Monday, 18 July 2022

Boot camp anyone?

There is an article by our "almost retired" columnist in the paper this morning. 

He  is the last of the journalists in this state to have been trained by my late English teacher. When he ceases writing even the occasional columns he now writes the standards will plummet to even greater depths.  Journalism has changed. Now we can "news" almost instantly. If something dramatic happens it can be around the world in minutes not months. And yes of course that influences the way we think about things and the way we behave.

Is that what was behind, far behind, the way the young boy on the scooter was behaving when he crashed into the journalist? The journalist was pondering on this and the benefits or otherwise of "boot camps".  Are they a good thing or not? He puts the question and suggests the answer is "no". We have to find other ways of sorting out the problems posed by out of control young people.

My nephews went to a fee paying school. Their parents told them, "This is your inheritance. You are getting it now. Use it wisely."  It  was only because they were at a school like that they had an experience most teens never get. They were sent off in small groups into a national park with the bare minimum and they had to survive for just a few days. It was the middle of winter when they did this. The experience was generally a salutary one for boys from largely privileged backgrounds. No state school would have been prepared to take the risks involved in doing this and I am not sure if their school still does this.

My nephews coped with the experience quite well. They had been on plenty of camping trips with their parents. While they had not "roughed" it in quite the same way they did know something about lighting fires and cooking over them. They had some other practical skills as well.  Their groups survived the experience without harm. Indeed in all the time they were there the school only had one injury and the boys coped with that without further incident.

Of course the school was doing it to "build character" and find out who the likely leaders were going to be in later school years. They had staff out there ready to help in an emergency. The boys had been instructed in what they had to do in order to get help if they needed it. 

This was before mobile phones were common. There would have been no signal coverage where they went. (It is still poor in that area.) The boys had to rely on themselves.

They went on other camps while they were there but those camps were supervised by adults. My nephews do not remember a great deal about these. They were "just school camps" but "the trekking one" was different. At that time they did learn a great deal - about themselves and about each other. 

All this involves risk taking of course. It isn't the sort of thing we are willing to do most of the time. We are frightened someone might be injured. We are even more frightened someone might sue. 

Do these things affect the way we know other people and how we interact with them? I think it does. I wonder if some "boot camp survival skills" would help?

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