Old treasures

In my work with the new material I spent a little time looking back at available program materials from various times of Scouting's past, mainly from it's Swedish hayday, the 50ies. Mostly, I was looking for good quotes, and skimmed the texts, but a few days ago I finally had the time, and the peace, to sit and read properly.

One of these books is Patrulledaren Pricken och Ekorr (sic!) patrullen (Patrol leader Spot and the Squirrel patrole), published by Svenska Flickors Scoutförbund (The Swedish Girl Scout Association) in 1955, written by Gunnel "Humpe" Weidel and illustrated by Karin "Kluddas" Hollström; a charming naivistic story about 13-year-old Inger, who gets appointed patrol leader, and the reader gets to follow her work with "her" girls, her woes about not being a good enough leader, her pride when the Squirrels win the district competition due to the good group spirit, and her thoughts about dividing her time between school, family and scouting, and also about God and at the end, about love.

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

Hot Knot
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.

Group Knot
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.

Summer activities

Schools in Sweden have been out for more than a month, and as July is a traditional holiday time, it is somewhat difficult to get everyone in one place at the same time. The Challenger scouts did however opt for not taking a break during the summer, but to have semi regular meetings on the usual day and time.

The Explorites are, as mentioned in the previous post, home, but Isak has been away for a walking holiday in the Swedish fells, today Alice is leaving for a three week hike with Scouts from all over Sweden, and next week Victor and I are off for a family holiday in the Alpes (with a possible short stop at Kandersteg, that unfortunately didn't have any vacancies for camping (good for them!) :-( ) And at this week's meeting everyone was in a bit of a hurry, due to other commitments in the evening - but we had a great time!

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
1/2 a cup of castor sugar
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.


The adventures are back

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.

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The best park garderners there is

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!

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Now finally!

Finally, the book has gone to the printer's, after lots and lots of debaccle about things not showing in PDFs, pictures that weren't right and little bits and bobs. My friend, whose sister is in the publishing business tells me that this is always so, but it has been nerve wrecking!

Of course, looking at the PDF that was sent to me, I find things that I would have liked to address, but now I just have to settle with the fact that WE'VE DONE IT! We have produced a great publication, almost entirely using volonteers and it is very, very nice! (I just hope that everyone else like it too...)

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.