Wild kids

The majority of the Cubs were handed back to the respective parents in various states of muddiness. Some had bruises, a few had sticky plasters, most had most of their belongings. An all in all successful night away.

C-J, one of our Rover scouts, who also is responsible for the upkeep of our cottage, was rather surprised to have four women decend on him, where he stood in the kitchen, frying himself a bachelor's supper on Friday evening. He'd come up to deal with the firewood, and had forgotten all about the Cubs and us coming. Now he had to withstand not only a homemade curry dinner, but also giggles. He seemed to take it in his stride, retiring to the sofa after dinner, while we played a funny card game that Jessica introduced, called American Naughts and Crosses (and something else that I can't recall)

In the morning, we prepared for the arrival of 20 odd Cub scouts. Two had unfortunatly cancelled, due to sniffles. Susanne and I prepared lunch in the kitchen, while Susanne2, Jessica and Eva prepared the activities outside. At ten to 11am we walked the kilometer down the dirt track to meet the kids. They were already there waiting for us! Bouncing around madly, with their backpacks on and slightly anxious looking parents hovering. A few were already off exploring the stream, resulting in the first Cub getting soaked even before we were officially started! Luckily, there are great facilities for drying gear and scouts. And he was equiped with extra clothes and shoes.

After a quick sightseeing tour and toilet stop, it was time for a little bit of unsupervised exploring before lunch. Returning customers swiftly took some of the first timers a little way into the forest to check on the status of little stream. It was of course ripe for some damm construction, and more Cubs got well and truly wet before lunch.

It was lovely and "warm" (almost 10 degrees in the shade and no wind) in the yard in front of the house and the Cubs were served pasta with a meat sauce outside.

Afterwards everyone washed their own gear up, and cleared away, getting ready for the activities.
The sixes got to try various different activities. Using the yard as the base, controls were placed a little way away in the forest, and the sixes cleverly manouvered around the 'star'. In the yard Susanne and a parent helper supported the kids by the fire, while they made Stompa Bread on the 'muurrika'. They could also have some nice, warm, sweet rosehip soup to go with it.

Finding something from the time of the dinosaurs was a tricky task, while finding something new was not so difficult. But in the end rocks are from dinosaur times and spring flowers are very new, as well as one of the boys' shoes.
POP, a parent helper, who used to be a scout while this lady was a wee scout too, helped with knots. Some of the Cubs were very interested and learnt lots of new ways of tying the rope.
Jessica reminded everyone how to make a tripod, and what knots to use for pioneering. Our group is very good at pioneering, and at every spring group camp the older Cubs and Scouts build their camp from scratch, just using wood and string, including fire places for cooking, seating areas and sometimes other clever designs. A very good way of building a semi-permanent camp without leaving any trace.
Eva made sure that everyone could safely handle the Trangias, so that they can cook in the sixes at group camp. Lighting the Trangias can be tricky, as you sometimes can't see any flames. It makes it all the more exciting! While the soapy water boiled she had also time for some nice, relaxed conversation, about life, universe and everything.
After this the Cubs got to take their packs inside and arrange their sleeping quaters upstairs. The floor was quickly covered with mats and appearing out of every pack was a bag of sweets. Most kids then went outside again, while a few remained indoors to make crafty things, like new woggles, a sleepover badge or to do some writing or drawing.

Supper was a chicken taco buffet; very much appreciated by all, but still lots of the sallad stuff was left over. Too many sweets perhaps? ;-)

It started raining slightly, while Eva and Marie started the camp fire outside. I stayed indoors and prepared for Earth Hour, placing lots of candles in the windows and on the tables. When the children returned inside, slightly wet, they quieted down, and continued doing their crafty things or started playing cards, or just quietly chatting and munching some corn crisps or sweets. It only took a little while until they all, without being told to, got into their pyjamas and went off to the toilets to get ready for bed. (I can't vouch for how many teeth accually got brushed)

This morning, as the clocks were put forward, we had an hour less, which was just about time enough to get all the packing done, and a little bit of free play time. Some of the girls helped Marie and Eva to get the firewood into the shed. I was lucky enough to come over to the damm engineers just in time to meet one of the forest's residents: A small weasle, who very anxiously watched us for about five minutes, while it was scurrying back and forth just down stream. I hope we didn't accidentally flood it's burrow! I have never seen a weasle 'live' before, and felt very lucky sharing the experience with seven of the Cubs.

Then it was time to go home. Very tired, but seemingly very happy kids bobbed down the hill to meet their parents. Again, everyone was early, and all but two Cubs were picked up by 11 am. I went with my son and his two friend when my husband came to pick them up, leaving the others to do the last bit of cleaning. Sorry guys, promise to make it up to you next time!


