The Campfire Blanket Legacy

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Coordinator

You may have heard that the Oshawa Museum is gearing up for Be Prepared, a new feature exhibit about local Guiding and Scouting, set to open in the Fall. My family was involved in Guiding and Scouting for many years. I was involved as a child, and my children have participated in the organizations as well.

Colour photograph of a Caucasian woman, standing outside a yellow house, holding a grey blanket. The blanket has various badges sewn onto it.
Jill and her father’s campfire blanket

In previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned my family’s campfire blankets. When the Museum announced this exhibit, my father, Roland Thurn, generously donated his campfire blanket to the Museum. I spent a day or two reexamining the blanket in its glory. Dad always had more patches/badges, and better patches/badges, than we did. In true Thurn fashion, I created a spreadsheet to track what was sewn on. Since patches can be very similar, I needed to add columns as I went along. The final identifiers are type (novelty, uniform, patrol), shape, background colour, text, text colour, trim colour, organization, details, year, thread colour, and notes (See photo).

The oldest patches date back to the 1960s when Roland was a part of The Life Boys organization. The Life Boys was a Christian organization similar to Scouting. It is an offshoot of the Boys Brigade that was founded in 1883, now known as the Christian Service Brigade. The logos on each are a variation of a blue and gold life preserver and anchor with the motto, ‘Sure and Steadfast.’

Roland re-joined the Scouting movement when his son, my brother, was old enough to join Beavers. In Port Credit, Ontario, they were a part of the 5th Port Credit group. However, after only a year, the family moved to Oshawa where they joined the 24th Oshawa unit.

Side by side colour photographs. On the left is a young boy wearing a scout uniform. On the right is an older man wearing a scout uniform
Roland Thurn wearing different scouting uniforms

There are so many patches that reveal how committed the leaders in this group were, patches representing Apple Day (I still get apples on Apple Day if I happen to be out), Trees Canada, Pinewood Derby Kub Kar races (held at Camp Samac), Winter Activity Days, and Jamborees. The pièce de résistance is a 10-inch cross-stitched wolf Roland’s mother made. He sewed it at the centre of the blanket, where Scouters and Guiders sometimes cut a hole to create a poncho.

Working on this project inspired me to unpack my blanket and start sewing on unattached patches so I could donate it to the OM too. Did you ever have a campfire blanket from Guiding or Scouting? What is your favourite patch or memory associated with it? You can see Roland’s blanket displayed when Be Prepared opens this fall.


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