My son isn’t the most adventurous of children, he’s not boisterous and he is often afraid to try new things. He’s not slept away from home since he was very small, and he can’t remember that at all. The whole idea of experiencing a Cub Camp weekend for the first time would never have been possible a year ago. He just wouldn’t have coped with it. He did go for the day to a Beaver camp, but he was adamant he wasn’t sleeping over and I wasn’t going to push him. When we picked him up he’d had a great time and I saw that as a sign that in the future we could try a sleep over.
Some months ago we received an email telling us about a District Camp that Cubs could go to, dropping off on a Friday afternoon and picking up on Sunday. The theme of the camp would be Horrible Histories. I mentioned it in passing to my son and his automatic reaction was no, he hadn’t even thought about it. So I made an executive decision, playing tough Mummy, and put his name down on the list and paid the deposit. I had months to try to persuade him that it was an excellent idea and he’d have fun.
I’d bring up the idea of experiencing a Cub Camp weekend for the first time every so often, and it was always met with the same refusal. Eek. My cause wasn’t even helped when it became clear that two girls in his class at school would also be going, and one of them was feeling a bit wobbly about it too.
As the date got ever closer, my son still hadn’t really come round to the idea. What was I going to do? I didn’t want him to get really upset, but equally I knew that he’d love it, if he could just try it. I decided that I’d take him shopping with me to buy the things he needed for his kit list, rather than me just buying it all when he was at school. That seemed to help the situation and he was very eager to try out his new sleeping roll in the kitchen that afternoon.
Perhaps he was coming round to the idea. He certainly starting say ‘when’ he was going to Cub Camp rather than ‘I’m not going’ so I hoped we were getting there.
I sent an email to the group leader to explain that he’d never really been away from home before and had never tried camping before either. He was feeling a bit unsure. I know the leaders will have seen it all before. He was excellent, an email came back telling me exactly who my son would be sharing with. That definitely helped. He also sent through a list of all the activities on offer, I made the decision not to share that information with my son. I didn’t want him to worry about any of the activities he might not enjoy. Better to have no idea what was to come in some respects.
Everyone kept asking me what wonderful plans had a got for the weekend. In truth, I had none. His Dad would be working late anyway and I really wasn’t convinced that I wouldn’t get a phone call Friday night or Saturday morning asking me to go over to the camp to pick him up.
So Friday arrived, Cub Camp day and the sun was shining. Warm weather was definitely going to help. When my son got back from school I made him help me re-pack his rucksack and go through everything he needed to take. I hoped that that might ensure that everything that went to camp, came home again and might show him that he had change of clothes for two days.
I’d also asked his Dad to come over to the Cub Camp with us, to hopefully make the transition a little easier for all concerned. I’d half expected a refusal to leave the house from my son, but no, he just helped his Dad pack the car. So far so good.
He was full of happy chatter all the way on the thirty minute journey. Still going well. But I’ve learned from bitter experience that you can never take anything for granted with my son. I’ve thought that everything was fine before only for him to have a complete meltdown. I think that by the time we parked the car and were looking for his pack, I was probably actually holding my breath.
We found where he’d be camping and his leader showed us to the tent he’d be in. I helped my son got his bed roll, sleeping bag and pillow sorted and when we were done, he just said ok Mummy, I’m going to talk to M now. Ok, well then Mummy and Daddy are going to go, ok? He gave us a hug and a kiss and waved us good-bye. Shock, pure shock. Not one wobble, not one tear, no protests. Amazing.
Of course I was expecting a phone call all evening and was rather amazed to see a video of him dancing at the disco. He refuses to go to the school disco. Wow! Progress and clearly he was happy. I could relax and get some sleep. The next morning I saw a photo of him having breakfast and he’d even changed clothes. This was all looking positive and to be honest, even if he hadn’t joined in with one single activity, I’d have been so proud of him for just experiencing a Cub Camp weekend for the first time.
We saw more photos of him Sunday morning, and by then I was counting down the hours. It had been so quiet without him and I couldn’t face opening his bedroom door, knowing he wouldn’t be there each morning. I found it much harder than I’d expected to be frank, I’ll never tell him that, but it was tough.
We arrived just as the various packs were circled together for the Flag Down ceremony. My son saw us, waved and turned back round. All good. As the packs were dismissed he wasn’t even bothered about walking back to base with us, but did eventually come over and hold my hand. He’d got a croaky voice and was clearly tired but he’d had a good time.
He fell asleep in the car but hadn’t forgotten that I’d promised him a treat if he stayed for the whole weekend. He ran into the kitchen and saw the carriages for his train set (thank you eBay!), thank you Mummy. I told him just how proud we were of him. I also told him we could order pizza in for tea as he looked shattered or we could go out. I’d like to go to Prezzo Mummy. Then that is what we will do. It was such a big thing for him to have achieved. I’m so very proud of him.
In the hours that followed he let out a few details of his weekend adventure. He’d been on a Mining Experience which involved hard hats and crawling through spaces in the dark, made a fidget spinner and key rings for him and his teddy. He’d tried archery and shooting, and been on a bouncy castle! He’d been on the dodgems, but only once, he didn’t want to try the climbing wall or quad bikes. That’s ok, maybe next time you might want to give them a go too. Maybe Mummy.
I asked him yesterday, if he’d enjoyed himself over the weekend, yes. Are you glad you went, yes. Would you go again, yes. I’m so glad that I made that decision all those months ago. That I knew if I could just get him to camp, he’d love it. What a relief.
As for me? Being a virtual single parent I felt totally lost by Sunday morning. Thank god I had the Royal Wedding to occupy me on Saturday. Next time, I will definitely arrange to go out with friends locally or stay away. Next time, I’ll give myself an opportunity to have some real adult time. Although, it’s been so long since I’ve actually just sat still, and watched TV for hours, without interruptions, without running around like a mad woman. It probably did me good to do nothing, and not feel guilty.
I’ve wanted for so long for my son to have the confidence to leave my side and take a few risks. For him to see what he can achieve by letting go, and having fun. It was so bittersweet not to see his adventures first hand, but I’m so happy for him. He did it, and with the biggest of smiles. I hope that this is the first of many Cub adventures to come. It’s been a rocky journey at times but I think he really turned a corner this last weekend. My eight year old is growing up and having fun, and I one super proud Mummy.
Do your kids belong to the Scout Association?