Life Lessons from A Young Scout.

Having our son back safe and sound from Australian Scouting Jamboree was only half of the equation. Finding out what happened at camp was undoubtedly more challenging, requiring great journalistic and detective stealth and all sorts of secret, underhand tactics. Bribery and corruption are just what I can mention in public. It gets a hell of a lot worse.After all, you have to be very sneaky to navigate your way around the hard and fast rule: “what happens at camp, stays at camp”. Not even the leaders dob.

While I’m a strong believer in giving my kids room to grow, you can’t blame me for being interested in my child, can you?

I’ve been secretly wishing I could somehow be that pesky fly following him around everywhere, driving him nuts all day without him actually twigging that it’s Mum still following him around with her camera.

For better and for worse, I couldn’t be that fly. Instead, I had to let both of us go so we could each grow and stretch our wings. That said, somehow I managed to fly into a paint tin and spent ten days renovating his room along with his Dad. But that’s true love, isn’t it?!!

This, of course, leaves me with a very fragmented, patchy and distant view of what he’s been up to. It’s going to take time for all the stories to percolate into conversation but I’m doing my best to help him capture these memories to last a life time.

That said, thank goodness, there’s been a Facebook page where leaders posted photos for the families. However, Mister’s been conspicuously absent. Well, not entirely but if you’ve seen me in action, it’s nothing for me to take 300 photos in a day, so there was always going to be “a gap”.

A gap I’m sure all parents know too well. It’s that automatic gap which follows a parent’s enthusiastic: “How was it?” There’s that silence which might, if you’re very lucky, be followed by a grunt or a “nothing much” as they find the real meaning of life in Minecraft.

Anyway, as other parents would appreciate, taking a direct approach, usually yields poor returns. Instead, you have to be devious. Eavesdrop. Ask their friends. I have found that even though “leaky lips sink ships”, someone is usually only too willing to share but it usually takes a bit of time.

I should add that the scouts weren’t able to take phones away to camp. Our son is yet to acquire a mobile so we weren’t used to being able to contact him any time any where but he did call me twice but these were brief 2 minutes snatches before the money ran out.We weren’t a local call.

So, you can just imagine my excitement when I overhear Mister talking to his sister on the phone  and I hear the words  “my tips for Jamboree are…”!!

Miss is currently staying with my parents to help Mister adapt to re-entry. We expected him to be pretty tired and that he might need some peace and quiet. Miss is a Cub Scout and was too young to attend this Jamboree but she has every intention of attending in 3 years’ time. Geoff and Miss went down to Jamboree for their open day called “Super Saturday”. She loved it!


So when I heard Mister authoritatively sharing his”Jamboree Tips” with his little sister,  I was all ears. Better still, being the unashamed eavesdropper and reporter that I’ve always been, I instantly grabbed an old envelope and a pen and was clearly taking notes. How priceless was this? Big Brother giving his little sister advice. It really touched me somewhere deep inside my heart. It was one of those real gooey “ooh” moments where as a parent, you just glow all over with pride!

There were only two tips and I must admit I was hoping there would have been more. However, two life lessons was certainly way more than the grunt I’d anticipated from a very sleepy Scout on his return.

Mister’s Jamboree Life Lessons

Tip 1: Don’t leave wet clothes lying on the ground. They attract funnel web spiders. Put your clothes on something where they’ll get dry. (They did actually find funnel webs near their tent and I was told “someone was bitten” but very much doubt it.

I’ve since had word from the Scout leader on the subject of Funnel Webs:”Fortunately the funnelwebs only made their presence felt on the last day. Regards tip one with not leaving clothes on the ground wet or otherwise, it wasn’t so much the spiders, but more that the clothes will be, well, wet and you’ll have nothing to dry to wear, seemingly a worse fate!”


Tip 2: Challenge your limits. I jumped off a board that was 20 metres high and you land on your back or it really hurts. (This was the Stunt Jump and apparently there is some debate about how high it actually was. Geoff thinks it was more like 10 metres)

However, while I thought he was giving these tips to his sister, he was actually talking to my Mum…his grandmother! My mother has certainly tried a range of new things since becoming a grandparent but I doubt camping is going to be one of them…especially co-habitating with deadly Funnel Web! Spiders!

