ECMC 2017 – What We Have in Common

This is part 4 in a series on posts from my experience being part of the planning team for European Guide and Scout Centre Managers Conference (ECMC) 2017.

When you travel the world (Europe at least), when you meet scouts from different places or perhaps change country yourself, you get exposed to different kinds of scouting and so you get to think about what is it in scouting, at the core, that we all agree upon.

Jose is the kind of leader who understands the symbols and cermonies part of the toolkit very well. His addition to the planning team was invaluable.

To me, this is no small question. I believe that the common core that we share in scouting is the one place where I look for answers on how to improv any scouting endeavour. The core is what really works in scouting.

My current understanding I have come to is based on a very simple observation: what we have in common is: the law (and in addition, the belief in positive examples, not rules), the scarf, the promise and the will to make the world a better place. We have non-formal learning as one of our most important tools. Actually, I have observed that the toolkit in our non-formal learning system like the patrol system, learning by doing, symbols and ceremonies etc. tend to be deployed differently in different places, and if I ever hear about challenges in a local scout community, I always see that there is a weakness in the application and understanding of the toolkit.

Another kind of improvement

Safe from Harm

I really wanted a session on Safe from Harm at this ECMC, so since I couldn’t find anyone to host it, I decided to make it myself. I don’t consider my self qualified for it, but both my will and request for it was there, so I decided to do it anyway.

I should make a special mention of the training session template that Felipe introduced, it helped a lot with the planning of the Safe from Harm workshop.

Most things I learned by running this workshop came out of a few exercises we did based on something called Photo Jolts. Basically, I asked two questions related to a lot of Photo Jolts photos I had spread out through the room (Northern Hall):

  • What three aspects of Safe from Harm do you think is most important at your centre?
  • Which five most important things in the ‘fictive’ Safe from Harm policy document (that I had handed out as part of the session) do you think is missing?
Workshop (not mine though)

The discussion that followed was very interesting. Taking a look at what was being said, it basically came down to a list of items and that list of items was not new to me. I had seen similar lists throughout my scout career in various context. It just wasn’t called Safe from Harm. When we talked about what could be done, we essentially reformulated old scout values and principles. Things like uniform and scarf to show inclusiveness or methods.

The toolkit is indeed important.

As an end note, I would say a specific method to handle bullying would do our movement well. It came up a lot. On second place we had loneliness.

ECMC 2017 – Vision 2023

This is part 3 in a series on posts from my experience being part of the planning team for European Guide and Scout Centre Managers Conference (ECMC) 2017.

There is a not so insignificant gap between scout centres and the NSOs (National Scout Organisations), regional level and world level (for example European Region and WOSM). Centre Managers tends to be doers who are not so thrilled by the organisational structure and political manoeuvres of scout organisations. Scout organisations on the other hand has a defined structure where neither schools nor scout centres fit in. They don’t fit the organisational chart.

A different kind of gap, this one between tectonic plates.

Organisations in general tend to view the world around them through their organisational structure, and since scout centres in general don’t fit in at all, they are off the radar. Schools don’t fit in either and so all the non scouts, school children comes to mind, who every year visit scout centres are off the  chart for all our organisations, the same organisations that so often writes about reaching out to society.

It’s telling that excited school children was what I met when I arrived at the centre, but as the conference starts, they are no longer around.

This ECMC we were so lucky to get three key note speakers, João Armando,  who was the Immediate past Chairperson of the World Scout Committee, Hulda Sólrún Guðmundsdóttir who are the vice-chairperson of the European Scout Committee and Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson, Adjunkt lecturer, Department of Leisure Studies and Social pedagogy at University of Iceland.

I had asked João to speak about the WOSM Vision 2023 and how scout centres can relate to that. Scout centres need to start thinking about how WOSM and WAGGGS work, where they are going and how they can be approached. It’s part of the long term solution.

Inside the Big House, plenty of space, not much insulation. If you look carefully at the heater, you can see the cover of the base being frosty at the bottom 2/3. Too cold for the gas.