Break away

Going away with 22 8 and 9-year-olds can be a slightly daunting project, but experience tells me that it's most often a lot less hassle than you think. Of course it is important to do risk assessment, and to have activities planned, but it's also very important, and a nucleus in the scouting spirit, to encourage and make room for own initiativ and freedom. For a 9-year-old that may be having an hour to go explore with a friend, play a game, chose a jigsaw or make something crafty of your own mind and design.

Last night the leader team got together in the hut to finish of the packing. This time most of us have the opportunaty to go the night before, and we are going to have ourselves a nice evening, relaxing and gossiping, leaving husbands and our own kids behind, just being us. Of course there is going to be a lot of talk about scouting and Cub activities; lots of ideas will be born.

On Saturday, the kids will arrive at 11.00 am. Then a short hike to the cottage, activities, making lunch, activities, free time and then in the evening we're going to celebrate Earth Hour around the camp fire. It might not have so big an impact, as we'll be several km from the next neighbour but we will turn off all of our electric lights anyway and talk about it.

In a few minutes I'm off the craft shop to by some plasticine modelling clay, then I'm going to prepare our meal for tonight. The girls are in for an Indian. I hope they will like it.


All packed up revving to go

Next weekend we're off to Tranabo, our cottage in the woods, for a sleep over, in preparation for the group camp in May. We usually have a sleep over in the scout hut in the autumn, a sleep over indoors in the cottage early spring/late winter and then sleep outdoors, in old troop tents, at the camp in late spring. It's a nice progression for the kids, who, in some cases, never have been away from their mums and dads before.

We started of by warming up and releasing some steam with a tag game: First round the tagged people joined hands in pairs, then threes, but when a forth person got tagged, the quad split into pairs again. (Does that make sense?) It was a great game! The second round, instead of breaking the chains, it got built onto, and in the end two loooong chains of taggers herded the few brave left in to a corner of the field. This game really practise quick communication and teamwork.

This week we had two things going on: Talking about packing, and finding nice sticks to finish the sixes' flags. The weather was perfect for both: Lovely crisp spring sunshine, and dry ground. Victor talked about how to pack evenly in a backpack, while I demonstrated the less favourable option, by carrying my packing in a sports trunk and two carrier bags. "It's ok", said Victor, "but how are you going to carry your pack to the cottage?" The second-years seconded him, whispering to the first-years about the biiiig hill up through the woods to the cottage. We agreed that a backback, even a school back pack, was better than carrier bags anyway.

The Cubs also had very strong opinions about me bringing a china plate and ditto cup. "Just THINK about the poor wild animals!" said one of the boys, "You're so clumpsy, you'll fall and break your plate and then all the animals will cut their feet on the shards!" He didn't agree with my need for bringing ALL my beauty creams either. He was SO funny!

"Lotta, do you REALLY think there is a fashion show on in the woods?" He sneered at my silk pyjamas, and told me that I'd need three t-shirts to keep warm if I chose to bring those, and didn't approve of my cookery book either, even if it had all organic recipes. He told me firmly to write down a few EASY favourites on a note and keep it in a pocket instead.

For some strange reason a majority of the Cubs didn't think that bringing a toothbrush was essential... Hmmm....

After Victor and I had done our little 'play', the Cubs played Kim's game with the 'right' stuff splayed out on a tarpoline on the ground. They were very good, most remembering almost all the stuff, and noone forgot about the toothbrush (but one six left out the toothpaste). It was getting a little bit cold so after the sixes had found good sticks for their flags, we went inside.

As we brought the 'Brownies' and the 'Wolfcubs' together after Christmas, to be able to use the leader resources better, as my strenght is still not reliable and Marie has another shop opening and Jessica's job is restructuring (you probably know what it's like) we are now 33 cubs and at the most 8 leaders. Being 8 consistant leaders allows a leader to have a meeting off when we need to, and still feel that we can provide the Cubs with safe and fun activities. We also have parents comming in to help some times, and if we need to, some of the other leaders in the group help out. Last night, Therese from scouts came in to help. Thank's!

Bringing the two groups together also meant that we had to adjust the sixes a little bit, as we had two caterpillar sixes, two glow worm sixes etc. In some cases the sixes could be merged, in other's we had to split them and make new ones. So now we have six: The Caterpillars, the Glow Worms, the Flies, The Lady Birds, the Dragon Flies, the Ants. The making of the flags turned out to be a good exercise in democracy, as in some cases a choice had to be made about which flag to use, in other which way up the flag should be. The flags were then ceremoniously handed to the leaders for safe keeping, before we sang the scout song and finished.

And oh, as it was my birthday (28th, if you count hexadecimals) everyone sang to me in both Swedish and English and I got these absolutely LOVELY flowers! Thank you so much!!!!


Looking to the future

The leaders in the group have had a rough winter, after a conflict with a family. Many have felt sad, inadequate, afraid and some have almost lost their enthusiasm for taking on the responsability of being Scout leaders. We are happy to have had the support of the District commissioner and the committee, and help from the regional office as well as the Swedish Scout Association on how to handle the situation.