That said, I shouldn’t  sell her short. Why shouldn’t she extend her limits as well? I’m not going to stop her. Yet, at the same time, I can’t imagine her trying out the stunt jump either. Go Granny! Who am I to decide how someone else constructs and re-constructs themselves? A few years ago, I went away on an adventure camp myself and went quad bike riding. Who would have thought? I’m sure the kids thought I was close to being a Granny myself.

No one is set in stone! Human beings are always full of surprises!

Later on, I also received tip number three:

Tip 3: Mummy, having a watermelon to yourself isn’t a good thing. I felt sick in my stomach after 12 bites but I kept going. Mummy , they had five crates filled to the top with watermelon. We took 1 1/2 crates and ate them ourselves.

Jonathon alone watermelon

I think all that watermelon went straight to his face!

I’m interested to hear what other life lessons Mister has picked up while he’s been away. Stay tuned!

While I’ve been thrilled that he’s been able to have this experience and  wasn’t worried about him at a conscious level, I was missing him. I’ve been a bit like the dog knowing he should be here and feeling a bit lost or out of kilter without him. That’s not a bad thing either because a bit of absence makes you appreciate each other more and helps to reinforce what’s important.

There are so many things money can’t buy and yet money also funds huge extravaganzas like Jamboree and helps the wheels turn round…a Catch 22.


See! Drop Bears! I’m not imagining anything!

I also believe children need community beyond their own family. That they need to experience how different people live and that there’s more than one way to do things. That diversity is what gives our world it’s colour, vibrancy and texture. We do not want the world to be full of clones of ourselves. How boring is that? Yet, isn’t that what so many strive so hard to achieve? If birds of a feather only flew together, where would humanity be?

I don’t know AND I don’t want to find out either!

Yet, I still feel pressured to conform, even though I’m beyond the flow and there’s always some part of me sticking out of the box. Even I, with all my rhetoric about accepting and loving ourselves as we are, still instinctively reaches for the scissors to snip all those extra bits off. Don’t you? Even though, we know we shouldn’t because these beautiful “extras” are what makes us who we truly are…our identity. These are far too precious to simply snip off, throw out and yet that quest for “acceptance” can override all sense of accepting and being ourselves.

My son hasn’t mentioned that he felt accepted at Jamboree. That he made friends and belonged but he did. I don’t know how that environment differed to the playground but somehow it did. I don’t know if everyone got on as well as it seemed but at least in the photos, they were one big, extremely happy jungle of kids making the most of the sun, rain and glorious mud…

At least, that’s what I’ve eavesdropped from Jamboree.

Have you ever been involved with Scouts or Guides? Please share some of your experiences!

xx Rowena

25 thoughts on “Life Lessons from A Young Scout.

  1. TanGental

    I went to one when I was about 13 1971). I nearly drowned, only pulled up on the third gasp and have hated being out of my depth since; I was sunburnt so badly that even the Chief Scout, yep the head honcho – cool eh- called me ‘Pinky’; I helped make rope bridges over roaring gorges and a zip wire; I met girl guides and became rather confused; I learnt the word to kumbaya and ging gang gooly gooly wathca; I loved it all.

  2. derrickjknight

    I was thrown out of cubs for playing around. This was a good result. I didn’t like it because it was so like school. When I went on a camp with another troop, my parents had to come and get me after three days because I was homesick, and didn’t know any of the other boys

  3. Midwestern Plant Girl

    I’m not sure why I didn’t get into scouts when I was a kid. Maybe cuz I was more involved with church groups. We did camp and do outings. But didn’t learn fire building techniques… only bible verses…

  4. roweeee Post author

    My kids benefit from the structure although we have very understanding and compassionate leaders. It’s a shame you went on a camp with boys you didn’t know and the leaders couldn’t bring you together and help you connect. Being a kid can be quite difficult. Scouts has really helped my kids socially and built their confidence. Being able to do things there, has boosted their general confidence. I’ll be interested to see how Jamboree helps our son settle into high school.

  5. roweeee Post author

    I was telling my husband today that Church groups used to do a lot more of this type of thing but in Australia Church youth groups aren’t as big as they used to be. Such a pity. I didn’t learn to build fires there either. Met a few boys.

