Last night was a special night for me. It was the night I returned to my Beaver Scout colony after a little more than 2 years away. I’d been with them for a little over 6 years but had to leave them behind when I moved to London.
I’d hoped I’d be able to continue Scouting in London but the logistics meant it just didn’t work. Beaver Scouts at 6 – 8 years of age are the youngest in the movement – meetings therefore happen in the early evening (my colony meets at 6pm). I didn’t finish work early enough to be able to then travel to get to a meeting and there were no colonies near my office.
I’m home now though and so I contacted my old Beaver Scout Leader and asked if she’d have me back. Happily she said yes and so last night was my first evening back.
It was great, slightly overwhelming (so many names to learn and put to the right faces) but complete and utter fun. I unexpectedly had to step up and lead an activity which meant I was kept completely on my toes – I’ve since thought of so many ways I could have done it better, but I did it and it was fine so felt like an achievement.
We’ve got a great programme coming up for this half term. We’re out and about visiting somewhere different every week. I’m really looking forward to all the adventures we’re bound to have.
I’ve talked many times before about my involvement with Scouting as an Assistant Beaver Scout Leader so when I saw this video I knew I needed to share it. It’s been made by a Beaver Scout and is an attempt to recruit more adults into Scouting so that more young people can join in and share the fun.
Last night I had my final meeting with my Scouting Training Advisor to get the last set of modules signed off for my Wood Badge. I’ve mentioned before that I was working towards this, it’s the award for adult leaders completing all of their training. Depending on the level of your appointment there are different numbers of modules to complete, as a section leader (I’m an Assistant Beaver Scout Leader (ABSL) but the training is the same for Beaver Scout Leaders too) I had to complete a total of 18 modules.
One of the things I really liked about the training scheme was how flexible it was. The majority of modules have various learning methods – you choose the way you learn best. There are workshops run for virtually all of the modules, if I’d been completing my training as soon as I started I think I would have tried this learning method out. I had a break in my training whilst I was based in Aberystwyth and so once I was back on Worcestershire and Scouting on a regular basis again I’d already acquired lots of skills and knowledge. I chose to work through each module independently, reading lots of the information that exists online and in various Scout Association publications and then choosing the validation methods (most modules ask you to complete 2 from 6 or so options) that made the most sense for me both as an ABSL (some methods were far more appropriate for leaders working with older children) and / or in terms of me shoring up my developing skills.
Despite that fact I’ve been with my Beaver colony now for a little over 5 years (I officially started in March 2009 but was with them for a few months before) there was lots for me to learn throughout the training process. I’ve noticed the difference that completing certain modules has made to me as a leader already and am sure as I continue I’ll be using lots of the new things I’ve learnt on a regular basis. I’m very glad to have completed it and am thinking that in the future I may well complete the additional training to become a Training Advisor myself.
The necker, woggle and wood beads that make up the Wood Badge award.I can now look forward to being presented with my Wood Beads and necker (like those in the photo) signifying I’m now a member of the 1st Gilwell Park Scout Group – something that is shared by more than 100,000 adults in Scouting worldwide. My award should be presented in plenty of time for me be able to wear it with pride on this year’s St George’s Day parade.
Next for me? I need to complete my Night’s Away Permit training so I can lead overnight residential experiences. We have a Beaver sleepover planned for a few weeks’ time and a district camp in May – these should get me well on the path to gaining my permit.
Last Tuesday we had our final Beaver meeting of the term so I thought today I’d like to think a bit about all of the things we’ve been doing this term.
We had a slightly late start to the term due to our leader (I’m our assistant leader) being away on holiday for the last three weeks of September. You have to have two leaders with full appointments to run an evening and currently myself and our leader are the only two in our group who have this status, my mom is with us as a Colony Assistant but this doesn’t require a full appointment. We decided as a result to start back one week later so that we only had to make arrangements to cover leader requirements for two weeks.
