Kayaking with Cubs at the Wokingham Waterside Centre – June 2015

Sorting out my old video collection the other day I can across a film that I used to love.  It is a film about an American football team, the Titans, the film is aptly named ‘Remember the Titans’.  It was a film about a sports team who worked to overcome racial intolerance; they were a mixture of white and black players in late 60’s.  So what has this got to do with Cubs?

At the end of last term the Cubs leaders decided a joint meeting would be a good idea.  Something fun, something out of doors rain or sunshine, and something everyone could participate in?  Not too much to consider remembering Staggs meet on a Tuesday and Wolves and Foxes on a Thursday.

Kayaking at the waterside centre, sounds perfect but then the logistics started to fall apart, too many Cubs to have everyone kayaking at the same time on one day.  So on w/c 21st of June the Cubs descended on the waterside centre 24 Cubs on the Tuesday and 32 Cubs on the Thursday.  Once again 2nd Bracknell Cubs trip to the Wokingham waterside centre came with gorgeous weather and fantastic coaches.

Kayaking3Though it did give Baloo a nightmare in group allocation and form collecting so a big ‘Thank you’ to him and all his effort and time to make the kayaking run smoothly.

The Cubs had loads of fun, some came out of the kayaking looking like they had fallen in, some did fall in, and some stayed dry.  So what has this got to do with an old American football team film?

Kayaking2Just like in the film, sport united the Cubs; they had to work with Cubs they may not know, it taught tolerance, communication, fairness and helped enhance physical coordination and strength.  It also united the Leaders and parents, working in a unit can sometime become insula, these joint meetings with a common activity are so important to the Cubs, Parents and Leaders alike.





Foxes Cubs – March 2014 residential

In October 2013 I wrote a piece for the website about the Cubs narrow boating experience.  On contemplating why we take the young people away I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter where we took the young people and I said something along the lines of ‘So where should I take the Cubs next?  A nice warm, large, hall in Bracknell, comfy sofas and not a canal, lake or even pond in sight.’  So that is exactly what we did this weekend, except there was a pond.

We stayed at the Guide centre in Bracknell, a nice warm hall, huge kitchen, comfy chairs, two large halls and lots of modern conveniences but what did we do in the middle of Bracknell so close to home and in the middle of a housing estate?

The Foxes Cubs had wanted to do their navigator badge at the beginning of September term but it was way down on their list of things to do.  After discussing a few residential themes with the Cubs they decided they wanted to do things with compasses and maps.  This suited me down to the ground.  In my other volunteer role with Girl Guiding I hold my Level 2 walking which allows me to take groups into open country, Dartmoor for example.  I love walking qualification, I love maps and I love passing on skills – perfect. ‘Can we go to the cinema?’ was another suggestion which again in September sounded such a good idea.  So we ended up with a weekend planned around maps and a trip to the cinema.

Friday night was all excitement and all about setting up beds next to friends, showing off sleeping bags and generally finding the toilets and where food was going to be cooked because for a Cub it is very important to know when and what you are getting to eat.  I also had two excited adults as it was their first camp as well.  I have forgotten how excited I was on my first night away with Brownies at seven years old and I have forgotten that going away is such a new experience for Cubs and for adults.  For me and the first aider (another old hand at residentials) Friday night was about to be prepared, being organized and ensuring there was a steady supply of coffee.  After hot chocolate, hot cross buns, a fire drill, deciding on our rules and making a glow bug it was time for bed.  I am always surprised when I take kids away; usually you only get to know them for 1 and half hours a week and sometimes that child is completely different to the one you have for the weekend as was the case his weekend.


By 11.30 the girls were asleep and only a few of the boys were still wiggling in bed.  First movements were at 5.15am but after being told it was not time to get up I had peace and quiet until 7.00am.

A flurry of activity had everyone up and dressed, bedrooms tided and sitting eating cereal, 50 rashers of bacon and 30 eggs disappeared in a flash.  After chores of washing up, wiping up, sweeping and clearing the table (yes all the Cubs did chores and they know how to) h

we sat down and looked at the local area on different types of maps.  The Cubs drew their own maps of the area and a route to Jocks Lane Park.

