Scott Morrow and his Venturer Unit organise a scuba dive and a special ceremony to welcome a new Scout into the Unit at a picturesque seaside setting.
Calm is shattered when a vicious war between two motor cycle gangs erupts at the dive site. Scott and his fellow Venturers are forced to answer questions of courage when the lives of a group of Girl Guides are threatened: Will they stand and be counted when their own lives could be at dire risk? Will they stand at all?
A Rite Of Passage is a novel showcasing the determination of teenagers who become young men when fate steps in.
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A Rite Of Passage
Mike became worried as he scanned the road above the small rocky cliff line leading to the shoreline where he stood. Lined up in a row were a number of black painted motorcycles and no riders to be seen. He motioned to Cameron to look skywards and the Rover also suddenly had the wind punched out of his sails.
‘Okay guys we may have some company above. When we climb to the carriageway above, be sharp and keep a good lookout,’ Cameron said.
‘What do you think they are doing?’ Ian asked.
‘Don’t know. However, this is pretty unusual to have motorbikes like these parked here. The other worrying factor is the smoke Mike and I saw as we surfaced.’
‘Maybe the bikies are causing some hassles,’ William said.
‘Whatever it is, the quicker we can get changed and out of here the better it will be. If we see any bikies, no comments, no looks and hopefully, no issues.’
Scott’s mind started racing. ‘Cameron, the girls are up there somewhere. Do you think they’re alright?’
‘Scott they should be. Everyone should be. It’s just a feeling I have had come over me, that’s all. Come on guys, shake a leg and let’s get moving.’
The boys moved with renewed vigour. They were keen to see what was happening and also to ensure the girls were safe. They clambered over the rocky shoreline and up the small hill to the carriageway in record time. If they weren’t so young and fit their bodies would have had major difficulties. Mike was slightly puffing at the end as he tried to keep up with his young charges.
Rosie had heard the trucks colliding as the noise resonated around the precinct. She instinctively looked up and saw the smoke.
‘Okay girls, it’s time we went to Namara’s. I feel a nice iced chocolate coming on,’ Rosie said.
Mandy and Liane both picked up on the stress in Rosie’s voice and said nothing. A look to each other was sufficient. They also had heard the collision and saw the smoke. The fact a group of bikies was in town also spelt possible trouble. Both were looking forward to meeting up with the Venturers and going home. The girls made their way up the beach and over a small bluff. To their right and up a rise along the peninsula road was their van and the boys’ vehicles. To their left was a group of shops that looked deserted. Ahead of them was Namara’s Café. The girls started making a bee-line towards the café when they saw a number of bikers with weapons in their hands lying in the grass and just below some small rock platforms that dotted a common between Namara’s Café and the silent sandstone sentinel. Not a word was spoken as the girls saw the men nearby. They quickly started running towards the café.
‘What the hell is that?’ Tim said as he scanned the area with his binoculars.
‘What do you mean? Damian asked.
‘A group of girls … Girl Guides just ran into the café. I thought we cleared out all the civilians?’
‘Oh hell. Well, they’ll be safe in there for the moment. How many did you count?’
‘I didn’t have time to count. By the time it registered with me as to what they were, they were gone.’
The moment the Venturers hit the carriageway they heard a metallic, throaty roar that kept getting louder and then seemed to split in origin. Mike was now very concerned about the safety of the boys and the Ranger Guides.
‘What the hell is that?’ Mark shouted above the roar as he looked to Mike.
‘I’d say from all the bikes below and the noise above we are being visited by quite a few bikers,’ Mike said.
‘Do you reckon they had anything to do with all that smoke we saw as we surfaced?’ Scott asked.
‘Why would they? It’s probably just an accident somewhere. Who knows, these bikers are probably having a chapter ride out here to enjoy the sights the same as you and I.’
Cameron then started herding the boys like cats towards their cars. His eyes saw movement on top of the sandstone sentinel. He looked closer and saw the shape of a head moving around. Initially, no problems, except he expected the person to have been taller and more of a silhouette to be seen. While he walked to the cars he looked again and what he saw scared the hell out of him. The moving head on the sandstone sentinel had a rifle. He told the boys to run to the cars and put his hands out wide to push them along. The boys never argued with Cameron. They trusted him emphatically. They made it to the side of the cars without incident.
‘What was that all about?’ Mike said as he sidled up to Cameron.
‘There’s someone in the top of the tower with a rifle and I was being extremely cautious.’
‘Guys, get your gear off quickly and just put it in the rear of the cars. We’ll sort it later.’
Mike reached for his keys stuck by a magnet under the fender of the passenger side rear wheel. He opened his car, reached in and retrieved Cameron’s keys and threw them to the Rover who quickly opened his car. The boys started stripping out of their diving gear. Before they had got too far, they heard a volley of shots being fired somewhere near the common. Instinctively Mike yelled to the boys to take cover behind the cars. The boys moved in close to each other and helped take each others’ wetsuits off. A lot of shouting and more shooting could be heard from the common.
‘This will be a dive you will never forget,’ Mike said to Scott as he pulled on a gym shoe.
