My son was chosen to be ‘Beaver of the Week’. Thankfully at seven, he is as yet blissfully unaware of the other meaning for this cute, semi-aquatic rodent! He has been a Beaver since he was six, and it’s been a real source of fun, enjoyment and friendship for him, during what in many ways has been emotionally and developmentally challenging couple of years.
Beavers, start at six and are promoted or ‘swim up stream’ to be cubs, after their eighth birthdays. The cub group that he will be going to has closed their waiting list. I kid you not. There has been an unprecedented reactivation of interest in the uniformed groups, from parents around the country. I’m sure the research exists somewhere, but if you are looking for reasonably affordable, varied activities for boys that do not involve sport or technology, the Scout movement offers all of the above with cheese on top. It’s definitely more than playing or socializing. It offers skills for life and teaches young boys how to develop into young men or women. (Girls have their own thing going on over at the Brownies and Girl Guides).
Before I start to sound too ‘boys own’ I have witnessed personally, the development in my son in terms of his confidence ability to get on with other boys and have a great laugh. So far, his group has taken part in a circus skills workshop, celebrated Chinese New Year, they decorated the hut, learned a dragon dance and sampled Chinese food. They had a Welsh evening for St. David’s Day, an indoor cricket coaching session, marched the streets of Richmond as part of the St. George’s Day Parade, took part in the 22nd World Scout Jamboree, where they learned about Beaver Scouts from all over the world. Then there was the Remembrance Parade and service, a fundraising visit to Hyde Park for BBC’s Children in Need Appeal and to round off, an exciting joint Christmas sleepover weekend, with a proper Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings.
Last week, they waiting for hours as the sky gave up its best hailstones, to meet the Queen. “She was wearing white and didn’t even have an umbrella!” was my son’s observation.
The Scout leader I was chatting to last week, talked about the ‘ethos’ of scouting, and the importance of instilling life long values, in fact all of the volunteer leaders I have met are passionate about nurturing young people, encouraging them to learn new skills and most of all, have fun. It’s a great complement to their school lives too, as they are given the opportunity to learn new things in a relaxed manner, for the enjoyment of learning, without the anxiety of it being for homework, or coursework.
I’m not surprised at all that the waiting list for the local cub group is closed to new applicants, many parents are opting to offer their time as volunteers to secure their children a place in this historic and unique ‘club’. And that can’t be a bad thing.
“In Scouting, a boy is encouraged to educate himself instead of being instructed.” Robert Baden Powell.
© Suzy Rigg