This weekend my son went on his first Scout Camp, two days and two nights under Canvas. He was very very excited, I was very very apprehensive.
I worried about the weather, there was flooding everywhere in the country, would they be washed away in their tents? This lead to my mum informing me that I had been evacuated from my own Brownie Camp for the same reasons. She got a phone call from the Brown Owl and had to drive up to the Dales to rescue us, apparently I was there cold and soaked to the skin in a thin Brownie Dress. (The trouser and hoodie uniforms of today are so much more practical, and I can’t imagine how the Brown Owl found a phone box and had enough change to ring all the parents in those pre-mobile days). I have absolutely no recollection of these events whatsoever. I can’t even recall it now that my mum has told me about it. My memory has been so wiped of these events I find it hard to believe it happened. My sister though assures me it was. Psychologically I find that fascinating!
Then there was the effects of the rain, if they weren’t washed away would there be more mud than at the Somme? If I am honest I was more worried about me having to clear up that lot up when they got back.
I was worried about tent politics, Harry wasn’t in the same tent as his best friend, was there potential there for feeling excluded?
I was worried how he would cope with the cold and the wet, would he come back with pneumonia? Again there was an element of self-interest, I am working full-time now, I couldn’t afford the time off work.
I worried that he wouldn’t find anything in his bag. This was a genuine concern, I had packed enough clothes for him to wear something different every day for a year. The seasoned Scouts had their essentials in stuffed rucksacks with any extras dangling outside it like giant baby’s mobiles, bobbing and swaying from the various straps. My son had the world’s largest kit bag, crammed so full he looked like a failed weightlifter when he tried to moved it.
Would he come back with third degree burns trying to make tea and coffee for the leaders? We had been practicing at home, and seeing his little hand wobbling when picking up the kettle of steaming, boiling water gave me nightmares for a week.
I had been told they would come back dirty and smelly, wearing the clothes they left in and more layers on top. This turned out to be fairly accurate. I was also told he would not touch his wash bag. This too proves spot on.
He came back home with a beautiful wood smell of the fire in his hair, if not exactly a massive smile on his face straight away, still with plenty of tales of fun and good times. Harry is the go to boy now for Eggy Bread. He loved the cooking on the fire. He came back with all his clothes (a good amount of which had been worn I noted with some maternal pride). The biggest mishap was a melted marshmallow in his sleeping bag. He discovered his best friend snores and that camp was good but coming home and sleeping in his own bed was even better.
And what did I learn? Well I learnt that one of the most painful parts of parenting is letting go. That at every stage of the process, from the minute we are cutting the umbilical cord, we are preparing our children for independence, to be self-sufficient and to be able to stand on their own two feet. To let them get out there, to have a go, to make their own mistakes is not only good for them, it is essential. It gives them confidence and allows them to thrive and flourish.
I guess both Harry and I grew up a little bit more this weekend. But we did have an extra big hug before school this morning.