Even the urban areas were hit hard, with black-outs and blocked roads. The scouts, now between 15 and 19, remembered the event very well; one of them told us how they huddled together in candle light in one room to keep warm, and how everything in the freezer had gone off, another how his cousins for two weeks after the storm had come to visit to use the shower and wash their clothes as their power hadn't been restored.
So we talked about how to prepare for a similar event, and the scouts are now going to evaluate how well prepared their households are for a new crisis, using the official guidelines.
Water is a big issue in a situation like this, and the scouts were asked to prioritize the usage of the minimum amount of water per day, estimated to 5 liters a day per person. A huge, and sometimes heated discussion led to that 2,5 liters were saved for cooking and drinking water as "it's better to be well and in your right mind so be able to make good decisions than to have clean underwear", 1 liter for personal hygiene, 1 liter for washing up and half a liter for washing clothes. Thinking about that too many people in the world have only this amount of water, or less, for survival, and not only clean water, also led us to talk about how to save water in our everyday life (An average Swedish household use between 400-500 liters of drinking water per day, 184 liters per person per day in 2008! where of 45 liters of hot water!)
It is usually easier to recruit Cubs than Challengers, but perhaps it is only because we don't do enough recruiting... this term we've had two new recruits! One of them is completely new to scouting, one has been a scout in her old homeland and, I hope, will bring new perspectives to our group. Now we have to rise to the challenge of making them feel included, welcome and keep the meetings interesting enough for them to want to stay on!
Both my PC and MAC came to very good use, but I spend more time doing ITC support. Got a few words with our mate Nick from Porthill who managed to find my daughter online! what are the odds?
The first couple of weeks this term I visited the older Cubs, the scouts and the Challengers. I explained the structure of the movement and the scouts wrote motions: The younger ones on big pieces of paper, some with illustrations, the slightly older ones on ordinary writing paper, and the challengers sent their by e-mail. Some of the leaders took the opportunity to write some too. All in all 14 motions were handed in to the committee.
At the AGM we took care explain the lingua and the proceedings as they happened. The scouts were much more active and questioned, voted and discussed the motions and the budget. The AGM lasted for almost 2 hours, but at the end of it we had a new vice chairperson (27) and two other members under 18. We also decided to build a tree house at our campsite (motion from the older Cubs), to buy some new tents (motion from the Scouts), to start sorting the rubbish at the hut in fractions for recycling (motion from the Challengers) and to buy an electrical chain saw for the campsite (motion from the Rovers).
Now I'm on the train to my first WSJ meeting. Exiting!
We had fun too, but we were awfully tired afterwards. Thanks to all and everyone in our neighbouring groups that helped out, all the parents and scouts that came in to do a shift in the café, kitchen or as night watchpeople, perhaps specially our "mayor" (we haven't got mayors, but chairpeople of the council) Mari-Louise Wernersson, who took the time to not only do the early morning guard shift, but also stayed to mingle and oversee the opening ceremony.
Many thanks also to
Christer Borg Entertainment for all the help setting up the equipment and friendly advice
Jan Wolfhagen for immitating His Royal Highness so well
Magnus Bengtsson for the wonderful fire show
The County govenor Lars-Eric Lövdén for comming
Soda Pop for making us dance all night, and Gustav for making sure the sound was brilliant with short notice
Falkenberg Town Council, for making all this possible!
And many many more!!!
Of course we will all pitch in to help as much as we can, but the greatest challenge is to help people not to lose heart in all this, and to see the possibilities. The group has been struggling for a while, with finding leaders and finding funds - hopefully this won't break their backs, but make them stronger!
We feel for you!
At the older Cubs first meeting for the year, we had a quick run through of the organisation of the movement - from WAGGGS and WOSM to group level, recognising the different symbols which reminded the Cubs about what the various badges on there uniform represent and that they are a part of something big! Then the brainstorming began - of new ideas for program, and various projects and ideas for how to do up the hut.