Using the OS Map, a street map and a compass we eventually found our way to Jocks lane were the hi vis jackets the Cubs were wearing came into their own, I could see them all.


Back to the Guide Centre for lunch of hot dogs and only a few moans when I said we were going back out again.  This time to follow a trail around the local area, allowing the Cubs to see the type of street furniture we have in Bracknell.  The trail led us back to the Guide Centre for cakes and ‘rest hour’ though I have to admit this was more for us leaders than the Cubs who seem to have endless energy.

Tea was jacket potatoes and the Cubs could choose their filling, followed by apple crumble and ice cream.  After washing up outside in the dark, this was a firm favourite with the Cubs, there was just time for some craft, covering notebooks and finger monsters, before lights out.  Everyone was fast asleep by 9pm.


Sunday saw the Cubs get up a little more slowly but 60 sausages and 54 hash browns soon disappeared.  The Cubs then made their packed lunch as we planned to eat at the park.  We walked to the cinema where the Cubs each bought their kids fest of popcorn, drink and sweets and we settled in the seats to watch the Disney film ‘Frozen’ it was really, really good and all the Cubs were impeccably behaved.

oAfter another ‘400 mile’ walk in ‘100 degree heat’ the Cubs had time to play and then we walked back.  I’m not too sure if it was because the Cubs knew that when we got back it was time to go home or that they were worn out from the 5 miles we had walked over the weekend.

Asking the Cubs what they liked the best, we had ‘sleeping with all my friends’, ‘playing in the park’, ‘the food’, ‘seeing the film’ and ‘the zip wire’.  When asked where they want to go and do the next residential, we had ‘somewhere with a big zip wire’, ‘somewhere to walk the plank’, ‘bunk beds’, ‘near to a play park’, ‘3 nights’, ‘apple crumble’ and ‘no more walking’  and for us leaders ‘decent showers’.  If anyone has any suggestions of a location let me know.

This was presented for publication in March, but editorial constraints have delayed it [Ed.]

Foxes and a New Year

A New Year started for Foxes last night when the Sixers, Seconds and leaders had a planning meeting for what they would like to do at Cubs this term.  I must confess I was not looking forward to it, I had got out of the habit of Cubs.  The end of last term finished very suddenly when the school, in which we meet, needed the school hall for their Christmas disco.  It meant our programme that should have finished with a Christmas party finished the week before - a whole month ago.

Since the end of last term my time has been taken up with family and the whole celebration that is Christmas.  I love Christmas the fun and joy it can bring but felt disappointed I didn’t get time to share this with the Cubs.  We collected food for the food bank, four carrier bags and completed lots of Christmas craft but we didn’t get to finish everything the Cubs had planned.

Last night the cubs came to the meeting full of enthusiasm, it was very contagious.  This term we will have four sixes, blue, red, orange and green.  At first the Cubs were almost timid with their ideas.  ‘How do you want to start the new term?’  after a few minutes silence ‘Do we have new cubs?’  ’Can we play games?’  ’I like crafts’.  It didn’t take very long for the Cubs to become more vocal ‘Can we go on stargazing live?’    ’there is a stargazing badge, can we do that?’  ‘You mean the Astronomer?  I don’t see why not.’  so we spent some time looking at what the badge involves and planning what we would do each week.  The Cubs were a little disappointed when I said it was unlikely to involve being on stargazing live, but they have planned to write a letter to the show.

Mothers Day was next on the list and inspiration was sort in the Baker Ross catalogue.  The Cubs decided the cost was high and would make cards, sweets and coupons.  Boxercise, Zumba and go to the Golf range were the next suggestions, I made furious notes.  Healthy eating, turning our gardens into a fitness zone, go to the park, clean the Scout hut,  cutting trees down, pancake races, cooking, making fake sick…  The list went on.

After a break of chocolate ‘fish and chips’ the Cubs decided on a programme for the term.  Just a few days for us Leaders to find someone who can teach Boxercise and Zumba, find the costs of the driving range, source the Mother’s day card and decorations, gen up on Astrology and possibly get hold of Brian Cox and see if he wants to answer questions on Astronomy the Cubs are bound to ask.  Just as well the enthusiasm rubs off I can wait for such a fun filled term to start.

