‘Summer of Love’ Event

It’s two thousand and seven, the Scouting Organisation is 100 years old and celebrations are happening throughout the entire year to celebrate this amazing achievement. This year also signifies the 40th anniversary of the Student Scout And Guide Organisation. A national group setup alongside the Scout Association and GirlGuiding UK to encourage membership whilst attending Higher Education.

The independence of the organisation limits its capacity, we can not hold a 2 week long Jamboree nor concerts and camps throughout the year, we can put on a slightly more extravagant Rally than we usually do, powered by the 2007 Steering group we descend upon the Lincoln District Campsite

Some of the changes that made the event much more than a regular rally include the opening of attendance to past members of SSAGO, and members of SAGGA. Accompanied by a Firework display, retro activities and memorial video the event highlighted where we had been and where we are going as an organisation, hopefully one that will stand the test of time.

I quite enjoyed the event, I assisted in some of the preparations on and off site but the real thanks belongs to the 2007 Steering Group that having worked towards he events preparations without a solid support mechanism (such as a club) for so long.

Buckinghamshire Centenary Camp

Many moons ago a Buckinghamshire Guide Unit, Hughenden Valley Guides asked for my assistance leading at the Scouting Centenary Camp in Bucks. I quite happily accepted the offer for 2 reasons; the most important being ‘fun’ and the second as a tale for afterdark on a Scout camp in the future.

The weekend started of a little breezy but calmed down on the Saturday morning. A first point of order was to erect an entrance gate, I was to supervise the Guides performing this activity. What I didn’t expect was to have to teach the Guides how to tie knots! Apparently this troop had performed all sorts of outdoor pursuits like climbing and kayaking but were never taught basic knot tying. Despite this they put to use lashings and clove hitches quite well to construct a sturdy pyramid gate which they later decorated in multicolour camouflage netting they’d made prior to the event.

There was a small multi-ethnic concert in the evening along with a gigantic necker presumably constructed from all the neckers in a particular local, I couldn’t really hear :(. But it looked good non-the-less.

Sunday turned out to be one heck of a day, the weather just went from bad to worse. Tents that had been put up sufficiently started leaning over and had to be strictly re-pegged to stop from flying away. Other campers were not so lucky as we saw more than 1 hike tent make like a tumble-weed in the gale force winds.

At some point it became obvious that we couldn’t last out the storm and started making preparations to send the girls home. There would be no quick escapes and we eventually hid out in the miniature fiesta tent we dined in.

With the onsite activities quickly packing up, or in some cases closing down boredom and unhappiness became infectious so entertainment had to be jury rigged in a limited environment with little apparatus. Combining a beach ball weighted down in the corner with a wall made of the girl’s camp ‘buckets’ dividing the tent in two I improvised a volley ball tournament. This kept everyone occupied for a lot longer than I expected and next moved onto verbal games and then some right out of the Guiding handbook.

As the afternoon pressed on the rain started to breach the tent and any pen and paper games quickly went out the window, actually it was through the walls but that doesn’t really matter. Majority of the girls had been picked up by this point so the remaining girls and I moved to a smaller tent to wait. With the area too small to move I grabbed my book (you should always have playing cards and a book on camp) to read to the girls. Usually I’d have the Douglas Adams classic, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with me but with the highly acclaimed Order of the Phoenix AND the final book; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows due out this summer I was re-reading my way through all the books and was upto Chamber of Secrets.

We each took turns reading a chapter, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read aloud with it being so long since I’ve had to read anything in public, although saying that I had done a lot of speaking in public since they which has obviously helped as I read through Chapter 1 without any major trips.

As we read through the book the winds continued to gush and the rain to blanket down, the numbers remaining dropped and soon it was just the leaders to pack up the remaining 3 tents and leave for a hot drink at Mary’s Cottage, the troops intrepid Leader home.

Despite the hardship I certainly enjoyed the weekend, I grew as a person as I better understand the Guiding dynamic and the inherent pitfalls of hands-on leading. So I say a big thank you to Hughenden Valley Guides and I hope we can do it again something similar in the future.

Funky Guide for Boys

Looking for a Funky Guide T-shirt

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have been told there is a rather cool site called www.funkyguide.co.uk. On this site they sell a variety of products with a customisable “Funky Guide” on the front.

As a touch for the adult male population that use the Scout and Guide Organisations as a dating service I’ve mocked up this rather cool touch-up on a Ranger Section Funky Guide.

Harlequin Disco

In an aid to raise Funds for her Jambo-fee Merry has organised a Disco near enough to Saint Patrick’s Day for the theme to be green. Since the Disco has been done with some help from her Ranger Guide unit my fair lady will be there, and having beautiful red hair you know she’s going to look good dressing in theme!

