Why Scouting has gone from geeky to cool
- Credit: Archant © 2013
Opinion: The Scouting movement is brilliant and every parent should be proud to make their child part of it, says Rachel Moore.
Parental hindsight is a fantastic thing.
If only I had made him persevere with the violin/chess/tennis/grandma's stew/paid household chores how different things might have turned out for them, we all scold ourselves at one point in our darkest hours.
Regrets are pointless but there's often one little niggle that lingers on, like one of J K Rowling's dementors hissing into your maternal inner ear 'bad parent, lazy parent, selfish parent' long after your children are grown, independent and long gone.
My dementor hisses every time I read about scouts. If there is one opportunity I regret not providing for my boys, it was to join the scouts.
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In the 200-miles a week we used to travel for various sporting clubs, they hardly missed out on much, but, looking back, they could have had wonderful times on adventures, at camp, yomping on night-time treks or at international jamborees.
Scouts seem to do all those things school risk assessments ban. They sleep in fields, cook sausages over fire, climb what they really shouldn't and find huge excitement in nature, away from electronic screens and video games – and do it all without their parents.
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What's not to like when you're 13? They're challenged, stretched, pushed and instilled with decent values, and they grow up into outstanding adults.
I'm inexplicably swamped with guilt that my boys missed the chance of brilliant muddy outdoor fun in the wilderness that I know they would have lapped up.
Not that either of my boys showed the slightest interest in the cubs or scout thing – put off the whole organised uniformed activity thing after bad experiences as Beavers.
They hated Beavers with a passion, and, in the end, had to be dragged kicking and screaming to each session.
I soon caved in and, by the time they were six, they'd been left with a negative view of the whole movement that I did nothing to change because, to be honest, all the scouts I had known in my younger days were a bit strange, geeky and socially awkward.
My view was probably tainted too by, after a glorious career as a sixer in the Brownies – the Imps were my gang – I bounded in to the Girl Guides full of hope, and left a few weeks later disillusioned and bored with the tame indoor ladylike pursuits we were expected to enjoy.
People tended to stumble on good Cub, Scout or Girl Guides by accident and were lucky if it all worked out.
Now an incredible 55,000 young people are on waiting lists to join the Scouts. Scouting is cool again and has its longest waiting list ever.
It has got its PR act together, is enjoying a phenomenal revival, which is making self-critical mothers like me feel even worse.
Selecting Bear Grylls as its ambassador was a stroke of brilliance. How can a scout ever be geeky when the King Scout, wearing the same uniform, is the ultimate adventuring survivor?
No wonder they are queuing round the block to join up.
This week Grylls, wearing his woggle on the stage at the Tory party conference, asked the Prime Minister for £50 million to make places for the 55,000 desperate young people – 'black, white, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, all British,' he said wanting to be part of it.
He wants to take British scouting values into the toughest communities.
I love that the Scouts has endured trends, suffered its nadir when people like me were sniffy about what it stood for, and has had its share of scandals.
There's something remarkably cheering and uplifting that, when young people get so much stick, Scouting is revelling in a new heyday.
Don't be 'judgy' and end up regretting it for your children like me.