Cubs – Narrowboating 18th – 19th October 2013

It was with some trepidation I boarded the 2nd Bracknell mini bus (available to hire for all your Scouting needs, see Minibus Hire) on Saturday evening.  I had spent a very enjoyable hour in the hut watching the cubs from all three groups, Wolves, Stags and Foxes get to know each other while playing lots of their favourite games.  Now I was on the mini bus making sure all fourteen cubs were strapped in and ready to go.  We were to sleep on a narrowboat that night and I was dreading it.  Small space, water and Cubs, not words you normally see together, so why did I say yes?

Why do we volunteer to take cubs away? Why do Leaders give up their time and energy spending weeks planning and executing a residential experience?  It is all about the fun and going away is tremendous fun, for the young people and the leadership team.  It also allows the young people to develop independence, leadership skills, build confidence, get to know their leaders and build new friendships.  Taking young people away from home overnight, particularly camping, has always been at the heart of Scouting.  However a residential is not just about the young people. A residential event also develops skills in the adult leaders, introduces them to new skills, new experiences, builds confidence within the leadership team, builds friendship and working relationships, and you get to see the young people growing.

On the weekend of 18th and 19th October 2013 a total of twenty cubs and eight leaders made a trip along a small section of the Grand Union Canal.  Baloo had completed the logistics on who was going on what night.  Friday night saw twelve cubs complete the trip and on Saturday night fourteen.  Each trip had fourteen locks to open and close, and each child that wanted to steer the boat (under the watch full eye of the Skippers, Richard and Al) was able to.  We were on the boats hired from the Hillingdon Narrowboat Association; our boats were called Star and Pisces.

We arrived on the side of the canal with very excitable cubs.  Baloo split us amongst the two boats and we climbed aboard.  It was surprisingly spacious inside the boats, once all the kits had been tided away.  The Cubs soon found their way about and after a quick orientation the Cubs sat listening attentively to Richard the Skipper of Star.  A safety lesson was absorbed by all the Cubs and Leaders, we were shown on the map our route for tomorrow and I sneaked in a little map reading lesson.  The Cubs then got ready for bed and on Star were asleep by 10.30.

7.00am dawned grey and wet the weather did not bode well but the enthusiasm of the cubs brightened the boat like a huge ray of sunshine.  After breakfast of cereal, sausages, eggs and beans the cubs got dressed for the weather and it was time to open the first lock.  Even though it was raining the smiles from the Cubs as they pushed the locks open and closed made everyone smile.  New skills were learnt and old ones remembered.

During the day all the cubs got on and off the narrow boat, this was more difficult for some of us Leaders, each Cub got to use the windlass to open the paddles, push the gates open and closed and watch life on the Canal.

By lunch time we were on our way back down the canal when the thunderstorm hit.  The rain was sheet rain and a lock loamed.  We decided that the Cubs were to stay in the narrow boat and the Heroes of the hour were the Skippers and Scout Leaders who got wet through so the Cubs (and Cub Leaders could stay dryish).  By the time we got to the last lock the rain had eased, though the Cubs were very tired they donned waterproofs and lifejackets and got ready to open the lock.

After big Thankyous to Richard and Al (Skippers) Chris and Marion and Baloo (Peter) the Cubs climbed onto the mini bus and immediately become wide awake and ready to sing.

So would I go narrowboating again?  No, I have a love of dry land and a stronger fear of boats than ever.  Would I go narrowboating with the Cubs again?  Yes, of course.  I have come to the conclusion that it does not matter where you take the young people or what activities they do, their residential event is all about fun, friendships, skills, learning to be independent and building confidence.  So where should I take the Cubs next?  A nice warm, large, hall in Bracknell, comfy sofas and not a canal, lake or even pond in sight.

Foxes Programme – a story

My scouting magazine came today and flicking through the ‘Get active’ section the article on page 21 reminded me I had not yet written up the Foxes programme for next term. Foxes Cubs have been open since April and are giving 17 cubs the opportunity to explore and experience the magic of Scouting.

