An ACC Goes Blogging - 10 Jan 2014

Explorers and Fire

The affinity of Explorer Scouts for all things combustible was reconfirmed this week when Alastair Richards and I went along to visit the ABC Explorer Unit in Chiswick. We spent a very pleasant hour using flint strike fire starters on an array of different forms of tinder. ABC Light FiresRay, the leader for the evening, with his collection of fire starting gadgets (flint & steel, Fire pistol and so much more still to come) had a variety of dry combustibles for the Explorers to experiment with. Cotton wool, birch bark, dried pine resin, un-twisted sisal, Sisal dipped in wax and the lint from the tumble drier all come under the experimental gaze of Explorers. So for a test of technique, do you rub the steel on the flint slowly and deliberately or thrash away at it like a demented elf. Now, I'm interested to hear your top tips for the best tinder and fire start technique – drop me a line to An ACC Goes Blogging and I’ll publish the GLMW top tips list at the end of the month. By the end of the session, everyone had lit something and the hall had the strong aroma of burning everything – not one for a hall with a sensitive alarm but a useful hour spent honing a great survival skill.

ABC with Alastair RichardsAs the evening progressed, we got to discussion of the year’s programme and for ABC the outdoors features very high on the agenda. A survival camp is already on the cards with a programme that will build on Scout skills leading up to that weekend as new members come up from the Scout Section over the next few months. The Great Orienteering Chocolate Race on the 22nd March will feature on the list. The February Freezer Camp paperwork has been sent out and the unit will be there on the weekend of 14-16th February. So look them up while you are there and ask about survival fire lighting, they’re highly skilled.

Getting the Information Out There

The things that Leaders most Want from DESCs
Promote Scouting Locally (in schools, etc)
Build Strong relationships across the district to support the units
Share Good Practice Leadership Skills
Encourage Leaders to Work together to make a district team/td>
District Activities

It is an interesting paradox of our world today that often, while we have more information and data available to us every day, we seem to be less well informed. How many times in the last year did you wonder why nobody told you about that event in which you would have been interested to participate only to find that there was an old e-mail lurking near the bottom of your inbox or in your spam filtered folder with all of the detail that you needed to know. How often did you look at an update message and see nothing of relevance to you so not continue past the first line of the note. It seems that we have become extremely effective at filtering stuff out of our lives and that, now there is so much stuff, we seem to filter out pretty much everything we could do with knowing too. Often, it is said that: “if it’s important enough then someone will tell me”. Unfortunately, it appears that the mechanisms by which that “someone” will know to tell you seem also to have broken down because “we can always send an e-mail or put it on a web site for people to read”.


The things that Leaders most Want from County
A First Aid Course for Young People
Provide more and better Information and event Promotion in plenty of time
Expedition Training Course
Skills Courses for New Leaders
How to “Get the Basics Right” Training

I was reminded of this state of affairs this week as I attended an update and feedback meeting for District Explorer Scout Commissioners. Historically, these would have been one of the principal mechanisms for information to be communicated from Gilwell via County connections to DESCs and on to District and Group meetings. A lot of the information that would have been presented here is now readily available on a website (many websites in reality) or through an e-mail update. But, it seems, people don’t know to look unless there is a prompt with just the right tweak to gain their particular interest. One DC at the meeting, who I know to be an avid reader of e-mails and checker of websites, had completely missed three separate instances of an important communication taking effect this January. He had simply filtered it out of what he had seen.

The things that DESCs most Want from their ACC
Flagship GLMW Events
Information in Plenty of Time
Advice, Support & Technical Guidance
Large Non-GLMW Event Information

Moreover, because everything can be seen somewhere on line, our representatives don’t tend to turn up as often as they may have done in the past. The chart at the end of the Blog displays the percentage of representation for each district at Explorer Advisory meetings in the last 2 years. In general, it is falling. At any individual meeting it is typically below 50%. It is quite possible that your district has not been represented at all so the person who should “tell you if it’s important” just might not know to tell.

The things that DESCs most Want from Leaders
Communication in both Directions
To see the Programmes that each unit is running

Unsurprisingly, those districts that have been represented the most at the update sessions tend to have had more participants in County events and have given their feedback to suggest improvements which have made the events more attractive to them. At the Explorer Leader Day in December, we posed a number of questions to see if there was a way to break through the apparent information block. The results were quite revealing. We asked:



  • What do Explorer Leaders want from their DESCs
  • What do DESCs want from the Leaders in their Districts
  • What to DESCs want from their ACC
  • What do Leaders want from the County team
  • What would help us to narrow the communication gap between County team and Leaders
  • What kind of events would you like to see from the County
County Events You Would Like to See
Hill Walking for Young People
Lasertag in the Woods
Monopoly Run

The results of the feedback from these questions are in the tables listed throughout this article. We collected the feedback and asked everyone to vote for the item they thought most important. We took the top 5 most voted for items in each category. If you would like to share the complete list or have other thoughts that you think should be added to this feedback, drop me an e-mail at An ACC Goes Blogging and I will e-mail you the spreadsheet of results. One of the strongest messages from the feedback has been the desire to see more information sooner and to have a mechanism for sharing programme ideas around the County.

What would help us narrow the Communication Gap
Run a Leader Day in January, Not December
Programme Idea Swap Events (Pints ‘n’ Programmes)
Include On-going Learning
Encourage Permit Sharing to spread the load
Make it only half a day

This Blog is a direct result of the discussion on the Leader Day. It is intended to be a mechanism for getting more Explorer and Network focused information out to you sooner. It will have elements of programme share and ideas, together with a heads-up on dates for events with links to connect you with more data whenever possible. It will run as a pass through for your ideas and observations so if you have an event or a programme suggestion that you can share, drop me an e-mail at An ACC Goes Blogging and I’ll do my best to get as many of your ideas out on the website.

Network News

The Bog Seat Challenge So, to the Bog Seat Challenge for 2013. The result for the year was a joint victory for Imperial Network from West London District and REN Network from, by definition, REN. They will share the £150 prize money between them.

The Challenge will run again for 2014. This year, if you would like your unit to be included, please send an e-mail to An ACC Goes Blogging by the end of January giving a primary contact we can get in touch with for each date that the challenge will run during the year.

Have a great week in Scouting


ACC 14 to 25


Districts Represented at the Explorer Advisories
District Average Representation last 3 years Average Representation Last 12 months
City of Westminster 0% 0%
Ealing & Hanwell 30% 25%
Greenford & District 90% 75%
Harrow & Wealdstone 50% 0%
Hayes & Harlington 60% 75%
Pinner & Headstone 20% 0%
Stanmore & District 60% 50%
Ruislip, Eastcote & Northwood 100% 100%
Thameside Grand Union 70% 100%
Uxbridge & District 20% 50%
West London 40% 0%
Willlesden 20% 0%

The Events List


31-2nd Feb PACCAR GLMW Expedition Training and Assessment Skills Weekend


14-16th PACCAR February Freezer Camp


1-2nd Endurance 80
21-23rd PACCAR Woodland Challenge and Camping weekend including the Great Chocolate Race (more info coming soon)


11-13th GLMW Expedition Training and Assessment Practice Weekend


27-29th Malvern Challenge – potentially the last ever running of this great event


4-8th GLMW Expedition Assessment Weekend
4-6th Sun Run – potentially the last ever running of this event
11-13th Gilwell 24


2-9th WINGS 2014


19-21st PACCAR SkyCamp Challenge 2014