Learning to light Fires

Learning to Light Fires and other Life Skills

Last Friday, pupils were learning how to light fires. Now this may instinctively trigger concern given the incidences witnessed in school lately and the history of school fires in Kenya.

A fire built by boy scouts at Turi last Friday

The reasons given for students burning down schools vary but we can all agree that it largely due to the inability to cope in school or even in life. There is a general dissatisfaction in the conduct of children- more so teenagers especially after spending most of last year out of school. This is a matter of concern not just for parents and educators but the society as a whole.

Given what we are seeing in the news, why would the boy scouts at Turi spend an afternoon perfecting their fire lighting skills? Simple, lighting a fire as a scout is a basic skill. We agree that if you look at Scouting some of the skills taught- tying a knot, telling directions, lighting fires and setting up camp from a 21st century lens you may be tempted to call it obsolete, out-of-date, maybe even archaic! We respectfully disagree.

At Turi, the prep school years are the building years. A lot of effort and time is dedicated to guiding and moulding individuals. Being a full boarding school, our pupils do spend majority of their time in school. This, while not taking away from the responsibility and effort of parents means that we are responsible for a significant part of bringing them up. The heart, mind, body and soul of a pupil are in our custody for as long as they are with this us. This means that teachers, carers and even administrative staff have individual and collective responsibility over the well-being of pupils.

Beginning with a guide for those in the military, young boys took on to the 1899 book by founder Lord Robert Baden Powell “A guide to scouting” which provided tips and tricks for survival on the war front. He responded by making a friendlier version for young boys, beginning the scouting movement which later included girls as well.

According to www.history.com the first scouting camp was a great success.

First, however, he decided to try out some of his ideas on an actual group of boys. On July 25, 1907, he took a diverse group of 21 adolescents to Brownsea Island in Dorsetshire where they set up camp for a fortnight. With the aid of other instructors, he taught the boys about camping, observation, deduction, woodcraft, boating, lifesaving, patriotism, and chivalry. Many of these lessons were learned through inventive games that were very popular with the boys. The first Boy Scouts meeting was a great success.”

Soon scouting troops were coming up everywhere. ”The government and the citizenry thought it was a perfect antidote to physical deterioration, moral degeneracy, juvenile crime,” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The aim of this movement was and remains to develop young people physically, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. This at Turi we believe is a great recipe for preparing great citizens and leaders of the future. As such (and perhaps the fact that Lord Baden Powell was a personal friend to the school) scouting (includes girl guides) is not an optional extra- curricular activity.

At the Prep School all pupils are part of the movement and are heavily involved in the mostly outdoor activities. We are blessed with great outdoor space that allows us to camp, go on excursions and generally put the learnings into practice within school. Outside of school, though pupils may not be required to start fires or set up camp, they should be able to apply concepts like resilience, problem solving, and good citizenship. These “old school” skills we believe are necessary for character building.

While parents and the country’s leadership come together to solve the issue of school unrests, we believe in the preventive approach. As a society we need to put more effort in the formative years- equipping our children with the knowledge and skills to survive in an ever-changing world and of course, being the example!

Look out here next Friday for more scouting activities.