I don’t know what time it was, but it was early – or late – I’m not sure which, but the time must have started with an ‘0’. I reached up again and pulled the sleeping bag back up Jamie’s shoulders to keep him warm and snuggled back into him for warmth. Using your youngest son as an emergency hot water bottle can only mean one thing.
Things have gone a little parental.
Go on – guess what I did last weekend?
In late October. In England.
That’s right, I went on ‘Family Camp’ with the Cubs and the Beavers. I should point out to all that Beavers isn’t at all what you think. You’ve probably heard of Scouts? Well Cubs are the junior version of Scouts and then Beavers are the junior version of Cubs. These guys are little – proper little. My 10 year old is in the Cubs and Jamie, my 7 year old, is in the Beavers.
This weekend they all went away together to Youlbury Scout camp, in Oxfordshire, with their parents. Well I say parents – perhaps I shouldn’t have been so free and easy with my pluralisation there.
One thing that you have to have these days in Britain, if you are to sleep away with a bunch of other people’s kids in the middle of a forest, is something called a Criminal Records Bureau check. Just to say that you aren’t likely to run about killing folk in their sleep. This is fair enough, but we were not informed of this until 2 weeks before camp, and so only submitted our forms a week before. And this is seriously cutting it fine.
There were heated debates in our house because Jo, my lovely wife, already has had this done for her job as a teacher, where she could happily take these children on this camp by herself, if she so wanted. However rules are, it seems, rules and Jo had to have a new one done for this group – madness, but there you go.
The upshot was that Daniel was going to be able to camp with the cubs, but because Beavers had to have a t least one parent present, Jamie was not going to be allowed to go. This decision came to us two nights before camp – and Jamie was gutted.
So I offered to do the only thing I could possibly do.
I put the tent up in our garden and promised Jamie that I’d camp with him at home.
As you do.
As it was – things got a little stranger than that.
We arrived at camp Friday night to drop Daniel off and to get Jamie involved with things, because we were allowed to be there during waking hours as guests, so Jamie could at least be a part of things. We would stay there through the days then head home, where Jamie and I would camp. I can’t remember exactly the reason why Jo couldn’t join us in the garden – some special reason though – it made sense at the time. When we arrived we were met by a smiling Akela who triumphantly informed me that my CRB was cleared – I could camp!
But Jo’s wasn’t!
“What?” I casually asked
This was answered by me being shown a small tent that I could borrow for the weekend. I could stay, Jamie could stay, but Jo could not.
“I see” I said.
I stared at Jo for a full 40 seconds, but she held firm and never once broke into a smile or smirk, nor did she offer up any help at all – she just stood and looked up and away from my eyes. Meanwhile Jamie made no effort whatsoever to hide his delight at being allowed to stay. I was cornered.
Okay then – so be it.
So I pitched the tent, left the boys with their mother and drove home to pack a bag for the two of us and load up with sleeping bags.
But more about the drive back and the camp later…