2008/12/15

Fundraising ideas

Hmmm, you can tell there is a recession... The Christmas market was very successful, and all the raffle tickets were sold and the climbing wall was very popular, but the takings just about took us up into the black. So now, the thinking caps are on until the 12th of January, when we get together to brainstorm ideas for fundraising.

Socks seem to be the in thing. Lots of companies advertise on the Net with "big winnings for your club or class". But it doesn't seem very Scouty, selling underwear?

In Britain a lot of groups have race nights, with beer and betting, but betting is state controlled in Sweden, and we don't allow alcohol at scout activities... I'm thinking, it's really more of a raffle than betting, as the races are pre-recorded, but have to look into the legalities of it before I go and order a DVD...

To me, it's important that fundraising for the group should be consistant with the ideals of Scouting, and should be easy and fun for the kids to parttake in. Anyone have any bright ideas of fundraisers that have been successful? Please, share!

(After the 12 of January, I will be back with all the (mad) ideas that we've come up with!)

2008/12/13

Wierd tradition from Sweden...

Last night we had an unexpected a visit. It was four of the Rover Scouts who followed an ancient nordic tradition, and showed up, just when we were going to bed. They rang the door and sang to us, and when we invited them in, they offered us Glögg and ginger snap biscuits. The hall was filled with the smell of freshly cut spruce. Two of the guys were dressed as Christmas trees, one as Santa and Rudolf was also there! I so wish I could have shown you better pictures, but I couldn't find my camera and had to use my mobile phone, which is pretty useless when the lighting is bad.


In the olden days, people used to believe in all sorts of superstitions. Up here in the north, where seasons are very different from eachother, the solstices used to be very important. Before the Gregorian calender the winter solstice used to fall on the 13th of December.
It was a magical night, where evil spirits, trolls, goblins and all sorts were on the prowl, and you should stay indoors and keep yourself safe. It was also the beginning of the old Viking yule tide, when the pigs for the feast were slaughtered. (And all sorts of offerings were given. In the old Viking "temple" outside Uppsala they think slaves were offered to the Viking gods too!)

In the Middle Ages, Christianity was introduced to the old Viking countries, and winter solstice lost it's religious importance, but remained special for most people. You were still supposed to slaughter your pig on the 13th, for the best meat for the Christmas feast, and in those days, when Sweden was a Catholic country, the Christmas fast began on the 13th.

When the Gregorian calender was introduced and the 13th no longer was winter solstice, it was still considered the longest night of the year, and the tradition was to stay up all night. Young people sometimes took to walking around the villages, singing and playing tricks on people, often expecting some money, some food before the fast started or a drink of alcohol.
In the late 16th century people started to connect the tradition to the Catholic Saint Lucia, and a girl, clad in white with candles in her hair began to feature in the celebrations. Soon she was followed by a whole choir! And in the late 1800s the celebration spread to other parts of the Nordic countries. Nowadays, the tradition is secular but in the shape of Catholic tradition, and every school and town have their own St Lucia, often crowned by prominent people in the town's market square. In most families, the children get up early in the morning to sing to their parents and serve them breakfast in bed.

