Monday, September 11, 2006

Scouts, Lunch and Video Cliques

Watching other peoples' holiday snaps is one of the world's recognised Great Boredoms. We were subjected to this for a couple of hours yesterday. My youngest, sitting on my lap, got so desperate he started weeping, begging to leave. Unfortunately for him, I was too English and well-mannered to walk out in the middle of the Great Scouting Picture Show.

We had gone because my eldest and Resident Adolescent were interested in joining the scouts/guides. They've joined forces now, did you know? In France they have, anyway. Don't know about the UK. I was a Brownie and then a Guide and I can't say I got much out of it but I was not happy being in a bunch of girlies doing boring girlie things. Had I been able to join the scouts and do canoeing and have adventures, I might have been a tad more gripped. I just felt like an alien dropped amongst a group of seemingly similar folk, but somewhere along the line had missed the plot.

Still, I had higher hopes for my son, being the ever-optimistic little soul that I am (as I might already have mentioned...), that the local scouts would be full of fun, adventure and challenging activities. Based on the picnic, however, I'm not so sure.

One thing's for sure, plus Catho que les familles scouts tu meurs. Mustn't let that put one off however... We prepared sarnies (sandwiches), a bottle of rosé, crisps and plums and packed the cool box to chocca block point. Funnily enough, we went near to where I work and were greeted warmly enough. Lunch was eaten in the shade of trees in a diocsean house garden, sitting on a stone wall (I had a sarong to ward off piles...) and trying to be friendly and sociable. Peculiarly, we were the only ones with a bottle of wine. In France. Weird, no? Thankfully, there was an Irish family who seemed equally relieved to talk to us as we were to them. The alien sensation was definitely in the wind though.

My boys were taken off to play football and do a little exploring. My eldest knew a couple of the boys there so it could have been worse. He can display the 'closed face' when he feels unsure and anxious and it becomes impossible to get any sense out of him, seems like the iron enters his soul and you can forget logic, reason and coherent thought.

So far, so fair-to-middling. After lunch we were taken inside to see video and photos of their activities from last year. We also saw the professional 'merging' scouts/guides video produced by the Scouting Association which was pretty good as it combined pictures with the odd phrase and well-chosen music. Things fell apart when we got pic after pic of the local group doing things like sun-bathing by a river, draped all over each other, endless photos of them on a walk in the countryside, outside tents, sitting - lots of sitting, eating and building a dry stone wall.

My youngest, at this point had been asking to leave for the last half hour, could take no more and started the silent weep. Poor lad. We did actually make it out before the end, not too rudely as I took fliers requesting young people to be leaders and showed keeness at enrolling some new blood.

One good thing for the over 18s is that through scouting you can pass the diploma 'BAFA', which enables you to work with kids, for free instead of paying a commercial enterprise to train you.

I was a bit concerned that we hadn't seen anything about the meetings. No one seemed to do anything much, and I'm sure they must do more than sit around telling jokes draped all over each other. I advised my eldest to try the two trial sessions and make his mind up based on his experiences rather than an irritating collection of holiday snaps. Most nauseating of which showed a clique of 15yr-old girls who were obviously great friends, but oozed exclusiveness. Trying to be a part of their group would be hell, I would imagine. Teenage girls can be buggers about cliques. I didn't like it when I was that age and I still don't now. They were still draped over each other during the photo show. *Vomit*

Back on planet earth, I left discussing it with my eldest until the evening as he was so disgusted at the boredom he'd suffered, there's no way he would have been amenable to entertaining the idea of joining the scouts as soon as we got home. Several hours later he was still interested in trying it out. The RA, however, unmoved at the prospect of trying to break into the clique, has decided, unsurprisingly that it's not for her.

In any case, if they can't get group leaders, there'll be no scouting and that will be that!

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