It was a pleasure to be invited along to speak to the Beavers in the 31st West Lothian Scouts Group about army life. I’ll be honest – I was a bit out of my comfort zone because as a retired sergeant, I’m used to speaking to adults rather than kids, so it was a new challenge for me to think about what would interest them, how I could speak their language and how I could make things interactive and interesting. Reflecting on it, I’m pretty pleased with how it went for a first time…
After asking the Beavers what they thought the army is for, I spoke to the kids about what the organisation does, with an emphasis on helping people out in times of crisis, such as natural disasters and keeping the peace. It was a good message to get across as the kids thought that the army “fights the bad guys”.
We looked at what a soldier wears, such as webbing, sturdy boots and why we wear camouflage trousers and tops. We also took a look at what a soldier would need to carry in his/her daysack just to keep fed and hydrated for a day. It was lots!
I was able to demonstrate cooking a portion of ration pack bolognese on a wee camping stove, with the help of my nephew Paul who was dressed in a full ghillie suit for a bit of fun. The verdict on the spag bol? 9 out of 12 tasters liked it. Not bad! The kids were also interested in the tube of chocolate for spreading on army-issued biscuits and I left the vacuum-packed nuts for the leaders!
I had set up a basha shelter outside the Scout hall and we went outside (it was dark) to check it out. We discussed why they are different from tents and can be arranged into different shapes depending on the area you are in but that it would always be set up to fend against the wind and rain. The kids all took a turn of lying under it, on an army sleeping bag, to see if it is comfortable. They said it was! And we discussed why attaching a glow stick would help to identify or see your basha in the dark.
When we came back in from outside, the kids had a turn of marching with the heavy daysack on and agreed it was hard work. Many also wanted to try on the ghillie suit headgear for fun. I was pleased to issue every Beaver with a glow stick for their room – but most of the kids wanted to immediately snap theirs and see it illuminated!
Thanks to the leaders for asking me in – and for the beer!
If you would like me to speak at your club or at a gathering, please get in touch.