We had planned to start the ECMC in the Big House. The Big House is quite big, it’s a round house made of wood with wooden floors and a few windows. There are no pillars inside so the whole building is very spacious. We had spent part of the opening day with cleaning out conference rooms and preparing the biggest of all places (the Big House) and now there was a small but important issue to solve. The building had no insulation and no heating. The gas heaters did not work as intended and shut down shortly after being started. Too late we learned the gas in the base of the heaters gets too cold and that this is solved by removing the covers over the gas canisters.

Felipe opening the ECMC
Tanyas turn to speak. Tanya was also the chair of the planning team.
Arnor, Centre Manager,  delivers the centres warm welcome

We opened the conference with the usual welcomes and icebreakers but then it was too cold so we had to move to the Northern Hall for the keynotes. The Northern Hall was big enough for all participants, but just barely and we still had our coffee and cake down in the Big House.

Vision 2023 keynote by João.

João started the key note by asking who many in the room knew of Vision 2023. Three hands in the air (not counting planning team). That is all you need to know about how the divide looks like and it is also why we where so very happy to have João come present as keynote speaker. During my years at ECMC, this keynote was one that gave the most positive immediate feedback.

100 Million Scouts, part of the vision 2023

The second most popular was the keynote that followed by Jakob.

Vision 2023

If you don’t know about Vision 2023, it’s definitely time to learn about it.


ECMC 2017 – Server Troubbles

This is part 2 in a series on posts from my experience being part of the planning team for European Guide and Scout Centre Managers Conference (ECMC) 2017.

There is a certain calmness before the storm that settles over a scout centre who is about to be visited by a large conference. The arriving of the participants goes very quickly from being a remote event to an imminent fact.

Calm before the storm

The planning team spent the first evening we all where together with unpacking in the sleeping quarters, as soon as I could I started to try to find power outlets and internet connection for the ownCloud that I had brought to the conference. Easier said then done. In my endaevours I had quite quickly found an extension cord so broken that when I tried to use it, it blow the fuses to the HQ. Apparently, the vast amounts of flies that haunts Iceland in the summer weeks every summer has a tendency to fill up power outlets with dead flies to the point of short circuit. After the cable incident was handled, it took a while to find internet. The end result was a provisional cable from the main Ethernet switch located in the hall outside the HQ hanging in the air going into our HQ. It worked.

Night over Iceland

The ownCloud server was a test, I wanted to try out to have a venue local only file share, and since there is a thing called Rasberry Pi’s these days which are both quite powerfull and very small, I figured I could bring a complete ownCloud server system in my checked in bag. This little experiment turned out to work so-so. I have now learned that there are a number of participants who go to a scout conference without a laptop. I have also learned that installing the ownCloud local client on existing laptops don’t work if the centre manager is using a computer managed by some IT department (surprisingly common). Finally, the web interface to a local IP address with a self signed certificate requires people to add a security exception in the browser, which I don’t think anyone managed.

Next time, we try a web only system with a certificate that isn’t self signed any more.

ECMC 2017 – The Rock and Soil

This is part 1 in a series on posts from my experience being part of the planning team for European Guide and Scout Centre Managers Conference (ECMC) 2017.

The rock and soil in Iceland is black, especially so when it is wet. The roads are wet too and the skies are torn by wind and clouds blowing in from the Atlantic. It feels like Iceland is part of the vast Atlantic ocean.

Icelandic rain and black roads

The open expansive solitary landscape with occasional sheep and horses grazing have only a few houses that you mostly see in the far distance. When you stand there looking at it all, felling the wind, it makes you think that in Iceland, magic is indeed possible.

Icelandic View

I flew to Reykjavik on a Monday and I was the third of the CMC planning team members to arrive to Iceland and the first of us to arrive at the Úlfliótsvatn scout centre. I was assigned the driver to the car that we rented for the whole conference, and so driving from the airport, I took the long road. The scenery is easily worth it. Arriving at the centre after dusk, on gravel roads the last bit, I was greeted by the people at the centre. I quickly unloaded the car and tried to make head quarter at the centre managers office.

There was a school class on site, excited and playing. I didn’t get a word since they where speaking Icelandic, but from the tonality of their voices, their loudness and their activity, I would say they were precisely like kids all over the world. I knew this place.