  6. roweeee Post author

    Geoff, it sounds like your scouting adventures are every parent’s nightmare. Mister was recently quite badly sunburnt at scouts and we’ve reiterated our sunscreen advice and added graphic descriptions of people losing ears, noses etc to skin cancer. That’s a parent’s job. The greater the crime, the more graphic the consequences. I’ll have to find out if the scouts are still singing those songs. Mister hasn’t developed an interest in girls yet but they’re now part of scouts. I’ll be more concerned about that when Miss goes in 3 years and she’ll almost be 13. Not an good time for a parent of a girl I suspect.
    Oh! You’re appreciate today’s post. Turns out there were Sydney Funnel Web Spiders at Jamboree and today a warning was issued that two spiders had been found in backs back home. Of course, with Geoff at work, it was left to me to help Mister unpack and he was hardly Captain Courageous. I was forced to be strong. Humph. No spider found but great inspiration.

  7. roweeee Post author

    There are times I’d really like to fly the “too ill” flag and this was definitely one of them but when he looked to me for strength, it was strangely there. I also wanted to have that bag empty before his father came home. Geoff’s had a huge week and I thought dealing with potential funnel webs was the least I could do.
    By the way, reflecting back to the house at Palm Beach, there were these masses of tiny soldier crabs which would appear seemingly out of nowhere and thousands of them would be crawling across the sand and just as suddenly disappear independent of the tide. I had horrific visions of funnel webs rising out of their holes at night in equal numbers and crawling through the mud. Sometimes, an imagination can be a draw back.

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  9. Norah

    Well I’m pleased Son arrived home safely after his encounter with the Drop Bears. Perhaps even more importantly, safe from the funnel webs. I’m so pleased he didn’t bring one home for you. I understand your feelings of loss while he was away, and of wanting to know of his whereabouts and well being at all times. But as you say, you had to let him go, so you could both grow. That is a life lesson in itself. How lovely that he was happy to share his experiences and “lessons” with Gran. Now you just need to convince her to share. 🙂 My advice for all your sticking out bits is just to let them be. They are what make you you, and everyone of them is precious, just like you. Now, I’m off to take a dose of my own advice!

  10. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Norah. That last one really is quite difficult. I’ve been very fortunate to find people who accept those bits both in real life and the blog. That is such a blessing but I also need to be more accepting of these bits myself.
    Good luck with it as well!
    xx Rowena

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  12. Norah

    We are our own harshest critics. We need to silence the negatives and be open to the positives, embracing all the funny little bits. 🙂

  13. Elissaveta

    Some interesting lessons there!! I don’t have children yet but have sometimes wanted to be that nagging fly to some of my friends or family, mainly out of curiosity to see what they’re up to really… Is that a bit stalkery?

  14. Minuscule Moments

    Rowena sounds like he had an experience that will last him a life time. Those spiders would have worried me and I did think about them when my daughter did her peer support camp at the end of last year. No spiders they kept their tent zipped but saw a few big lizards they do look back and talk about all the fun they had.

  15. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Kath. I haven’t done a lot of camping but I know people who have really recommended it. We’d like to try it as a family and bought a tent but it will take some careful consideration.
    Glad to hear your daughter’s camp went well.
    She starts high school as well this year, doesn’t she? I’ve been trying to get our house in order, in particular our son’s room but the weather’s been counter-productive and it’s been hard to get motivated. The kids get back from my parents tomorrow and then the final countdown truly begins and I’m needing to get to bed earlier too! Hope the holidays are going well at your end! xx Rowena

  16. roweeee Post author

    I’m with you to that, Kath. A smooth start and no bunny hops down the street.
    By the way, I think you’ll appreciate my story of my son & the shark and perhaps your kids too. I spotted a guy wrestling with a Ffish down at the beach and called out to my son as he wandered down the beach out of earshot. I’m sure you have been there!
    The funny thing is that I still remember walking with him as a young boy and how HE was the one stopping all the time picking things up off the ground. I don’t know if you’ve read Shaun Tan’s book where the alien comes to stay and collects bottle tops. That was him. Now, he’s waiting for me. Says I’m slow. Well, he’d also run off on me when he was younger as well. Memories… Enjoy the rest of the holidays. We’re off to Sydney to pick the kids up today xx Ro

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