I wouldn't have known that places at Cubs could be so highly coveted, but thanks to my muddly mum top parenting strategy (which is to always ensure you have a few Mums who really know what they are doing amongst your friends, and who tell you when you need to sign up for things), I got Son's name on the list early enough for him to join Beavers (the Cub group for younger boys and girls), and from there he had an automatic pass into Cubs itself.
We don't have much disposable income floating around here but if there's one thing we don't begrudge paying out for, it's activities for the kids, and they do lots of after-school sports and take music lessons. In fact I frequently ask myself whether they are doing too much/too little/or the right activities (especially at the beginning of term when we seem to be signing a slew of cheques). As a mother who aspires to a 'simple' life for her family I'm never sure if we've got the balance right, but Cubs is one thing that I have no reservations about. For the princely sum of £40 per term (13 weeks this term) I think it represents good value. In fact, at £10,649 less per term than Eton it's an absolute bargain. Moreover the activities at Cubs align nicely with my anti-materialistic aspirations and even on the wettest of Thursday evenings Son NEVER has to be cajoled into going!
Here are some of the reasons why:
- Let's start with what the Scouting Association says: "In Scouting, we believe that young people develop most when they are 'learning by doing,' when they are given responsibility, work in teams, take acceptable risks and think for themselves." What's not to like about that?
- For six months all of our cub meetings are outdoors (whatever the weather) near a lake. Activities like kayaking, raft-building, shelter-building, archery, map reading, birdwatching and my personal favourite this term: ‘cooking a bread twist on a stick’, are all on offer.
- Son comes back soaked, muddy and smelling of woodfire. Fantastic!
- It is super well organised by Akela and his team of assistants and young leaders, all of them volunteers. I know that Scouting these days purports not to be just about 'boys, tents and woggles' but Son has never had a male teacher at his primary school, so good male role models in other areas of his life are really appreciated.
- Cub camp! Again, it may not be all about the 'tents' but Son experienced his first camp last weekend, and arrived home exhausted but having had a BRILLIANT time in a wood in the middle of nowhere. Although we love the outdoors and go camping as a family, he experiences it in a much more varied, and rough and ready way with Cubs! You won’t find us singing, “Oh you’ll never get to heaven in a girl guide’s bra, coz a girl guide’s bra won’t stretch that far!” round our camp fires on family holidays!
- Watching his armful of badges gradually filling the entire sleeve of his cub jumper gives Son great satisfaction.
Some of that stitching is pretty awful isn't it? I'm never going to get a badge for 'sewing on badges', but just you try sewing one on 2 minutes before Son leaves for Cubs... (I haven't yet internalised the Scouting motto, 'Be Prepared'!)
Can you see why I'm grateful for those Mums who told me when to put Son's name down for Cubs? And really, I'm quite glad he was never destined for Eton; he wouldn't have got to experience the Cubs in North Wiltshire otherwise!
What are your children or grandchildren's favourite activities? And how do you decide how many extra-curricular activities they do or don't do - have you got the balance right?