2008/12/10

End of year

By tradition Scouting is associated with the Christian church and in Falkenberg we have had our end of year ceremony in the church, but this year we decided to make a new tradition, to make sure that everyone who for different reasons feel uncomfortable about church still could join in.
All the scouts and many parents and syblings gathered in the market square. Some had candles or lanterns with them, others were given flaming torches. Then they marched together through town, in the perfectly still, winter light. It was exciting to walk off the road, onto the path through the wood surrounding the Hut, were there are no street lights and the only light except for the candles and the torches, were the almost full moon and some stars looking down on the procession.
The last part of the mile long walk was lit by torches stuck into the ground and storm lantern. By the outdoor theatre there was a fire lit and Scout Master Marcus was waiting for the scouts. In his speach he told us that this place had been used in "the olden days" (before 1963, when Guides and Scouts merged in Sweden) to initiate Brownies and welcome them into the group. So what better place to welcome all new scouts? 19 new Tracker Scouts were called up, four Discoverer Scouts and one new Adventurer were introduced and gave their Scout promise in front of the group (see upper right corner for explanations of the new names).
Then Marcus talked about the importance of doing to them around you, what you want them to do to you, and how bad behaviour and bad words bounce back onto yourself. He also gave out rewards to leaders who had been active for 5 and 10 years, and introduced our two new Tracker Scout leaders to the group.
When we dispursed, wishing everyone a merry christmas and everyone walked back along the candle lit path to the parking lot, the frost had begun to settle on the ground and the moon and the stars felt close enough to touch over the bare branches. The fire was dying. We made sure that everything was as we found it, only a little bit better and went home. For the Tracker Scouts spring term starts on the 22nd of January. But I will be back before then with some news on the program and other things.

The Swedish Guide and Scout Association, of which Falkenberg Scout Group is a part, is one of five directions within The Swedish Scout Federation. The other four are all part of some mother organisation, like The Mission Covenant Church, YMCA/YWCA or the Temperance movement. Although all groups accepts everyone, it's only natural that the Temperance scouts should promise not to drink and that the Christian scout movement should mission. But the SSF, Swedish Guide and Scout Association, should always be indipendent of any political view or belief. This doesn't meen that we don't discuss faith or get involved in the society around us, although the focus is on ethical issues, democracy and human rights.

2008/11/28

Sweet, sweet advent

Personally, I think the weeks leading up to Christmas are better than the accual holiday. The anticipation and the excitement, the cooking smells and the decorations, the lights and the music. It's too much to apprieciate in a few days, so why not savour it for a bit longer?
The whole town is getting ready for the Christmas market on Sunday. One of the local football clubs have hung all the lights up across the streets and the town gardeners have just revealed this year's centre piece: As beautiful and well composed as ever. Even the vandals and the late night ramblers usually leave it be.
Corn Flake Cakes are quick, safe and easy to make. For luxurious, lush, crispy cakes, just melt some nice cooking chocolate (or even more luxurious ones: Use Fair Trade, Organic, dark 70% chocolate, and enjoy with a light heart) and mix with Corn Flakes or Rice Crispies.

A little hotter, and very much smoother are Swedish Ice Chocolates. Don't ask me why they are called ice chocolates! It might be because they contain coconut fat and need to be kept reasonably chilled.

This week the Cubs (or the Tracker Scouts as they now are called) were producing sweet things for the Sweet raffle, one of the important and most popular things on our market stall. It got very sticky, but the kids took it very seriously, and were rewarded, after having washed their hands thoroughly, with a hot dog and marschmallows cooked by the fires outside. A scout LOVES comming home, smelling of log fire smoke!

I'm off to lovely old Oxford, England, for a few days, and will miss the market. I'll try and put the recipes, and a report from the market out when I get back at the end of next week. Have a lovely one!

2008/11/23

Breaking news!

The national scout conference this weekend was concluded today. Delegats from the five scout associations have been debating and deciding. As Swedish scouting is in a dynamic phase of change, lots of little and big things are in motion. The new national program is taking shape, and on Saturday the new names for the different age groups were presented.
In Sweden we have until yesterday had "minior", "junior", "patrull", "senior" and "rover" scouts. Today we are Spårare (Tracker scouts, 8-9 yrs), Upptäckare (Discoverer scouts, 10-12 yrs) Äventyrare (Adventure Scouts 12-15 yrs), Utmanare (Challenger scout 15-18 yrs) and Rover scout 18-25 yrs)
So, welcome to the blog of Falkenberg's Tracker Scout group!

