After my daughter’s first, failed Scout camp experience just a few weeks ago, I was seriously worried about whether she would survive her first big Scout camp. My husband was utterly convinced she wouldn’t even go.
A week before the camp, she said ‘I don’t want to go’. I talked about it briefly, but didn’t make a big deal out of it and didn’t mention it again. I just focused on the positives – the talent competition, all the activities and the dressing up days, not to mention spending time with her friends and brother. I didn’t offer her the alternative of not going although, of course, if she’d begged not to go, I would have let her stay at home.
‘I’m not going all the way to Lincoln to pick her up,’ said my husband. Before adding, ‘Well, I will if I have to. Actually, I’m at work there that week.’ My husband works all over the place, but I can never remember him working in Lincoln before. Should I text the leader to let her know what day my husband would be there? Just in case?
My daughter did her packing with no problems. Unlike the boys, she allowed a pair of pants and a clean Tshirt for every day of the week. She worried that people would notice she’d worn her leggings more than once! People don’t wash or change their clothes on Scout camp. My boys came home from a 12 day Scout camp without changing their Tshirts. My younger son hadn’t even changed his pants!
She practised her dance for the talent competition. She practised and practised until she was out of breath and dizzy.
I talked to her about how she needed to ‘look after’ her brother. Sometimes when he gets really busy and active, he doesn’t eat or drink enough. He forgets to put suncream on, forgets to put his contact lenses in, forgets to clean his teeth. Giving her responsibility for him would mean she had to go. Because who else was going to look after him?
I was starting to feel more confident. Perhaps she would be OK?
But there would still be tears on the morning, I was sure of it.
On the morning of the camp, she woke up happy and my husband did a brilliant job of talking to her in a really positive way about everything she was going to be doing. I mainly had to hide around the house putting washing away as slowly as I could, because I actually felt sick. I was sure it was all going to go wrong and she was going to cry and beg not to go. And if she cried, I would find it hard not to cry myself.
We walked to meet the other Scouts, weighed down with rucksacks. She had to take a pillow and a blanket too, which my boys frowned on. And she ran off with her friends, barely giving me a backwards glance. She hugged me when she left, but there were no tears and definitely no begging not to go.
She was a different person. I had always wondered how much of her leaving the other camp was really down to her broken finger and how much she’d used the finger as an excuse. But it seems that it really was all about the finger. And maybe a little bit about her brother not being there.
We’d crossed the first hurdle. My daughter had set off on her big Scout camp.