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One for All blog – Parents Perspective

Thursday 1st September 2016

Doreen’s son James is a member of the 25th Stirling company based in Dunblane.  She offers a parent’s perspective on what the BB offers young people.

In our area we are spoiled for choice with numerous activities and clubs for young people.  All the uniformed organisations are represented, as well as many different sports clubs.  It is a town of high achievers, with no less than three athletes representing Team GB at the Rio Olympics.  Many other local teenagers are hoping to follow in their footsteps and are already representing Scotland at junior levels in different sports, including my own son, and others are excelling in music, drama, dance etc.  Being at the top of whatever is your game takes a huge amount of time and commitment, in addition to the ever increasing pressure of school work.  So, why would a young boy have time for or be bothered with the BB?   How can the BB compete both with those who are busy and active, but also motivate those stereotypical teenagers who only want to laze about in front of the xbox?

For us, the initial decision was easy, as James comes from a family of ex BB members and officers and he joined Anchor Boys at age five.  Their weekly programme of games, stories and crafts delivered by enthusiastic leaders was enough to keep him engaged until he moved on to Junior Section aged eight.  By this time, he was starting to realise what he liked and disliked, rather than what we, his parents, thought he should, so swimming and football fell by the wayside as he focussed on racket sports.  Junior Section also passed the test, as it provided a well-balanced programme of activities including trying different sports, drill and marching, and of course an introduction to camp and a first stay away from home.  In three years, James did not miss a single BB meeting – there can be no better testament to the programme and the leaders than that!

As James moved on to Company Section, demands on his time were becoming greater.  School work is obviously always priority, but by this time James was also in the Scottish Table Tennis squad.  To be the top five in your country at anything requires a huge commitment.  In our case this includes three midweek 100 miles round trips for training, then travelling the length and breadth of the country for tournaments at weekends. Friday nights though, are still BB nights, and although he can no longer boast Perfect Attendance, it is still high.

James knows and appreciates that BB has provided him with a huge variety of activities, experiences and choices.  Some, such as joining the Band or being in the bi-annual pantomime are not for him, but it’s great they are available for others.  Other things such as lawn bowls and gorge walking he would probably never otherwise have thought to try, or had the opportunity to experience.   BB is a social place to meet with friends (actually interact with them, not just chat on social media!).  James has learned the value and the satisfaction in helping the local community through bag-packing, Food Bank collections etc, and life skills such as baking and ironing to help set him up for the future!   He is now about to embark on the Duke of Edinburgh programme and looking forward to the experiences and challenges that will bring.

The older boys provide inspiration too, seeing them undertake all that is necessary to complete their Queen’s badge and Duke of Edinburgh scheme.  This summer a group of the Seniors went to Malawi to rebuild classrooms.  It was inspiring and humbling to see them work hard by fundraising enough money to make the trip possible, and James is looking forward to hearing about their adventures in the new BB session.

As a parent, I appreciate the BB for providing so many varied opportunities in a safe and structured environment, and its leaders, who in giving up so much of their time are being great role models for our boys.

Learn more about the One for All campaign here.

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Comments

  1. John Maddams says:

    I got to join the BB aged 42 as an officer. I have seen the good it did to a lot of Juniors and teenagers and the young men they have become, some of them officers and a lot of them fathers
    I learnt a lot too and engaged in sports and team activities that I never had opportunity to do as a rather sickly child and a petulant disinterested ill tempered teenager. Now aged 78 I gave up BB 8 years ago to do other things but I commend it to any young man looking to being useful in his community and to any boy or teenager.