A few months ago, we got a letter about the annual summer Scout camp. Every year, our Scouts go away for a week at the start of the holidays – usually to one of the jamborees. My son loves summer Scout camp and has been every year since year 5 (he’s in year 8 now).
But did my daughter want to go? There was a lot to consider. Which of her friends were going? Would she sleep well? Would she manage to eat?
By then, she would already have done her school residential and her brother managed a full 12 days on camp in Holland at her age. It had to be her decision, but we were confident she could do it. So she signed up. It was to be her first Scout camp.
I’ll admit I was slightly concerned that her very first Scout camp would be a whole week away. Although she’s camped with her dad and brothers, she wasn’t a Cub so has never camped with friends. But then the opportunity of a weekend Scout camp came up. Although it would be very different from the summer jamboree (essentially a week-long party), she would have the experience of camping with her friends.
A couple of days before she was due to go, she said she didn’t want to go. We never really got to the bottom of why, other than that she doesn’t like being away from us (this was the first we’d heard of that) and that her brother wasn’t going on this camp. He has been on so many camps over the years and had decided this one wasn’t for him.
But she packed her stuff up fine and was fine on the morning of the camp.
On the day of the camp, I got a call from school to say she’d injured her finger playing basketball and could I take some Calpol in? The first thing she said to me was ‘I’m still going on the camp’. Well that was positive.
But in the evening there were tears. She didn’t want to go.
We didn’t rush her. She took her time to have tea and get ready. We were one of the last families to arrive.
And when we got there, she burst into tears and wouldn’t let me go. She didn’t want to stay, but she couldn’t explain why. My daughter has never done this. She does have some issues with sleeping and eating, but she hides them well and is always adventurous. With Cubs on camp too, it felt strange that the only child crying was an 11 year old. The leaders were absolutely lovely to her and so was one of her friends. My daughter begged her brother to stay with her, but how could he? He hadn’t packed his equipment. It would have been very easy to just take her home, but I felt it was important for her independence that she stayed. I was confident she would have a good time. Her brother had told her how much fun they always have on camp.
So we left our tearful girl behind.
I woke up early the next morning, worrying about her. Later on, I texted the leader who informed me that she was fine. She had eaten and slept and was having fun.
But in the evening, I got a call from the leader. She was OK, but her finger was really hurting. She wanted to go home because of her finger, but she also wanted to stay as she didn’t want to be a failure. What did I think? I said it was her decision. I knew she would probably beat herself up if she left (she was in bits once when she quit Parkrun halfway through), but if she needed to come home, I would be happy to go and get her.
There was then a long wait before the inevitable phone call. She wanted to go home,
She looked pale and sad and her hand looked rather swollen. I’ll be honest, I had wondered if it was broken, but I knew all that would happen at A&E would be that they would strap it up. We’d strapped it up and she’d had Calpol with her – although it seems the leaders had got a bit mixed up and not given her as much as she needed.
She had enjoyed the time she had spent on camp, but the pain in her fingers had just got too much. She definitely would have stayed if it hadn’t been for that. She kept telling us how different it will be at the big camp and that she knows she will be fine. Although closer questioning revealed she hadn’t really had enough to eat or drink, which wouldn’t have helped the way she was feeling. She will need to look after herself better on the big camp, but I also know my son will look out for her. My boys looked after each other on both of the summer camps they did together and it was reassuring to know they had each other there.
So my daughter’s first Scout camp wasn’t exactly a success. Here’s hoping things go better for her next time.
And the finger? It was broken. I’ll tell you the full story soon.