Then the Cubs wrote a "formal" motion to the group committee on a large sheet of paper, and some added illustrations to make their point. Some of the parents were very impressed. Now we've handed the motions to the chairman to be referred to the AGM. I do hope that the meeting decides on doing a sleighing hike for the whole group, because as one Cub put it: "Leaders and Challengers are sometimes very childish too."
I will try to blog live from the event, that is to be held in the park in town, which means that we will have lots of exposure and hopefully we will get lots of curious people that take part in the festivities.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to go, but it was reported that all had a great time, even though it rained on the lightweight shelters, they had to fight off mosquitoes the size of aeroplanes, one or two wasps and quite a few flying ants, and now we have a great, new mascot: A cuddly Aussi Roo, with a cork hat and a lovely necker with Aboriginal artwork on it!
I'm sure we'll stay in touch somehow, and I look forward to getting the opportunity to fight of some Aussi mossies at some point!
Tomorrow term starts for most children in this little town, and most schools in the country start sometime around this time. For some it's a greater change than others, moving up from one stage to another, both in school and scouts. The daughter of a good friend, who is a very talented musician, has been accepted to a music sixth form in Gothenburg, almost an hour and a half away. My friend has been looking to find lodgings for her, but it's not easy as Gothenburg is a popular place to live, and you nessecarily don't want to house a 16-year-old in any crummy flat, or room, to fend for themself for the first time. She was at her wits' end when she went to pick her younger daughter up from summer camp, and found herself sharing a table at the farwell feast with a family from Gothenburg.
-I thought I might as well ask, she says. The greatest risk I took was getting a no for an answer.
Instead, she came home with an adress and new friends. Their oldest daughter had just flewn the nest, and their youngest is a year younger than my friends daughter.
-And it feels safe. They're lovely people, and as they are scouts I know what values and standards they have. I'm sure it will be great!
In scouting we have a great web of contacts. As any contacts they are not to be abused, but do not hesitate to make use of them! The only thing you are risking, asking for a favour, is getting a no. And most people are willing to lend a hand if they can, because we know we'll get a good turn back - at some point.
It is a lovely, naivistic story, very much of it's time, in parts reminding me of Enid Blyton's. The reader gets her own space to fill in information about her own group and it's activities, make notes and reflektions, and tips about games and activities for the girl scout patrole. In some parts it is also a document of a time, not far away, when quite a few people in Sweden were reliant on the charity of volonteers. One of the girls gets help by the group master when she can't meet the subs.The girls have a "Christmas Child" whom they help, not only with Christmas presents, but also by collecting handmedown clothes and collecting money for shoes and helping the boy's gran to pick the apples (and make apple sauce to sell to get her a new winter coat). The Girl Scout tests included map reading, knots and darning socks, a task that the group leader takes very seriously. The discipline is an imparative, but it is upheld with support and gentle guidance, and the 13-year-old has an enormous responsability, but gets wise support from her mother and from Akka, the group master.
What strikes me is that times, and equipment, and people's circumstances may have changed, but the program stays amazingly similar, as does the woes and worries of young people. What also strikes me is how empowered these girls seem to be, and how competent. (That is also why I think that Famous Five books are great for reading at camp or for a quiet time at a Cub meeting.) Children can do anything, by themselves! But we rarely let them. Scouting is better than most clubs, and scout parents are better than most parents, but still we coddle our children too much, and sometimes scare them from taking initiative and from being industrious entrepreneurs. It's a fine line between supporting and protecting and smothering and protecting. Now, this is a work of fiction, but as always there is a smidgeon of truth in everything, judging from what I've heard from older scouts and relatives.
Oh, sorry, got thrown off track here... The point of this post was originally to share some of the great games the book describes, and which I tried a few on yesterday's meeting. The Challengers are a lot older than the original target group, but what is good about scouting is that you get the opportunaty to keep playing games, and "my" Challengers really enjoy that. So yesterday we played knotting games:
One handed knots
The scouts pair up and put one arm around eachother's waists. With the free hand they do the knots on a communal rope. Practises knots, communication, coordination and colaboration
The scouts sit or stand in a ring. The leader decides on a knot and gives the group two ropes. When the music stops the people who holds the rope has to make the decided knot, swiftly and correctly. When both people have produced a correct knot, a new knot is called and the music starts again. The book suggests that the loser has to step out of the ring, but we played it with points instead. 5 people made a slightly too small ring.