2008/11/18

Leaders on course

This last weekend some of the leaders in the district got together at Timmershult, the Woodcrafters' cottage outside Laholm. On the Friday evening there was a buffet with contributions from all the participants: Yummy pies, chicken wings, snacks and sallads were some of the dishes, and afterwards everyone got chatting and tried some new craft ideas.
Susanne got taught Viking jewellery by Sterner, our District Commissioner, who is very skilled with pairs of pliers and rings. Sterner in turn made good use of the old district badges and experimented, making stylish woggles.
Thomas, Training Officer for Falkenberg, made charity shop cuttlery into fashionable accessories for the next camp. We also successfully used polymer clay for woggle designs.On Saturday and Sunday a Basic Scout Leader Training course was held, going through the basic elements of the organisation and giving the participants tools to meet and inspire the scouts by going through basic educational theory, methods for evaluation and reflection, outdoor safety and skills and code of conduct for scout leaders.
Although the weather and the dark prevented us from being outside, we came away fulfilled and relaxed and at least a couple of kilos heavier than when we came from all the lovely food and smelling homely from the log fire.
Recipe for Thomas' Surprise
Peel and cut bananas into three or four pieces, wide as streaky bacon slices.
Roll the said banana bits into a slice of streaky bacon and place in an oven proof dish
Dust spicy curry powder over the rolls and pour a some single cream on top.
Bake until golden brown in a moderately heated oven. Eat warm.

Get those gifts ready!

Christmas is only just about a month away, and it's time to start thinking about those gifts! The cubs got crafty to make those special Christmas presents for near and dear. Everyone managed to make a tea light holder out of a drinking glass and tissue paper, using decoupage, little santas out of Cernit, or Fimo, a polymer clay that could be baked in an ordinary oven. (Unfortunately containing PVC and phthalate). Most also made some spare woggles for themselves. Suddenly, there was a call from someone by the window! There was someone outside! He had red clothes, a long white beard and a lamp. He also seemed to be carrying something else. The children rushed over to have a look. The mysterious person skulking in the dark outside got startled by the knocking on the windows, but when the smiling children in the window waved to him, he waved back, left his sack, lifted his light and waved again and was gone in the dark wood by the hut. The cubs were delighted to find that the bag was filled with goodies: Gingerbread snaps, satsumas and santa marshmallows all went down a treat before it was time to go home.
Next week there will be more for the sweet tooth! Then we're making goodies for the market.

Flags

Sweden is very wet, dark and cold at the moment. When meetings start at 5.30 it is already pitch black, so after singing our cub scout song we go indoors.
This meeting was about symbols and cermonies, an important part of scouting. The sixes are now finally fixed for this year, and all sixes were to make a new flag with the six's totem or symbol on.The sixes worked very well together, and the flags turned out beautifully. We use awning cloth, donated by a local company, Falkenbergs persiennfabrik, and craft felt for our flags, which makes them wonderfully colourful.
After a quick steam release game and the scout song, it was time to get out into the dark and the rain again. Now we're starting to prepare for the annual Christmas market on the first Sunday of Advent, where the Cubs will be busy busy, selling raffle tickets, hot dogs and calenders.

Wet and wild

The wet meeting of the autumn went well, and several cubs managed to complete their first swimming badge, and those who didn't make it this time had fun trying and trying water basket ball, water volley ball and practising diving through hoops under water.
As the pool is very busy, it is difficult to get a lane to do the swimming tests in, but we pretended that there had been a ship wreck and the toys and floats and the other people playing were wreckage and had to be avoided. Marie is directing the cubs from the side of the pool


I realised that I must have started this blog about this time last year, as the first post was about the meeting at the pool. Back then the thought hadn't occured to my to take photos, and I hadn't yet found Akela Joy's fantastic blog.



Thanks for reading our blog, and please come back!

