Jeffrey Kaye, the GSM for the 45th Columbia River scouts (Vancouver, WA), shares his write up of the Pacific Northwest 2013 Brownsea training. Jeffrey, as well as leaders from the 55th, 59th, and 636th attended Brownsea in September of 2013. Thank you, Jeffrey, for sharing your words with us.
￼Pacific Northwest Brownsea Training Camp – 2013
During the third weekend of September 2013, adult leaders of four northwest BPSA-US Scout Groups joined together for Brownsea Training. BPSA-US Chief Commissioner David Atchley and Quartermaster Scott Hudson acted as Scout Master and Assistant Scout Master respectively.
Brownsea Training is required training for first time leaders of Scout Groups in BPSA-US. It provides an introduction to the traditional scouting program of the BPSA, helps in understanding the aims and methods of Scouting, and teaches new Rovers (adult scouts) the skills required for Tenderfoot, preparing them to help younger scouts succeed.
The Brownsea training program works by teaching these things in a hands-on fashion, as the trainees will form and function as individual patrols, working together in learning, cooking and making camp life. At the end of training, many new Rovers were invested as Rover Squires and awarded the green/ yellow shoulder knot and their Tenderfoot/Association badge.
￼Brownsea is named after the very first scout camp organized by Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of what we call traditional scouting. That weeklong camp was held on Brownsea Island in Dorset County, England.
Once trained, Rovers are encouraged to offer a Brownsea Training in their local area as well to continue the tradition and pass on their skills and enthusiasm for traditional scouting to others.
While each scout group has their own special neckerchief design, all attendees of a Brownsea Training become members of a special scout group called the 1st Brownsea. This group has a brown neckerchief and we all wear this neckerchief at, and only at, Brownsea training camp.
Friday afternoon | Arrival and Introductions
Upon arriving at Bull Run Education Center in Sandy, Oregon, we each unloaded our gear into a large shelter and parked our cars. After all had arrived we received a general orientation. Each Rover, or adult scout, was assigned to one of three patrols and each patrol was assigned a patrol leader. While there were five Group Scoutmasters present, none were assigned to be patrol leaders — this allowed them to work as patrol members and receive orders instead of issuing them.
Patrols A, B, and C then hurried to set up their campsites as the rain started to fall. Another member of my patrol needed help setting up her tent.
￼I immediately agreed to help, though I was worried about not getting my tent set up before the rain soaked the ground.
I got my new friend’s tent mostly set up when the rain started to come down hard. If you’ve ever set up a tent on rain drenched soil then you know that this is the surest way to have a difficult night. Wet ground means that the inside of your tent is more likely to be damp as well. So, I quickly set out my ground cloth, the tent on that, and the rainfly on top. At least my tent would be on mostly dry ground while I finished setting up my friend’s tent.
Then, something awesome happened. As I worked to get my friend’s tent completed, five other scouts started putting up my tent! We were able to get the entire patrol up and before the full deluge started coming down and just as twilight turned to dusk.
Friday night | Campfire and Lights Out
Friday’s campfire started with our first patrol meetings. The first order of business was to choose our patrol names, cheers, and yells. My patrol chose “Bear Patrol” as our name and “GRRRRRRRR!” as our cheer. The other patrols were “Owl Patrol” with “Whoo, whoo!” as their cheer and “Salmon Patrol” with “Glub, glub!” Patrols then started working on choosing a song, skit, and game for the Saturday night campfire. We completed our first patrol meeting by getting our individual assignments for camp. These included KP (kitchen patrol/clean-up), grub master and assistant grub master (cooks), fireman (stoves and campfire), and waterman (cooking and drinking water). In addition, we were assigned to certain flag ceremonies
￼Breaking out of our patrols, we went around the circle and each scout introduced themselves. Some were very short and many had amazing stories. It was fascinating to learn of our varied routes into traditional scouting. While many BPSA scouts have experience in youth scouting programs many others have not experience at all. Quite a few were even new to camping while others had more extreme experience in mountaineering.
David Atchley, our Chief Commissioner ran through an introduction of traditional scouting, the Baden-Powell Service Association way. Much interesting Q&A sprinkled the introduction.
