When I was younger, I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide and the experience left me with many happy memories of people, places, and adventures.
When I was much younger even than that (when my age was still being counted in months rather than years), I went to Cub Camp and got my first Scout badge (because that’s what happens when your Dad is Kaa).
Then, in 2017, we signed Tori and Arthur up to join our local Scout Group, following in Caius’s footsteps – he still features in a few of the photos on the wall in the Scout Hut!
So Artie started Beavers and Tori started Cubs and I made it very clear that I was happy to help at events and make cakes but was not, under any circumstances, going to become a leader. Nope, nope, nope. Only crazy people become Scout Leaders.
Then, somehow, in 2018 I found myself on the Executive Committee as a Beaver parent representative. Which, ugh fine, but I’m still not being a leader.
I think I helped out once at Beavers because they needed parent helpers, and I hated every second and made Caius do it next time they asked.
Just helping when there’s not enough adults.
Every now and then.
I am not entirely sure how, but by May in 2019 I was helping out at Cubs regularly enough that I advanced from occasional parent helper, to a section assistant.
Then I found myself making my Promise in a car park on a chilly November morning before the town Remembrance Parade, officially earning my necker and definitely going back on that whole ‘not being a leader’ thing.
Even through lockdowns, we carried on virtually, and then meeting outdoors in our Scout Hut grounds under marquees in all sorts of weathers. Because everybody needed a thread of ‘normality’ and we weren’t going to let Covid stop us.
Arthur made his Cub Promise over Zoom in our front room, we camped in the garden, and joined with Scouts all over the country to hike to the Moon through lockdowns and restrictions.
Both Tori and Arthur are Scouts now, and I am most of the way through the training to earn my Wood Badge and become an Assistant Leader (and I’m still on the committee!)
It turns out that although I hated helping at Beavers, I kind of love being a Cub leader. And the Beavers aren’t so bad, I guess.
The Market Drayton branch of the Worldwide Scouting family feels just like that – a family.
I have made a great bunch of friends in the other leaders, and I enjoy the challenge of planning and running the weekly meetings (even if there is the odd night where I could happily gag the whole pack with their neckers and then go cry in the store cupboard).
I love watching the kids grow and blossom as they move through the groups. Not just my two, but all of the members.
We laugh a lot, help each other out, and learn all sorts of things we never knew we never knew as we work towards the various badges.
There have been times when my mental health has not been great and it was a mission to get myself to the Scout Hut, but not once have I regretted it. It has been a lifeline that I didn’t know I needed, and I am endlessly grateful to all the people that make it so.
Also, it’s not just the kids that get to have adventures in Scouting!
I have, among other things, earned my Scouting Archery Permit, done high ropes courses, gone on hikes in the pouring rain, visited museums, lead a meeting wearing a wolf onesie, learned new ways to light fires (wooo fire!), learned to use air rifles, discovered that crash mats make excellent mattresses, and fallen flat on my face in front of everyone failing to complete an inflatable obstacle course…
Even Chase has been welcomed into the pack and proudly has his own necker for when he gets to come and help out on hikes, at camps, and other adventures!
It turns out that you don’t have to be mad to be a Scout leader, but it definitely helps!
Guiding was a highlight of my childhood and teens, and Scouting is a highlight of my adulthood.
It has helped me find friends who are just as bonkers as I am, it has taught me life skills, made hard days better, and made me feel like I was welcome right from the start – even when I was stubbornly very clear that I was definitely not Leader material.
Turns out I was wrong.
Yours In Scouting,
2nd Market Drayton Cub Scouts