Greg Bray rediscovers a scouting past

Greg Bray, columnist for the Gladstone Observer. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer
Greg Bray, columnist for the Gladstone Observer. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer Brenda Strong GLA170212GREG

FOLKS, this week, to celebrate the birthdays of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell (the founders of the Scouting and Girl Guide movements), I decided to re-read my childhood copy of Fun In Cubbing! after spending two days tearing our home apart looking for it.

Be prepared, indeed...

Anyway, Fun In Cubbing! taught me how to make an insect kill jar and a barometer, plus how to tie various knots, which came in handy for hog-tying my brother while he slept.

It also included instructions for wiring a doorbell, isolating the power and water to our home, building a raft and replacing tap washers. Remember, this was a book aimed at nine-year-olds, so what on earth were they teaching older Scouts?

I ask, because I was neither a Cub nor a Scout (note: I've added this to the long list of grievances I'll be rattling off to my aging parents as I drive them to the dodgiest nursing home in our district).

So, using my "non-Scout” tracking skills, I dug up an ancient Boy Scout Handbook online and got an education. Among the practical information it contained was this astonishing quote from old BP himself: "A tenderfoot is sometimes inclined to be timid about handling an insensible man or a dead man, or even of seeing blood. Well, he won't be much use 'til he gets over such nonsense!”

For some reason, my copy of Fun In Cubbing! left out any mention of handling dead bodies. Obviously this activity was meant to be tackled by less squeamish 10-year-old Scouts.

The rest of the manual was filled with handy tips such as how to stop a rampaging horse, make a bush mattress, build a shelter out of anything, deal with angry dogs, navigate by the stars and generally everything required to be a self-reliant, super-capable, upstanding citizen. It was ripping stuff but, frankly, it did make me feel a bit inadequate.

So, in future, if I do encounter any plumbing, wild animal, or doorbell dramas, I'll call some nine-year-old Cub Scout. If I can find one...

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