That's it, all done

The last mobile phone leaflet, the last hot dog, and the last baloon has been handed out. The climbing wall has been transported off, the promotion coats have been handed back and the shops have closed after a few hectic opening days.

Our feet are tired, and our smiles are stuck somewhere by our eyebrows, but I think we enjoyed it, and we made some good money for the group.

A nice surprise was that one of the shops put on their newspaper sized leaflet that got sent out with the local paper to all subscribers and also was handed out (by us) in hundreds during the weekend, that "The scouts offer free hot dogs and climbing wall", which made us look very generous, whilst in reality they payed for all the dogs and buns.

We also had some nice meetings with scouts of old, that came up to chat and share memories and ask questions about scouting now. Our scout master got names and addresses for a couple of contacts that might be very useful for the centinary.


St George

As we did last year, we celebrated St George in the town square, by meeting up, talking about the Scout Law and the St George message, and acting out the legend of St George and the dragon.

As we also are helping out at the opening of a new shopping complex in town this week, to raise funds for the group, most of the adults were there, but we had a good turn out of kids.

After a few good years, we unfortunately feel that the money is a bit short at the moment. It's the upkeep of our houses that costs most - activities are for the better part funded by the scouts themselves, and also we are lucky to get a generous grant per scout from the local council when we hand in lists of members and our program at the end of the year. Also, there is a gouvernment grant for each six (so the more sixes we have, the better!)

But this last year we had to install a new heating system, fix some of the piping in our cottage and also we've had vandalism in our town hut almost every week for the last few months. It's mainly been broken windows, but we have also had a couple of break-ins where little things have been taken. Unfortunately, insurance doesn't cover this, and all the glass amounts into lots of brass...

Planning the summer

On Monday Tracker scout leaders from the district met to plan the District Tracker Scout Camp. It will be held at the district camp site Hjörnered, in Laholm and the theme will be an old TV-show, where the participants in small groups solved tasks, like digging for clues in grimy pots, climbing high walls and solving riddlesto win keys. The program sounds VERY exciting!

We met at Sönderum scout hut. I've never been there before. It is a lovely 70ies building, inspired by log cabins, with a large room with a high ceiling, and big windows out towards the surrounding residential area and far away I think that I could glimps the sea.

On both sides of the hall is smaller rooms and it was in one of these we met. Söndrum had put up a wonderful sandwich table, with lovely breads, cheese and salami, that helped made the discussion constructive.

From Falkenberg's point of view we came with the suggestion not to arrange the camp this year, as two out of the district's 6 active groups has declined coming, and as we have lots of activities on in May, we had only managed to get about 5 out of 35 interested in going. Then we got the news that a third group had pulled out! Perhaps we could do something else instead, like going to a nearby district's camp?

But as it turned out, Laholm and Söndrum had a good number of kids that had already commited to going, so we decided it was worth it for them. And this week, we've had a few more of our kids contacting us, wanting to go. So, it's on, and it's going to be brilliant!


It helps being a scout

This Easter school break saw beautiful weather, and as a teacher I'm off work during school holidays. But my husband is in the middle of a career change, and is doing his last work placement period before graduating as a qualified nurse, so there wasn't time to go off on a family holiday...

School breaks can easily make me crazy. Or, rather, having the kids 'round the house all the time, having to nag them to get off the computer, get off the TV, get off the sofa, get off the Wii, etc. All their friends seemed to be off in Thailand, or the Alps or in all sorts of exotic places.

Not very far from Falkenberg is part of the North Sea Trail, a system of foot paths connecting all the countries around the North Sea. I managed to get the kids interested in hiking with me for two days.

We took the bus from Falkenberg at lunch time, 20 minutes eastwards to a small village called Vessigebro, were we got off the bus and had ice cream in the sun before setting off through the village, past the church and onto the path, leading along the ridge above the river Ätran. The view was magnificent!

We paused for a rest, a drink and a piece of fruit or a little sweet every so often, as we all felt slightly uncomfortable in our backpacks and our feet grew tired. 5 km was just the right distance to hike with a 10-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 40+ mum, early in the season. The dog carried his own food and drink, and got slightly tired too.

At 4 pm we reached our camp site, Skattagård, and had plenty of time to rest, pitch the tent, enjoy the surrounding forest and cook before dark. We saw lots of tracks from deer, elks, birds and wild boar. Just after dinner we had a visit from a couple of the nearby farmers/landowners, who told us that they were going to hunt for wild boar during the night, so if we heard anything we shouldn't be alarmed. And could we please keep in the tent and the dog too (as if we'd be out in the dark with lots of wild boar about!)

After having read a couple of chapters in a Famouse Five book, we turned in for the night just after dark (at about 9.30 pm). We were very tired. Mike, whose ten, fell a sleep almost instantly. The dog first wanted to stay in the for-tent, but the night grew very chilly very quickly, and there was an array of mysterious sounds from the forest outside the tent, and he very soon wanted to snuggle down in between us three in the already crowded tent.

Cassandra and I lay listening to the night sounds. It was exciting and a bit scary. We wished that we had learnt the various bird's song, and got slightly worried when we heard a consistant rustling noise, just outside the tent. Could it be a wild boar? I thought I heard a slight snuffling noise too.

Suddenly, a shot rang out in the night! The dog flew up, and tried to open the tent flap, but landed his paws in Mike's face, but he barely woke up at all. The forest got all quiet, and we hardly drew breath as we were listening to the sound of a hound a little way off. Then it got all quiet. The dog finally lay down again. And the forest started breathing, and sounding. Far away a deer barked. A fox yelped quite close, and owls and other birds called out. I have never heard such music!

