I spent a couple of hours yesterday on a Scout camp. Just visiting and possibly not helping much in that I kept taking leaders away from their activities to chat to me. It is of course a perfect weekend, weather-wise, to be outdoors learning new skills and making new friends. Every young person looked relaxed and engaged in an amazing variety of activities.
And it was that relaxed part that intrigued me. I have written before about why I am involved in Scouting – learning skills that don’t fit neatly into a government-prescribed educational curriculum and being part of a community are important for me. But what I noticed yesterday was the comfort with which the young people were doing nothing. Not all of them, but in any activity, there is some waiting your turn. At the shooting range a group of children were just sitting and watching whilst the rest of the group took their turn. A couple of girls were “just chilling” whilst their peers finished cooking something over a fire.
Even if you’re not a parent, it will not have escaped you that our society finds it very difficult to just sit and be, not being entertained by a phone, or a tablet, or even an e-reader. Just sitting and being. Never mind our children – how many adults can now sit on a bus or in a café or in a waiting room and do nothing else, just sit there? My challenge to myself is to not impulsively reach for my phone if my companion in a café nips to the loo. I find it difficult. And spend the time looking at everyone else who is alone staring at their phones. And some people who are not alone.
But yesterday those Scouts were happy to be just chatting in the sun. I am sure they were much less calm and quiet once they piled back into the marquee to be fed their roast dinner by the amazing team of caterers. I was safely at home staring at the phone by then.