Chapter 5

Wolf cubs at Kitchener Park & Scouts camps at Capalaba and Rochdale

I have given a description of the places I grew up in and now realise the influence they played in my life. I was a shy, quiet child accustomed to keeping himself amused. An only child to this stage, I was used to keeping out of the way of adults, of not being a nuisance. 

As I grew older, school took a larger share of my time and friendships formed there. There was also the influence of Sunday School and the Scout movement. I was nominally Anglican, but my friends attended the Baptist Church and for a few years we all attended Sunday School there. There was Ralph, Bill, and myself from our area and we would go along with Dot Blaike regularly. There was one incident when we were practicing for a concert, it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, when Bill had his finger on the piano frame and somehow the lid came down. Today, Bill still has a finger which is flat at the end.

We all seemed to join the Scout movement as Wolf Cubs some time in 1937 – 1938 and this became quite an active group meeting Saturday afternoons at the Scout hall Kitchener Park.  Tom Dutton was the group leader and Una Nason the assistant cub leader.  My parents were active on the committee and my mother was an examiner for several of the badges. Thinking back it was the type of organisation needed at the time. After the depression it was affordable without straining the family budget too much. We learnt new skills about the importance of sharing responsibilities and were also given opportunities to develop a sense of loyalty to our country.

1937 seems to be the year my memory comes together with events. I joined the Cub movement and quickly got involved in the program. There was always something organised for Saturday afternoon, either the regular meeting, or else a rally or fete organised by another group. A popular feature was the weekend camp with a camp fire at night and these were held once or twice a year. My father had a twelve foot square marquee tent and would loan this for the camp. He would take this and some of us in the car, erect the tent and then come back Sunday afternoon and along with other parents collect us.

These camps were mainly at Capalaba upstream from the bridge with a good swimming hole downstream from the bridge. I remember one camp at Rochedale on the bank of Bulimba Creek when it rained consistently overnight. Because the tent was sagging a bit one bright spark poked a stick under the tent roof and put a hole in it.  I think that one was credited to Norman MacAulay, and it was amazing how much water came through that small hole.  These camps provided opportunity for practice in using an axe cutting down small trees, learning to light a fire the test being with two matches, camp cooking , stew or potatoes cooked in the ashes , swimming and bushcraft . I shudder now to think of the responsibility taken by the leaders when I look at the present litigation and insurance situation. Then most people took responsibility for their own decisions and actions.

A method of fund raising was an annual fete to which other groups were invited.  Apart from the usual stalls with drinks, sweets etc. there were chariot races, rope bridge construction and a competition to light a fire and boil a billy of water using no more than two matches to light the fire The chariots consisted of two runners and a cross piece lashed together to form a triangle with a short crosspiece at the apex for a handle. Two cubs pulled from the handle while the third stood on the crossbar and held on as best he could.  Not as spectacular as Ben Hur but good fun! Baden Powell’s scout movement was important to us and Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ stories and ‘Kim’ took on new dimensions with the wolf pack and Kim’s game. The Scout and Cub groups were invited to participate in local parades such as the Anzac Day parade which went through the main street and ended up at the Kitchener memorial at the Returned Serviceman League hall.

In addition to this there was the regular monthly church parade where we attended a service at a different church each month. Churches attended were, Anglican Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Salvation Army. The Catholic Church was not included, I imagine because they had their own Scout group which was not able to attend our churches. The division between Catholic and Protestant was not advertised but was evident even in those days when we did not mix at school. High school broke down some of the prejudices and barriers with us, but the division was entrenched.

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