Our first week of the term was spent doing archery. We’re very lucky to have a Group Scout Leader who is an archery instructor, she did a brilliant introductory session and all of the boys enjoyed it. Most of them wanted to keep going when we got to the end of the night, I always take this as a good sign!
The second week we combined forces with another Beaver colony who meet on a Tuesday and had a visit from The Animal Lady. This worked well for us on two levels, it meant we had a number of leaders with full appointments and it allowed us to split the cost of The Animal Lady. She was very good, the children were completely entranced by her and the animals she brought – my personal favourite was Aleksander the meercat.
After a week off (more circumstances beyond our control) we were out and about again, taking the Beavers for a behind the scenes tour at the town hall. This was an interesting night, the gentleman who showed us around made sure he kept the information at the right interest level for the boys – I think it was the adults who were most disturbed by the story of the ghost that is said to haunt the former cells.
We followed this with a couple of nights at our headquarters – a general games night and chance to properly welcome the five new boys who had joined us for the first time at the town hall followed by a night I always love – experiment night! We ran two different experiments, cress growing and baking soda volcanoes. I ran a volcano base and had a thoroughly brilliant time.
After half term we started back with our annual bonfire and fireworks evening. We shared this with the beavers and cubs of another group which made for lots of children running round in the dark! Luckily we’d thought ahead and bought glow sticks – each of our Beavers wore one which made keeping track of them far easier. Many of the parents and siblings stayed for this week too making it a lovely family event.
That was our last night out for a few weeks, we decorated cakes to sell for Children in Need before getting into the Christmas spirit. Every year we spend two weeks crafting for Christmas, we started this year by decorating wreath and bauble cut outs with more glitter than is sensible, and followed it up by colouring and decorating Christmas tree cards.
For the first time ever we ran a Christmas district event this year. On Sunday 1st December around 150 Beaver Scouts spent their afternoon working their way around 10 bases making all manner of festive creations. This was followed Christmas biscuits and mince pies before carols around an indoor (electric) campfire – for this we were joined by many family members which added to its special feeling.
Our final meeting of the term, last Tuesday, was our annual Pizza Hut party. The boys always have a great time and it’s a fun, laid back way to end what is often a pretty hectic term. Once we waved the last Beaver off we sat down to have our leaders’ meal – it’s much easier and more efficient to have them separately.
I can’t believe how this term has flown by. For three of our meetings I had to act as leader in charge, it was nice to have this opportunity and nice to have supportive leaders around me whilst I was doing this. The one thing I have let slip is my training, I’m still working towards my Wood Badge – this is awarded when a leader completes all of their adult training. I’m going to focus on this for the next few weeks as we have a reasonably long Christmas holiday – it’s mainly a matter of spending some time gathering all of the evidence I need ready to get it signed off. I’d love to earn my Wood Badge early in 2014 so I just need to get organised and motivated.
I’ve been away from home for the last three weekends, so blogging has pretty much gone out of the window. I’m just starting a new module with uni, this one has an exam I have to sit on 25th June so I thought I’d have a blogging catch up before I got too stuck in to the world of Management of Organisations.
Earlier in May it was our sleepover with Beavers. We try to do at least one sleepover a year, but last year was a difficult one and we didn’t get one fitted in. When we started to look forward to this summer’s district sleepover (150 Beaver Scouts from all across our district) we realised that none of our young people had done a sleepover. We thought we should have a group one as preparation – for most of them it was their first overnight stay without a parent and we thought that might be a bit daunting at the district level.
We had an absolutely brilliant time, we called it Dinotopia and had lots of dinosaur themed activities. I love doing sleepovers, they’re absolutely exhausting (I managed about 4.5 hours sleep at this one) but they’re just the best fun. All of the young people enjoyed it too – I did the post-sleepover evaluation with our 2 youngest and 2 oldest attending Beaver Scouts and they were wonderfully enthusiastic with their feedback. The district one is just 6 weeks away and we’ve started planning another group one for November.
