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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Cub Scouting and Vacation Costs

DS1 enjoyed his second and third Cub Scout's meetings as a "new chum" and was keen to join up and start working towards some of the achievement badges during the upcoming school vacation. So I decided to go ahead and buy the required cub scout uniform (peaked cap, buttoned shirt and belt) from our local Snowgum store (the Scout product distributor in NSW). The clothing cost $64.85 from Snowgum, which is the same price as listed by the Scout shop. In addition, for new customers buying Scouts equipment Snowgum waives the usual $11 fee to join their loyalty scheme - so each May we will be sent a refund voucher worth 10% of the amount spent at Snowgum stores. I'm sure the refund will come in handy to buy some badges or camping gear. The Snowgum store didn't have any of the "official" Scout uniform trousers in the right size for DS1, so instead of paying $39.95 for a pair of tan-coloured cargo pants with zip-off legs we visited Target and bought a suitable pair of tan-coloured shorts for just $10. The "official" Scout uniform shirt and belt is made in China (the cap label doesn't mention where that came from), and the cheaper Target shorts come from Bangladesh. The label says to wash to shorts before wear, which I assume is to remove dyes and chemical residues (and possibly pins etc). As DS1 has eczema we will definitely wash the clothing twice before use. After the 10% discount the total cost of the basic Cub Scouts uniform came to $68.37. If the uniform doesn't get worn out too quickly, DS1 will use it until he moves on to Scouts in 18 months time, and we'll then keep it until DS2 is old enough the start Cubs three years later.

I handed in the membership application paperwork at the second meeting, along with the "[I'm not a] prohibited person" declaration that is required from any parent that wants to help out at Cub meetings. As a pro-rata fee amount due is calculated from the number of quarters remaining before the 31 March "year end", I listed 1 October as the joining date and post-dated the cheque.

For the school vacation period I have booked DS1 into a 4-day sailing course (cost $320) the first week of the holidays, and a 2-day art class the following week ($120). Hopefully DS1 enjoys the classes enough to make them worthwhile. We have a small catamaran sail-boat stored at my parent's lake-side farm, so sailing would be an affordable activity for DS1 if he enjoys it.

DS1 may also spend some time in the vacation learning JAVA programming - he worked his way through a couple of kid's programming tutorials last year using QBasic, so I bought a colourful introductory book on programming in Java that will help introduce him to object-oriented programming concepts and revise his previous work on variables, arrays, loops, i/o and so forth. Last week I registered him with the online training site http://orac.amt.edu.au/aioc/) used by students preparing for the Australian Informatics Olympiad programme. The site is really meant for high-school students (years 7-12) that are participating in the Australian Informatics Competition (AIC) or the Australian Informatics Olympiad (AIO), but the online exercises will provide many programing exercises for me to work through with him. When he submits his solution code to the site it will be automatically run using a suite a test data files and given an overall score based on program output correctness and run time. Cool. DS1 is only in year 4, so he can't enter the informatics competitions yet, which is a pity since he got a high distinction in the ICAS computer skills test this year (top 2%) and is interesting in programming and robotics. But if starts programming now for fun, he may do well in the competitions when he is in Year 7.

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