Blog | A parent's perspective part one: Why Scouting could be the answer for my serial hobbyist child

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It’s funny, the kind of thing that inspires your child to join an out-of-school club. It turned out that, for my youngest daughter, it would be getting her hands on a bow and arrow and taking up some shooting practice.

Trial and error

’Look, archery! I definitely want to do archery,’ she said, as we looked at The Scout Association’s website.

Choosing extra curricular activities for my children has always been a process of trial and error. We’ve bought a lot of music, sport and art kit over the years.  Some of it still gets used and some of it ends up woefully abandoned. I do struggle to find a place for it all in our little house, which is completely overtaken by this cornucopia of brightly coloured booty. I wondered what corner of the house would be left for her new armoury.

But when she says she really wants to try something new, my first instinct is, I’m sure, like many other parents – I just want to help her have a go.

I figured that, on a basic level, joining the Scouts is a great way to try new activities out. That way, she could get a taster for archery, athletics, camping out and anything else. She could develop a love for something that could grow into a lasting hobby. And the great thing about Scouts – I’ve discovered – is that any pursuits she does have outside of her meetings can count towards activity badges. Not a bad incentive to stick at those violin lessons she’s just started.

Taking the plunge

So we found our local Scout Group on the website, and gave them a call. We literally went around the houses to begin with, because there are a few different Scout Groups near us and some had waiting lists. Eventually we found one that’s just 15 minutes’ walk away.

I had a chat with the Group Scout Leader for our area, who mentioned that my daughter is getting to be a little too old for Beavers, but why doesn’t she join for a few meetings to see what it’s like? If she enjoys it, she can join Cubs. A couple of weeks later we joined the Beavers on a nature trail at a local park.

I thought I was immediately going to be roped into volunteering. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not one of those parents for whom volunteering comes naturally. I mostly stand around looking a little bit useless. One of the leaders assigned me six children to escort on our bird watching exploration, and I felt way out of my depth.

But all the while the leader was right beside me – we were going to walk together. She calmly called out, ‘Beavers!’ and our Lodge gathered round to get their binoculars, bird spotter sheets and pencils.

A part of childhood

As the little group staggered around the meadow, pointing fervently when they saw one of the birds on their sheet, the leader and I got to talking. She and her husband lead the Beaver section together, so I wanted to know how they got into it in the first place.

She told me her husband was already a Scout Leader when she met him. In fact, it had been part of his life since he joined Cubs as a boy. She told me that Scouting had actually helped him through a particularly difficult time in his childhood.

We watched the children who had, by this time, decided that they had spotted enough birds and were more interested in hauling along a massive felled branch they had found. I remember thinking: any of those children could be going through something tough right now. But for an hour or so a week, they can get lost in an adventure or activity, and just be kids. Being part of something, like Scouting, means different things to different people.

I could see that my daughter the aspiring archer was, for now, just enjoying being in the moment. I figure that’s a pretty important part of childhood too.  

 

Look out for part two of our guest parent blog soon.

Tell us your own Scouting story: scouting.magazine@scouts.org.uk

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