This is also a good excuse for many Go Jammers to get together and party so hopefully the attendance will make a large reduction on the amount she is lacking. At meagre £s;5 for entry you know that its not all going to her as the hall has to ask for something, then there is the disk jockey and then….

I was happy to be there, although I didn’t see the point of her inviting other participants, I mean if they give £s;5 to her, and she gives them £5 for going to their barbecue (or whatever) then they’ve both ended up with the same amount anyway. Alas I suppose you at least get the evening together.

It was a goodnight, good songs (with the DJ needing a little prompting) slightly small drinks provided by courteous bar staff. Eventually Colin and I got fed-up of that so when into the main bar for a pint of Coke each, boy we got some funny looks and eventually got told to leave was our “party of people” were supposed to stay in our room. Pft.

Well here’s hoping that this little shindig helped the cause, I don’t wear a feather boas just for fun you know!

Liverpool SSAGO Ball 2007

My second ever SSAGO Ball Attendance, and my second visit in recent memory to Liverpool. Arrival was planned for around 6pm on Friday, I’d be driving up in the Millennium Canary to meet Laura at Lime St Liverpool Station. What we didn’t know was that there are infact 3 entrances, I arrived at Lord Nelson Street entrance ( 90 minutes late due to traffic around Junction 8 of the M6 and near 18-20 ) and Laura was at the Lime Street Entrance.

I did feel slightly bad for her having to lug around all the things that girls need for such prestigious occasions but this is the problem with arriving separately albeit the most time effective solution with her coming from Basildon and me from Bristol.

We were arriving on the slightly earlier Friday for a rather jubilant local SSAGO individual’s Birthday, that individual was Sarah and it was her 21st Birthday. Considering my Birthday was tomorrow I had been downplaying mine for quite sometime, not just because I didn’t want to steal the limelight but because I also didn’t want the attention!

After some faffing around at Sarah’s house and parking in the almost completely under construction city centre we managed to go round a couple of the establishments before myself and another Mike had to facilitate a Scout Hut intrusion with the Swansea lot.

Once arrived there was some discussion about what to do for the rest of the evening as it was quite late, in the end a quest to Tesco for supplies and when we arrived back at the hut challenges and games came forth for us to progressively get worse at as the evening wore on.

The morning boasted a vigorous walk around Liverpool city centre, we saw, as in walked past, the Tate, The Maritime Museum and the Beatles Story. We did however get to thoroughly visit the Albert Dock and all its glorious souvenir shops. It was great spending this much time with Laura, and got even better when we lost track of everyone else and it was just the 2 of us for a few hours. Together we popped over to Liverpool’s Chinatown which was very beautiful.

We made our way to the Hotel where the Ball was being held, and we had a few hours to get ourselves, or so I thought, I was soon dragged to a post Ball Exec meeting held before we’d taken our positions, rather humorous scheduling but certainly enabled Daz, Paul, Ilona, Matt and I to get away the next day. So half dressed and half primped we all had a 45 minute consort about our desires for the rest of the year.

Chilling out just before the dinner in the Bar was good but I was slightly amused and disappointed when I saw the seating arrangement. Amused because there was no table 13 ( numbered upto 14 ) and disappointed because I wasn’t on table with any of the new Exec or anyone I really knew at all, and all the people I had been working with over the last year were situated with the key peoples of SSAGO, probably a political maneuver to retard my bonding with them. Tut tut.

Dinner started off badly, a moronic Nottingham member knocked over a class of red wine soaking the table and ruining the table setup, I could’ve easily forgive this but at the past rally he tried to claim my drink as his a la “mine, mine” of the seagulls in Finding Nemo but ended up spilling half of it, therefore for again inflicting his foolish antics I spurn him.

Laura intrigued me about Cuisine standards passed down from her father over the Breast of Chicken filled with cream cheese and chives, wrapped in bacon and served with a sautéed leek and cream sauce. Felt nice to be so civilised after nearly 4 years of laxed student decorum.

After dinner I tried to rally (no pun intended) all the mascots I could together for another group shot as they are far and few between with the DefCon between club thievery so low. It was a cracking image and hopefully it will be put to as good a use as the one from last year.

With such a long day behind us Laura and I retired for the evening as we both had long, separate, journey to our respective homes, put not before the old execs handover meeting which I’m sure many things were missed out of in our panic to evacuate the hotel.

Despite some panic in the planning the Liverpool SSAGO Ball 2007 was a great success and I hope that they will do it again in the far future to give other clubs a chance!

