By Jim Dyer

© Jim Dyer 2012

This was the cry of the 7th Newport Scouts when they met on a Friday evening at the Central YMCA building at the bottom of Commercial Street – that is apart from Bob-A-Job week! I joined in the late 'fifties with my brand spanking new woggle, neckerchief and dark blue blouse. Why I joined I will never know but it lasted for a few years. They say that uniforms attract the ladies. It was considered more up-market than the Boys Brigade!

Most of the meetings followed the same pattern of Baden-Powell's system identified in Scouting For Boys. Each lad would be allocated a patrol, and for me it was Hawk Patrol. In this desirous company we learned how to make knots, how to bandage and scores of other minutiae. My claim to fame was that I acted as Patrol Captain once and had to report to 'Skip' at the beginning of the evening. 'Hawk Patrol reporting for duty, Sir.'   

After this we would return to our patrols for whatever, I can't remember. The rest of the time was taken-up with games and singing around a camp-fire – Ging-Gang- Goolie. That song I will never forget.

Bob-A-Job week of course was a nightmare to find people to con out of cash but intermixed with this was involvement with the annual Street Collection around Newport. I hated being dressed in my short pants and clutching a money tin stuck outside Woolworth's.

After learning my scout's promise by heart, I was set to task on my first badge, the Tenderfoot. This included knots, which I was relatively good at. I passed and felt proud when I received my badge. This was as far as I went with badges though. I did the first stages of the second class but that was it. My days at scouts were nearly finished.

The main thrust of the year was the annual camp held at Llangynydr, in the Brecon Beacons. I had to go but dreaded it when we arrived. Based in a large field, skirted by forest and the River Usk flowing at the bottom, we pitched our large Bell tents. As a lad of about eleven this was shock to my system only having the bare necessities to live on. The camp fire was arranged and our sleeping bags dumped inside. Now this reminds me that in fact my sleeping bag was only the ground sheet but my mother thought it was. No feather stuffing and togs never counted! It was cold basically sleeping only in tarpaulin. I can smell it now! Imagine a week of this.

After a few days it was getting to me – I was homesick. One task was to comb the forest for sticks to cook some waffles on. I never mastered this, or the cooking. The routine was pretty boring and I could find no fun in it all. Out of the camp-site was a solitary shop post office. I recall venturing there for a bottle of pop but my mind was filling with escape strategy.

Things for me came to a head during a game of baseball when at first base I started crying. Though it had been raining for days today it was wet. I think the parents came and when I saw mam and dad I burst out sobbing (this seemed a regular part of my make-up). Skip came over quickly and eventually he talked me through it. So I slipped back into camp routine for the next few days. The names of some of those boys there I vaguely remember – 'Inky' England from the Gaer, Brent Munday, two Gallagher brothers from Maesglas, and others.

The day came, of course, when the tents were folded and the camp-fires extinguished. Hooray.! The final night's sing-song around the large central camp-fire went smoothly so the next day we spent the morning packing the gear into the big Pickford's furniture van. Piling-in behind it we set-off down the valley's road back to dear old Newport.

That was the end of the Boy Scout's for me!

Jim Dyer - 4th December 2012