Conor O’Sullivan on How “Blood Isn’t Everything”, and Building a National Family

 

I’ve been in scouting Ireland since I was eight years old. During my term in this organisation I’ve made some friends for life. Some I will cherish till the day I die and have changed the world I live in. My perspective of the world and the opportunities I have are much broader than any other regular teenager. When I, or any scout, are away on camps or weekends we don’t have our family to fall back on. We can’t tell our mother that we are lonely, we can’t tell our father about the girl we like, we can’t ask our brother about formidable decisions and we can’t consult our sister about our fashion sense. We are alone when it comes to being around our own flesh and blood, but blood isn’t everything.

 

“Don’t walk in front of me…I may not follow

 Don’t walk behind me…I may not lead

Walk beside me… just be my friend” Anonymous

 

When we go away we are thrown out of our habitual routine into our scout lives, where some of us completely change. I gain confidence and charisma when I am away, and I am always backed and affirmed up by my scout friends. They become my family. They pick me up when I’m down, they look out for my best interests, they tell me the truth no matter how hard it hurts and they will always lead me through the darkness. They’re the greatest people in the world, and I don’t think I could go through a single day without talking to at least one of them.

 

“Scout friends are basically family, you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them…occasionally” Dara Murphy

 

I think the distance helps in a way, makes it more special; events become invaluable re-unions, where every second is treasured, every opportunity made the most of, because we’re constantly aware of how temporary this sense of belonging it is, how little time we have before we’re separated again, thrown back into the real world. We try to get so much catching up done in such little time that it almost seems pointless to those not in scouting, but to us it means the world. It’s indescribable.

 

“Through scouting I gained another family, a big, weird national family” Ben Raymond

 

I’ve had friends come and go but through thick and thin, my scout friends, or should I say scout family, have stuck by me.  This is something that every scout, young or old, can relate to in some way.

 

 “When I go to scout camps and meet new people it feels like I’ve known them for ages, everyone is so accommodating and welcoming it’s like a second family really, there’s always those few scouts/ventures/rovers/leaders that you don’t see very often but are the most attached to and seeing them every now and again at events or even meeting up outside scouting stuff it’s the best thing ever. Just thinking that if I never went to these camps or if I didn’t continue scouting altogether I wouldn’t have this kind of family, it’s weird.” Séan Cronin

 

That’s what differs scouting Ireland from most youth organisations around Ireland, and even the world. We are all united in one sole purpose, be it to pitch the tent in front of us, to help younger members cook themselves some pasta, or even as ambitious as to make the world a better place; and that’s what I believe was one of Robert Baden Powell’s primary motives for establishing this international community.

 

Yes one can ‘be prepared’ by having all the right equipment and know-how, but the most prepared person will have friends and family supporting them in their endeavors, backing them up. And this same person will constantly look to expand this family, to accommodate new people and to learn from them.

 

Conor O’ Sullivan

Ballincollig 49th Cork

(With a little help from Catherine Noble, 3rd Wicklow and Seán Cronin, 9thWicklow)

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