Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Scouting For Her Boys NST 6 June 2010

How far will you go to be a part of your sons’ lives? For Kattie Hoo, it means joining the Eagle Scouts Group of St John’s Institution,
DEN, badges, tenderfoot, knots, patrol, eagles. For years, Kattie Hoo was trying to cue in on her boys’ conversations.

Her “boys” included sons Wymann Liew, 17, and Adrian, 14, as well as nephew Kelvin Hoo, 15. They are all students at St John’s Institution, Kuala Lumpur. Finally, she decided she had had enough. If you can’t understand them, join them. So she became a council member of the Eagle Scouts Group. It all started with Wymann. He joined the scouts when he was in primary school. “I remember his first camping trip,” says Kattie. “I wanted to know where the camp was. First, I was told it was in Ulu Yam, near a stream. Then, the stream ‘grew’ into a river that the boys had to kayak to get to the camp on the other side. On the day he left for the camp, I discovered there was a waterfall in the picture as well. I was so relieved when he came home after three days.” But, caught up in her career and family, the director of communications for Hotel Nikko Kuala Lumpur didn’t really think about it until Wymann was in Form Three. Kelvin, had just joined the scouts and at home, the two boys were always talking about scouting.

“Wymann was staying back in school a lot and often overnight on weekends. I had to find out what he was doing. So I went to speak to scoutmaster Sreeananthan Steven, and before I knew it, I was in the Eagle Group as a council member,” she says, with a laugh. “Now it’s so much easier to keep tabs on the boys’ movements and to understand what they say and think. And as both Kelvin and Adrian are scouts too, it’s all worked out well.” She feels scouting has helped her boys to be independent. “Scouting brings out the best in them. It teaches them about teamwork, brotherhood and leadership. They also learn jungle survival skills and they can cook, too. I know they will always be able to take care of themselves.” She doesn’t join the boys on camps as “it’s basically for boys only". But she’s fine with that. “In scouts, the seniors will guide the juniors and as a parent, I’m confident they can survive on their own.” Happily, she adds: “As they do activities together, the boys have become much closer. They have learnt to be more patient and tolerant which will be helpful when they grow up. After all, whether it’s in school or the adult world, we meet people we like or we don’t. So it’s good that they find this out now and learn how to handle such a situation.

“At one time, all three weren’t happy with the scouting leadership and wanted to resign. As a council member, I talked to them and helped them understand that things cannot always be to their liking. There will be ups and downs. Different people have different opinions on how the scouts should be run. I told them they should not give up but instead they should see it as a challenge.” The boys took her advice. In school, everyone knows Kattie’s three boys as a group and they know she’s always around. “Our infamous Mum,” teases Wymann before adding, “Actually, it’s a good thing for her to join. She’s open-minded and listens to us. Some boys have mums who always say no to this and that. We’re lucky she’s so supportive. My friends think she’s cool!” Kattie chips in: “Another reason I joined the Scout movement is to meet my boys’ friends. It’s good to know who they’re mixing with and to be able to talk to them about Facebook, hockey, how they should be spending money... we talk a lot. I think sometimes we talk too much. We talk about everything.” Wymann is a Land Scout while the two younger boys are Air Scouts. Land Scouts learn about jungle survival, making signals with twigs and rocks and trekking while Air Scouts learn aviation stuff like how to identify planes from land, code names like alpha and charlie and when they reach senior status, they learn to fly to get their badges.

In her schooldays, Kattie was not a member of any uniformed unit. So she is considered a non-skilled member but she doesn’t mind. Apart from overseeing the functions and welfare of the Eagles, she looked into improvements for the Scouts Den, acted as mediator and counsellor and liaises with the scoutmaster about on-going activities.

When she joined three years ago, she was under the St John’s Eagle Scout Group, Bukit Bintang Zone. This year, after rezoning, she is now the honorary secretary for Bangsar Zone and the only female council member for St John’s Eagle Scout Group.

Currently, she is busy helping to organise the Camporee Daerah Bangsar 2010 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Zone Bangsar. It will be held on Dec 3-6 in Taman Bukit Rimba Kiara, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, KL. The Camporee is open to all scout members and youth as well as OKU scouters. The boys are heading in a new direction — the Interact Club.

“I think that’s great. I was an Interactor during my school days (BBGS) and even after I left school, I was doing Rotary work. Wymann is the head of International Understanding of St John’s Interact Club, which is under the umbrella of Rotary Club DiRaja Kuala Lumpur. Kelvin is already a member and next year, Adrian will join them. The club teaches kids about serving the community, especially the less fortunate,” says Kattie.

Read more: Family: Scouting for her boys http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/Family_Scoutingforherboys/Article/#ixzz0qDyzHcAA

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