Picture Daze #5 - Scouting & Camping

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This time we travel back to my scouting days that at the time was such a big part of my life. I joined the cub scouts when I was in Standard 2 (2nd grade) and it was the primary activity throughout my schooling years. These pictures come from my mid-teens in the early-mid 70's.

jungle camping Posted by Picasa
Once I hit Secondary (High) School I was a full on scout and the fun really began. At the time there were 2 scout groups working out of of my school... the 7th KL and the 8th KL. Somewhere between Form 2 & 3 (8th & 9th grade) the groups merged and we were officially known as the Eagle Scout Group. Our "scout masters" were from the upper grades so in a lot of ways caution was thrown to the wind. Liability? What was that?

me at camp Posted by Picasa
Now we either camped in the jungle or by the sea. Official camps usually involved packing our gear into the school bus. We were then driven to the edge of the jungle just outside the city and hiked in. Several of these places I had already known quite well. There were no "official campgrounds" so we basically set up close to a stream and pitched our tents. Camp tables and kitchens were usually constructed out of cut wild bamboo.

Essential camping gear per patrol (other than the heaviest army issue tents ever made) included dry clothes, rice, flour, some canned food, coffee, a live chicken or two, and sulfur. Let me explain the last two. Because of the lack of refrigiration the only way to eat fresh meat was to bring it live to camp. "Slaughter days" were always fun. Sulfur lined the shallow trenches around the tent to dissuade critters like snakes from crawling under the blankets in the dead of night. These days how we camped would be considered "survival camping". It usually took about half a day to set up camp... then we had to cook, etc.

kien at camp Posted by Picasa
There were also the "unofficial camps" that we undertook on our own. Kien (in the pic), several friends and I would often just take off on some camping destination on the odd weekend. The jungle was always closer than the sea (only a bus ride away)... so, there were a lot of jungle camp trips. It seemed we were camping in the jungle almost every weekend.

"There is something seductive about the lush steamy jungle. It has a primal hum...a vibration that connects to the very core of your being. A connection that makes you aware exactly how you fit into the scheme of things. A place where life and death seems to nourish each other."

That's a quote from a play of mine... and it's how I still feel about the jungle.

the eagle group Posted by Picasa

Some of my happiest days as a teen was not at school but camping and the scouts. Camping by the sea was a whole different kettle of fish... but fun nevertheless. On one particular camp outing at Port Dickson the troop built a bamboo raft. One night Kien and I snuck out with it. We didn't realize the tide was going out and the gentle current was taking us with it. Soon we were so far from the shore that our young frantic minds were convinced that we were half way in the Straits of Malacca and drifting to Sumatra. So, we took turns getting into the water and peddling/pushing... attempting to get the raft back. Shivering and scared we were finally pulled back to shore by a couple of older scouts in a canoe who came out looking for us. Sure, there are other adventures... but I'll save those for another post.

half-nikked in oslo Posted by Picasa

I was also lucky enough to represent Malaysia (5 of the contingent of 15 were from the mighty Eagle Scouts) at the World Jamboree in Lillehammer, Norway. Being 16 in Scandinavia... let me tell ya... that was living!

My impressions of that experience:
  • "It's 10 pm and the sun hasn't gone down?" "What's the sun doing up at 3 in the morning?"
  • "Man, these Nordic people are tall!"
  • "Boy, these Scandinavian girls are really friendly!"
  • "Beer warmers? What the hell are beer warmers?"
  • "What do you mean by a 24 hour hike past the timber line?"
  • "OK guys, this is how a Finnish Sauna works. You sit in this really hot room... then you run out and jump into the freezing lake... it's all snow melt! I swear I heard my body crack."
  • "Check that out! The Saudi and Israeli groups are camping right next to each other!"
  • "So, after 10 days here... we go to Sweden for 5?"
  • "Skol!"

field in lilllhammer at the opening ceremony Posted by Picasa

At 17 I finally achieved the rank of "King Scout". I wasn't going to but my mother insisted that I "finish what I started." Our batch were even invited to the palace to receive this honor from the King himself. My good friend Peter and I were now upper classmen and ran the group for a year. They were good days and we all even socialized even outside of scouting activities. The picture below is all of us at my place at Christmas.

xmas at home with the gang Posted by Picasa

So, that ends another edition of Picture Daze. Check out the sidebar for other editions.


