Monday, November 17, 2008


I recently posted about my old scout master who probably was a pedophile and why we might not have seen the warning signs. The fact is there was somebody in our scouting community who was even weirder.

I talk about Akela. If you are unfamiliar with cubs; leaders in cubs are given names from Kipling's Jungle Book series. The head honcho is Akela, then it goes down the chain Baloo, Baghera, etc.

Our scout group at the tail end of the baby boom had enough cubs to make up two packs. These were known as A pack and B pack. Today there would be a stigma about being in B pack which is the pack my brothers and I went through. There wasn't then although A pack was clearly superior in every way. It was all attributable to their Akela. (Our pack had an Akela too , actually we had 2 different ones during the time I was a cub).

Akela was a 50ish gentleman, unmarried who lived with his mother. (Sound familiar?). She helped out with his cub pack and was given the title of Raksha. I'm not sure where in the hierarchy comes Raksha. She died sometime while I was still in cubs. Akela was born in England and had been an instructor at the military college but had retired early. I suspect there was some money in his family.

Our area of Victoria was by no means the slums, in fact it was probably the most affluent area of Victoria, however there were clear class differences. "A" pack were definitely a higher class of cub. Many of them had hyphenated names, quite a few of them went to private school, some had faux English accents. My mother when it was time for me to go into cubs for some reason tried to get me into "A" pack. She phoned Akela, who was quite positive until he asked her what school I went to. She told him and he made some lame excuse about why I couldn't be in his pack and I went into "B" pack. Apparently I came from the less right side of the tracks.

One of the ordeals of my cub career was the twice yearly soccer game against "A" pack. For the most part this meant getting thoroughly annihilated. One game we only had 10 players so "A" pack lent us their worst player who scored our only goal. Once we tied them which was a huge moral victory. After I left cubs, our Akela (Bkela?) got sick of being beaten and brought in ringers, kids who could actually play soccer and the beatings ended. They also beat us in softball and in floor hockey.

Overall even when at the time, it appeared that "A" pack was better organized and had a lot more fun than we did in "B" pack. Partially this was because Akela was retired and had time to do stuff, unlike our Akela who was just a parent of one of the cubs and had other commitments like a job. For example during the 3 summers I was in cubs we only had one summer camp because our Akela couldn't get the time off from work.

Which of course brings me to camp. Akela owned a large property about 30 minutes away. We camped there in Scouts and it was a fantastic location. It was wooded and a small river ran through it which was wide enough and deep enough to swim and dive it. Akela had built some tent platforms and a small building and his cub pack went out there a couple of times a year for a camp.

Once a year, "A" pack had a little party and slide show on a Saturday. One year my mother was asked to bake some squares and help out at the party (apparently A pack mothers didn't bake). She asked me if I wanted to come along, so I did, mostly so I could have some of her squares. Therefore I got to watch the slide show.

Aside from the slides documenting their humiliations of "B" pack on the soccer field, there were a number of slides of the camps out at Akela's property. Most of these slides were of the cubs swimming and it was quite apparent that nobody was wearing bathing suits. No they weren't swimming fully clothed, they were naked. Watching this slide show, were all the cubs parents, sisters, and who know how else.

And nobody thought this was unusual.

Now none of these pictures were graphic although you could see lots of pre-adolescent genitalia.

When I went to Scouts I got to know many of these cubs and it was something most people just laughed about. Apparently Akela and his mother strongly believed that swimming naked was in some way character building. Nobody ever said they had been touched inappropriately although it isn't something you bring up. Some people admitted to being embarrassed because girls in their class at school attended the slide show.

A few years later, one of the parents attended the slide show; complained and the skinny dipping stopped.

A few years later, Akela started up another cub pack labelled "C" pack who were children from a disadvantaged area of town. Every afternoon after school he would pick them up in the panel van our group had bought and drive them to and from the scout hall. He was trying to give them the same experience as his upper crust kids were getting. After a year or so, he went and asked the "group committee" would administered our group and raised funds for $10.00 for a party for his "C" pack. They turned him down and he resigned as Akela of "A" pack. I believe he continued on with "C" pack for a while after.

I was actually there the day he resigned. I was in Venturers and somebody had asked me if I could help out with his cub pack so I agreed. I suspected he was a bit of a pervert even then but I had talked to him a few times over the years and had sort of come to like and respect him. I helped out for about 2 months and had a lot of fun. He really liked his kids and he may have been a little tactile but never in the danger zones.

After he resigned, his pack went thru several leaders and probably folded. Things weren't the same.

He later donated his land to the local Scouts.

Again single man, lives with his mother, takes pictures of naked boys. Eccentric, that's all we thought in the 1960s.

No comments: