Watch out for the Scouts: Signe Bjørg Jensen at TEDxCopenhagen 2012 – YouTube

23 02 2013

I was hanging out at a training course for Scout Leaders today. Equipping them to deliver the Scouting programme to youth in the best and most effective way we can.

I was chatting away with Rovers and other members of the Scouts Canada family. One of the Rovers brought this TEDx talk from Copenhagen to my attention. The speaker’s from Denmark, and does a great job of saying what we’re all about.

If you think you already know what Scouts is about, or perhaps if you don’t – invest 6:29 mins and see how close you were. Signe Bjørg Jensen does an amazing job – as indeed most Scout volunteers around the world do.

“We want to make children the most awesome adults of the future – so watch out for the Scouts!”

Couldn’t have said it better if I tried.

Another humbling observation: Signe is Danish. Her audience is Danish. She gives the presentation in English, makes quite subtle jokes… and the audience laugh! How many of us could do that in Danish?!

Watch out for the scouts: Signe Bjørg Jensen at TEDxCopenhagen 2012 – YouTube.

On My Honour…

6 02 2013

It’s no surprise to regular readers that I’m a long-standing member of the Scouts. Scouts make a promise as they’re invested into the movement. It’s what sets us clearly apart from hockey teams and other youth organisations.

On my honour, I promise...

On my honour, I promise…

But honour is a difficult concept to get over to youngsters (and many adults, for that matter). I once  heard it wonderfully encapsulated as:

It’s when you do the right thing, in the middle of the forest, when you know nobody is watching, and they would never know if you didn’t. Picking up someone else’s litter was the example in that particular case.

Personally, I think I’d go a little further. To me, it’s doing the right thing when you know people are watching… and doing it will in some way cause you yourself potential harm. Financial loss, shame, physical danger.

Like facing up to your mistakes when to not do so would cause another to take the blame. Like keeping your word, when you said you’d do something, but doing it unexpectedly turns out to be unpleasant.

I have a friend who is getting in shape for an up-coming half-marathon. She posted her training time the other night and said it was a “bad run”. I retorted that the only bad run is the one you didn’t do… as I sat in my home blogging.

Tonight, it was raining in White Rock. Thinking of my own words, I donned my trainers and went for a run in the drizzle. It was a run that occurred, and by my own definition therefore – good.

As I promised, I’ll post my numbers… good or bad.

3.6km, 24 minutes 232lb.

Well, one number went down… just not the one I’d have preferred.

Sometimes large organisations struggle to act with honour. In order to be profitable they need to pay market rates to staff, and often that is well below the “give a toss” level. Being mindful of this, they use process and procedure to protect them from variable quality in their representatives. That’s why you have to sign stuff when you hire a car, for example… because the company can’t rely on the staff actually checking the car properly before they give it to you. Instead, they place the onus on you, the customer, and attempt to protect themselves with paper.

A total cop out, since most people who are hiring cars are in a rush to get somewhere or wouldn’t know a potentially serious fault on a car merely from giving it the cursory glance they are allowed if it were to hit them on the high street, reverse and repeat the process.

Yet ultimately, as I recently read in “Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb, the larger a company gets, the more fragile it becomes. It loses touch with its roots, its original customer values, the things that enabled it to grow. Instead it relies more and more on market presence. On its brand. Its good name. The one thing that it has left in the hands of process-engineers and pimply youths. Potential suicide. In this day of electronic media and Flash Mobs, it behoves a company well to pay close attention to how it treats customers. It is better in the long run to absorb the small negatives from the few dishonourable customers who might return a car with less than clean carpets than to seriously piss off the honourable ones who you THINK have done something to your car.

Hell hath no fury like a technophile scorned…

Lest we forget

11 11 2012

As a long time scout, I remember dutifully attending Remembrance Sunday services in the UK as a kid, and being told off for sniggering as The Last Post was rendered almost unrecognisable by some poor kid with lips frozen to his bugle.

When we moved to Canada, I was slightly taken aback with how much more respect is paid here in BC. It was almost as if the UK was apologetic for having to remember. The only attendees at the cenotaph in the UK would be the scouts and guides and maybe the local city Councillors. Maybe a couple of parents, but certainly not a big thing.

Here in White Rock, the entire town turns out to watch. The ceremony is on the 11th – no matter what day of the week it falls. Not on the nearest Sunday as in the UK. The parade includes the local air and sea cadets, the RCMP, the fire service and representatives from all the various scout and guide groups in the town. There’s even a fly-past from the local flying club, and it’s definitely “a big thing”. It never fails to leave me feeling humbled.

WWII started as a European thing. Britain couldn’t NOT get involved. But Canada? Canada could very definitely have kept itself to itself and let things on the other side of the world play out. The US in fact did just that for about three years. I read a review of a Canadian TV series called “Bomb Girls” about munitions workers in WWII. Apparently US viewers were confused because Pearl Harbor was the big story item in the last episode of the first series. It would seem that some US viewers had no idea the war had been raging for years before then.