Around the May half term my mind turned to September, what could we do at cubs, what activities would we do for each of the programme zones, Beliefs and Attitudes, Community, Fitness, Creative, Global, Out door and Adventure? I had so many ideas… but Scouting is all about ‘learning by doing’ and for me and the Foxes Leadership team putting a balanced programme together is an easy, fun night, a chance for a chat and catch up, but for the Cubs would it be so easy?

On the 25th July the Foxes’ Sixers and Seconds met to plan their autumn term. The Sixers and Seconds made some animal footprints ready to make a trail for their six in September. This was done using permanent pens and cut up lemonade bottles, the Sixers and seconds then followed a trail from the nature detective website answering questions like ‘What wood are cricket bats made of?’ all the time the Cubs were talking and discussing if their six would like this sort of thing, the Sixers were taking the lead and learning to work with their second.

Making s’mores over tealights with a squash lead the conversation onto what they would like to do in their programme next term. A large calendar with blank dates was put in front of them and the room went silent.

We took the calendar away and we put a resuscitation dummy in front of them. ‘I know what that is for’ ‘That is CPR’ ‘I know how to do that’ ‘can we have a go’ the Cubs were vocal again.

We talked about 1st aid and how it could save lives, how important it was to learn. ‘Can we do first aid next term?’ ‘Do we get a badge for it?’ ‘Can we make fake blood?’ So first aid went on the Programme, Under Beliefs and attitudes we will be able to explore the cubs values and attitudes.

‘Messy Art we have done flick painting can we do it again?’ Messy art was added to the programme, it will give the cubs the opportunity for the Cubs to display there creativity, and show how good the young leaders are at getting the Cubs to clean up.

‘Can we put on a show?’ ‘Yes but like Britain’s got talent’ ‘What if we don’t want to be in the show?’ the Entertainer badge went on the programme, the cubs are going to put on a Britain’s got talent show with the Cubs not wanting to be on the stage organizing the show, making tickets and being back stage crew.

‘Community Service, what would you like to do?’ ‘Something for the environment’ ‘Something outside’ ‘Litter picking again’ Offering help and service to the Cubs community is integral to the Scout programme, The Foxes will be helping the Rangers at Savernake Park coppicing and general tidying (Risk assessment complete and first aid kit up to date and ready to use)

‘Can we learn Stop, Drop and Roll?’ ‘We went to see the fireman when I was a Beavers, can we go again?’ Foxes will be visiting the Bracknell fire station to meet White watch, discovering who lives in our community and how they help our community is all part of the community programme zone.

Discovering the out doors is a little bit harder in the September term, however Foxes are helping the Rangers and also want a cycle ride arranged at the look out. Alongside the other opportunities 2nd Bracknell are offering next term, a narrow boating trip and sponsored walk I think we have ‘Outdoor and Adventure’ covered.

‘Can we visit the police station?’ ‘How about a police station in a different country we could go to America?’ we expanded on this idea a little and the cubs will run a Global evening. The cubs will have time to choose a country and each six will decorate a table with information, souvenirs and items they have made about their chosen countries.

We have two weeks left I told the Cubs, would you like Christmas crafts and a party, smiles all round with lots of ‘Yes, yes yes’

My oldest Sixer looked at the programme ‘We don’t have any ‘Fitness’ ‘Okay’ I said ‘What are we going to do about it?’ ‘Horse riding’ ‘Rugby’ ‘Judo’ ‘Running’ ‘Go swimming’ ‘Instead of playing games at the beginning each week can we do a fitness challenge?’ The Cubs voted and a fitness challenge won. The District are also arranging a district Cubs athlete badge day so lots of exercise ready and waiting for the energetic Cubs.

So that is how Foxes decided on their programme for the coming autumn term, the Cubs can chose and put together a balanced programme, the Cubs ideas are balanced and have the Scout values at heart. As a Leader I discovered that the Cubs have very different ideas to me, that listening to them really does allow the Cubs to have a programme they can be engaged in from the start and will allow the magic of Scouting to, perhaps, continue to the next generation of Leaders.