Tuesday, 3 July 2012

We ♥ Cubs!

Trying to get Son into our local Cub group was the closest I'll ever get to the experience of trying to get a child into Eton!  You have to put his or her name down on the waiting list before they're conceived.  Well, almost.

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?


  1. My son did swimming and chess club. Those were activities he wanted. My daughters are in various clubs at school, music groups at church, plus both dance, one ballet the other tap. Again, these are extracurriculars of their choosing.
    My thoughts on extracurriculars -- these are the activities that allow them to explore areas of interest, without a grade or academic future attached. So, whatever they enjoy is what we allow. Fortunately for our wallets, they like to do just as many free things as those with tuition/fees.

  2. I like your thoughts Lili - I also tend towards the 'let them have a go at anything they want to' attitude so they can find out what their real passions are. And my dyslexic child certainly gets to a chance to shine at her out-of-school clubs whereas schoolwork can be a real struggle for her. It just sometimes feels as if we are constantly riding an extremely 'busy' wave of our own making, when I know that the Lili concept of 'not-doing' is just as important for children as adults! Roll on the summer holidays!

  3. Great Post! As a Cub & Explorer Leader, its always really fantastic to hear that young people are enjoying their Scouting experiences :D Its the main reason why thousands of adults give up precious spare time to help run Beaver, Cub, Scout, Explorer Sections all over the UK! Its wonderful value for money, teaches kids invaluable life skills not taught in schools, gives a huge sense of achievement and most of all its mega FUN! :D :D :D

    1. Thanks. I know the leaders and helpers at my son's group put in a huge amount of time into providing a really varied range of activities, all carefully prepared and thought out.

  4. Thank you for such a lovely post :) I'm a Guide leader so it's great to know that what we do is being appreciated. One tip on the badges: your Cub is old enough to do sew them on. If they really can't do it, they should swap it for a job (because you are taking time to do something for them). And if all else fails, FABRIC GLLUE (did I mention I'm a rubbish Guide leader?)! :D

    1. You're right Ann, he should do it himself...just need to allow a bit longer than a few minutes before he leaves for Cubs! Wondering how many other jobs I could swap with him..... :-)

  5. Great to hear he loves Scouting so much. If more adults volunteered to be leaders we would not have groups that need waiting lists. Why don't you offer to help out at your group and if you like it start the journey to be a leader, any time you have to help will accepted even if its only 1 hour a month. You will make good friends and find it personally rewarding...

  6. I like running a highly outdoors based programme for my Cubs too but at our last meeting of the term two of the activities that we did (related to the Home Help badge) were ironing and sewing. As my Mum was determined to teach them to do it well we didn't quite get through all of the Cubs with the stitching and had a number of boys come up disappointed that they didn't get a turn. I've promised to squeeze it in on the programme somewhere. Not quite sure where yet! My Mum also ran into a parent the next day and was told how their son had insisted on doing the ironing before going to school. Sometimes it surprises me what they enjoy doing. The main thing I go for though is variety. Whilst this was going on we also had other Cubs learning some of the traditional Jungle Dances (search for that alongside Scoutscan and you should find them).

    My favourite term though is summer term as then I try and have every meeting outside. I sometimes think I have as much fun running it for the Cubs as they have taking part in the activities. One new activity I decided to try this year was participating in a Gang Show, it is a big time commitment but it is great fun too. What's better one of my Cubs has been coming along to the rehearsals too. It is going to be a busy time during the first week of Easter though.

    I'm so pleased to hear that other young people are enjoying their Scouting.

    Akela, Wednesday Cubs, 1st Framwellgate Moor, Durham

    1. Don't feel too bad about the stitching. I've a number of young people who now only have badges on their Uniforms as it got to the point that my Mum decided to stitch them on for them. Hence part of the reason for that being included as an activity on the last night of the half term. :)