The day was finally over. After many painstaking minutes, she finally got her daughter off to bed and had leaned back into the recliner to enjoy a good book. But the silence was short-lived.
The door swung open and a bouncing seven-year-old tore into the lounge, jumping onto her lap. He was covered in some mess acquired during another fun-filled night at Keas.
Her husband entered behind the young child with the announcement of all announcements. “They need female Scout leaders for the Scout section. I said you could help.”
She blinked her eyes several times, her mouth ajar. “Excuse me?”
“Well…” He averted his eyes.
Voluntelling her to do something? How dare he?
“Stu said that because of the number of girls in the troop, they really need some female leaders. Lisa’s volunteering. I thought…”
She wanted to tell him that thinking wasn’t his strong suit, but she knew that her snarky attitude would get her into trouble. “I’ll think about it. I only just submitted my thesis. I want at least a month of doing nothing to recharge.”
He tried to hide his grin, but she could see the sparkle in his eye. He had successfully voluntold her to do something — a first.
Two months later, she signed a warrant application to become a scout leader with St Matthews LLO Scouts and the rest was history.
That was six years ago. In the years since, I have participated in three jamborees, four mudslides, three Founder’s Day celebrations, four ANZAC services, a Gang Show, not to mention the countless camps and tramps with my home troop and group. I have had mud and sand in places where mud and sand just shouldn’t go. I have had to bring out my rusty tap-dancing skills and was asked to perform the poi on stage in front of a bunch of Australian scouts. I have even had the opportunity to beat the crap out of a car.
I have been soaked from head-to-toe in water fights with scouts and battered by a firehose. I have found myself at the bottom of a cheerleading pyramid and had my heart raced out of control as I flew down a giant water slide. I have even reminded myself about playing Elastics, a game that I hadn’t played since I was twelve.
So many activities with St Matthews LLO Scouts has been accompanied by fire and burnt food. Thankfully, I have a strong stomach and was never sick — unlike another leader who was quarantined for most of the Mystery Creek Adventure Jam.
But the ones that have made my time as a scout leader the most memorable have been the scouts themselves. They have always been resilient and pushed through some of the most difficult of challenges. The older ones helping at the younger sections have made me proud in more ways than I care to count. St Matthews LLO was a family.
Some of the scouts’ achievements have made me cry with joy, only because I couldn’t have been more proud. One in particular was the team that entered into the Kontiki in 2012. It was the first time that Kontiki had been run since the quakes and two teams from St Matthews LLO entered: a team filled with larger, older scouts; and a team of small, younger scouts. Both teams performed extremely well that day, meeting the challenge of the cooking skills with pizazz and launching successfully in the water for the raft race itself (unlike some of the other teams from other troops). What made me more proud than anything else was that the team of younger scouts pushed through the race until the bitter end. They were on the water for over an hour, rejecting the offers of tows back to shore on more than one occasion. When they finally made it back to shore, they were met with a round of cheers from many leaders and parents. I was beaming from ear-to-ear. These were my scouts and they showed the Christchurch scouting community what it meant to them to be scouts. To top off their victorious day, they came in 2nd place overall during the Kontiki competition. The other team also did us proud, coming in 4th overall among over 20 entrants that day.
However, the ones that have made my journey in scouts over the last six years extremely enjoyable have been the other leaders that I have worked with. Their quirky humour has had me rolling on the floor laughing, in some cases unable to find the strength to move. In my time at St Matthews, the Scout section as seen some leaders come and go, and some of them have hung around in the background, a permanent member of the St Matthews family. The leaders from the other sections and parent helpers have made group events a pleasure, also filled with laughter.
The leaders that I have meet during jamborees, zone activities and regional events will always hold a special place in my memories. Some of them I have formed close friendships with that will last for years to come.
But like all things, everything must eventually come to an end. Many things have changed in my personal life recently and my writing and editorial business have really taken off. This has me excited because I am entering into a new chapter of my life, but saddens me at the same time because I no longer have the time to devote myself to the scouts like I once did.
Thursday December 17, 2015 will be my last night as an active scout leader. After six years, I will be saying farewell to the youth. So many memories built during those six years and some I will cherish for the rest of my life.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ below. You can read other posts like it here.
© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2015