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Old 27.03.2008, 19:33
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Re: Boy Scouts, Pfadi experiences in Zurich?

Every scouting club has at least one group for 1. Stufe children (ca. 7-10 years old) and one for 2. Stufe (ca. 11-15 yo). In the German speaking part of the country, kids in the first stufe are called Wölfe/wolves (sometimes refers only to boys) and Bienli/bees (always referring to girls only). Kids in the 2. Stufe are called Pfadi, which can also refer to the entire Abteilung or the Scouting movement. It is up to the Abteilung if and in which Stufe they want the genders separated, but the vast majority of clubs is mixed.

What apparently is a bit special in Switzerland is that the leaders are a bit younger. Groups can be led by 15 years old and it is not uncommon that 19-20 years old organise camps. Leaders in 0. Stufe (5-6 yo) and disability groups tend to be older than average, so do leaders of 3. Stufe (16/17 yo) and 4. Stufe (18+), but not every club has these.

This year is a special one for scouting in Switzerland. There will be a national Jamboree that takes place only once every fourteen years.

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- what do the boys get up to?
The program depends on the Stufe and the guides' style/club culture. Common denominators are the scout techniques ("Pfaditechnik": camp building, first aid, tracking, orientation with card and compass etc.), sport activities (with an accent on hiking but including faster activities and games) and the will to work together as a group.

Younger children also do handicrafts and often have their activities framed by a story that often involves guides in disguise. Activities typical for 2. Stufe and later are scouting games at night and the more technical stuff.

The Saturday afternoon routine aside there are also special activities/excursions. I was a leader in 2. Stufe and have p.e. chosen these: indoor climbing, outdoor pool visits, skating rink visits, excursion to a nuclear and a hydroelectric power plant, sledge days... And then there are the camps. The allow longer and additional activities like bicycle tours, two day hikes, making your own food etc.

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- what is expected from the parents? (transport, ironing uniforms etc.?)
The days where scouts imitated the military are long gone... also they don't have a religious orientation. There's no need to iron the uniform, cleaning suffices (On a sidenote, older Swiss scouts who participate in international camps often buy a second uniform for these occasions because the individualisation of uniforms isn't the norm abroad).

It is expected that parents organise appropriate equipment for scouting: hiking boots, clothing, flashlight... look here to get an idea.

It is highly appreciated if parents help packing the rucksack and don't send the kids to camps with a suitcase (well, it has happened to me ).

That's the minimum. The council of the clubs often consists of parents, and sometimes their help as drivers in transports for camps is welcome too, but there's no obligation there at all.

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- any "bad" experiences?
In my experience kids leave the scouts around 12 when they want to focus on one hobby and decide that scouting isn't it. And around 15 when they otherwise would take over a job with responsability.

Where kids leave soon after joining, there was often a disagreement between parents and leaders. If the kids themselves want to leave they're often bored because the guides didn't organise a good program, or, less often, the group dynamics were bad.

In all my scouting years I've had to bring a few scouts to the doctor (Swiss army knife injury and the like... better safe than sorry. I never had somebody who suffered an allergic reaction fortunately.) But on the other hand, other sport activities bring similar kinds of risks, except maybe a chess club...

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- does anyone have first-hand experience with the sea-scouts (Seepfadi) on lake Zurich?
I haven't had contact with them for some years but the last time I encountered them I've had a good impression. They're standard scouts except that the 2. Stufe groups and older spend the summer afternoons on the lake.

I don't think I've dealt with the scouts from Zürichberg. What's the name of their club?
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