We were then dismissed to prepare for sleep while a handful of scouts stayed near the campfire to discuss their pending induction as Rover Knights.
Saturday morning seemed to come quickly. We had breakfast in our patrols and then had our first flag raising ceremony followed by a busy morning.
Among other things, patrols worked together to complete the requirements for the Rover Squire badge. We spent much of the morning reviewing and checking off that we had learned the Scout Law, Scout Promise, Scout Motto, and Rover Motto as well as the Scout salute and handshake. Scouts are required to have a Scout Staff; we learned of over seven uses for the staff. We then hiked as a group to the dried up Roslyn Lake lakebed to cut small trees down and whittle them into staves. (Yes, we had permission from the property owners to do this!)
￼The rest of the morning was spent making our patrol flags, learning the Turk’s Head knot, and making woggles — a ring of cord to hold together the ends of our neckerchiefs.We also reviewed and tested on the required knots — reef/square knot, sheet bend, clove hitch, bowline, round turn and two half-hitches, and sheepshank.
Ethan Jewett and Travis Wittwer, GSMs of the 55th Cascadia, demonstrated fire building and batoning (splitting wood with a fixed-blade knife or machete instead of a hatchet).
￼As the rain began to fall again, we had lunch, practiced and checked-off our knowledge of trail signs — building directional markers out of wood, grass, rocks, and other materials to let others know how to find us — knowledge of the US flag, and rope whipping — making the ends of a rope neat and secure by wrapping them securely with twine.
As the afternoon came to a close, we practiced our campfire skits, songs, and games, had another great presentation by David Atchley, and had a fantastic chili dinner. Each patrol’s chili was sampled by our BPSA HQ (headquarters) representatives who later presented an award for the best chili — Bear Patrol won.
We washed up, retired the colors (flag), and prepared for the campfire.
A torch was lit and handed down a line of scouts as each recited a line of the Scout Law. Each line punctuated by a beat of drums. The final torchbearer then lit a fantastically prepared campfire.
The rest of the campfire was a wonderful experience. Each patrol took turns sharing their songs, skits, and games.
￼While I wish that a video existed to share the frivolity, I’m also glad that only those of us who were present are privy to what transpired. It was fun, embarrassing, and also enlightening.
The festivities were highlighted by a Rover Squire investiture ceremony. Each scout who successfully completed the Tenderfoot requirements during camp was presented with their green and yellow shoulder knot, Tenderfoot badge, and a certificate. Each candidate was individually invested upon reciting the Scout Promise in front of the assembled scouts. The ceremony was solemn and, for many, emotional.
We ended the evening with tasty and properly fattening campfire treats and fellowship.
Sunday | Closing and Rover Knight Investiture
The morning started much as Saturday did with breakfast, clean-up, and raising of the colors. We had final patrol meetings and a final group presentation from David and Scott.
After adult scouts become Rover Squires, they go through a three-month (or longer) probationary period. During these three months, Rover Squires reflect one what they’ve already learned, apply these things to their lives, and prepare for a further life of service. This preparation includes readings, practice, and a Vigil — a period of solitude, reflection, meditation, and self- examination. The Rover Squire works with a Rover Knight who acts as the Squire’s mentor.
Three scouts arrived to our Brownsea as Rover Knight candidates. All three passed examination by our resident Rover Knights and were prepared for investiture. We hiked to another area of the Bull Run Education Center which had been prepared for the investiture with a sword of special importance, early printings of Baden-Powell’s writings, and a St. George’s Flag — St. George is the patron saint of scouting. Each of the candidates then went through the investiture ceremony and reaffirmed their Scout Promise before the rest of the scouts.
Brownsea Training Camp is meant to teach adult scouts the ways of traditional scouting. When done properly it does more than that. It breaks down our assumptions about what scouting should be, prepares our minds to serve our youth scouts, and builds relationships with our peers. Brownsea is challenging, intense, and fun.
Packing up and preparing to leave meant saying goodbye and racing home to our normal lives. Many were going home to partners and children. All left changed by the experiences of the weekend. All were better prepared to serve.
Yours in Traditional Scouting,
Group Scoutmaster, 45th Columbia River