Summer Scout camp

Well, summer Scout camp is over for another year. The next time the boy(s) go away for more than a couple of nights, it will be 2015 and they’ll be off to Holland (yes, that does make me a little anxious!).

This year’s Scout camp was real back-to-basics camping – no fairgrounds, no concerts, not even any toilets or camping stoves. It’s the sort of camping Scouts don’t really do any more – just some boys, some leaders and a farmer’s field with a lake. Mobile phones are banned, as communication from home can upset the kids (and communication from the kids can upset the parents) and, anyway, the mobile reception is shocking.

My eldest LOVES Scouts. He is so resilient, I think he could happily stay on Scout camp all his life. My younger son is enjoying Scouts, but likes camping a lot less than his brother and sister. He felt a whole week might be too much, so we arranged for his friend’s dad to bring him home on the Tuesday when he brought his own son home. As we packed those excited boys and their kit into a lorry and a minibus (boys in bus, kit in lorry, not the other way round) with some of their best friends, I though there was no way I would see my younger son again for a week. He was just going to have too much fun. I wasn’t sure how I would feel with them both begin away for a week, but I just wanted him to be happy and do what was right for him.

Scouts, brothers, boys, Scout camp

And so we walked away from the village hall as a temporary family of three. I can’t describe how excited my daughter was – Mummy and Daddy all to herself, for possibly a whole week! She’s a different person on her own – happier and chattier. She is both easier to look after (less arguing and grumpiness) and harder (more demanding). When the boys are at home she’s often on her own anyway, but when they’re not at home, she feels lonely. She wants our attention all the time and she always wants to know what we’re doing next and where we’re going next. But it’s a delight to spend time with her without interruption from her brothers.

The next morning she said: “I hope younger son is having a good time on Scout camp.'”

What a lovely thing to say, I thought. I was thinking the exact same thing at that time. Every morning I thought of them, hoped they’d had a nice sleep and wondered what they were having for breakfast.

But it wasn’t really a lovely thing to say.

“Because then he’ll stay away for the whole week,” she added.

On Monday evening, I walked into my younger son’s bedroom and thought ‘he could be home tomorrow’. Knowing that he might be back, but that he almost certainly wouldn’t be, made me miss him. A week is a long time for a 10 year old to be away, even if he is being well looked-after and with good friends. (The adult to child ratio on this camp was way better than it is at home!)

Neither my husband nor myself were even home on Tuesday, but I didn’t think we’d need to be as I was so sure he would stay for the week. I was in London and it was about lunchtime when I got a text from my friend saying her husband was bringing my son home and they’d be back at 4.30. (Her own son had decided to stay on camp for the week!) I was so surprised, but then so desperate to get home.

Then I saw a missed call from the leader – no doubt telling me that my son was on his way home. I gave her a call. No, she was ringing to let me know that my eldest was under the weather, but they were looking after him, he was perking up and he wanted to stay. This really surprised me, as my eldest is so resilient and never gets ill. But he is also a fussy vegetarian who drinks mainly milk – they don’t have milk on camp – and they’d been for a long hike in the sun. He was obviously dehydrated and hungry. I told her about the milk, so she got him some, and also gave him chocolate and yogurts to get his strength back. They really do care for the kids so well. They treat every child as an individual and do whatever they need. They are amazing people and I cannot praise them enough for everything they do for our kids. Nothing is too much for them.

I hated being stuck in London knowing my boy was on his way back and I wouldn’t be there to meet him. Luckily he would just go to my mum’s with my daughter, then my husband picked them up just after 5.30. It was so good to see him. He’d had a good time and told lots of stories, but it was all a bit too basic for him. He hated having to go to the toilet in a hole in the ground, he didn’t like the food and he wasn’t getting enough sleep. He was dirty (of course) and looked a bit thinner. And he was so happy to be home.

I got a text later in the week reassuring me that my eldest was fine. I knew they would be looking after him well and that he would be happy there. I’m quite used to him being away and it wasn’t really until Friday that I missed him and was ready to have him home. On Saturday morning I got some tweets from a friend, who is one of the leaders, which brought tears to my eyes:

‘Eldest is one amazing boy, he is so caring and has done fantastic on camp.’

‘You should be very proud. He is one of the most caring and polite children I have ever met.’

‘He is just so lovely, very caring and an amazing boy. You should be proud of him, he has been fantastic.’