Iceland at Night

Making HQ (Head Quarter) I had to start from scratch, cleaning tables, vaccuming floor and fixing the internet infrastructure. It took longer than expected. Finding an Ethernet connection for my mobile ownCloud server turned out to be a bigger project than expected.

Scout Centre Entrance

Tuesday morning I expected rain, but not much. I continued to make HQ and after lunch I had to rush to the airport with the car and get the rest of the planning team. Unfortunately we was stuck in rush hour queues. Reykjavik might be in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, but they still have the same rush hour queue problems like any other city, if not more.

Back at the centre we quickly unloaded our personal stuff, we were assigned to live in the old girl houses across the street. When Úlfliótsvatn was built, girls and boys where still split, so they build the centre as two groups of houses separated by the road that passes through the centre. Three years later they merged. Needless to say, the girl houses was of less quality in the location without a sea view.

Unloading in Rain
Girl Scout Barracks

After dinner, we all sat down to assess the situation and make a long collective to-do list. Some of the planning team members where worried at the state of the centre. We had lots to do. Put the workshop and keynote rooms in order, prepare for the opening, figure out how to warm up the big house, make WiFi work, make the items for the opening ceremony etc. Then we had the registration, turned out there was no proper registration process in place and no staff to handle it, so we had to set up the check-in and info corner. Soon the first bus with participants arrived.

Planning team getting started
Coordinating Food

CMC 2017 – Úlfljótsvatn

Vartannat år samlas vi som “leder” scout center i Europa på en konferens känd som CMC, Centre Managers Conference. Ibland säger vi ECMC för att understryka Europa.

Vi har den här konferensen för att vi tror att det är ett av många sätt att utveckla våra scout center. Jag tror själv att alldeles för få ungdomar får prova på scouting med bra ledare och lägerliv. Ett bra skött scoutcenter gör att fler får vara med om detta därför att ett bra scoutcenter gör det mycket lättare för ledarna att arrangera läger mm.

CMC 2015 planning team

Seth Godin observerade att alla enkla problem redan är lösta. Det som återstår är de svåra problemen. De som kan ta väldigt lång tid, energi och ledarskap för att lösa. Goose Network, CMC och att överlag utbyta info med andra scoutledare är mitt sätt att leta efter nya lösningar.

Första gången jag var på konferensen var 2011 i Jambville, Frankrike. Leta vidare på den här bloggen så hittar ni nog reseberättelsen liksom för övriga CMC. Det hela slutade med vänskaper i Europa och att jag hamnade i planing team för konferensen 2013 (Neihaischen), 2015 (Kapraluv Mlyn) och nu 2017 (Úlfljótsvatn) .

I planning team har jag alltid jobbat med själva konferens programmet eftersom det är kärnan för mig. Det är bra att ha gjort ett par konferenser i planning team också för man får lite rutin och lär sig vad som fungerar och vad som inte fungerar.

En sak jag hoppas åstadkomma är att vi blir lite bättre på att hålla kontakten mellan CMC och att vi blir lite bättre på att klura ut hur konferensen kan ha impact på hemmaplan. En sak som till exempel återkommer i utvärderingarna är att deltagarna känner sig jätteinspirerad och motiverade när de åker hem från CMC, men sedan avtar det rätt fort.

Om vi kunde komma på ett sätt att hålla liv i motivationen mellan CMC.

Bokningssystemet inför säsongen 2017

Har du någons sin tänkt att “det kan inte ta så lång tid att städa”?

Det visade sig att det var mer att städa än jag hade hoppats på, men när man väl kommer igång så är det svårt att sluta.

Väldigt kort så har programbokningssystemet Hollyrosa behövts anpassas till att de system som driftsätter Hollyrosa ibland måste uppgraderas och den här gången var det en del genomgripande ändringar som behövdes göras. Efter allt detta arbete så finns det inte mycket ny funktionalitet än och vissa barnsjukdomar kan ha återuppstått.

Hollyrosa är nu redo för 2017 med schema och allt. Sommarens dagsscheman ser just nu ut precis som sommaren 2016 års scheman. 60 Degrees North dagarna har ett egen 60 Degrees North schema som bygger på 2013 års 60 Degrees North.

