Here’s why Scouts can offer your kids something that nothing else can!
On a grassy hillside a small cream brick hall overlooked the driveway. It’s weathered green eaves and window frames matched with the sprigs of new growth and native trees surrounding the campsite. It looked so picturesque, perched against the forest backdrop but in just a few hours it would become the dormitory for our Cub Scouts. The rain was heavy in the sky again but for now, the sunshine had pushed its way through. Cars started rolling in with bundled up sleeping gear packed high against the windows, squishy kid’s faces pressed against them. Pillows and laughter tumbled from the backseats into what would be our campsite for the weekend.
Volunteering for the weekend to help with 20 energetic 9 and 10-year-old was a first for me. But ever since my own wild child had joined, I’d been eager to jump in and help out. A swag of other parents were on hand along with the cub’s leaders who had the weekend laid out with just the right doses of adventure walks, craft time, bush discovery and life-learning, for both us and the kids. The Dads took over the kitchen in a sort of Jamie Oliver free for all; piles of mince, chopped tomatoes and diced onions filled the little kitchen in the food hall, fervidly sloshed into enormous pots. We laughed, us gals on the sideline, thoroughly entertained by the lavish herb tossing. By nightfall the rain had set in and while it might have hampered our campfire efforts, the singalong was in full swing.
It takes a village
It’s true that every child is different. And because of that, the way we parent kids is also different. Their distinct personalities influence a lot of what works in the uncertain world of parenting. I’ve tried, tested (and tossed) plenty of activities to energise my son and hook him onto his happiness. Some stick and some don’t. Some come with too much competition, some feel elitist, others just don’t hold his interest. That’s why the communal world of Scouts is such a refreshing alternative for kids and families. Run by leaders who are in every sense the salt of the earth, giving of their time with generosity, humility and earnestness. In Scouts everyone has a place, everyone has opportunity, connection and a sense of belonging.
Be the change
Some days I find primary school overwhelming. There just seems to be so much pressure on kids with after school activities, wide-ranging social issues to contend with and a diversity of subjects that feels like the volume has doubled from my school days. There’s hardly a chance for downtime and not everyone can keep pace. Yet for all the academic, sporting and social expectations on kids, we’ve still overlooked some of the inherant know-how and smarts that kids need to develop into capable, resilient and likeable grown-ups. And this is why Scouts can offer something that nothing else can. Fresh-air, zero screen time, the great outdoors, mixing with kids from all backgrounds, community fundraising, creating something out of nothing and jumping into activities otherwise unexplored.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood
Sunday morning at camp was soggy and grey. The kids scattered into the bush, clambering up the muddy slopes to play hide and seek before packing up. If it wasn’t for the fat leeches squirming inside their wet socks, they might have stayed longer. On the coastal drive back home, the hours quickly filled with stories of friendship and outbursts of laughter. Another early Spring camp marked off the calendar.
As a member of a Sea Scouts group, our summer months are spent canoeing along the river until sunset. I can hardly think of a more uplifting way to spend a weeknight during busy city school life. Everything done is with a sense of relaxed community and as parents, we ebb and flow on the sidelines. There’s a clear tradition upon which Scouts is built, blended with the individual nature of each child. It makes for a collective and unpretentious little neighbourhood, where the door’s always open.
All photographs courtesy of Scouts Australia online images