With a long rope the whole patrole makes the knot together, everybody holding both hands on the knot at all times. This is fairly simple with the reef knot, but gets fun and more complex with a sheet bend and really difficult making a nice hitch around the flagpole.
The book also suggests practising knots with thick mittens and in the dark. We didn't try this, as our winter mittens are packed away in our closets and it is only really dark between 11 PM and 2 AM at the moment. There are a lot of other fun games and activities that I'm going to try at meetings and share with my collegues. It is imortant to look back at traditions, and remember our past. And old materials are good for new ideas.
The cooking challange got shrunk from a three course meal to a pudding, and while the very sweet blackberry and apple cake was baking in the reflector oven we practised our knots in various colaborative games, which I will discribe in the next post. Then we sat in the sun, eating the sweet, sticky cake and just revelled in the summer warmth.
For your pleasure, I adapted the recipe that the Scouts of course improvised.
Blackberry and Apple Cake
2 eggs gets beaten to white fluff with
Mix in 1 cup of flour and the juice from
1 small lemon
Pour into suitable container, we used the frying pan from a large size Trangia, lined with butter and rolled oats.
Sprinkle appr. 1 cup of blackberries on top and decorate with the apple slices.
Bake in the oven of choice.
Have just picked up my son and his friend in Malmoe, after their completion of Explorer Belt. They've obviously have had a marvolous time, and made loads of new friends and lots of experience.
After a long hike, with difficulties getting places to stay and ended up sleeping in various hotels, scout huts and in a Catholic church, eating mainly pasta and pizza they have been to the opera in Verona to take in Madame Butterfly, bought masks in Venice, and know everything about olive oil production.
And they earned their belts, but don't want pasta for dinner tonight.
Our town garderners are fantastic! Every year they work hard to decorate the town and the park areas around the whole council area. This is a big job. They work all through the year and also grow their own material. We told them about our centinary and they did this. We salute you!
In a few weeks' time, the finished product will come in the post, together with the books for the other age groups. I will then have a good critical look at them, and present reviews here on the blogg, together with some pictures. "My" book will have to be reviewed by someone else, I'm afraid.
The father of the bride is the Swedish Chief Scout and scouts were of course a part of the festivities. Our own District Commissioner, Marcus, was invited to a dinner with the royals before the wedding, and on the day scouts from Stockholm lined the streets to pay their respects.
Kronprinsessans bröllop 2010-06-19 - Images by Scouts in Sweden
Ida's granddad has laminated an emergancy note, with the condition that they will have had to starve for three days before using it.
Tom, from 22nd Oxford, and Victor, getting ready for Kim's Game on the trail.
For once, there is pop at camp! You can't be healthy always, and when there is a party there should be pop, shouldn't there?
Pioneering in the rain.
This last weekend I went to Stockholm to finish the book project. Almost all the authors involved and the project managers met at the Scout HQ to have a look at the almost finished products, share our trails and tribulations and note our thoughts about the process and the results. It was great seeing the book for the Tracker Scouts (younger Cubs), with the action packed tale about Tofs, the fox, who takes the scouts through adventures on land, on water and in space, addressing everything, from practical outdoor skills, to introspective questions about values and personal beliefs. The title will be, in translation: The Big Tracker Book.
The Discoverers' (older Cubs) book, to me, with the title (my translation) The Discovery, brought 50ies adventure stories like Famous Five and the like, and you get to follow a six through an adventurous treasure hunt in short stories that deals with different kinds of issues and problem solving.
The Adventure Scout's book, The Adventure Handbook, is more realistic, and therefor illustrated with photoes. Besides the further outdoor skills, it also deals with puberty and personal development through fact filled articles and short stories with recurring characters, while the Challengers' book, "my" book, is deprived of knots and filled with life skills like project methodoligy, group development theory and advice on how to organize charity events and to make the council representatives to see your way. The illustrations are dark and muddy.
