Cubs 100 Promise Party

On Friday 16th December at 7.16pm it was officially 100 years since Cub Scouts started.

To mark this, and to finish off an exciting year of Centenary events, UK Scouting held hundred’s of Promise Parties which involved up to 150,000 cubs.

All of these ‘parties’ were very different but had one thing in common…every Cub Scout attending would be renewing their Promise at 7.16pm.

Southport Districts ‘Promise’ Party was held at the Atkinson Theatre in Southport and was based around having an ‘Indoor Campfire’.

Each Cub Pack was set a few tasks in the months / year leading up to this :-

1 – Help us decorate the stage by adding their own Cubs 100 design to a large sheet of material…the sheets were kindly donated by Grisedale Upholstery and once finished were handed back to be sewn together to form a large banner to be hung above the stage on the night.

2 – Collect together photos of their year of centenary events and hand the best over to Lawrence Rimmer (Akela – 1st Tiger Cub Pack) – From here Loz spent a couple of weeks putting them together into a video review to be shown on the night.

3 – Take a photo of the pack doing something adventurous / fun and that it was the Cub centenary. This would be entered into our own District Photo competition to see which would be the best one, which would be announced on the night, after being judged by Alan Seeley, Merseyside County Commissioner…who described this task as the ‘hardest decision he has ever had to make’

4 – Choose a campfire routine and rehearse it to perform on the Atkinson Stage on the night. The only rehearsals they would do beforehand would be in their own Scout huts. There first run through on the stage would be their actual performance! Lots of planning and co-ordination had to be done as, although it was an indoor campfire, the packs were told they also had full use of the theaters lighting and sound systems.

Tickets for the night were used up very quickly as 190 cubs wanted to attend (90% of Southport’s Cubs). The theatre only holds 406 so, once leaders and special guests had been accounted for we didn’t have enough room for all the parents that wanted to watch (around 50 couldn’t get in)…so they wouldn’t miss out totally, we filmed the night.

So, December 16th finally arrived.

During the day we had seen National reports about the Cub birthday on television, the radio and in the papers. Even the post office had got in on the act and were stamping letters sent out that day with special ‘Cubs 100’ logos. We had the feeling this was going to be a very special night.

Once we arrived at the theatre, late afternoon, there were a couple of rehearsals for the flag bearers, who would be part of the Promise ceremony and then it was time for the show to start.

The show was being split into three segments, which included a review of our centenary year, the Promise ceremony itself and then, to kick start the next 100 years the ‘Indoor Campfire’

Then we hit a hitch…one minute before our 6.45pm start the theatre computer system that was going to show the opening review video went down.
The system was rebooted but this took over 7 minutes to do, without the guarantee it would work, and we could see the show over running and our missing the 7.16pm Promise deadline….nearly a disaster.

Keeping all our fingers crossed the system thankfully started up again, worked, and the show was able to start.

After a short introduction we played the Review video on the Atkinson’s large cinema screen. (With the audience being none the wiser about the panic that had just gone on backstage )

After the video finished, the cinema screen was raised and we revealed the finished banner to everyone for the first time.

Following this, we showed and announced the winner of the Photo competition. Congratulations to the 1st Southport ‘Tigers’ Cub Pack who were worthy winners with their photo taken from a trip to Ingleton Falls.
This was presented by Ian Matthison.
We had wanted the oldest person who started out as a Wolf cub in Southport District, and was still in uniform today, to do this, to show the Cubs that the fun and adventure of Scouting can last as long as you want it to do. We worked out this was Ian, who is still in scouting 62 years after joining the 62nd Wolf Cub Pack in 1954.

After making up the time from the delayed start it was suddenly time for our Promise Ceremony.
This began with the flag bearers marching down through the auditorium to music from the ‘Throne room March’ from Star wars…added to which Si, our Tech manager at the Atkinson, added some special lighting and smoke machine effects.
A few leaders have described this as a ‘goosebump’ moment.
I’d asked a couple of leaders for ideas for marching music and Loz Rimmer came up with this, which turned out to be a really good one as the Cubs loved it.

The flagbearers formed up and our Promise renewal was led by Mikey Hipwell, a Cub from the 62nd, our current ‘Pack of the Year’. He was very confident and everyone followed his lead easily.

The audience then sang Happy Birthday at the top of their voices and then we had 3 cheers for Cub Scouts.

Finally, we then reached our Indoor Campfire part of the show.

The campfire was lit (a video from a real fire filmed at the 1st Southport’s Group Camp that year) and we were ready to go.

Well, what can we say….. We knew what was coming on paper, but the results on stage were fantastic, with each of our 11 packs excelling themselves to the point where we suddenly had a mini Scout ‘Gang Show’ on our hands.

The audience participated in a few of the numbers and even joined in when it wasn’t planned for them to do so!

The Cub packs were also joined on stage by some of the leaders doing a couple of sketches, some of whom were just as nervous about being on stage as the Cubs were, but still came up with the goods.

Our Deputy District commissioner was one of them, dressed in his old cub uniform last worn 20 years ago…We were surprised he could breathe, let alone act!

All in all a fantastic night, a little bit of Scouting history, and one the Cubs and leaders will hopefully remember for a long time. 13 months planning squeezed into 1 ¾ hours.

Special thanks to go Loz, for the video and for filming that night, to Tracy, Laura and Bethan for taking official photographs and organizing backstage, and to Chris Scott our District Commissioner for suggesting and letting us use the Atkinson theatre as a venue.

But mostly to the Cubs and their leaders who made our special night extra special.