013, something that I am rather excited about. I've never been to a Poacher camp before, so I am kinda getting thrown in at the deep end

The second thing is super-secret at the moment, so you are just going to have to wait. If I told you what it was then it would spoil the event. And we don't want that now do we? All I can tell you is that it requires a heck of a lot of planning and logistics.

Doing big secret stuff: Even more secret stuff. It's big. And it's secret. I so want to tell you ALL about it. But I can't. Not yet anyway. Soon... hopefully.

Yes, I do realise that I am a bit of a tease.

And finally...

Winning the World Music Networks Battle of the Bands: For the past year I have been a member of the Choir Invisible. And we've recently won the World Music Networks Battle of the Bands, which means that we are going to be recorded for one of their albums! Absolutely fantastic news you'll agree, so I have to go now and brush up on my swahili...

Happy Birthday!

It's 2 years since I started this little blogging project of mine!

*Party streamers falling from the ceiling, villagers rejoicing and cake getting cut*

I can hardly believe it, can you?

To celebrate I'm going to post some of my favourite photos from the Jamboree for you all to enjoy

Look, everyone is all shiny and clean

Tivoli Gardens was so much fun! (even tho not all the rides were open)

One of the acts from the UK Party in Copenhagen (my Alphabeat photos turned out blurry *sniff*)

One of my favourite shots this one!

It was so peaceful on camp-in-camp...

... despite the warnings

Communal cooking area in camp-in-camp. Whatever you had left over you shared with everyone else. We ate like kings that night!

... and slept in some pretty nifty tents

The kids out canoeing

Heading for the Carnival day party

The 360degree stage for the closing ceremony

Our tiny tin can plane for the trip to Lithuania

Now... where's my present?

Note: Obviously Hobbes is copyrighted by Bill Watterson, and if you don't recognise him... first, SHAME ON YOU; secondly, go google it now!

Flaming Phalanges

As you all know I was recently at the World Scout Jamboree as an Assistant Unit Leader, and, as promised, I took my diary with me to jot down all the little stories and details.

Oh the best laid plans of mice and men... if only my writing hand hadn't caught on fire.

Yes, you read that correctly. Caught. On. Fire.

Not me, yes. Not exactly what happened, yes. Cool picture none the less, hell yes.
It was our first day on the Jamboree site in Sweden, we were still setting everything up, including the kitchen. The way that our chosen system worked meant that the patrol that I looked after was on duty and had to cook dinner.

We were making dinner, on our brand new stoves, in our brand new mess tent surrounded by packages and boxes hiding all manner of things, like those handy things called fire blankets. Everything was going smoothly until I hear one of the kids say "Oh look, it's on fire"

That, for the record, is a sentence that can send shivers down any leaders back.

I quickly turn round and not only has the kitchen roll that was beside the stove gotten so hot that it spontaneously combusted, but it was in said kids hands. Everything following this happened in a matter of seconds. I ran over, I think I stupidly tried to blow on it (I know, I know, but this was like a second after seeing it) realised that I needed to get it out of her hands and out of the mess tent.

So I grabbed it and ran.

And then stomped all over it.

And then released that in the past 3-5 seconds from seeing fire to stomping it that I had burnt my hand...   not my best moment I will admit.

We got to treating it straight away. I was pouring cold water over it while Elaine (our first aider extraordinaire) was prepping the burn kit, and as soon as that was on I was on my way to the first aid facility. A first aid centre which was embarrassingly still setting up, that's how early in the Jamboree this happened!

I did try to write that night, a lot had happened that day after all... we'd gotten to Sweden, to the actual Jamboree itself after 2 years of work... but it just hurt too much to write with my burnt hand and if I had tried with my left it would look like a 5 year olds scrawl and a single word would probably take up half a page.

So all my Jamboree stories are going to be just that, stories. Unlike the 3Nations posts (going day by day) I'll be doing some random little stories from time to time. If you don't like it then you can blame the flaming kitchen roll...

And if you still don't get what "Flaming Phalanges" are... then this little clip from Bones might help

A little pick me up

Every leader has their ups and downs. And at some point or another we all need a little pick me up. I'm not talking about a cake and a good cuppa type pick me up.
Not this type of pick me up...
I'm talking about the pick me up that only the scouts can provide. They may not intend to provide it... heck they might not even realise that they have done it, but I've generally found that when you need one, then they will deliver.

This summer I was in dire need of a pick me up.

Things had been getting on top of me, I was getting mega-stressed with everything and if I am honest I wasn't exactly a happy bunny. I stayed clear of here for a while (if you hadn't noticed) as I didn't want to be all negative. That's also why I'm not going to go into any details.
I Iz Not A  Happy Bunny!
from here
But not to worry, my pick me up worked and I'm happy again! (woo hoo)

The nature of the pick me up, well, it's rather unusual as it actually involves something that we scout leaders dread, medical care. And no, before you say anything, I did not go round doing Timmy Mallet impressions and hitting the kids with an oversized mallet to relieve my stress.

Let me set the scene. At the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden one of the set activities was Dream, a night time activity in the forest based round self discovery. Our subcamp had this scheduled straight after the Opening Ceremony, so after the party at the main arena we had to fight the crowd back to our site to get changed and then make our way to the queue for the activity. Needless to say we were all shattered.

In fact we weren't the only ones that were shattered. A girl from another UK unit fainted near us while we were in the queue for the queue. One of her leaders dutifully stayed with her, but the rest of her unit carried on and went into the queue for the activity. My unit on the other hand, instantly, and without being asked, formed a human shield round them and started doing crowd control.