All the books have their own colour scheme and style, and the tone, although adapted to the target group, doesn't speak down to the reader, and isn't simplified. It felt great! But then, after a closing ceremony, a lovely dinner in a restaurant, on the way back on the train, I thought: What now? There is a big whole in my life, that for the last 11 months has been filled with angst for not writing, writing, editing, writing, angst, editing, editing, reading, editing.... I've learn a lot, and gained a lot of new contacts, had lots of fun and is more convinced than ever that I should really take up writing more seriously. And translating. I've got hooks out, that might lead to something new....
The books will be published at the end of next month. So until then I can relax, until the readers have their say. I hope they will be as impressed that I am.
I do so reluctantly, but just because I'm a bit egotistical. I've enjoyed the position of Training Officer, and the perks that come with the job: You get to meet lovely, intelligent and interested people, you get the opportunaty to great training, and you get to be a part of people's development. But really, for the last year or so I haven't done a great job. Definately not as great as I wanted to, anyway. So I decided that it was time to go.
You sometimes see that in groups: People that are stuck in positions that they really don't have time, energy or even the passion for anymore, but for various reasons they just don't move on. The most common, I think, is that they think that if they go everything will fall apart. However much we want to believe this, it is very rarely true. If you are only a leader because noone else is available, you will be leader because noone else is available for a very long time. Because you are available. If you go, another sollution will have to be found. It might not be the same as it was before, but there will be a sollution.
Sometimes a staying on is very irresponsable, as it may keep the group from moving forward. If you haven't got the time or energy to do anything but maintaining status quo, you won't move anything forward, and eventually the momentum is gone and instead there is the definate risk of the carrige starting to slowly roll backwards, and most likely by then you will notice that the scouts will jump.
Then there is, like in my case, those who stay on to enjoy the perks. How ever innocent this may seem, you have to step back and evaluate: Do I deserve them? I found I didn't anymore.
The work on the book is coming up to not the final stretch, but the final feet of the finish line. And now I get nervous. I know that I am proud of my work, of my baby. But how will others see it? What will they think about the fact that there is a complete lack of advanced knots or first aid skills, but advanced group process theory and life skills? There will be lots of people crying: This is not scouting! But I feel comforted in the FACT (as I in this work has reread Scouting for Boys and a few of the earlier program materials aimed at the scout, not the leader) that we follow a straight tradition of a century in providing young people with the necessary skills of becoming healthy, happy and responsable adults.
All five of the Swedish scout organisations have accepted the invitation for the event, which means that the likely number of participants has risen from the first estamated 300 to perhaps more than 800!
The space for tent pitching is limmited which is a problem, but of course we'll solve that some how. The camp fire will be awesome and will be heard all the way into the centre of town, and hopefully we'll get some curious visitors.
Scouting can easily take over your life, if you'd let it. Of course, most of us are scouts around the clock in spirit, but most of us do have "day jobs" too, and spend a varying amount of our spare time with scouting activities. A few have the privilege to have scouting as a career.
The last couple of years I have had to limit my involvment somewhat, both for my own sake, and most of all, for my family. I would have wanted to go to all of the congresses, meetings and would have loved to take on a number of various things that have passed in the ether, but I have had to realise that with a 45 hour/week job, three children, a dog and a husband you just have to accept that the day only have 25 hours.
Things seem to land on all the inconvenient dates this year: A course I wanted to attend collides with my own birthday (which other people seem to find important), our centinary camp finishes on my youngest son's birthday, and now I've been invited to a summing-up celebration of the new scout material the weekend my oldest turns 18.
My husband always say, that there will be plenty of time for involvement when the kids have flown the nest, and I earn better money for less work, and I know he's right. Thing is, I believe scouting is an organisation for the young, that I'm already on the old side. Don't get me wrong now people, I know there are some readers that are even older than me: Older people definately have a place, and the experience and knowledge kept in the organisation is vital for it's existens, but, by right, all the "fun" should be the privilege of the young.
