Scouting as it once was
With enough noise to wake up every wallaby and goanna in the district, we sang a few more rousing choruses of the Quartermaster's Store and then threw in a few inappropriate verses, much to the delight of the Scouts and much to the embarrassment of the patrol leaders gathered around the campfire.
The occasion was our annual camp at Camp Kariong and, after a day of hiking, games and badge work, we were all ready to turn in for the night.
Apart from many other things, camping gave us an opportunity to establish our independence and show our families that we were quite capable of looking after ourselves.
Just because we ate baked beans morning, noon and night (with rather unfortunate sound effects), splashed a bit of cold water on our faces to maintain an acceptable level of hygiene, and disregarding the ever-mounting pile of dirty washing, certainly didn't mean we missed our mothers, their delicious meals or our comfortable warm beds.
Anyone who has ever bitten into a rock-hard, burnt, charcoal-covered damper knows the true delights of camping under the stars.
Never mind the mosquitoes transfusing our youthful bodies, or lying awake listening to the delightful sounds of mating possums.
Our troop leader at the time was Basil Knight who was ably assisted by Roy Seckold.
Basil was a local electrician and one of the most caring and dedicated people you could ever wish to meet.
His wife Ruby was the local Guide leader, and together they worked tirelessly to support and lead the local Scout and Guide movement.
The Scout hall incidentally was located in Ocean View Rd directly opposite what is now the new Ettalong Hotel, and next door to a private library owned and operated by the late Edna Boyd.
We used to meet every Friday night, with the occasional visit to the beach for games.
Once a year, we were all involved in a major fundraising drive aptly named Bob-a-Job Week.
Scouts were willing to take on any job from babysitting to lawn mowing, washing the family car, or simply posting a few letters.
On completion of the job, the housekeeper would be asked to complete and sign the Bob-a-Job card carried by the Scout, and this would then be handed over at the end of the week with the proceeds.
In the absence of any other major charitable collections in those days, most people got into the spirit of things and happily paid more than the minimum amount of one shilling.
Others would simply ask the Scout to carry out some menial task like washing dishes or polishing shoes for a substantial reward.
One event we eagerly looked forward to each year was "bonfire" or "cracker" night.
It would now be unimaginable (as well as illegal), but in the weeks leading up to the June long weekend (originally celebrated on Empire Day, May 24), huge bonfires would be erected right around the district.
Most would have an effigy of Guy Fawkes (not unlike a scarecrow) mounted on top.
We used to build our bonfire in the middle of what is now Ettalong Oval, and everyday more old palings, discarded building materials and dead trees and branches would be stacked on the rapidly growing pile.
Even old tyres were collected and mixed in with anything inflammable.
It was amazing how a group of generally well-behaved, angelic young boys could turn into a rabble of potential pyromaniacs.
At the same time, we used our carefully-saved pocket money to buy the biggest and best fireworks on the market.
Most general stores sold fireworks, including sky rockets, Catherine wheels and penny bungers.
Some even sold sixpenny bungers which were highly effective in blowing up wooden letter boxes.
Come the big night, we all gathered at the oval, together with lots of parents, neighbours and spectators.
Forget about rubbing sticks together to start the fire as we had been taught!
Instead we used plenty of newspapers and matches to ignite the stack.
In no time at all the flames reached the top, sending thousands of glowing red sparks into the cool night air.
Poor old Guy Fawkes was soon alight and, with an almighty roar from the crowd, collapsed into the inferno.
Fireworks were let off and skyrockets illuminated the sky above and the houses nearby.
Exploding bungers created a cacophony of noise, intermingled with the shouts and screams of excited youngsters, with singed hair and a few burnt fingers being the only casualties.
One only had to look at the happy faces and listen to the oohs and aahs from us kids to realise how much we all enjoyed the night.
Mind you, one could also discern the occasional look of concern on the faces of some of the parents who perhaps understood the potential danger.
When the fireworks ran out and the smoke had drifted away, we sat around the dying embers feeling rather pleased with ourselves, and planning a much bigger and better bonfire for the following year.