I was never a Scout, Cub, Beaver, whatever. Don’t know why, apparently my dad was involved in some respect, I only found this out after his death in the reaping that was 2016. Sheesh, he was in good company that year – I think the same week did for Alan Rickman and David Bowie. So I never really understood what it was all about. I figured camping was involved, probably fires, knots were pretty important, singing. Left-handed handshakes. And Bear Grylls. I spent the bulk of those years reading Tolkein, Donaldson, Aligheri, and Adams so my life might’ve been significantly different had I been involved in Cubs!
So after a couple of years of taking my kids to Beavers / Cubs / Scouts / Explorers, I answered their pack’s call for volunteers and joined 1st Thurlby as Assistant Leader to the Cubs section. In hindsight, a few months (years?) as a parent helper might’ve been a good idea but I figure if you’re going to fill a Friday evening, might as well go all in. The weekend just past was my first experience of a Cub camp. And it was an experience. 2 nights at Walesby Forest Activity Centre with the whole of the Stamford and Bourne district…
Questions you find yourself asking…
- Who’s sock is this?
- No, really, who’s sock is this?
- It’s got to belong to one of you six, there’s only been you in this tent this weekend? Who’s sock is it?
- Well, where did you last see your necker? (Or sleeping roll, or sleeping bag cover, whatever they’ve mislaid)
- Has everyone got their packed lunch?
- Were you not listening when I asked if everyone had their lunch?
- Have you looked in your tent?
- Have you really looked in your tent?
- Is that it there?
- Where’s my bed? We were promised beds!
And many, many more.
Ah, the glamorous life of a Cubs pack leader on camp. Sleeping under canvas, meeting new people, exploring new worlds and new civilisations. Well, maybe not the last one.
There are things you’ll get used to:
- Repeating yourself
- Counting to 10 (or 100) in your head
- Taking a deep breath and schooling your face before turning round
- Being asked the same question a dozen times by 4 different Cubs
- Never drinking a hot cup of tea (but I have a solution for that)
- Doing what needs to be done, doesn’t matter who’s job it’s supposed to be
There are things you won’t get used to (or, at least I hope I won’t):
- The thrill when one of “your” Cubs does something they didn’t think they could do
- The thrill when one of “your” Cubs does something you most definitely couldn’t do! (I’m looking at the Leap of Faith here!)
- Silence on the campsite (that’s just weird)
- The sheer quantity of sweets 23 Cubs can consume
- An earnest “Thank you” from someone you talked to
- The wall of tiredness that hits about an hour after you get home
Would I do it again? In an instant. But next time, I’ll be better prepared. I’ve got a personal kit list now to augment anything I’m given:
- Camp bed – I’m too old to be sleeping on a roll on the floor.
- Salt and black pepper
- Tabasco / other chilli-based condiment of your choice
Long story short, if your local packs are looking for leaders and you think you might want to give it a go, do it. Get involved. I’m knackered, I ache in places I didn’t realise existed, and I can’t wait to do it again.