It was shortly after that, that one of our own keeled over. Well, the newly formed Protection League went into over drive. Passing water among themselves to make sure that everyone was okay, protecting the casualties from being walked over and clearing the road for the ambulance to get in.

At one point there was actually three people under our protection, altho the third wasn't there for that long... so I presume that he recovered quickly and went on to enjoy the activity.

I know, I know, it sounds like a complete disaster. Obviously it wasn't the situation that was the pick me up... that would just be a bit too sadistic even for me, it was the way they reacted. They truly went above and beyond the call of duty that night and I was immensely proud to be able to call myself one of their leaders.

Now, I'm not trying to brag, I've done a number of things that are rather pride worthy. I've got my Queen Scout Award, Duke of Edinburgh Gold, Explorer Belt and Wood Badge all before I was 25. All of which were presented to me at various times, and don't get me wrong, I was very proud at all of them. But all of them pale in comparison to how proud I was of my unit that night.

That night, not only did they protect their fellow scouts, but they restored my faith in being a scout leader.

Note: The scout from my unit that fainted recovered rather quickly as was fine. We also received a thank you message the next day from the girl from the other unit that fainted saying that she was fine.

Live from the Jamboree

This post is coming to you LIVE from the Winter Town internet cafe at the World Scout Jamboree.

It's going to be rather short due to the limited time on the computer, that and I keep hitting the wrong keys as they have extra ones with such things like ö and ä or even å... *plays with more keys*.... ¤½ ÖÄÅ...


Everyone is having a grand time. The kids went to their first activity, Dream, straight from the opening ceremony last night (which resulted in us not getting to bed until 4am)

Have plenty of stories already to pass onto you all...

See you on the other side!

What an adventure!

Wow... what a couple of months it has been!

A lot has happened in the past couple of months. So much that I simply haven't had the time to type it all out for you all.

Some things have changed, some started, and some sadly going to come to an end, houses are being hunted, best man speeches written (tho not yet delivered), Jamborees prepared for and new events signed up for.

And that is not to mention all the week to week stuff with my scouts; all our work on the communication badge and our recent camp at Sudbrooke... as well as getting some new members!

The biggest adventure is, of course, the World Scout Jamboree, for which I will be leaving the house for in about an hour. We have a fantastic group of kids and I am so excited about it, it should be a trip of a lifetime. I'm not entirely sure that the kids, if you can call them that, know what it is that they have let themselves in for... but that is all part of the magic.

... and don't worry, my diary is packed...

March Jamboree Training

Not long to go now!

The Jamboree is getting ever closer and it is about time that I gave you all an update on it all. A lot has happened Jamboree wise recently, and I mean a LOT. So much so that I haven't had the time to write it all up for you all... hence this out of time post.

Firstly we've had two lots of training with the Unit. I was prepping the second one, which was just this weekend, when I realised that I hadn't even blogged the first one yet... and it was in March! So here it is...

March Training Day

We had a single days training with the sprogs in March held at a scout hall in Lincoln. Due to the fact that I had been away on holiday (woo hoo, Africa!) until the week before the prep for this one was way behind.

Cue sleep deprivation due to late nights prepping and early mornings getting into work.
Logo from Channel4's gameshow Shattered
How I managed to stay awake I don't know!

But everything came together and the kids really enjoyed it. We covered some information on the Jamboree, Home Hospitality, Media Training (done by the sprogs that went on the course run by UK Contingent) and a quiz with random facts about Lithuania.

Facts like how animals are believed to talk on Christmas Eve in Lithuania, The old currency was ground up and recycled into toilet paper when they switched and that Stalin World is a tourist attraction!
See... it exists, honest!

We also got the county Trek Carting team to bring them along for a bit of trek cart racing in the afternoon.
Look, it's vintage scouting!
The racing involved pushing them up to a barrier, taking them apart, getting over a barrier, putting them back together, pushing it round a post and back to the barrier, taking it apart again, getting it under the barrier, putting it back together again and pushing it back to its original position. Try saying that really fast 3 times.

We also got them to do some mini-pioneering so that we could get some ideas for the gateway.

This one had rope bridges up the sides and a swing in the middle

Going with a castle theme, this one has the iron gateway painted on fabric which could be raised during the day.

This one included a platform at the top and a number of posters about Lincolnshire
General concensus went with a platform above the gateway, so that they would be able to climb all over it. Us leaders also managed to brainstorm a couple of ideas while they were building. I don't want to reveal the ideas just yet, but if we can get it to work it will be brilliant and should help get people from other units over to our site.

3Nations: Free Day

Have a look at previous 3Nations posts on the Expedition Page. It's where all the cool kids hang out!

Sunday 26th July 2009

Today was a free day for us to relax, recharge the batteries etc... which is usually needed at some point in the middle of such a long expedition.

In the morning, as a thank you to the monks that allowed us to camp and hike on their land, we did a litter sweep through part of the Bogd Khan National Park.

All of us, about to set off on our mission.
You would be surprised for somewhere so remote just how much rubbish we found in the National Park!

It truly was rather disgusting. Some of the stranger things that we found included most of a deck of cards (all separate of course, we were all trying to collect poker hands as we went along) and I found a fair amount of a vehicle chassis.
A small selection of the bags that we filled.
In total we filled somewhere in the region of 130 black bin bags!

The rest of the day was ours, and was mostly filled with laundry and washing and relaxing. Until dinner came along and we were told that it would be a cooking competition, where we were to make some traditional Mongolian food. We opted for some Khuurshuur (pronounced Horsha) with a variety of different fillings.

And we actually came joint first! Tho to settle who came first overall it was a relay race to the flag pole... which we didn't win. The rest of the evening was just laid back and relaxed.