It got very cold during the night. I later learnt that a few kilometers away, it got down to -4, and we woke up a couple of times and snuggled closer together. Mike woke up at 6 am and wanted breakfast, but got pursuaded to go back to sleep.

When the sun got up, the warmth returned quickly. We cooked a luxurious breakfast on the Trangia, before setting off for the 6 km walk to the bus stop in Abild. The path took us through a nature reserve, on little country lanes, past farms and fields, and on the last leg, on the road.

Before catching one of the few buses back to Falkenberg that run out there, we had a nice lunch outside the mideveal church. With a lovely couple of day's hiking, aching feet and shoulders and a nice, fresh tan, we returned home just in time for an afternoon ice cream. I couldn't help thinking how lucky I am to be a scout, which makes it so much easier to get out on little expeditions like this....

Work Day at Tranabo

This Easter holiday saw fabulous weather all through the break. In the middle of the day the temperature was mildly summery, but it was chilly during the nights. We've entered into a very busy time with the scout group, with lots of goings on, but also school holidays and fewer meetings.

On Saturday a lot of the leaders and Rovers, and some parents got together at Tranabo, our cottage in the forest, for a good tidy and spring cleaning both indoors and outside.

We've had this cottage for more than 40 years, but it is still charmingly primitive. I can remember as a wee lass going to the stinky privies in the middle of the night, and getting water from the pump in the meadow. Now there is running, even hot water, and loos, even though not in the house, but in the "barn", where there are also showers, a sauna, storage facilities and washing room and room for drying wet gear.

All around in the forest are little camp sites for the sixes to use. These were cleared of dried leaves and sticks for the comming group camp. Wood was chopped, grass was burnt, windows were washed and sausages were grilled.

All in all, we got lots done, and had a wonderful day in the sunshine and fresh country air.


More pioneering

I had scheduled a vistit to the older cubs today, our 'Explorer scouts', to hand out the UNICEF waterdrop pins for the cubs to sell. I got into a little bit of a hurry, as I fell asleep after work. So in the end I left the Thai chicken soup and jogged of to the scout hut with the stuff in my backpack.

I got there just in time and participated in the hoisting of the flag. When I had handed out the pins, I left my bag in the hut and jogged round the track in the forest behind the hut. The park is lovely at all times of the year, but I think I like spring best anyway: The smell from the earth and the pine trees, and the pigs that are kept in a massive pen, partly because it's a rare traditional breed, that still is close to extinktion, partly to work the earth over and keep the forest floor nice and open, but I think mostly to entertain all the little kids in town.

I jogged just once around the track and then got back to the hut were the explorers were busy practising pioneering. They were all very active and were discussing knots and plans for their camp sites in May. I somehow wished that I could stay outside in the lovely sunshine with them, but I had to go home to finish the soup and do some more washing.


The District Commissioner rang yesterday afternoon, and told me that the Deputy Commissioner was ill, and could I come with him to the Regional Commissioners' meeting in Gothenburg? As I do miss being in the midst of policy making, or rather discussion, I got on my bike and got picked up by the motorway, as he drove past Falkenberg.

Gothenburg District consists of 47 groups, which is slightly different to our little, piddly district of 7 active groups. Lina, who has been the DC for Gothemburg for the last 5 or so years, is very young, very knowledgable, very passionate, very opinionated and very verbal, which makes meetings very interesting, but slightly long. Apart from us, there were also representatives from three other largish districts in the region and a member of the national scout association's committee. The purpose of this meeting was to recap and evaluate the national commissioners' meeting at Gilwell, Sweden, last weekend.

A few years ago an Itinery for the Future was designed and accepted by the Association. It focuses on raising the credibility and status of scouting, and of course boosting the number of members. A lot of the work the Association has done so far has been good, but at the moment the general feeling out on the field is that we need time to carry out the changes, try the new courses and evaluate the new program, before we go on to the next step in the process. All over the country the feeling is that getting kids to go into scouting is easy, but to get adults and responsable teenagers to become scoutleaders is difficult.

The feeling is also that the paid project managers, and administrative personel in Stockholm are pushing in a direction of professionalist scouting, which in the long run will scare good, idealistic leaders off. As someone said a while ago: "Soon enough you will have to have a degree in education and psycology to be a scout leader".

The Association is also pushing to VET everybody working on a national activity during next year; something that most are very sceptical towards. The meeting was of the opinion that it lulls people into false security and is more a cosmetic action than one that will have a real impact on the security for the kids. The police register only shows if you have been convicted of crimes, and it is questionable wether it is accually legal to use the police register like this. And where do you draw the line? Does one conviction for driving under the influence disqualify you from scout leadership? Petty theft? As Lina pointed out: if she leads Explorer Belt, it would be more likely that she comes across a leader collegue that runs of with the money (as they have a budget of around 5000 euro) than that they molest the participants who are 17 or older.

Another question is also: Who handles the information? As noone in the Scout Association is legally bound to silence, sensitive information might get into the wrong hands and get missused. Personally, I think that continuning the attitude and information strategy, and make sure that scoutleaders around the country are aware of, and continuously discuss risk assessment and code of conduct. It might be fine in countries where there is a massive amount of perfect people to chose from, but in Sweden, that is a country of 9 million people, spread out on an area twice the size of the UK.

The general opinion was that the district managements are not opposed to change, but we'd like to implement and to inspire our groups to take the changes aboard as well, and most of us do have a life outside scouting too (even if it sometimes is difficult to believe!) The members have firmly stated to the National Association that we'd like to remain a non-profit, idealistic movement, with leaders who do what they are good at because they love it, not because it is a job. The disadvantage is of course that changes takes longer, as we can't work 40 hours a week implementing them.
(Photos: Marcus Agbrant)