Thankfully they did enter though – Britain (even with the amazing support of its dwindling empire) was on its last legs. They were showing “The Battle of Britain” film on TV this afternoon. There’s a classic line from Sir Lawrence Olivier as Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, when he’s being pressed to verify the astonishing figures of the number of bombers being downed by the struggling RAF in October 1940:

“I’m not very interested in propaganda. If we’re right, they’ll give up. If we are wrong, they’ll be in London in a week!.” Incidentally there were 112 Canadian pilots helping in the Battle of Britain… as well at 7 Americans. Despite the US still being neutral at that point. They were all part of “the few” referred to in Churchill’s famous speech.

It’s usually a cool day. Rainy often. Occasionally windy – I remember one year the wreaths were continually blowing over. But today it snowed. Only a little, but enough to remind people of the discomforts weather can bring.

I have been to Flanders. To Ieper/Ypres (depending on whether you’re a Flemish or French speaking Belgian). I’ve seen the Menin Gate and been astonished at the thousands of carved names. Then astonished afresh to learn that this seemingly endless register of lives lost records only the brave souls whose final resting place is not known. I have seen the traffic stopped at 8pm – every day since 1918 except briefly during WWII – and heard the Last Post played by the local Fire Service and the second stanza of Ode of Remembrance read.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them

The Roman Army Knife

25 10 2012

So, I joined my current company in April – 6 months ago.

As the “newbie” I was voluntold to do our department’s presentation for the company “lunch’n’learn”. I waffled for 30 minutes or so about marketing and how important it was to understand your market and not keep adding features beyond what the market was willing to pay for.

As what I thought might be a witty illustration, I used a Swiss army knife with a ridiculous number of blades/tools.

Imagine my surprise then to discover that even the infinitely more practical 4-6 blade version beloved of Scouts the world over is not new. Far from it… it’s been around since Roman times!

Curiosities: The Roman Army Knife.

What Do You Expect?

30 09 2012

I was sent this video this evening.

It made me cry I was so proud to be even a small part of this.

Yeah, it’s set in London’s inner city, but it could be any city in almost every country on the planet.

What did you do today?


A gang of inner-city youths journey to the city limits in search of…..?

Swiss Army Knife with animals instead of blades – Boing Boing

22 08 2012

Switzerland came up in conversation today. Well, that and IKEA. Simplistic, functional design. “What have the Swiss ever done for us?” I mentioned cuckoo clocks and banking… but forgot two of the BEST things! Chocolate (what was I thinking?!) and Swiss Army Knives. I’m quite convinced Scouting would never have lasted the 100+ years it has, had Victorinox not had such a great little plaything for boys to have accidents with (apart from the one they’re born with obviously).

Then I saw this article on Boing boing… Perfect!

Great quote from David Suhami, the designer: “the piece is made for adults who still enjoy playing with small objects.” MM – it’s all for you, my friend! 🙂

Swiss Army Knife with animals instead of blades – Boing Boing.

The Perry Bible Fellowship – Boy Scouts

26 07 2012

Thanks to an Australian friend for finding this on The Perry Bible Fellowship.

Never let it be said that Scouting doesn’t move with the times and stay relevant to the interests of the youth…

Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America: *UPDATED* – Boing Boing

24 07 2012

Thanks to my very good friend for bringing this to my attention.

Being a Scout matters. It’s not just about following the rules. It’s about deciding what’s right, and doing it. Usually it’s the same thing. Sometimes… not!

Personally, I’m a recipient of the Queen’s Scout Award, which is the UK equivalent of Canada’s Queen’s Venturer Award, and the BSA Eagle Scout mentioned below.

It’s a big thing. I went to Windsor Castle to parade with other awardees when I was awarded mine in 1982. My eldest daughter went to Government House, Victoria to have hers awarded by BC’s  Lieutenant Governor Steven Point. It matters. To feel strongly enough about something to hand it back is important.

I applaud my fellow Scouts in the US for taking this stance. A more “Scouty” thing to do, I can barely imagine.

Kudos. (But when are you going to let girls join? Just sayin’…)

Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America: *UPDATED* – Boing Boing.

Founder’s Day (Lord and Lady Baden Powell’s Birthday) in Tanzania

20 03 2012

I found this blog of a Canadian Rover’s adventures in Tanzania. This post is about “Founder’s Day” – celebrating BP’s birthday (not the oil company…)

Founder’s Day (Lord and Lady Baden Powell’s Birthday) in Tanzania.

“Love, baby, love… that’s the secret!” – Louis Armstrong

12 02 2012

I was at a fund-raiser for Scouts last night. One of those things that just have to be done…

Not often I feel young these days, but I probably had a good 10 years to go before I was at the average age present. That of course meant the music was a little “mature” for my tastes (not much chance of “Arctic Monkeys” or even “Coldplay”), and I got itchy to leave as soon as the dancing (which you’ll recall is purely a spectator event for me) began. I was however returned to momentary calmness when Louis Armstrong came on the playlist. He had such a unique voice, and a kindly manner.

Wikipedia: Louis Armstrong

Wikipedia: Louis Armstrong

This song was first released in 1968, and written as a positive antidote to the American mood around the Vietnam War (allegedly.) Tony Bennett turned it down and it was offered to Satchmo. Good move!

This YouTube version has a spoken introduction by Armstrong, using his other nickname of “Pops”.

Have a warmer, snugglier day…


I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world