What is it like to begin a scouting hobby as a grown-up? Mai Salmenkangas tells about her first year as a scout in a local group Porvoon Polunlöytäjät.

Surprisingly important parent

“Without the support of parents, all those little scouts would not be able to start their new hobby. The participation of parents does not require any special skills, background in scouting or even a weekly commitment.

During the last year I have understood that occasional participation here and there is also valuable.

A year ago, the scouting organization in Finland was familiar to me only from the pages of newspapers and mentions by people during discussions. When my own son got into trying this new hobby, I also hesitantly signed up as a scouting parent. I wondered whether a novice like me could be useful at all.”

Band-aiding and being present

“I did not find my role as a scouting parent right from the beginning. First, I focused on learning the names of the cub scouts and following the games lead by the more experienced leaders. Nevertheless, I was there as much as my other weekly chores allowed.

From the beginning I however saw that I was needed. Always when the activities of the weekly meetings began, I had many strings to be threaded through eyes of needles, planks to be held still while they were being sawn, and sleeves to be lifted before they got messy in different colours. When it really hurt, I placed a band-aid to a little finger. So, they really were regular chores of an adult.

During all that bustle and hustle something else secretly happened as well: confidence was built up between the children and adults. I along others became a safe adult who you can turn into, from who you can ask questions, and to who you can tell your own thoughts.

When the habits had become clearer in the spring and my own confidence had grown enough, I took responsibility about planning two meetings and partly implementing the plans as well. I got to select the themes that were close to my heart: multiculturalism and recycling.”

Feeling the camp atmosphere

”Summer camp of guides and scouts is a classic that delightfully attracted many parents in addition to children to participate last summer in Virvik. Fulfilling responsibilities in the kitchen, activity tracks and other places was surprisingly easy.

Nevertheless, I again had my own, important role as part of the gang.

Because I was not responsible of the daily camp routines, I had the possibility to observe, ask and listen. I helped a child who was waiting on the side to get back into a game. I advised those small ones who already had forgotten the instructions. I went to find a water bottle from the food shelter in the middle of the night as falling asleep was not possible without it.

Participating in my son’s scouting hobby has felt meaningful, as it has opened a window to the world of other tiny school kids as well.

On the side, I have inevitably learned other fun and useful things, such as the recipe of the traditional skull soup of scouts and how to make a reef knot. I warmly recommend the same to all parents!”

Adults are an important support for children in many different activities.


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