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Life as a Scouter and as a Scout and Cub parent

Life was a lot less hectic before we became a Scouting family! My husband Richard re-joined 1st Muizenberg as an Assistant Troop Scouter when our eldest son Ryan (now 17 years old) got to Cub age. Richard had been a 1st Muizenberg Scout and always said that he learned more about leadership from being a Scout than from any management course he went on as an adult. His mentors growing up were his Troop Scouters and they remained a huge part of his life as an adult.

Ryan was a Cub from age 8 and moved up to Scouts in 2012. My

youngest son Liam (now 12 years old) was desperate to become a Cub from the age of 4 when he attended his first Scout camp. He was invested as soon as he turned 7, in 2013, the same year I became the Pack Scouter. The previous Akela had left unexpectedly and it just seemed the right thing to do. There were 8 Cubs and Richard & I ran the Pack together. I did all the admin and Richard (he chose Baloo as his Jungle name) did the hard stuff like running games, sorting out discipline and coming up with cool ideas for activities. Richard also ran the Scout Troop so both boys went on Scout camps for years when they were little although I always made sure there was a bungalow booked for me to have a real bed and bathroom!

When all 4 of us were involved in Scouting, it took over our lives somewhat. Scouts are much more active than Cubs so practically every weekend there was either a sailing regatta, a fundraiser, a hike or some other activity at the Sea Scout base. Richard also helped run a lot of the Base courses and assisted as a judge or organiser at most of the Scout competitions, so there was always something to do. Once the Pack grew, we were lucky to have some parents go into uniform as Assistant Pack Scouters, which spread the load of work and allowed Richard to concentrate on Scouts again. By the time Richard got sick, in 2015, he was the Chairman of the parent committee and the Group Scouter, with Craig in charge of the Scouts as the Troop Scouter.

Now that I’m a single mom, it’s less easy to juggle all the demands of

work and Cubs and parenting but I’m not sure I would have managed the last 3 years without 1st Muizenberg as my “other” family. And then there are the friends I have made in our Group and in other Scout groups – the network of parents & Scouters who help each other, share ideas, run camps together and support each other’s Fundraising events. I have watched Scouts grow up from little 11 year old boys to 18 year old men who are now becoming Scouters themselves. It’s still amazing to me that these guys, and a few girls, are still in the movement, and giving back to their Groups. I know that Liam will almost definitely be that kind of person too which gives me a great sense of pride. Ryan left the Troop last year but I hope he will one day realise what he’s missed and come back to Scouting too.

Being a Scouter has been very rewarding for me, and a good distraction sometimes. There is so much to do every day that the evenings and weekends are full, with Cub activities or Scout events, or planning programmes and outings. Admin is still a huge part of being a Pack Scouter and the new computer database, called Scouts Digital, had us having to re-load each Cub onto the new system late last year. However, this new database has huge functionality and allows us to be more organised without relying only on Excel spreadsheets. Being organised is the key and I’m a bit of a control freak so that works for me J. Luckily my Assistant Pack Scouters are more relaxed so we have a good balance of personalities and ideas coming through.

I joke that I wish my day job was my volunteer job, as I definitely work

harder at Cubs than I do at my actual job! Being a volunteer Scouter isn’t easy and it doesn’t pay the bills but it gives you purpose, it gives you joy, it teaches you time management skills, it teaches you to speak to large groups of people, it teaches you fundraising and event planning skills, it makes you think outside the box to come up with more interesting ways to teach the Cubs what they need to know. It definitely is the job I’d much rather be doing full time. And who can ask for more than that?

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