ECMC 2017 – How the rest went

This is part 6, the final part, in a series on posts from my experience being part of the planning team for European Guide and Scout Centre Managers Conference (ECMC) 2017.

Check out the statistics for autumn in Iceland: any day has a 45% chance/risk of rain. Say for example that you exit the planning teams HQ, in order to go the the Gillwell Hall. Its a fifty meter walk in sunshine but cold winds. You spend about 25 minutes rearranging tables and preparing the hall for upcoming workshops. You are in a rush to get back to HQ but s you exit through the front door you realize that it is no longer sunshine. It is raining. I learned that on Iceland, you bring your rain jacket everywhere.

Not too bad morning

I will close the series on ECMC 2017 by discussing a few sessions and the workshops. They are all important to me because I do believe the CEMC is a conference that is working because the participants are active. ECMC is a conference for and of the participants ultimately.

Amazing Place

Consulting Challenge

Participants in the Big House

The Consulting Challenge was a new introduction to ECMC. The idea of the  session, in essence, was to put the participants to work solving real problems. The participants was asked to act as consultants for an hour to Úlfliótsvatn who got to describe the challenges they wanted consulting help with. This was a really good session and when listening to the output I think it could be applicable to many centres challenges.

Arnor presenting the challenges for the consultants to address

Micro Presentations

Everyone have something to tell/teach and everyone have something to learn. By opening up for a big variety of micro presentations, I think we open many doors to new ideas and discussions. We had so many micro presentations that we had to split the conference into two parallel groups. Since I was running one of the two parallel sessions, I only saw half of the presentations. Running about 25 presentations in rapid succession creates a challenge keeping up with loading new presentation on the presentations computer. I have come to develop a certain fondness for slide less presentations.

A few presentations stood out to me. First of all, we had more than one centre manager speaking the personal challenge of burn out. It is such an important and deep subject I hope we can bring it to the next ECMC.

Another presentations which stood out to me was Rui’s great story behind a scout centre having no memory is a scout centre having no history.

From Scout Valley Lithuania came an inspiring talk by Jonas about how he introduced outside kindergarten in Lithuania influencing national regulations via his scout centre. (making the world a better place anyone?). I’m mighty impressed.


We in the planning team always strive to do as few workshops as possible. Participants here enough of us anyway. So we where happy that we could fill so many workshops with hosts not from the planning team. Big thanks from the planning team.

Planning Team member
  • Diana from Nocrich did an excellent work on using EVS and I think many will start using EVS after this. Excellent.
  • Long term ECMC participant Damien of Scouting Ireland got rave reviews for his take on Managing Change and I was happy to be in the room to listen. This was one of my favourite workshops in CMC.
  • Connor, also from Ireland did a workshop on Staff and Team Working which I missed unfortunately, but it was very popular (I was running Safe from Harm in parallel).
  • Felipe did a workshop on Train the Trainer based on KISC experience, participants was very positive about the workshop.
  • Safe from Harm – my own session, mentioned elsewhere in this series.
  • World Wide Scout Programme – good participant feedback, unfortunately I was not in the room (I was in the parallel workshop). We noted that the interest for SCENES is still strong.
  • The Relationship between Paid Mangers and Unpaid Staff and Volounteers delivered by Karsten of Houens Odde is not only the workshop with the longest name ever that we couldn’t shorten, it is also one of the most well received workshop we have ever had and I think people will remember it for years to come, especially his small exercises.
  • Educational Methods and Non Formal Education – João helped us with an important workshop in one of the key areas of scouting. It also represented a very good connection back to last CMC and into the future. I couldn’t be in the workshop (again, I was in the parallel one). It was really important for the conference.
  • So much more

    So much more happened on the conference. I’m still processing some thoughts and ideas, but now it’s time for a set of photos I love to share with you.

    Leftover from the Moot. The center didn’t have time to recover fully from the Moot.
    Amazed by the morning light
    Centre View
    Notern Lights
    Dining hall was crowded
    The Amazing Kitchen Crew
    Excursion time
    Up the mountain to the hot river
    Five degrees in the air and 40 degrees in the river. Nice.
    Ending Cermony
    Morning in the Golden Circle Tour
    Cold but oh so beautifull.
    River of dreams
    Too much to photograph
    The great clear water of Iceland
    In golden light
    Great Waterfall
    Europes biggest waterfall by volume
    Team KISC
    The great centre manager Arnor
    No Icelandic tour without Geyjsir

    But this is it for now.