How lovely! That is EXACTLY what you want to hear about your son when he’s been away. It may not be quite the boy we recognise from home, but we know that boy is in there somewhere, deep down.

And before we knew it, he was home – a bit thinner, a bit browner, a bit blonder and a whole lot dirtier. He jumped off the minibus and nearly knocked me over with his hug. Then it was time to fire up the washing machine for some hardcore laundry. It had been another successful Scout camp.

Son, Scouts, Scout camp

 

Author: Sarah Mummy

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21 Comments

  1. How fab are those tweets? I bet you were very proud!! I have to say, I’m not sure I blame your youngest son, I don’t think I could have camped in those conditions either, they sound very basic although it’s great that he went for a short time and has some good memories of his own now. #sharewithme

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    • There’s no way I could manage even a night of camping on a proper site, so I’m really proud of my son for giving it a go. I know he was proud of himself too and has some good memories. Those tweets made my week! 🙂

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  2. Sounds to me like your eldest was made for Scouts! Isn’t it great when they’re able to get stuck into something like that? I’m always astounded by the leaders and their willingness to go the extra mile. It really is a vocation, I could never do it! Well done to both your boys. There’s no way I would want my (almost) 10 year old away on camp for that long, he did well 🙂

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    • They both did brilliantly and the leaders really are amazing. I can’t praise them enough. The main two leaders have been running the group for over 25 years and they do so many camps! The logistics are quite incredible.

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  3. I think I may be a little biased here as an ex-Scout leader, however, I am so pleased your boys enjoyed camp, even if for one it was for such a short time, and that you as a parent appreciate your Leaders.
    Leaders put so much time, energy, effort and soul into planning experiences for children who for the most part are not their own that it is lovely for their efforts to be appreciated when they come home. A back to basics camp like this one is not easy to do as finding a site can be tricky, then the Leaders need the right permit! (I think I feel a blog of my own coming on!! )
    So, on behalf of all Scout and Guide Association Leaders everywhere – thank you for your thanks!

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    • You’re very welcome, it is very much deserved! Our leaders really are incredible and I can’t thank them enough for what they do for my kids and so many others. The main two leaders have been running the group for over 25 years and they really give it their all.

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  4. What lovely tweets! We can’t wait to sign Harry up for cubs then scouts, we are already convinced that he will love it!

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    • I bet he will! It’s brilliant! Beavers starts from 6 and it just gets more and more exciting as they move up through Cubs then Scouts.

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  5. Ahhh sounds absolutely amazing. I used to go to summer camp I loved it. Bet he make some great friends, great memories and life lessons learned. Holland wow jealous but I would be anxious too. Love the badges! Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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    • Thanks very much. They definitely make some great memories! I am slightly anxious about Holland for my younger son, not sure whether he’s really ready for it yet. Eldest will be fine!
      It’s a pleasure to link up, thanks!

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  6. You must be so proud. I fancy joining the scouts if it means getting away from it all and no one can contact me! Lovely words x

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    • Thank you! That’s such a lovely thing to say 🙂

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  7. That’s fantastic, and what lovely comments! You must be so proud. I am looking forward to signing up our little man when he’s old enough-I think he’ll love it! x #ssaa

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  8. Malvern Challenge! I loved the sun run as a venture scout and took my rangers a couple of times too but it really is a bit far from East Sussex. Glad they had fun, I was like your older son, and loved the back to basics camping, but it is hard work for the leaders! I never had to poo in a hole though… we always had lats which we emptied into a big hole (dug by someone’s husband before we arrived). #countrykids

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    • My son did the Malvern Challenge twice as it’s right on our doorstep. But it was the very last one this year. I think the leaders love the back to basics camping even more than the kids – and there’s so many of them that many hands make light work!

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  9. Sounds like your boys had a great trip. I’m glad your older son got better quite quickly after being unwell. It must have been an amazing feeling to get tweets like that about your boy. A proud mum moment.

    Thanks for linking up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements :0)
    x

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    • It really was great to get those tweets, just when I was really missing him! Very proud mum 🙂

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  10. Wow. Amazing read this one. I love camping now but we do have so much stuff when we camp out and sometimes I think that we are gaining weight when we are camping cuz of the sweets we have. Well done to both your sons. #countrykids

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    • Thanks very much 🙂 I don’t like camping myself, but the rest of my family seem to love it.

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  11. Lovely proud mum moments for you, well done your boys for the experience and onwards to Holland! #SSAmazingAchievements

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