A Rite Of Passage by Christopher J. Holcroft
A Rite of Passage details the latest exploits of Venturer Scott Morrow and his unit, his latest endeavour; learning to dive. Scott is already famous for his escapades with the Russian Mafia after they captured his unit, and furthermore from his daring and brave rescue of a fellow Venturer and then a Rover during a canyoning accident.
A Rite of Passage is aimed at teenage boys to encourage them to read and experience more of life by getting outdoors and living the adventure. It should surely achieve this, because it is easy and pleasant to read and provides a simple to understand, yet highly insightful look into perspectives we wouldn’t usually see which could only be formulated by someone with great experience and knowledge.
We are allowed to see into the lives of gang members, which we are not usually exposed to through the media – we get to contrast our existing perceptions, challenging us to think more broadly about what we really know about people who are so often stereotypically portrayed.
We gain a better understanding of what goes on behind the badges in the investigations of police A Rite of Passage promotes Venturing and Guiding movements in an accurate and positive light (although potential members shouldn’t expect to help fight the Mafia or dispel bike gang wars) by highlighting the different opportunities available through the movements. Not only outdoors activities like scuba diving, but social activities like the formal McDonald’s which appeal to the target audience as growing, socialising people are featured, exploring the dynamic of the movement and the variety of experiences to be had.
The novel also touches on the various formalities within the movements, adding to the accuracy of their representation.
A Rite of Passage touches on issues common to the targeted responder: balance of study and leisure (which Scott is forced to deal with), friendly and romantic relationships (such as those between Scott and his unit, and then that which develops between some of the Unit and the Guides) and growing up (taking on adult actions and responsibilities like leadership and bravery, and acting out of consciousness for others) and through the central character, Scott, we are shown that life can be hard, but manageable and there is no limit to what we can do if we set our minds to it.
Existing members of the Venturing and Guiding movement will enjoy examining this perspective on a part of their lives, Scouts and Guides can look to it as a taste of what they can (within reason) experience in the older sections and outsiders of the movement can see it as a written reason to look up their local group.
Most outstandingly however is the notion that ordinary individuals can, when placed in a situation that demands it, do extraordinary things. We, as responders, may not ever experience the crossfire of warring gangs, but we can, as average, everyday people, embark on our own extraordinary adventures by getting out into the world, challenging ourselves and trying something new – we place ourselves in the situation to achieve.
It is within all our capabilities to try something new and it is through Scott Morrow that we can realise that.
A Rite Of Passage - A quick review
When Christopher Holcroft gives you a copy of his book “A Rite of Passage” he grasps your hand firmly, looks you in the eye and says “always live the adventure.” Holcroft as a Venturer Scout Leader and as a colonel in the Australian Army Reserve is a person who has experienced his own share of adventure in his life. In “A Rite of Passage” Holcroft draws from his experiences and masterfully engages the reader in a classic adventure story that provides surprise after surprise as the plot unfolds. “A Rite of Passage” challenges young adolescents to put themselves in the characters shoes as they face adversity and challenges the reader to ask themselves whether they would have acted the way the characters had done.
A Rite of Passage is set in a time when Sydney is rife with bikie gangs and a growing antagonism between the “Ravens” and the “Eagles” threatens to open up into an all out turf war. At the same time that the bikie gangs are preparing for war a young group of Venturer Scouts are planning exciting activities including a rather eloquent formal McDonald’s night out with the local Ranger Guides.
But as the book progresses the two stories begin to converge as the Ravens look for an appropriate place to take on the Eagles. They find Cook Island, an abandoned fort that is coincidentally located right next to a dive site popular with the Venturer Scouts. On the day of the battle the Venturer Scouts, caught in the middle, are challenged to perform acts of great daring and bravery to save the Ranger guides, trapped in the middle of the firefight. This is the climax of the book and rightly so. Through the use of highly descriptive imagery, Holcroft paints the scene with great detail and allows for a genuine emotional response from the reader.
In conclusion “A Rite of Passage” is an excellent book for young adolescents both boys and girls. I, myself a Venturer Scout thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel and often found myself glued to my chair as I read in anticipation as the novel came to its thrilling climax.
James Brown, Sydney
Must Read For Venturers
A Rite of Passage is the final novel in Christopher Holcroft's trilogy about the adventures of Scott Morrow and his Venturer Unit. It is set in the harsh realities of the modern world with the story of Scott Morrow interwoven with that of a biker gang turf war which conclude with a gripping and heroic ending.
The novel follows on from Scott Morrow’s other adventures and focuses on him learning to dive and the ensuing dives. Scott is in the last months of his time as a Venturer and the task of courage exhibited by Scott in the climax of the novel can only be described as his rite of passage to rovers.
A Rite of Passage also incorporates the parallel movement of the Girl Guides, specifically the Ranger Guides as they socialise and interact with the Venturer Scouts. The two groups of teenagers are realistically represented participating in activities such as scuba diving and a formal dinner at McDonald’s. These interactions show the blurred lines between the two movements in the 21st century which is highlighted by the Rangers requests for more adventurous activities.
A Rite of Passage has an excellent story relevant to modern society and the challenges which await us, both morally and physically. It, as with the other two books in the trilogy are must reads for anyone interested Venturer Scouting. It has a suspenseful plot which will engross the reader till the very end.
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