Saturday, 21 July 2012

Adieu Recipe Junkie, Hello Scout Wife

Did I mention that Recipe Junkie is a year old next week? On 24th July to be precise.

“What are you planning?” I hear you cry. Some great and glorious feast? Something to tantalise the tastebuds?

Unfortunately not. There may not even be cake. Think chilli (mild) and rice, think bangers, (gulp) Smash and (double gulp) gravy made from a PACKET, think tuna pasta.

For today, for one week only, Recipe Junkie becomes

Yes, that’s right. Later today, I am heading to darkest Gloucestershire with Pink, along with another Scoutwife and her daughter to join the Husband and Blue, 23 scouts and the other leaders and hangers on supporters (both in the physical and moral sense). My fellow SW and I get a few hours reprieve due to our daughters’ hectic social diary which includes a ‘must go to birthday party’ this morning. This means that I will be driving Daisy the camper van packed to the gunnels with various bits and pieces and towing a trailer full of wood out of convoy. I’d advise you stay well clear of the M4 this afternoon.

Being a Scoutwife kind of happened by stealth. I didn’t do much in the way of Brownies or anything when I was young, and Guides, well, no thank you. I hadn’t even done much camping till I met the Husband.

After I’d done my stint on the local Playgroup Committee, and hadn’t yet sold my soul to the PTA, the Husband indicated that his work commitments were such that he might be able to help out with the local scouts. He was a scout himself and wanted to get involved again. “I’m not going to be a leader or anything like that” he said. Famous last words.  

Before I knew it, I was acting as camp fire sausage checker (yes, Health & Safety is everywhere) and knew the words to more campfire songs than I’d ever wanted to (Anyone for a burst of “Oh you’ll never get to heaven...”?). It turned out that the Husband would get much more out of the whole thing if he did become a leader, so guess what...

And today we are heading off for our annual camp. Last year we joined 5,000 other scouts from across Europe in Haarlem, outside Amsterdam for a 10 day jamborette. This year, it’s South Gloucestershire, for 6 days of fun and frolics, and hopefully no rain.

So what is the role of Scoutwife?

Well, you can probably tell that the ‘wife’ part gives it away. We do the (mostly) fluffy bit. We are the keepers of the camp menu, the face paints, the friendship bracelet embroidery silks and the ‘missing home biscuits’. We are the surrogate mothers not only for the scouts, but for all the wannabe scouts who accompany us. For our troop is not a troop run by spinsters of a certain age with ample bosoms and whiskery chins, nor by more senior gentlemen in dodgy shorts whose wives are probably only too glad to see the back of them for a week. Put your prejudices behind you. Our troop is run by a group of 4 30-40 yr old guys, all with young families of their own. We have a choice – let them spend a week of their holiday without us, or go too. So by day, we herd kids, make tea, slice huge amounts of onions, make friendship bracelets, paint faces, read stories, keep an eye on stores, do any washing that might be required (you’d be surprised how many bedwetters there still are in the 10+ age range) or drying out of wet kit, dish out TLC and the odd plaster, and occasionally sneak out for a hot shower and a coffee, and by night we smoke fags, drink scotch and brawl... actually, I made that last bit up...

And it is MASSIVE fun

True, there have been times this week when I’d secretly wondered if I should suggest 2 weeks all inclusive in the Carribean for next year, particularly when I was cutting up 14 metres of cotton sheeting in preparation for tie dying neckers, and soaking the labels off 20 jam jars ready to make lanterns. Never more so than on Thursday after approximately 5 hours in the Cash & Carry and supermarket, to gather together the wherewithal to keep the Army marching on – think 700 Weetabix, 250 bags of crisps - we staggered out of Morrisons at 9.36 p.m. on Thursday night, buried in cornflakes and sachets of angel delight, gagging for a beer, only to realise that we had forgotten the Smash...

But on the whole, we have a great laugh. The Scouts can be a challenge, but it is truly a good thing to realise that not all 10-14yr olds are violent hoodies out to mug old ladies for their i-phones, and to be there in the background to help out as they get to test their boundaries is a real privilege. My own kids love it. They get to do things that plenty of 8 and 6 year olds don’t even know exist, meeting lots of different people and experiencing some amazing things.

So for now, it’s adieu Recipe Junkie, hello Scoutwife. But don’t fret. I’m already planning a Nigella inspired coffee toffee meringue pavlova for the post camp BBQ...


  1. I love this post! I've just started at Explorers as a leader so cannot go on the camp this summer but this post makes me look forward to next summer when I'll be with the Explorers and DP with the Scouts :D

    I really hope that you have a good time, and will keep my fingers crossed on the weather front for you! Enjoy your week Scoutwife!

    1. Ah - thanks for the comment - and so good to see someone else who doesn't fit the 'stereotype' involved in scouting. You'll love it.

  2. Have a fabulous time - the weather is on your side xx

  3. Have fun! I will keep my fingers crossed for dry weather for you all ;)

  4. Imagine you were probably on sunscreen duty today - just gorgeous! Hope it's like this for the rest of your week x

  5. Loving scoutwife! Hope it was loads of fun!


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