14 Responses to “Picture Daze #5 - Scouting & Camping”

  1. Anonymous zonthar 

    Sweet bell bottoms, dude.

  2. Blogger airplanejayne 

    great pics and story!

    --so THIS is the (in)famous Port Dickson story!

    hmmm, two guys, on a raft, floating to who knows where....
    I think I've heard this one before....
    Ah yes! Huck Finn! Tom Sawyer!

  3. Blogger aughra 

    Man, I love picture daze. It's so interesting to this midwestern white girl.

  4. Blogger lecram sinun 

    zonthar - yeah, they worked well as a floatation device as well.

    apj - strange how history can repeat itself over and over again.

    aughra - and the midwestern white girl stuff is fasinating to this old boy scout.

  5. Blogger KFarmer 

    now that is camping! looks like fun to me.

  6. Blogger warcrygirl 

    Great post; sounds like you had yourself some adventures! Our first Parents Meeting is Wednesday night; Jr is about to wet himself he's so excited. He wants to go scouting NOW!

  7. Blogger Richard Affonso 

    Congratulations on making King Scout! Was that Thailand? What a wonderful honor with the king. Your Mom gave you good advice & very high intelligence, I can tell.

    I love the post & pix you've shared -- the happiest times of MY life have been with Scouting as well -- it's a great way to raise boys into good men! With adult supervision, older boys grow as they give leadership to younger boys' growth in basics! God bless Lord Baden-Powell!

    Sadly, too many American boys think ill of what they are really afraid to try -- Join Scouts and go survival-camp in the woods with snakes & wild things. We learned not to fear, but to cope! We always had fun & adventure as we learned good values & socializing. I was only 2 Merit Badges short of Eagle Scout, but one of my sons made it and the other missed it by 1 MB. (HIS mom was not as wise as yours!)

  8. Blogger lecram sinun 

    kfarmer - Yes, it was loads of fun!

    warcrygirl - I bet Jr is excited. I couldn't sleep the night before the first meeting when I was in second grade.

    richard - A big hello to a fellow scout! That was in Malaysia. I agree, scouting is a wonderful way to grow up. Apart from the coping and leadership skills... one does cultivate a very strong respect for nature.

  9. Blogger scarysquirrelman 

    nice tux...and what's joaquin phoenix doing in the lillehammer picture with a great tan?

  10. Blogger Lelly 

    Great story cuz! Me and my brothers spent most of our lives sharing mum with at least 30 small boys...she became an Akela at 18 (after learning her jungle craft of course) and didn't stop until she had to retire at 65 (11 years ago)! She's been Akela to cub packs in KL, Seremban, Birmingham (UK) and for 24 years in the Surrey village where she still lives now...she was always keen on taking the boys on camp (even persuading me to help out a couple of times) but I somehow think that the Surrey hills don't quite compare with the jungle camps of her native Malaysia!

  11. Blogger lecram sinun 

    scarysquirrelman - he was hanging with the crown prince of morocco.

    lelly - hey, I never knew that about your mum. cool!

  12. Blogger Richard Affonso 

    Oh Yeah,,, Nature! I guess I forgot to mention it because I think of that automatically in my mind's eye! Trees with owls sleeping in daytime, falcons & vultures & hawks soaring overhead, setting up a safe swimming area in unknown fishy/crab/dolphin waters around our own island we paddled a canoe to like Peter Pan's Lost Boys.

    Challenged-cooking over the non-constant temperatures of an outdoor woodfire, the scent of smoke wafting from the big nighttime campfire as we sang Scouting songs and the patrols performed their skits, the peaceful feeling of sleep shortly after "Taps" is played on a distant bugle once the Scoutmaster says, "Lights Out!" Full-moon nights when we didn't need flashlights to see our way to the slit-trench latrine in the middle of the night. And the certainty that though we weren't inside a mosque/church/temple, the Great Master of all Scouts WAS encamped WITH us!

    (Wow -- I miss campouts! And, now, we could even take HNT girls with us! Oh, Heaaaa-ther....)

  13. Anonymous vince 

    Heyyyyyyyy....that pic in front of the bus...that's when we went to Ponsoon, my first camp (I'd just joined, didn't even have the uniform yet)!

    And isn't that the Christmas we had that Boxing Day doodah with the beer cans and Sek Hoe's dagger?

  14. Blogger lecram sinun 

    Yes on one... no on the other... I think the "incident" was the year before.

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