2008/10/25

Caring with a click

Sometimes packs and groups find it difficult to find ways of doing things for their community and the environment in their program. The leaders may think that the children will find it boring, it is too time consuming or that it is difficult to find organisations to work with.
Most of the issues above stems from inexperience. Getting involved in the community, locally and globally, is fundamental to scouting, and scouts all over the world do it differently, and kids love to make a difference!
There are things to consider:
*Make sure that your help is needed!
This may seem obvious, but it is important that you do some research so you don't end up doing the wrong thing. Collecting clothes and toys is popular, but most organisations need money a lot more, and it is easier and cheaper to distribute.
* Don't go to big!
Find small projects, that you can manage and can see results from. Kids love to help, but they are impatient and forget quickly. Do a sponsored walk, a limmited collection, a garage sale or put on a show over a limmited period. Make sure that you give the kids feedback on the result, and that they know about, or are there when the money/collection is handed over. If you get a thank you, make sure that the kids hear, if possible: frame it and hang it on a wall in the hut.
* Find easy ways for everyone to help every day!
A good deed a day is a motto that has been in the scout movement from the beginning. Show the Cubs that a good deed doesn't have to be big and flashy: It can be something small like picking up a missplaced piece of rubbish a day, helping a school friend with a difficult math problem, standing up for someone who doesn't dare speak in assembly, sending a post card to someone who's ill or something as simple as putting a link to a charity web site on the group's web page or your blog. (i.e. see right margin!)
* Find good examples!
Show your Cubs that people help other people in many different ways! It's not just big, international, media covered events that count. LiveAid, Comic Relief, WorldHungerDay are great, but make sure your Cubs know that helping in a small scale is just as great; that world hunger is a big issue, but that there are other ways of looking at the world too, and that there might be people close by that need help.

Autumn break

As this Akela is home ill, there will be no report from this week's meeting, that was about woodcraft: wild animals and plants.
Next week is autumn break, and no meeting. See you soon!

2008/10/19

Forgot

During JOTA we were in contact with Scout groups in Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and more. We thought it was difficult to manage the chat at JOTI and never really got any good conversations going, but exchanged a few e-mails with someone in Australia.
Millions of thanks to Reino and SK6XJ; Henrik, Jocke & co for helping out with the climbing wall, Tompa, Eva, Michael, Marie and everyone else for pitching tents, lighting fires, smiling and being wonderful!

2008/10/18

JOTA/JOTI 2008

Unfortunately the weather wasn't very inviting, but still some cubs, scouts, leaders, parents and friends thereof came to the field by the Scout hut in Falkenberg, when Falkenberg Scout group participated in JOTA/JOTI for the first time in approxomately 15 years. Falkenberg Radio Amateur Club, SK6JX, helped set up the radio and we had at the most three computers with a mobile internet connection linked up to the JOTI site. The Swedish introductory speach was held by the acting vice president of the Scout Association, Erik Sillén in Stockholm. In the picture above, Reino from the Radio Club is announcing that Falkenberg is on the air.
There was plenty to do around the little caravan that held the radio. Among other things our mobile climbing wall was up, and there was a quiz walk. When people got peckish, there was hotdogs and buns to barbeque over the fires.Next year we're definately going to do it again, but indoors! October on the west coast of Sweden can be very rough. This year it only rained a little bit, the winds were managable and it was just 9 degrees Centigrades. It could be considerably worse!

2008/10/01

Autumn rain and Trangias

The weather was very unreliable this week! One minute the sun was out, the next it rained so hard that the roads got flooded. At least it wasn't very cold.

Since it was the first rainy meeting for the term, not all the cubs came prepared. To be honest, not all the leaders either. Most people had rain coats, but no trousers. Luckily, there were still lots and lots of clothes left behind that came to good use one more time, before they get passed on to charity.

The cubs learnt a little bit about pioneering and knots as they built their dens. When the tarps were up they assembled the trangias and made rosehip soup. Just when the soup was finished and most of the rusks had been eaten the parents came to get the cubs home. It had gotten very dark, and by the time the leaders had got all the equipment into the storage room some stars had come out too.

Around the world in 40 minutes

There were loads of people at the meeting on September 25th; Both packs were there, and lots of parents! Unfortunately no pictures.

