Let me tell you about Scouts, from a parent’s perspective. In April 2017 my son asked if he could go along to a “bring a friend night” at Gordonvale Scouts. He had heard about it at school, and even though none of his friends were Scouts he wanted to go. I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t overly excited about the idea. All I saw was yet another expense and more activities to fit into an already tight schedule. To be fair I had very little understanding of what Scouts were about and what a massive impact it could have on a child.
Twelve months later and I have to admit I was very, very wrong in thinking that! The very first words out of his mouth when he had finished that night were “Can I please please join up!”. Since that night he has missed very few nights, even begging to go when he was “too” sick to go to school. He has been on every camping trip, gained many new skills along the way, and made memories that will last him a lifetime. However, these are the reasons that he loves Scouts so much, not mine.
Let me tell you a little about me, and why I love Scouts. I grew up on a cattle farm on Stewarts Creek in Daintree. Camping was nothing special to me as we did it all the time. I have many memories of waking up at dawn, going fishing, swimming all day and generally being a kid. As a child I spent very little time indoors, preferring to be out exploring the creeks for that perfect fishing spot, or going on my next adventure. I loved the outdoors and fresh air. Fast forward a decade (OK maybe two) and I’m a parent living in suburbia with 2 kids of my own. I work 40+ hours a week in an office and up until recently, my wife worked Saturdays. This left us feeling like there is never enough time. The things I took for granted as a kid were not happening for my 2 kids. Sure they had been camping, but by the time I had packed the car, raced to the camping spot late Saturday afternoon and set up camp. The last thing I wanted to do was go exploring in the dark before packing up lunchtime the next day. I know I could have made it work with a little extra effort and I always had the best of intentions. I would make plans for next weekend or next month, but life would get in the way and it rarely happened.
Then my oldest son joined Cub Scouts and suddenly we had plans in place and a commitment to be somewhere on a set date. Guess what, I found the time and started going camping with him (not on every camp, but a few), and together we are making those father and son memories that I hold so dear from my childhood. On the camps that I did not attend he was learning the skills and having the adventures that I had as a kid. He is starting to a have a childhood I don’t feel so guilty about. I’ve watched him gain new skills and become more confident in himself and his ability to lead. I have even watched him put those new skills to work in some of the adventures that we now take as a family. We realised that it wasn’t that we didn’t have the time, we were not making the time. Scouts helped me remember what was important from my childhood, and it wasn’t a computer or TV screen.
It’s not all about camping or one single aspect of Scouts though. There are so many great things about Scouts, too many to list in a single post. For instance, we have faced some fears together. We did this when the travelling Queensland Scouts climbing wall came to Cairns. We are both afraid of heights and he didn’t want to climb very far up the wall. To encourage him I told him if he climbed to the 2/3rds mark I would climb to the top, not expecting him to make it. It took him several attempts but he made it, and he made sure I kept my word. With shaking hands and a high heart rate, I climbed to the top of the wall and hit the buzzer. He has long since forgotten that he was scared of the height but still laughs about my shaking hands many months later.
These are just a few of the many reasons as a parent I love Scouts! Scouts can be so much more than just another extracurricular activity.
If you are interested in finding more information on Scouts and what it could mean for you or your child browse the below links.