Scouting here can be pretty hard core stuff....and most of the time that's ok by us all. But every year the patrols have to go on a 'mission. The mission involves the patrol (leader usually 15 maybe 16, a deputy of the same age or a year younger and then 4 scouts ranging from 12 to14 years) being dropped off somewhere - usually in the hills - with a map, instructions and a mission to complete - sounds ok right? It does involve sleeping too - they get picked up from their mission the next day sometime after lunch - having taken photos along the way to show they have carried out all the instructions. And there is no adult supervision - it is just the patrol. Usually a scout leader is in the area and if there are any problems can be called in etc etc. Even so, for us parents it's always a bit of a worry. But hey, you can't just be a good time scout family can you - in for a penny and all that .....In the past, Thomas's missions were pretty tame but then his patrols were always hard working, productive, 'not pissing the scout leader off' types of patrols. Leo's isn't. He has been a patrol leader for 2 years now (2 loooooooong years) - and when it came to the mission last year I was a little concerned - Leo was in charge of these little ones (2 12 year olds, a 13 year old and he and Vanti both 14 (best friend, same age) - they went off into the hills - like the one in this photo
It didn't work out quite like that. They walked for almost 3 hours, realised thay were lost (no sign of the hut anywhere), Leo called the scout leader who, having the map in front of him and with Leo telling him what they could see (skyline etc) realised they had gone in completely the wrong direction- he told them they had 2 choices, turn round and walk the hour and a half back to find the hut or camp down for the night. Leo had to make the call - the little ones were tired (it was almost 7 in the evening) so they decided to camp down - they found a big field, away from any trees (not easy in itself - look at our hills) , made a shelter with their waterproof ponchos and sticks they found (they go prepared), built a fire, cooked, and then huddled together for the night under the ponchos (I swear, I feel sick reliving all this) - next day they were up and off at 5.30 (they were worried about getting lost going back getting back into the town - and I don't think any of them had really slept) and in fact ended up back in the main square of the town where they were to be picked by 8.00 - they then spent a good few hours de-stressing and playing football until they were picked up at 11.30.
There was a lot of fall out from this mission - too much to go into - the 5 sets of parents had different reactions - and I think guilt - when it comes to it, we the parents agree to send them off like this - are we the ones being irresponsible? But this is scouting, Italian style. The reality was, the scout leaders knew where they were (response to 'what if they had needed to be rescued?), they knew what the weather forecast was (response to 'what if there had been a storm/mega downpour?), wild boars don't bother you if you don't bother them (response to 'what if they had been attacked by a wild boar?' / we do get them around here) etc etc and if there had been a serious problem the leader would have got to them within 45 minutes. The boys had actually found a house and asked for directions at one point - when one mother asked 'why didn't you ask to stay there' the boys said they didn't know if they could trust the people so had chosen to keep on walking and rely on themselves - good call? who knows? but it was an experience. I was very proud of them all - they were in a difficult situation and they all dealt with it- I was extremely proud of Leo (and Vanti) for looking after the younger ones and bearing the responsibility.
|The patrol at last years summer camp|