In April of 2017, while Cheeky Chap was still in Beavers, the section leader announced that in the summer of 2018 they would be going on PGL camp for the first time in five years. She said that Beavers who were going to be moved up by August 2018 were also welcome to go, meaning that despite not being due to move up to Cubs for over a year, Cheeky Chap was eligible to go. However, there were only 50 places and the section is large with two groups of Cubs, a group of Scouts, a group of Explorers and a lot of Young Leaders all being eligible to attend with places being allocated on a first come first served basis. I mentioned it to Cheeky Chap but of course it was such a long time away and he was still only not-quite-but-nearly 7 years old, so he wasn’t keen at all. However, the husband and I discussed it and decided to book him on it anyway.
Despite moving up to Cubs in May, due to the bank holidays and them doing a lot of off-site things, by the end of July he still wasn’t keen on even going to Cubs, never mind going on the camp. The end of term badge-giving and barbeque during which he was invested, seemed to be a boost to his confidence.
The night before the camp, we were packing his bag and I asked him if he wanted to take his comforter Ernie. He said that he didn’t want to take him because “I don’t sleep with him every night any more, just if I feel a bit sad or if he misses me. And I am a big boy now.” I asked him several times but he was adamant.
After weeks of regular talks showing him pictures of the site, going through the itinerary and telling him that if he felt really badly homesick we would collect him, the big day arrived. When we got to the coach, they were all separated into their groups and I was pleased to see that all of the youngest Cubs who had only recently moved up were put together and headed up by their actual leader.
It was then that Cheeky Chap noted his friends all had their comforters and he asked me if I would go home and get Ernie.
It was a good job that mummy knows best and packed him anyway (although the drop off point was actually the school across the road from our home so I would have been able to collect Ernie anyway!).
After some firm hugs and shouts of “I will miss you!”, the children boarded the coach and set off. I was so pleased when I saw Cheeky Chap waving excitedly. But once the coach was out of sight I started crying while the other parents joked about who would be hosting parties that week!
That evening the leaders posted a few pictures in the Facebook group of the evening’s activity which was a camp fire. It saddened me to see that Cheeky Chap was sat alone holding Ernie. I couldn’t quite work out what the look on his face was. I got so upset, convinced myself that he didn’t want to be there and that I should call the leader to check he was okay, that I saved the picture to my phone and WhatsApp’d my sister. She reminded me that he was a young 8 year old, away from his family for the first time, for four nights, two hours from home, with around 60-65 other people if you include leaders, of whom he only knew around 10. If there were any real issues, I would have had a call.
I went to bed that night praying it was just nerves and that he would soon find his feet.
At the end of each day, each group leader posted a few pictures of what they had been up to. I was thrilled to see that Cheeky Chap was clearly having a wonderful time and that he tried almost everything. The only activity he didn’t do was the zip wire but I couldn’t blame him when the leader said that it was torrential rain and wind that morning! In the middle of the week the leader told us that Cheeky Chap and his friend (who had only moved up to Cubs a few weeks prior and was the youngest there, with Cheeky Chap being second youngest), had been sent to bed early, missing the evening activities, for a much needed early night following 10pm bedtimes and 6.45am wake up calls.
On Friday afternoon, when he disembarked the coach, Cheeky Chap came running up to me and gave me probably the biggest, longest cuddle I’ve ever had from him. The first thing he said was “I missed you and daddy so much, I’m so happy to be home!”. At that exact moment the husband called from work, asking if he was home yet and asked to speak to him. As Cheeky Chap talked excitedly on the phone to daddy, he gripped my hand for the (very short) walk home.
It is safe to say that Cubs Camp was most definitely the highlight of Cheeky Chap’s summer. He is already looking forward to next summer’s camp, which will now have high expectations to meet!
Has your child ever gone on camp?