Perhaps I could bring my son to the book celebrations?
They had originally planned a sleep-over in the Hut in town to get started constructing their bath tub raft for the legendary Bath Tub Race in Säve in April, but had forgotten to book, so they rearranged the weekend: Instead of driving up to collect the tubs, they took the rest of the gear up into the woods instead. We had a lovely chat in the car about leadership: comparing their group in scouts with the theatre group they are both part of, discussing the need for a leader in a group, inofficial group leaders, haow to deal with them and how to win and keep the trust of group members. I think we all learnt a great deal.
The woods were white and silent. The first part of the road had been cleared, but soon we were wading through knee high snow. The two accompaning dogs loved it, but I felt slightly silly, as I had shoes on rather than boots. When their friends arrived I left them there to go back home to write, but I rather wished I could have stayed there.
On my way down to the car (appr. 10k) I made an interesting observation: It took less energy, and went a lot quicker to jog through the deep snow that to walk! At least I now have had a little bit of exercise.
It was so cold when we arrived after having picked the gear up in the Hut, that the electronic locks on the Town Hall had frozen and we couldn’t get in to start the exhibition video projector up. As it had been down into the -20ies in some places, the security company had loads on their hands, going around to check alarms and water pipes in village halls and old people’s homes around the council, and it wasn’t until 11 we got into the hall. By then the fires were lit, the first sausages were nicely charring away on the grid and the first pot of bilberry soup was heating up.
A few children took the offer of grilling their own, while most hot dog buyers made do with the ready grilled ones. Surprisingly enough we didn’t have any mishaps with sausages falling into the fire, and the blackened, cauldron like pot of bilberry soup bubbled away nicely and it’s content spread warmth, not only to us, but to quite a few of the passing Saturday shoppers.
A steady trickle of interested people went through the exhibition; curious parents with small children, ex-members of various ages and a few people who just wanted to get in from the cold for a spell. All in all it was a great success.
Just after three I hurried into the old cinema, that is as old as the group and some, and now, rumour has it, holds one of the best photographic museums in Europe. The audience this afternoon consisted of scouts, active ones and former members, who were hoping, or dreading, to catch a glimpse of themselves in old films that had been dug out of cupboards and drawers for the occasion.
First we got treated to a rare cartoon with Woody Woodpecker to get us into the mood. It was a nice reminiscence! Then an old film from the 50ies, when the group had a small hut in the woods by a nearby lake. Ladies with big handbags and small hats were chatting, while serious looking men with trench coats and hats were exchanging pleasantries, while stylishly dressed scout leaders served coffee and cakes and Scouts, Cubs, Brownies and Guides were trying to behave in front of the camera. Then films from the 60ies: An international scout camp at Stegeborg, near Stockholm, where exotic looking scouts from all over the world had been caught on camera and smiling faces that we recognised. Comments about how exiting it had all been, in spite of the mud, the rain and the mosquitoes were heard around the room from slightly greyer haired ladies and gentlemen, still very much recognisable from the silver screen images.
Then videos from the early 90ies, where leaders who are still active, looking so much younger then, were singing the same songs to kids that are now grown up and some sitting in the room with their own children, who are now ready to join. The birch woods around our cottage were as intensly green back then, but less dense.
Two hours flew by, and we all felt that we could have watched a little bit more. We also heard from the audience that there are more films out there, and more people who would have come if the roads hadn't been so icy. So we're hoping for a new screening in the summer.
We ran up the slope and raced down it, time and time again, until we were out of breath, swetty and rosy cheeked. We were laughing, and screeming and having fun. We were alone on the slope, noone else but scouts would be crazy enough to go toboganning in the dark. One of the girls had suggested it, but noone really had any tobogans. "We've all grown out of tobogans in our house" said one of the boys, who will be 18 this spring. Lucky that the leaders had some!
When we were leaving to go back to the hut, and the hot chocolate, we had a text. The Rovers were snowracing in the next slope! So we got in our cars and drove for a kilometer and visited, had a test run of that one too, before we turned back to the hut.
What a wonderful outdoor experience!