Up the Creek, UK Scouting Magazine, Sep.1992 (190 lines)
David D. Miller +49 6221 404415 (DDM@DHDIBM1.BITNET)
Wed, 2 Sep 1992 12:51:38 CST
Some time ago, a UK Scouter asked here for hints on being Quartermaster for
a Group. The people at Scouting Magazine must be telepathic, because
they have a three month lead time. Although UK Scouts deal with Patrol-sized
wall tents, most of the article can be applied almost everywhere: It looks
almost like an 'instant' Roundtable training session, something I need for
my woodbadge ticket.
Up the Creek is mainly based on ideas and questions sent in by readers, so
don't hesitate to write. The address, and subscription details, are at the
bottom of the note - it's one of the conditions for distributing the text.
David D. Miller
Scouting in Europe - A Unique Experience
Up the Creek
Many Troops will soon be resuming Meetings again with the start of the
Autumn school term. Yes, I know that there are plenty of Troops that
keep on meeting throughout the school holidays, and that's great if
you can keep it up, but I always figured that a break was good for us.
This is also the time when you pick up a few new recruits, perhaps a
couple from the Cub Scouts, or by personal contacts at school.
Whatever, the Troop will almost certainly be looking to put on a
programme that catches the imagination from the very start. No doubt,
you and the Patrol Leaders have already got those first few weeks
prepared (!), but if you have some spare slots over the next few weeks,
how about the following?
Care of equipment
Is he mad or something? What's interesting about looking after
equipment? You might be pleasantly surprised (okay you might not, but
bear with me). Three good reasons come to mind. One - it's necessary.
Two - it shows you mean business about this outdoors stuff, and three -
if you handle it right, it's a good introduction to the complexities of
tentage, stoves, lanterns, pioneering gear and specialist kit and so on,
for the new Scouts.
Cost of equipment
If you are expecting your Scouts to have the right attitude towards
the considerable amount of valuable equipment that the Troop is
responsible for, then this is something that new members should be
involved in right from the start.
Do your Scouts know the value of that kit they use? It might be
instructive to start off with a prepared exercise on costs. List a
dozen or so common bits and pieces from the kit den which would be part
of a Patrol's basic requirement for camp, and leave a space alongside
for an estimated cost to be inserted.
Run off enough sheets for each Patrol and see which one gets closest to
today's replacement cost. Perhaps the value could be related to pocket
money, roughly how long would it take the average Scout to save up to
replace one of your cooking stoves?
Does the Troop know the replacement value of all your equipment (and do
Mending the equipment
Did the Quartermaster, or whoever, get around to noticing problems with
your kit at the last camp? Well perhaps that's a matter for discussion
at another time, now is the chance to check through everything, item by
item and piece by piece.
Lets start with a list for tentage. Check each tent for a full
complement of sound poles and pegs, including brailling pegs, and check
the ferrules on the poles in case any are coming loose. Carry out a
visual inspection of the guylines - it's better to replace them in the
comfort of the Troop room. Remove all the bits and pieces of clothing
which will be found in the tent pockets, try not to make too much of the
fact that one of them is a screwed-up Scout shirt!
Check that the sod cloth is still in good condition and that the
groundsheet is sound, in wind and limb, and has not started to let the
damp through at the creases where it gets folded.
Finally the tentage itself - are there any tears or is any of the
stitching coming undone? Look very carefully around the grommet holes
to see that some bright spark hasn't shoved the spike through the canvas
instead. Check also the places of obvious strain, for example where the
guylines are attached to the tent eaves.
Repairs are not too difficult in the case of straightforward tears, and
there's no reason why Scouts shouldn't learn the use of a sailmaker's
palm for these sort of jobs.
The tools needed are few, the sailmaker's palm, a few sailmaker's or
leatherworker's needles, some spare canvas of the same weight, colour
and an adhesive - 'Copydex' is fine. Ensure that the patch is at least
25mm larger, all round, than the tear, stick it in place with the
adhesive and then sew around the edge as neatly as possible.
The job can be finished off with a few coats of a good waterproofing
solution, and whilst there is still the chance of a couple of warm days
you might care to think of re-proofing entire tents. Unless you feel
very competent, it is as well to leave extensive repair jobs to the
experts, and you don't have to be an expert to know that the best time
for this is the winter months!
If you don't already do it, now is a good time to 'personalise' the
When the Patrol is checking out the condition of the tent poles, get
them to colour-code each one with their Patrol colours. The same goes
for the mallet(s) and set of pegs, and another nice touch, perhaps for a
subsequent evening's program, is for each member of the Patrol to burn
his or her name onto one of the larger pegs - a nice introduction to
This is all leading, in a perhaps rather unsubtle way, towards easing
each Patrol into accepting responsibility for its own tent. With that
goal achieved, you then use the same tactics to cover the Patrol's
allocation of kit for the camp.
Maintenance of stoves and lanterns
The regular maintenance of stoves and lanterns will include
dismantling, checking the condition of washers and so on, cleaning and
then finally seeing that they work satisfactorily.
A bow-saw can be rubbed down with emery cloth and repainted in the
Patrol's colours. Do you know a better way to teach the new members
about equipment than this? For example, it always seems a bit too
sterile to me to just sit down and be told about the parts of an axe.
It's a lot more interesting to be involved in, perhaps, actually fitting
a new wedge, cleaning up small burrs on the bit with a carborundum
stone, checking the haft for soundness and maybe giving it a coat of
linseed oil. And what about a Patrol activity to make masks for the
axes? Use some of the old handbags that you always get given at jumble
sales and some good leather thonging from a craft-shop.
Whilst you have these materials to hand, what about making up that
Patrol design for a holder for a clasp knife and small carborundum
stone, which could be worn on a belt at camp?
Value Added Fun
Responsibility, creativity, care of equipment - it all adds up to a
worthwhile activity which gets everyone involved. At the same time, it
also moves them along the Training scheme, which has to be a good thing.
We were discussing slogans for Scouting the other night at our District
Executive meeting and "Value Added Fun" popped up out of the blue. It
seems to cover these particular activities perfectly, so I
have decided to put it in the public domain and you may now
use it freely in announcing your forthcoming programme.
If you've got some creeky bits to relate, then just bring your own
paddle and join us at the SCOUTING Magazine Roadshow, at the Gilwell
Reunion, this month.
We're all in the same boat, and your 'survival hints' will help others.
Next month I have another special from my friend Rex. This one's a
space adventure and for each Patrol you will need to lay in a minimum of
a tanker-full of liquid oxygen, 5000 litres of kerosene and a green
wheelie-bin! Oh yes, and just a small amount of blue touch paper.
Mind how you go. Be seeing you!
Reprinted with permission. This article first appeared in the September
1992 issue of SCOUTING Magazine, published by The Scout Association,
Baden-Powell House, Queen's Gate, LONDON, SW7 5JS. Telephone +44 71 584
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