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De good ole days ah scouting

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Ah learned in Scouting dat de Boys Scouts Movement was startedin de United Kingdom, in 1907 by Lord Baden-Powell, ah retired Lieutenant-General in de British Army. That Scouting was ah Movement that aims to support young people in the physical, mental and spiritual development, to play constructive roles in society, with a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills. Basically to keep youths out ah trouble! De Scout Movement spread like wild fire all over de Common-wealth and indeed de world, so dat by 1914, just seven years after it started, Scouting was introduced in St Vincent & The Grenadines.{{more}} SVG was den ah British Colony and Scouting would have been part of our colonial-I-say-shun. Dat was ah blessing!

Ah remember as ah youngster ten years ole, ah gentleman named Mr. Archer uses to visit my Grand-parents home, every time he was leaving he uses to tell dem dat ah should be in de Scouts. Later when ah did become ah Scout in truth, ah realized dat Mr. Archer was speaking to my parents as de island’s Scout Commissioner. He was later succeeded by Vin Sprott who was Commissioner in my time.

JOINING DE MOVEMENT It was in 1951 at Richmond Hill Primary School, dat ah got my first taste ah Scouting. Of course de visionary, Tommy Saunders was de principal, de Scout Troup was headed by two Teachers, Durrant Liverpool and young I.P John who was just out of Grammar School. Ah was among de smallest recruits, and felt intimidated being among some hard back teenagers who uses to push us small brats around. So ah transferred to Met-dis Scout Troup dat was led by Hubert Browne assisted by Walter Cummings, two gentlemen who would have helped to instill in me some values that keep me going today: “Honest, Truthful and Kind; Healthy in body and mind! “ In less dan ah year ah became Patrol Leader of Cockerel Patrol, would yuh believe, dat I and I, who ran from getting pushed around, was now pushing around de small brats in my Patrol.

My best days as ah youth was in Scouts. Ah remember how ah was so excited to put on my uniform for de first time, to attend de Remembrance Day Parade by de Iron Man, dat ah didn’t bother to eat breakfast. De Church Service started at 6:30 a.m, de Parade at de Iron Man at 9:00 a.m. After standing foh an hour in de hot sun, ah feel me belly growling, Gas killing me, den me head start ah wheeling, de next thing ah know, ah was on ah cot, stretched-out in de Court Yard, inhaling smelling salts and ah female Red Cross was fanning me, ah fainted! Ah learned me lesson, never go pon ah Parade pon ah MT stomach.

GETTING TUFF Scouting was tea, breakfast and dinner foh me. After ah got my Second Class badge, as was ready to decorate my shirt sleeves wid proficiency badges. In no time ah passed ah set ah tests including Swimming, Boat- rowing, Fire lighting pon wood, Cooking, First Aid and Ambulance way ah group ah we spent weeks being prepared by Mr. Miller, ah Lab Technician at de Hospital, learning how to dress wounds, treat primary and secondary burns, how to handle or how not to handle someone wid ah broken bone; what to do when someone fainted– ah should ah know dat before ah fainted pon de Parade.

It was frustrated after passing all dem proficiency tests, and could never get badges to show off when we go pon parades. But yet de Grammar School Scouts were never out ah Badges, but dat is how it was way back den. So enter Mad-is-straight, Dudley Johnson and Capt Markham, ah retired English Captain who came to SVG to live. Dey were Scouters who helped de Cat-lick Scout Troup, real help! Markham had contacts in de UK, and bought Tents, equipment and Badges foh de RC Scouts. And he shared wid de other Troups, den ah got all me Badges to show off, thank you Capt Markham, ah know yuh up in Heaven!

We borrowed de RC Tents and at weekends we camped at King George V Playing Field, de ole Arnos Vale field. We learned to wash we clothes in de Arnos Vale river, our washing machine; mek bakes and bake bread in ah biscuit tin; brown meat widout food colouring. We had no cell phones, black berry, I-pad and Tablet back den, but we learned messaging and texting using Semaphore and Morse Code.

CAMP PORT ELIZABETH Den we had ah two weeks camp at Bequia, ah vomit from shore to shore but dat was ah camp of great memories. It was fun sleeping under de canvas tent, on de hard ground, wrapped in yuh blanket, no pillow. Lights out! but we talk Nansi Story all night. Den one night it rained! Flood! we got flushed out! Way back den we learned ah most valuable lesson foh life at camp, dat is to dig ah trench/drain around de tent (yuh house) to prevent flooding, keep de rivers free! We hauled bush and branches fom all over in preparation foh Camp Fire, and dat night was like de whole ah Bequia came to see us Scouts from mainland St Vincent perform skits and scout songs. Trouble when we throw de matches pon de pile ah dry bush, people bawl foh murder, was Fire like real Hell Fire!

Ah see ah lot ah Scouts on Parade on In-de-pen-dance Day, and ah keep saying ah must go back and share wid dem “de good ole days ah Scouting” many thanks to my Scout Leaders Browne and Cummings. May de 100th Anniversary be just great! And wid dat is gone ah gone again!

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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