Be Prepared



Be Prepared  

I went along with Brownies, but the objective really was to turn eleven and ‘fly up’ to Guides with elaborate ceremony, which Mom relished.  Every ceremony began with the Color Party presenting the Guide flag along with the flag of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and the Union Jack of course, signifying our loyalty to the Queen and reminding us that Britain was still an integral partner in the Federation.

Be Prepared  

For a small country, we had a lot flying for us.  The colors would be presented to the troop in a horse shoe formation, rather than a closed circle, signifying the movement was always open to newcomers.

I donned the blue uniform with its expanded horizons.  I learned The Promise and The Law and various knots and things.  I was a Tenderfoot in the Flame Lily Patrol of the First Que Que Company.  Mom was Captain.

Once she had finished with the annual pantomime in January and before we started our new school year, the props were stored for another year here and there as they multiplied.  It was time to sit in the cool of the verandah and plan the upcoming winter camps for June, July and August. Then, the incidence of malaria was down.  The days were sunny with never an afternoon thunderstorm and the nights were crisp and cold, perfect for evening campfires, skits and songs, after supper was all cleaned up.  She swung from the magic and bright lights of theatre to the starlight of living close to nature.  There was much to do and never enough hours in the day to do it, before Dad got home.

These camps were quite a thing.  She had permission slips and kit lists typed up and roneoed.  Although she had a copy of B.-P.’s classic Outlook Games, she prepared her own scrapbook with sections for wide games, camp furniture making, mapmaking, tracking and spoor recognition from back issues of The Guider that came in the post from England.  Most importantly, she compiled a list of campfire songs she remembered so well from her own guiding days.  This was the heart and soul of camping.

As the great weekend approached, she made up the menus with her Q.M., Mary Fletcher, and they shopped accordingly.  They’d negotiate the supplies at ‘a special price’ and finally compile a balance sheet and come up with a fee to cover expenses, usually around twelve shillings and sixpence, for a weekend of fun and adventure.  You couldn’t beat that!   But if you couldn’t afford it no one knew.

Mom culled our Christmas cards and saved the best of the lovely Rhodesian scenes, flowers, birds and animals. On the back of them she pasted lists of the daily menus, programmes and songs.  The duties of the Camp Organizer, the Quartermaster, First Aider and General Factotum as well as the many chores of the Orderly Patrol, Cook Patrol and Health Patrol were cut and pasted firmly onto the backs of cards as well.  Who knew chores could look so innocuous?