Taking a break from study for an hour or so, I’m currently working on a set of badges for my scouts for when they injure themselves on trips. Sort of like a Purple Heart that recognises grazed knees. Only now I realise that I haven’t actually written about that (fairly major) aspect of my life on this blog, so I’m going to back up a little bit.

For a while now, I’ve been involved with a project called Monksilver Scouts. Monksilver is a very small village which does not have a scout group of its own, so if the children of the village wanted to join scouts it would have involved their parents driving for about an hour each week, which isn’t really an option when you take into consideration long school runs, low incomes, rising fuel prices and full-time jobs. So what we’ve done is set up a small, independent scouting group which at present has only five members (not including myself) but has attracted interest from other families in the village.

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The plan for the group was that it would be an organisation run for kids, by kids. This is where I come in: I have been in the village for long enough to be friends with the families of the kids that are involved in the group. This means that I’m friendly enough with the kids that they consider me to be a “kid”, like them, while still being considered an adult by the adults of the village. By this reasoning, all of the scouts are equal and there is no “leader”, per se, but I am still old enough to be the “responsible adult” of the group (until more members join, at which point I may need a second adult).

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As we are an independent group, we have no funding, and I do not like asking parents for money unless it is completely unavoidable. For this reason, I took it upon myself to make all uniforms (so far consisting of a t-shirt with our logo on it and a neckerchief) and achievement badges. I also plan our outings and activities. The troop has a weekly newsletter, “The Monksilver Paper Scouts Weekly” (named by one of the kids), which everyone takes it in turns to write. The general format is a lowdown on the week’s activities, a section of a running short story, an idea for an activity we can do, a recipe and a puzzle.

So far, we have had camping trips, a journey on a steam train, a day of orienteering, and a mock-survival mission. I’m currently working on plans for a “Survival Grade 2” badge, which will involve all the normal things like building a shelter, lighting a fire and cooking something, but also a rescue mission (with a doll, not an actual person) and possibly some first-aid practice. I’m also trying to make plans for our (hopefully) annual day out, which will probably be a picnic on the beach or something like that – nothing too extravagant.

My scout troop is absolutely fantastic, a real mix of characters. Some are mostly interested in fire and rough-housing, some are genuinely interested in learning as much stuff as possible, and some simply want to get as many badges as humanly possible (“If I do X, will you make me such-and-such-a-badge?”). They’re a pleasure to sort-of-work with, and I hope that we can keep it running for a few years to come!

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