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 – 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