Very few 15-year-olds brave a cold winter's night to cast a critical eye over their local council, but for some Venturers from the Central Oak Flats Scout Group, the experience was one most would happily do again.
Blissfully unaware of council dynamics, the council's history or even who their councillors were for that matter, the Venturers observed last week's Shellharbour City Council meeting as part of the citizenship component of the Queen's Scout Award.
Shellharbour council has long held a reputation for being more adversarial than some of its neighbouring councils and last week the councillors - and some in the public gallery for that matter - didn't hold back because of the Venturers' presence in the room.
Venturer leader Ann-Marie Wilkinson said the 12 Venturers were required to attend a council meeting and report back on it.
"The feedback so far is they were interested and all want to go back again, " Ms Wilkinson said.
"They were quite shocked with the backwards and forwards between the politicians, they were very surprised how things were discussed and debated.
"I didn't think they would be that interested and it surprised me ... there were a lot of local issues discussed which they could relate to.
"For example we have a few in sports teams so the issue about the sports fields was interesting to them - some of them have already given feedback to parents and sports teams."
Ebony Beattie, 15, said she was keen to go to the next council meeting to see if it was as intense as the last one.
Natalie Wilkinson, 14, said she was interested in the way councillors talked to each other and the way community members addressed the council.
"It is good that people get to say their piece but I think they deserve a bit more time," she said.
‘‘It was an interesting meeting, it is nice to know what is going on.’’
Jesse Gameiro, 15, said the meeting was ‘‘very different’’ to what he had expected and has since read through the council’s code of meeting practice which is now on public exhibition.
‘‘It was definitely interesting ... there seemed to be more arguments between councillors rather than discussion.’’
Taylor Hegarty, 15, is a member of the Albion Park Little Athletics Club and said the issue of using sports fields in wet weather was of interest to her and her club.
‘‘The meeting was a lot different to what I expected, it was a lot more intense.’’
Daniel Rainey, 15, said he didn’t understand why councillors were so quick to dismiss a lot of the rational ideas brought forward.
‘‘I could understand what a lot of people wanted changed but they were rejected ... there were more irrational fights there than I see in the school playground.’’