15th May 2020

Outdoors / Paul Jonas Cox

Forgotten Scouts Honour by Paul Jonas Cox

382 4.5 mins 0

WWe want to help you learn things, to discover new stuff and rediscover ideas you’d forgotten. Paul Jonas Cox remembers the day he rediscovered something he loved. In his first article for Some Good Ideas, he encourages us to make with our hands, connect with nature, remember the child within us – and to always play with slingshots.

‘It’s this way!’ I yelled back into the dense pines.

We’d totally lost our bearings in Sherwood Forest. Not the way-marked walking routes where it’s impossible to get lost, but the wilder unkempt parts of the ancient woodland that’s on our doorstep.

‘Crack!’ a stone thudded against a tree trunk, far enough away to miss but too close for comfort. ‘Crack!’ again and again. We were under attack!

About 30 yards away a group of cub scouts were firing slingshots into the woods at targets they’d chalked onto pine trunks. Baloo spotted us and called a cease fire, waved his apologies and we headed in the opposite direction and escaped down a woodland track.

Walking back through the ancient oaks after our lucky escape the memories of something really similar a long time ago vividly returned…

Cub Scout Camp 1986 at the great Walesby Forest.

We spent hours in the sun searching for a natural forked tree branch, whittling it down to make what we then called a ‘gadder’. Then later, assembling together on the edge of the campground for a shootout.

The next few years were spent playing outside and firing that gadder at anything that moved.

It’s funny how it took a close shave with the cubs that day to bring it all flooding back. Why was it forgotten in the first place? Life moves on, we grow up, kids games are no longer enough for us, it’s just silly stuff… Or is it?

Since that day a few years back, I started to make the odd slingshot here and there from branches I found whilst out walking.

I rediscovered the joy of firing full blast at an improvised target in the middle of the forest, sometimes even hitting it.

Then, the fun of finding the perfect forked branch, combining that with not wanting to cut off tree limbs for my own selfish purpose, a new rule came in…only use wood you can find on the forest floor. This made the search harder but more fulfilling.

I was designing and making stuff by hand and it felt good, working out how to do it better, more precisely.

Paul Jonas Cox

I was just skipping along with the carefree abandon that I thought was reserved for kids at cub scout camp – and loving it. Everyone I shared my ‘nostalgia’ with ended up feeling the same and having such fun. It was contagious.

I suppose the point of this story is that we should try to not let go of that joyous feeling. I’d forgotten about it for decades until that day in the forest and I’m happy those kids took pot shots as a reminder.

A new personal slogan was born that day: ’growing up doesn’t mean giving up!’

So next time you feel like it, swim in a lake or climb a tree, skim stones at the beach, get lost in the woods, build a den or even make – and fire – a slingshot.

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Paul Jonas Cox

Paul Jonas Cox is usually found roaming in and around Sherwood Forest with two rescue greyhounds, searching for the perfect natural forked tree branch. Once back at a little Nottingham based workshop, the latest finds are hand made into stylish and sturdy wooden slingshots that hark back nostalgically to days spent at cub scout camp and that scream at you to just get out and have some fun!

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