Joining the Scouts – is this the solution to all of problems children face today?! Well maybe not quite but surely it must be coming close. I grew up through the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Venture Scouts… I learned to tie knots, build fires, pitch a tent and even hiked the ‘Tour de Mont Blanc’. Even now it is great to be the guy that can get the fire going when it’s about to go out… good old Scouts!!
Now I have two kids, 9 and 7, and Hanno (Alive’s manager, big-wave surfer, free diver and all-round awesome guy) – has four kids between 2 and 5. We talk all the time about trying to make sure they don’t get too much ‘screen time’ and are outdoors as much as possible. We are obviously biased and think surfing is a great way of releasing energy, making friends and building confidence but let’s face it, just getting outside is the key – communicating with real people and not virtual characters. The biggest challenge parents face today, in the Western world anyway, is making sure their child is fit and healthy and can actually communicate with their peers face-to-face. I think in 15 years the person who can stand and talk in front of a group will have the world at their finger tips as everyone else is shuffling along, staring at their phone and avoiding eye-contact.
So what to do???? Well as far as I am concerned – join the Scouts/Guides, or Boys/Girls Brigade or whatever similar groups are available. Where else does a 10 year old learn first aid, go kayaking, camp, play instruments, learn games, do arts and crafts, cycle, explore, learn photography, science etc etc etc and most of all make friends, maybe friends for the rest of their lives. My dad was a Scout leader in Belfast, he is 72 now and most of his favourite stories involve his days with the scouts in one way or another – times have changed a bit though, he took about 15 scouts around Europe by himself when he was only about 21 years old!! The ratios and rules have become a bit tighter J Not too tight though…in a world where it seems health and safety means NO FUN the scouts (sorry I don’t mean to leave out Guide,BB and GB etc I feel the same about all!) allow children to enter a world where life skills are taught, kids are taught how to do things safely, how to be competent, how to be self-sufficient, how to work as part of a team, how to lead, to be led, how to follow instructions, how to help others, how to allow others to help them, how to value rules, how to respect those around them, respect their environment and respect themselves?? These lessons are hard to come by in 2019 but as important as they ever were.
My kids recently joined the Beavers and Cubs in Portstewart – THEY LOVE IT! Already excited about getting badges and working out how to get more… “Can we start cooking at home so I can get my cookery badge?”, “Can we start growing our own vegetables? I want my gardening badge”, “Can I build something for the builder activity badge?”. These are the questions I want to hear from my kids, the things I want to get them excited about…don’t get me wrong I still have to tell my son 10 times a week he isn’t allowed to play Fortnite and drag my daughter away from Netflix but it is a fantastic leap in the right direction.
So go on, sign your kids up and let them give it a go…you have nothing to lose and you could be making the most positive impact on their lives you could imagine. Visit www.scoutsni.org , https://www.girlguiding.org.uk , https://boys-brigade.org.uk , https://gbni.co.uk and get your children moving and communicating!!