Be prepared… to be brilliant.
Perhaps not exactly what Baden Powell had in mind in 1937, but Scouting is still going strong and this weekend it had me in its grip. I was a parent helper at a camp at Lochgoilhead.
I don’t know about the kids, but I found it instructive. Here’s what I learned:
Argyll is very very beautiful and really not that far away, but some how as soon as you turn that corner at Tarbet it feels as if you’re in another land.
Lots of layers is always the answer. I believe that on my second attempt (the previous weekend’s rafting being the learning experience). I may have cracked the keeping warm on the water thing. If you care it’s thermal leggings, thermal vest, thermal undershirt and light vest.
Getting cold feet is easy. Quite literally. So before September’s Great Glen canoe expedition I’d like to find best way to keep them warm in a boat. Suggestions please.
Tight lashings are essential. When building a raft the quality of the lashing matters, but its tightness more so, especially when your dryness and comfort depend on it.
There must be an outdoor instructors’ joke book. From which they may never deviate. I haven’t found it yet, but it has to be the only explanation for the groan-worthy gags that must be told, as far as I can see, 4.2 times per activity.
The middle bit of an archery target is gold not yellow. Neither is it a bullseye. I hit it with an arrow… once.
The solution to feeding picky kids lies with a vending machine. If you give children money and a vending machine, they will keep putting coins in the slot until the machine is empty and they have eaten everything therein. Clearly putting broccoli and oily fish next to the Doritos and Irn-Bru is the answer.
Being off the communications grid is a source of mild anxiety. We are frequently exhorted to go on a digital detox as it’s good for us. I can report that all it does is cause a low-level grumbling anxiety that some sort of personal and domestic shitstorm has broken about which I know nothing. (It hadn’t.)
Scouting is the best example of creating something out of nothing. Perhaps here the digital detox is great for youngsters used to being plugged into machine with screen all the time. It is actually possible to create engaging and entertaining games out of nothing and the time passes very well. For example, thumb jousting, kayak British bulldog, robots and controllers and something that looked very like a scene from Hunger Games (only with less blood).
Onesies have their place but a more utilitarian version is needed. When it comes to getting kids who have just done watersports into the dining hall queue on time (ish) getting them to put their onesie on is effective. However, there needs to be an official Scouting onesie. It will have a waterproof bottom patch for sitting on damp logs, a pocket and/or clips for torches and penknives, badges will already be sewn on, only covered with velcro patches to be removed when the badge awarded, it will have a hood in the shape of Baden Powell’s hat.
Speaking of Baden Powell…
Overlooking the sexism and allowing for the broadest meaning of God, he wrote this in his final letter:
… I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have a happy life too. I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness does not come from being rich, nor merely being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man. Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one. But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. ‘Be Prepared’ in this way, to live happy and to die happy — stick to your Scout Promise always — even after you have ceased to be a boy — and God help you to do it…