Back when I was seven years old, my parents introduced me to scouting. I didn’t really think much of it, not really knowing what it was about besides what the little nephews of Donald Duck used to do in the comics. I opted to give it a chance though, because even back then I was a benevolent little bastard, and went to a meeting on a Saturday.
I have to admit that I didn’t really like it, but hey, that was mostly because children are cruel to each other all the time and I ended up being on the receiving end of quite a couple of jokes during those first days. My parents pushed me to keep going, though, so I kept going and toughened up along the way. The motto of ‘what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger’ was certainly in good use back then.
Through the years, I became more and more invested in scouting. In 2004, when I was fourteen year’s of age, we went to England to join Camp Downe, introducing me to an international scouting camp for the very first time and showing me how amazing it could be to do what I was slowly starting to like doing with people from all over the world.
In 2007 I went to the World Jamboree in England, participating in the 100th anniversary of scouting in what was, back then, the one largest Jamboree ever held in one place. I was seventeen and, quite frankly, utterly overwhelmed by the amazing camaraderie shown by everyone who was there. I was proud to be a Dutch scout.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last very long. Mere months after that, the group I was part of had shrunk to eight members who almost never saw eye to eye on anything. Whenever we decided to do something, it almost always happened that half of the group folded their arms and didn’t participate. I got frustrated when all we did was sitting around and making campfires. Granted, I didn’t actually come up with any better ideas myself, but it was starting to work on my nerves back then. When I had left a meeting angry, I told myself that I’d stay away for a week or two to calm down and hope that they’d get a little more initiative in the meanwhile.
After three weeks, I called my leader to announce that I was going to stop with scouting. After ten years, I had finally had it and stopped. Quite the feat, some people might say. I was disappointed and, quite frankly, missed going to the meetings. Having my Saturdays to myself was nice, but it still felt like I was missing something.
When the time came to register for World Jamboree 2011, in Sweden, I decided to join Scouting Nederland again as an inactive member. I’d pay contribution like any other member, but didn’t really do anything. The most important reason I did so was to be able to enter the Jamboree as a member of the International Service Team and get the scouting feeling again.
I ran checkout counter duty for the full two weeks in one of the on-site stores, but that didn’t matter to me. I once again had a blast of an experience on an international camp.
November that year I met my girlfriend, who was a member and group leader in my old scouting group. Her mother was part of the board.
All that time I missed going to scouting, but then I finally got a push in the right direction. I took the opportunity to do something my girlfriend also enjoyed and get back in the business. Today was the fourth (or fifth? I already forgot) time I led a group of scouts in the eleven to fifteen year old category and I got invited to join their summer camp in Austria. I’m having a blast not much unlike I enjoyed as a youth participant, I’m just enjoying it from the other side of the leadership fence now. I’m taking an immense liking to the group and, from what I hear (I got insider information), they don’t mind me at all, either.
If you came all the way to here, thanks for letting me ramble a bit. Though it forces me to wake up early on a Saturday and it eats massive amounts of my time, I don’t think I’ll start regretting this decision anytime soon.