The following weekend was the Asylum 10 convention – a Supernatural convention. We’ve been trying to attend an Asylum for a couple of years (there are two in the UK every year) but the dates have never worked out. They did this year so we booked and headed to Birmingham for what we hoped was going to be a fantastic weekend. It turned out to be incredibly mixed, we’d never attended a convention run by Rogue Events before and in comparison with the events we’ve attended that are run by Showmasters or Starfury the organisation was pretty poor. We did hear over the weekend that they were 20 staff members short, so that probably does explain some of the difficulties but definitely not them all.
My biggest problem was with the signing side of the convention – by the time my group was called (groups were called in reverse order meaning that people who booked last got to go first) the 10×8 photos to get signed had sold out for a number of the guests meaning I went without a number of the signings that I wanted. By the end of Saturday the stress caused by the lack of organisation had left us all worn out and sure of the fact we’d never do another event organised by Rogue.
On the Sunday we had no signings left to do so we could spend the entire day in the main hall listening to the Q and A panels. Every single attending cast member was brilliant, when the day started with Misha Collins playing a game of Twister with some Castiel cosplayers we thought it was going to be good. The afternoon was my personal highlight, there was a complete lack of respect for the schedule from the actors – people stayed and joined in the next panels or just appeared and joined in, and the result was complete and utter chaos in the most entertaining way. By the time it was all over I’d definitely moved from my never doing another Rogue event to probably doing next May’s, the announcement of Jim Beaver has helped with this, and the advance knowledge that I shouldn’t expect to get any signings that I want so that any I do get are a real bonus.
Finally, this last weekend I went to visit friends and their lovely baby. I saw them in February when he was about 3 months old, the difference in him now as an almost 6 month old was huge. It was so nice to see them all, spending a couple of days watching CBeebies, playing games and getting baby cwtches was just what I needed after a stressful week. We ended the weekend by all visiting more friends and having a day filled with scrummy food and lots of chat. I certainly feel like my batteries are recharged and I’m ready to face this next study challenge.
This morning I’m joining thousands of members of the Scout family across the UK and taking part in my local St George’s Day parade. When Robert Baden-Powell founded Scouting in the early 1900s he chose St George as the patron saint of Scouting, believing that the figure of legend set a good example to Scouts. As St George’s Day is celebrated on 23rd April, the nearest Sunday is generally used for some form of celebration – generally a parade.
Nationally the focus is on the Day of Achievement & Celebration at Windsor – this recognises Scouts who have achieved the highest youth award, the Queen’s Scout Award, Gallantry award winners and adult members who have been awarded honours for their outstanding contributions.
In my local area the parade is done jointly by both Scouts and Guides, I paraded in it myself as a Guide and one year was given the honour of carrying our unit’s flag. Since becoming an Assistant Beaver Scout Leader I’ve been back on parade – it’s a little different being part of the adult side of the movement! The people of the town always provide a good turn out, and it’s wonderful for them to see all our young people involved in doing something good.
Partway through the parade we stop for a short service, this includes the renewal of the promise. Every member of the Scout family gets to renew their promise on St George’s day, this happens section by section as the promise varies a little between each with the adult members along with any observing audience members who have been Scouts (once you join Scouting you’re always considered a member) completing this part of the service.
For me I always find today a lovely time to reflect on what I, and everyone involved in our Beaver colony, have achieved in the last year. It’s also a chance to see former Beavers who are now Cubs or Scouts (I’ve been here long enough for them to have moved up two sections) and see how much they’ve grown up and hear about all the brilliant things they’ve done since leaving us – a welcome reminder of why iScout.
On Saturday I went to watch our local Gang Show. I’d been to watch them when I was younger, though when I was at the age I’d have enjoyed taking part they had a break from running them. We’d had the promotional material to encourage our Beavers to go and take part (the Beavers and Rainbows as the youngest cast members take part in the first half only) but for a variety of reasons none of our boys had taken the opportunity.