The district committee and Swedish Scout Association felt that we needed closure, time for reflecting on what has been and time to look forward, and having a little bit of fun together, so they arranged for a 24-hour pampering expedition.

Kvisttofta scout group in North Scania let their lovely cottage for the weekend. It is about an hour and a half's drive south from Falkenberg, in a lovely rural area with birch woods, horse farms and cottages. The landscape is similar to home, but still different. We always feel like we're a little bit "abroad" when we get this far south: Almost in Denmark!

When we arrived in the morning, we had coffee and a sandwich, and met a lovely lady, whose name I unfortunately have forgotten, who led us through what had happened, by listening and asking all the right questions. With her experience as a psycologist and CBT therapist, she guided us through events, let everybody work through them and gave concrete advice on how to handle things in the future. We all felt invigourated and elated after having spent two hours with her, but also very tired and ravishingly hungry!

Our district commissioner, Sterner, who happens to be an exellent chef (and a bus driver, scout leader and line dance dancer) cooked for us. For lunch he served up a lovely ovenbaked salmon, with rice, served with a home made hollandaise sauce and sallad.
Sign says: Hunt on. Luckily it wasn't anymore..... Season for roe deer and hare has just past.

There was time after lunch for a lovely walk in the woods surrounding the cottage. The weather was grey, but mild. After that Max, from the Association, gave a little talk on seeing the positive sides of things and looking at problems as challenges, and helping us to see what positive outcome we have accually had from this whole ordeal.

Then we sat down to go through all the forthcomming events. We have lots of fundraising comitments up ahead, helping the Gospel choir with their outdoor festival, the council with the celebration of the National Day, helping a chain with the grand opening of their new shop (where we get the opportunaty to show a little bit of scouting as well, as our climbing wall will be up). Also we have got a group camp coming up, where we hope to enjoy company from 22nd Oxford and another, very small group from a village outside Falkenberg called Ätran. Then there is the district Cub camp in June and the regional Scout Camp in August. Also, the plans for our centinary are coming together. Lots and lots of planning...

After a lovely dinner consisting of Gorgonzola filled pork fillet, baked potatoes, turnips, carrots and parsnips, Sauce Bearnaise and sallad, we reassembled in the hall in front of the fire to play camp fire games, sing silly songs and laugh our tummies in shape again, before going on a lovely candle lit walk in the dark forest; a great time for reflecting over all the day had given us.

After a breakfast, almost of hotel standard, we packed up and drove back to our everyday lives, strengthened in our roles as leaders and rolemodels, ready to take on anything!
It is very important to remember to pamper your leaders once in a while, and to give them the opportunity to enjoy scouting without having to organise and be responsable for the kids at the same time. It doesn't have to be nights away, or anything fancy, but just having the opportunity to have a laugh and a natter.


Winter's last attempt

We've been enjoying the advance of spring for a while. But yesterday winter made a last attack and snow just avalanched down from the grafite skies. But snow on the west coast is not that common and it very rarely stays for very long, so you have to enjoy it while it lasts, so instead of discussing how to pack your backpack efficiantly, we decided to improvise!

While the sixes built snow sculptures Akela Eva rushed of to her place of work (a nearby nursery school) and got all their toboggans! Soon 25 kids were running and sliding and laughing and screaming and becoming becomingly red-cheeked.

So, we're saving the packing for next week.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten my camera AGAIN, and had to borrow Jessica's phone....



Rubbish is a resource, and we are reasonably good at recycling in Sweden, but we could get much better at reducing and reusing. This week's meeting was about rubish and recycling.The cubs started outside, walking a short quiz walk about rubbish. While Victor corrected the coupons, I showed the children some items from Tanzania and Ethiopia, and talked about how spoilt we are in Sweden, taking for granted that we can go to school, have clean water, more than enough to eat, and more things than we really need. I read a story about an 11-year-old boy in Ethiopia, who dreams of becoming a doctor, but who finds it difficult to make it to school in time because has to get water for the family every morning. I introduced the pins that we are going to sell for UNICEF, that will hopefully provide Ethiopian kids with drinking water and loos at school, and the children were very interested.

Akela Eva
Eva asked the cubs to tell her which categories of rubbish the households are responsible for recycling. The kids were very knowledgable and she could write signs out for plastic, PET and drinks cans, compost, metal, cardboard, newspapers, tinted glass, clear glass and batteries. Then the sixes were given a bin bag each, with various kinds of refuse, and in no time at all they had sorted the refuse in all the right categories!

Victor presented the correct answer to the quiz. Almost everyone knew all the answers, but everyone was shocked to learn that a "misplaced" PET-bottle takes 450 years to decompose! Most had guessed 10...

Then a quick game of rag hockey before the scout song and then home. (I realised that I hadn't got any pictures from the game! How silly...)

Akela Marie