As a child, I wasn't allowed to join Brownies or Guides. Instead I was marched off to Christian Endeavour which was as much fun as it sounds. The highlight of any meeting was Miss Pick's Illustrated Bible Stories using Fuzzy Felt on a green baize board, and the occasional sword drill.
No, nothing as exciting as weapon training. Sword drill entailed tucking a copy of the Revised Standard under your arm and clutching it with your other hand. The Group Leader (not Miss Pick, because she'd be untangling her Fuzzy Felt*) would shout "2 Corinthians, Chapter 3, Verse 12" and you'd rifle through your Bible until you'd found the verse, leap to your feet, proclaim said verse and be presented with a pencil from the Scripture Union Bookshop, printed with the message The End is Nigh.
O, what a jolly time we all had. I spent many Tuesday evenings counting the diamonds in the moth-eaten Turkish carpet that covered the uneven floorboards of the vestry. If I close my eyes, I can still see that carpet ...
The younger generation of moptops went to Woodcraft Folk (Hitler Youth for Hippies) where they made greetings cards for prisoners of conscience at Christmas time, appliqued anti-war banners and got food poisoning at the annual summer camp where the camp cook did dreadful things with lentils.
Now the Small Boy is an Explorer. So far he's earned several badges. The Chopping Up A Piano With An Axe And Setting It On Fire Badge and the Dismantling A Photocopier Over Several Weeks And Bringing Home Odd Looking Bits of Electrical Components Which Clog Up The Hoover Badge.
Tonight he earned his third badge: The Riding Around A Field On a Sit-Upon Lawnmower Badge.
I'm not entirely convinced Chief Scout of the World Baden-Powell** would approve ... But then he was fond of watching boys bathe naked. I expect the Skinny Dipping in a Shallow Stream Badge will be saved for the warmer months.
** spooky coincidence. Robert Stephenson was BP's godfather. RS is SB's distant ancestor from whom he gets his middle name.