While the Akelas were dealing with the parents inside, all the sixes went on a trail around the world and answered lots of very tricky questions about continents, countries, flags and languages. The cubs also did lots of practical things like spelling, throwing balls into buckets and throwing an old fashioned life line. And of course some games and songs!

Meanwhile, indoors Marie and Lotta had the parents reading the scout law, explained how the law and the promise makes scouting different from Woodcrafters and football teams, how Falkenberg scout group is a part of a family of millions and millions. They also told the parents of the seven different parts of the scout method: Law and promise, symbols and ceremonies, the six, learning by doing, the outdoors, caring for oneself, the society and the world and supportive and listening leadership. Then the parents were put into sixes and told to plan a meeting for their children, using as many of the seven parts as possible.

When the meeting was over everyone sang the scout song. Next week the cubs will take home a nice course certificate for their parents as proof that they all have passed the first module of the basic scout leader course!

2008/09/18

Beware the curse of Captain Silky Beard!

There was a first autumn chill in the air, and some of the leaves on the trees are turning. Thick jumpers and coats were out for their first Cub meeting, some hats and gloves too! But riddles, signs and codes kept both children and leaders happy, and the threat of running into an infamous pirate kept everyone on their toes.

This week the hunt for gold and treasure took our Cubs around a good part of the park area around our hut. First, they followed the same kind of signs they learnt last term to find a written clue hidden in the undergrowth. The clue pointed them towards the play area where Susanne and Jessica were waiting with a strange looking message.

While the the others waited for their turn to go on the trail, they played pairs, using objects that they had picked on the ground in front of the hut. 'To the stage' the decoded message read. The cubs were off like lightning, but alert as they were they found and identified the native wild animals on their way: a badger, a bull finch, an hedgehog, a viper and a red fox were hiding along the path.
When they got close to the stage they got careful. A pirate was seemingly asleep on his treasure chest. He had a bottle in his hand and looked quite fears. Would they dare?

video

Even if you speak another language than Swedish, perhaps you can understand some of the dialog. There were a lot of 'why do you's and 'why have you's, and the pirate was quite forthcoming, as he had problems opening his treasure chest. The letters didn't mean much to him, as he said he couldn't read. But the kids could! And soon some of the loot was theirs.

2008/09/11

How to get those bad bad wapsies

At Space Camp this summer I caught a glimps of a wasp trap like this, that makes good use of old PET bottles

At home we made two attempts, one out of a half litre bottle and one out of a bigger 1 1/2 litre one. They worked well. I have been told that raw meat is the best bait, but I went for the less smelly option of jam.







.




Outdoor cooking

This week we had a visit from our fire expert Markus AKA Linx. After some quick games he talked about fire safety and showed us three different fires, and how to light them most efficiently.
The Blowtorch is great for cooking. You should have the cut in the direction of the wind to get maximum effect. video

The Pagoda and the Pyramid are great for a campfire, and especially the Pyramid for making charcoal for a good BBQ.

Then the Cubs gathered around the tables to bake out the 'Stomp' bread, and filling bananas with bits of chocolate. This we cooked on the 'Murrikas'. Yum!

We were done just in time to sing the Scout song, before all the parents came. There is a rumour that there are pirates about next week!

Recipe for Swedish 'Stompa Bread', 35 pieces
500 ml natural yoghurt
100 ml treacle
2 tsp aniseed, roughly ground (optional)
2 tsp fennel seeds, roughly ground (optional)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tblsp salt
1500 ml sifted rye flour
100 ml water
Mix the ingrediences and kneed to a smooth dough. Keep in a plastic bag until use.

Divide into little balls and roll or press, 'stomp', out into roundish cakes, 1/2 cm thick. Bake on a flat surface, like a frying pan. Eat freshly made, warm and with some butter.

Baked Bananas with Chocolate

Cut a banana lengthways, but not through the "bottom" skin. Put bits of chocolate in it's flesh and wrap in aluminium foil. Put on the side of the fire to cook slowly. When it is soft when you press it, it is done.