It was a thoroughly nice way to spend an afternoon. The show contained a mixture of musical numbers, a few dance numbers and some brief comedy sketches. I know that previously the shows have contained more acting and comedy, but the combination of writers and performers available meant this wasn’t to be.
I loved the mixture of the contemporary items such as a Lady Gaga routine, Fun’s We Are Young and of course a couple of Gagnam Style moments with some more traditional items including songs from the shows, a themed section featuring Tulips from Amsterdam and A Windmill In Old Amsterdam and of course the gang show staple Crest of a Wave.
Tonight at Beavers was our first meeting of the summer away from our Scout Hut. Every year during this half term we meet at our district’s camp site instead and enjoy lots of outdoors activities. The site covers 50 acres of woodland so there’s plenty of space for us to explore.
After our usual welcome we planned to take the boys on a walk to see all of the activities we would be doing over the next few weeks and to go over the ground rules that we set. We’ve got five Beavers who are currently in the process of moving up to Cubs and are feeling like they’re too grown up for Beavers now so we made them “leaders” and gave them three Beavers to be responsible for. They led us, after a fashion, to the archery range, the assault course and then down to the chapel instead of the shop. As we reached the chapel it started to rain, little droplets initially which soon turned into a torrential downpour. Everyone who’d got them put on their waterproofs, I had trusted the positive weather forecast and hadn’t taken one so got wet through.
My favourite moment of tonight was when we were walking through a forest section, winding our way down a hill. One of the boys turned to me and said, really excitedly, “Wouldn’t it be brilliant if there was a T-rex waiting for us at the bottom!” I could understand completely where he was coming from, the way the path was twisting and turning there was no way of seeing where we were heading to. I think we were both a bit disappointed to get to the bottom and only find an empty camp site waiting for us.
By the time I got home I had a load of new bruises and nettle rash, my hand has been shredded by brambles and I was soaked to the bones. None of that mattered though, it has been the best night I’ve had in a long time.
Last night was our Scout group’s AGM. It is one of the few times during the year when we get all three sections (Scouts, Cubs and Beavers) together and it’s always nice to hear the report given by each section leader about what they’ve done. I wasn’t having a very good day yesterday so tried to cry off, but my Beaver leader encouraged me to try and make it.
Once our Group Scout Leader and committee chairman had given the opening speeches Keo, the Beaver leader, stood up and began to speak. She explained that they wanted to take a moment to acknowledge a leader who was going to be departing for foreign shores, it was at this point that I started to understand why she’d been so insistent that I was there. She said some lovely things which made me cry, and then one of the Beavers presented me with these:
and said “Thank you for being Tic-Tac” which again made me a little misty eyed.
After the meeting had finished everyone mingled with a cuppa and leaders from the other sections came to ask about my future plans. It was lovely that they were all interested in what I was going to be doing, it made me realise how much I’m going to miss them all when I go. I was already thinking about planning ways I could keep in touch with the Beavers, after last night I know it’s definitely something I’m going to be doing.
The first few things I thought of to post about today were negative, and would have involved me moaning about something or someone (it has been one of those days). I’ve decided instead to be positive and share two things that have made me smile instead.
Tonight at Beavers the boys were all decorating door hangers. Most of them wrote messages along the lines of “No Girls Allowed” or “My Room My Rules”, sadly I can’t remember some of the more interesting spellings that they used. One Beaver went on a different tack though, and wrote out the ring inscription from Lord of the Rings. He then decorated the rest of the hanger with pictures of Lord of the Rings characters and told me all about his favourite bits from the first two movies (he’s watching Return of the King this weekend with his dad). My favourite moment was when he said “And… and then Treebeard and the Ents flooded Iceland!” Priceless!
Then there’s this story. It’s been circulating on Twitter for a few days, but I’m sure there are some people who might not have seen it yet. It’s the wonderful story of how the Make-A-Wish Foundation made the superhero dreams of a young boy with cancer come true. Stories like this are what the phrase heart-warming was made for, every tweet I’ve seen refers to the need for tissues and I’d have to agree.