    Looking forward to see you all again

    ECMC 2017 – We dont like to pay for grass

    This is part 5 in a series on posts from my experience being part of the planning team for European Guide and Scout Centre Managers Conference (ECMC) 2017.

    Scouts don’t pay much for grass, but they can pay a lot for a knife. It’s called price sensitivity. Scouts are price sensitive to grass since hiking tends to be free. We are price sensitive to free things. Knifes are not free, they are even forbidden in some places. So we are price sensitive to knifes, especially if the knife carries a brand name.

    We are price sensitive to grass

    This is how you can have guests at scout centre complaining about the price of accommodation (grass + house + food + toilet + occasional activities to kill time) while happily the scouts spends money on expensive knifes and smart phones.

    Scout programme from a distance

    To get out of this, scout centres will have to stop being a hostel-like business and start working as a premium scouting centre. That means embracing and deploying the scout method one level above where we are now. Values and everything. Above all, we can start work as a centres for non-formal learning in a more focused way.

    Jakob delivering keynote on challenges for non-formal learning in outdoor education

    If you don’t know what non-formal learning is, I recommend you to watch John May’s keynote from the educational congress in KISC 2017 if you can find it.

    By now, I hope you noticed I consider non-formal learning something important. This is why we asked João to help deliver a workshop on educational methods and non-formal learning. Unfortunately, I had to be in the other parallel workshop so I missed it.

    The matrix illustrates three kinds of education: non-formal education, formal and informal education and where they typically takes place. Jakob talked also about things like the power structure and vocabulary used in the different kinds of education. One of the key points of this slide is a full human, a citizen, has capabilities from all parts of the matrix, but school can only provided part of the education.

    This is why we were thrilled to have Jakob delivering a keynote (the second one) on non-formal learning in outdoor education. Jakob actually does part of his research by visiting Úlfliótsvatn every week. He’s the first keynote speaker I have met who takes the keynote as an opportunity to deepen his research by starting his keynote by asking everyone to fill in a form related to how they got started in scouting etc. His keynote was very interesting and I think he could have spoken for four hours if we had given him time.


    Best practices project presented by former-former centre manager, not to be forgotten.

    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.

    CMC 2015 – Flyget

    Det här är den sista delen i en serie inlägg från CMC 2015. Tidigare delar: CMC2015 – Mellan Wien och Brno, CMC2015 – Dåliga Förbindelser, CMC2015 – formellt och icke-formellt lärande och CMC 2015 – Growing Finances

    Learning to grow

    Jag har börjat leva på flyget av privata själ. Jag är van att ta mig igenom flygplatser så snabbt och smidigt som det går. Jag skriver och jobbar alltid på flyget.

    Jag älskar vrålet av motorerna vid take-off och hur landskapet förändras när man kommer in för landning.

    Nån gång sen natt i Keltiska huset 2013 så spelade Ulf på gitarr en tysk evergreen. Jag har melodin i mitt huvud under mina resor i Europa.

    Alle Ängste, alle Sorgen, sagt man, Blieben darunter verborgen und dann…

    Jag har slagits av hur självklart det är för ungdomar att en scout från Argentina jobbar frivilligt i Nochrich (Rumänien) och representerar Rumänien på CMC samtidigt som Rumänska scouter från Nochrich jobbar i teamet hos Kapraluv Mlyn som får konferensen att flyta och sedan Tjeckiskan som flyttat till Wien och representerar Zellhof. Detta är det Europa som dansar över och bortom gränser.

    Group Photo CMC 2015
    Group Photo CMC 2015

    Ovan molnen, världen sett från ovan. Där ser man inga gränser. Nere på marken, där är det annorlunda. Där hör man ett avlägset europeiskt takfast fotstampande från nationalstatens historia. På bussen mellan Wien och Brno så är det passkontroll mitt i EU. Innan jag bordar planet för att åka hem på Wiens flygplats skall jag passera två gränspoliser som kollar att jag har giltigt pass. Jag är rädd att vi snart kommer att behöver våra konstanta Jamboreer mer än någonsin tidigare.

    …Würde, was uns groß und wichtig erscheint,
    Plötzlich nichtig und klein.

    CMC 2015 – Growing Finances

    Det här är en uppföljning till Mellan Wien och Brno, Dåliga förbindelser och Formal and Non-formal Learning

    Learning to grow

    När man skall göra en konferens för folk i ledande position på scoutcenter och samtidigt har nollbudget, då återstår i princip tre kategorier av folk som kan leda workshops, keynotes, mainsprings osv.:

    • Medlemmarna i planning team
    • Lokala förmågor i det land man är i
    • Deltagarna själva

    Alla tre är bra val, om än begränsande.