Nya Features

  • List Users och List Active Users har snyggats till lite och fått stöd för “last login”
  • Me har fått lite mer text i slutet som pekar på dokumentation för Hollyrosa.
  • Edit Activity sidan har fått en snygg färgväljare för bakgrundsfärgen för aktiviteten.
  • View Activity har fått lite kärlek, bland annat har den nu de “nya” Dojo menyerna.

Saker som har uppgraderats och fixats till (det stora arbetet) under huven (endast för utvecklare)

  • TurboGears 2 har uppgraderats från version 2.3.3 till version 2.3.9   Uppgraderingen till version 2.3.9 betyder att vi snart är Python3 och HTML5 redo vilket är en av de stora poängerna, men också att vi helst inte vill vara beroende av en för gammal Python version jämfört med den version som en modern Ubuntuinstallation har som standard. Uppgraderingen av TurboGears är det som tagit mest tid eftersom vi behövde konvertera ett bibliotek som heter ToscaWidgets.
  • Uppgraderingen av TurboGears innebär att vi tagit klivet helt in i WSGI och i samband med det så använder vi nu mod_wsgi i apache. WSGI är en standard för olika slags webservrar i Python. I princip alla moderna web-frameworks i Python är anpassade för WSGI.
  • Vi har konverterat från ToscaWidgets1 till ToscaWidgets2 vilket varit lite smärtsamt. Det var dock nödvändigt på sikt, för ToscaWidgets2 är en omarbetad version av ToscaWidgets anpassad för WSGI. Jag förväntar mig också flest buggar i de delar av koden som berör ToscaWidgets konverteringen.
  • Apache har trimmats lite så att vi kan lagra mera statiska sidor i browser cachen.
  • Logging konfigurationen har uppgraderats ordentlig.
  • Dojo Tookit har uppgraderats från 1.8 till 1.11.2. Detta har gått relativt bra.
  • Allmän uppstädning av JavaScript och en hel del JavaScript har flyttats från genererade HTML sidor till rena JavaScript moduler vilket gör att vi kan cacha mer data i webläsaren dvs. överlag borde Hollyrosa gå fortare.
  • BookingDay-controllern har splitrats i en BookingDay-controller som bara har hand om bokingar och en Activity controller för activity relaterad funktionalitet.
  • En liten säkerhets funktion har införts som vägrar HTTP GET request till funktioner som har sido-effekter.
  • Calendar overview sidans JavaScript har rensats ordentligt och det mesta laddas nu från andra JavaScript moduler.
  • Attachment och notes kan nu raderas.


Hollyrosa 2017 – Arbetsblock 3

Schema 2017

[   ] Schema 2017 by building tools to create users and copy relevant database info

Cleanup and Fixes

[     ] Live-Room
[ X ] The special validators don’t work
[    ] Take a look at all TODOs in code
[ /  ] Improve the logging to disc
[    ] Verify hidden comments work

User info

[     ] telephone (for SMS)
[     ] email (for bulk push notification
[    ] marrow (former TurboMail) for email integration. Question is if we also want Celery for this.
[    ] somehow last-used timestamp

Visiting Groups Own Pages

[   ]

Omvärdera programutvärderingen – del 3

Det här inlägget är en uppföljning till Omvärdera programutvärderingen och Omvärdera programutvärderingen del 2.

Jag har läst Carol Blacks essä “A Thousand Rivers – what the modern world has forgotten about children and learning” ett par gånger nu och efter att ha gjort det sitter jag och frågar mig själv om och om igen: hur är det vi lär?

Jag tänker att frågan hur vi lär är central för det program vi erbjuder på ön eftersom att det är en del av scouting och i scouting förväntas vi lära för livet.

Hur tror vi att det program och de aktiviteter vi har hänger ihop med hur människan lär? Det finns en video om Zina Lahr som hennes kompisar gjorde. Titta på den och fundera ett tag över det faktum att Zina gick i “home schooling”, en rörelse i USA som tror att man blir en bättre människa av att lära hemma i familjen (men gör inte misstaget att förväxla USAs skolväsende med det svenska).

En helt annan ide om lärande. En helt annan människa.