Loughborough “Down-under” SSAGO Rally

This is of course the Rally of the SSAGO AGM, this was to be the big one, the rally where everything that had gone wrong (and the few things that went right) over the previous year I would have to face upto. I wasn’t reluctant to go, infact I was eager, I couldn’t wait to see the outcome because I knew at heart what I hadn’t done, I hadn’t done for a reason.

Either way this was certainly going to be a memorable Rally for me, my last as an Executive member or the beginning of another year on a vastly different governing committee. Standing uncontested I figured my chances were pretty good but knowing how controversial the entire election process was going to be with the new (broken) rules, the political mess that had been brewed and the importance of the 2007 year I expected a lot of action at the AGM.

I didn’t get off to a good start, after a slightly bodged travel arrangements I arrived at a respectful time of 8pm, not my earliest, not my latest (1am!) I missed the Rally last summer through automobile mechanical failure; attendances are never as big as the Spring ones, especially with the locations being the center and extreme of the United Kingdom, respectively so I missed out on seeing quite a few people for 6 months or so since they weren’t at the autumn Rally.

I sat in the mess hall for quite a bit, Muriel’s Wedding (1994) was on. I knew this was the “Down Under” rally but couldn’t they at least put on Mick “Chocodile” Dundee?

With Rallies being only 3 times a year and few members managing to make it to the external national events it can be quite a while between being each other. Talking on MSNM is fine but you learn alot about another person through their mannerisms and inflictions that you could learn through typing on messaging facility. So whilst chatting with Mary and Colin about how their journey had gone (without me!) Faz and Emily walked in, luckily M+C knew how much I was going to have to mosey around the crowds tonight to scope the scene for the AGM on Sunday. Not so much for my own survival but that of another unfortunately re-election that had the possibility of stagnating SSAGO.

In the 2005-6 year Exec snowballs had been set into motion for monumental changes that would raise the status of SSAGO beyond any status it had had in the last 20 years. (Edit: What happened to these snowballs? They melted, as of May 2007 it turns out the people that could’ve kept the momentum going dropped them either through passing on the project to someone else or because they weren’t re-prompted by the new SSAGO Exec, so really there is no-one to blame but ourselves.) I had hoped to be a catalyst in the change but unfortunately my hands were tied because without action I can not react!

There were 3 levels of interest I found in people not running, either people were apathetic, unbeknownst or carefree. Which meant that more time was spent on the more interesting subjects such as jobs, club activities and member suggestions.

As you can see in the photo (right) the reps meeting on the Saturday was a hoot (end sarcasm) but there was a rather humorous Policy Document put forward about Pigeons. And a rather serious event which has produced ripples that are still felt today, in a way there good but it would’ve been better if an unfortunately incident hadn’t have to happen for it to be realised.

In an act of rebellion I choose to do the pyjama party with 28 other girls. I had planned to do this ever since it was going to be an Anne Summers party as boys aren’t supposed to go to them but SSAGO is all inclusive. Anyway, due to criticism it was made into a harmless PJ party which I fully intended to go dressed a la Arthor Dent. Seeing as I don’t usually have any PJs I went and brought some rather fetching blue striped ones for £10 at Matalan.

Having woken up thinking it would be silly to get dressed then get undressed for the PJ party I spent the entire morning and lunch in my PJs and dressing gown. So by this point I had managed to rally (:lol:) many others into getting their PJs on and doing the party thing properly.

I expect there would be a sofa somewhere and the projector setup for us all to watch, what we actually got exceeded these expectations. Chocolate fondue for Bananas, Marshmallows and strawberries, all the cheesy board games you can imagine and a movie!

The evening was possibly one of the best Ceilidhs I’ve been to in a long long time. We were right next to one of the Loughborough Student Union Bars which meant much cheaper liquid refreshment than the usual bulk brought bottles and a great sound system.

I felt especially good about myself for being able to buy a round of drinks for my fellow Exec members, something I haven’t been able to do because of the financial restrictions of studentdom. Being able to properly relax with good chums (photo above) that you just ‘click’ with is a rarity so I just took a load off, talked, played and danced until it was time to go back to the campsite on a good old double decker bus.

When we got back on site I collected my raffle winnings (funnily enough I suggested the raffle idea to the people running it!) which was a choice of 3 crates of lager, not being a lager drinker I decided to offer them to anyone that wanted one, which funnily enough few people were, apparently the majority of SSAGO men are bitter or cider drinks.

At last the AGM, suffice to say it was rather whimsical, the minutes can (or will) be found here, obviously they don’t convey the full atmosphere of the moment but they useful. Highlights include; a pigeon flying here or there, a few groups getting permission to do stuff, a (well deserved)vote of no confidence and the return of the Golden age of SSAGO through a phenomenally cosmically powered Exec consisting of myself, Daz, Ilona, Paul and the suitably re-elected Matt.

And so it begins again.