    I år fick vi, om jag själv får säga det, till ett par lyckträffar. Konferensen startades med Karel Tomek från Checz Republic som kom att hålla en keynote om förhållandet mellan “formal” och “non-formal” education ur perspektivet av utbildnings-forskning och utbildnings-system. Det var oerhört nyttigt att få insikt om att denna koppling redan gjorts på hög nivå i EU
    men att det inte märkts av på lägre nivåer än, men att det är på gång. Här finns en stor strategisk möjlighet för den som är redo at ta den.

    Keynote on formal and non-formal education
    Keynote on formal and non-formal education

    Den andra stora lyckträffen var Filipe från KISC som fick ta över efter Myriam, han kom och gjorde en väldigt uppskattade workshop om hur KISC kom att vända ett hotande stort minus i resultat till ett plus inte genom budget mm utan genom att fokusera på vilka det är och varför. Riktigt bra och trovärdigt eftersom att det Filipe talade om är det de faktiskt gör just nu och något som man har nytta av i hela livet långt utanför scout center värden.

    Lampor långt nere i grott-mörkret
    Off topic: Lampor långt nere i grott-mörkret under dagsutflykten då vi bland annat besökte några väldigt kända grottor.

    Två Frågor.

    Ibland är frågor så mycket viktigare än svar. Jag satt med i Workshoppen om Growing Markets och satt som observatör vid ett bord. Jag har lagt två mycket intressanta frågor på minnet värda var sin workshop i framtiden:

    – Hur hanterar man på scout center och stora läger “heliga platser” och cermoniplatser?
    – Alla pratar om ett scoutcenters ‘spirit’ eller anda, men hur bygger man den? Om jag själv får lägga till, hur byggde man hos er de historier som definierar ert scoutcenters anda?

    CMC2015 – formellt och icke-formellt lärande

    Det här är en uppföljning till CMC2015 – Mellan Wien och Brno och CMC2015 – dåliga förbindelser

    Hösten 2014, innan Myriam från KISC kom att lämna planning-team för CMC, när allt jobb i planning-team låg framför oss och vi började med att brainstorma kring konferensens namn och tema så var det Myriam som berättade om att WOSM var på väg att gå mot att mer betona att informellt lärande är vad scoutrörelsen är kanske allra bäst på och borde fokusera mer på. Det kändes som att det låg i tiden, och speciellt relationen mellan formellt och icke-formellt lärande kändes passande för konferensen då scoutcenter står mitt i detta: för många scout center är skolor och externa gäster en stor del av både själva besöken men även programmet och inte minst ekonomin.

    Vi i planning-team var alla väldigt överens om att temat skulle bli detta, men vi behövde ett namn. Jag minns inte hur det gick till längre men rätt snabbt blev det “Learning to Grow” som anspelar mycket på hur lärande och att växa som person hänger ihop. Det anknyter också till hur center kan växa genom att lära. Logotypen gjordes av en talang från scout centret Sao Jocinto i Portugal och jag tycker själv den blev riktigt bra.

    Learning to grow
    Learning to grow

    Med temat bestämt så återstod att nå ut till alla scout center och berätta att nu är vi på gång. Det är inte så lätt som man kan tro att nå ut till scoutcenter i Europa. Vi försökte med följande:

    • Formella vägen via Europak-Online och alla NSO. Vi vet av erfarenhet att långt i från alla nås av information denna “korrekta väg”.
    • Vi emailade alla kontaktpersoner från CMC2013. Ca. en tredjedel av emailen kom inte fram pga. att folk slutat osv. En rätt hög omsättningssiffra kan jag tycka. Ytterligare en rätt stor andel hade gått vidare till andra uppgifter och var inte kvar på sitt gamla center. Nånting att återkomma till när man funderar kring impact.
    • Vi emailade hela Goose Network, inte minst för att Managers Meeting ligger innan CMC de år det är CMC. Inte oväntat fick vi mer respons denna väg.
    • Vi bad folk att vidarebefordra vår inbjudan. Jag tror inte att det gav så mycket.
    • Vi lade ut inbjudan på Goose Networks hemsida.
    • Vi la ut inbjudan på ECMCs facebook sida.

    Vi jobbade hyfsat mycket med PR, men vi kunde ha gjort mer. Min egen åsikt är att CMC behöver sin egen hemsida specialgjord för en konferens, men tills den dagen jag har tid att programmera den är jag inte säker på att det är värt att bygga denna hemsida.

    Ett bra resultat av valet av tema var att vi fick en riktigt bra keynote speaker. Mer om det i näst post.