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Cell Phone at Summer Camp

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  • #46
    You're assuming that "Camp Middleofnowhere" has cell service or WiFi in the woods.

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    • #47
      Our scouts do share. (Sometimes they have to wait until they get near a cell tower.) It does do something for esprit-de-corps. It hasn't helped recruiting.

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      • #48
        Maybe the guys are posting to their own Facebook accounts (I'm generally don't "friend" Scouts) or some other site I'm unaware of. But they're not posting it to a troop FB page set up for that purpose or sending them to the troop historian.

        "Out of the blue" I have had parents call me asking me to check on their son because they were really cold the night before or had an ear ache and they wanted to come pick him up. I've also had summer camp MB counselors telling they were marking kids "absent" because they listened to music the entire class. And one occasion when I walked up on a fellow sending a highly inappropriate message to his girlfriend.

        Nonetheless, we moved from a ban last year to an "appropriate use" policy. We conducted training on what the expectations are for appropriate use, but I think what the boys heard was "just don't let the adults see you using them." Whenever I see a guy on his phone, he quickly shows me he's texting his PL (or some other reasonable use) or quickly shoves it in his pocket. I'm good with that.

        Calling adult use hypocritical is silly. PappyDaddy nailed that. But even then, our troop policy was to ask Scouts to keep their phone useage out of sight and hearing of the Scouts. If you needed to make or take a call, step a way from the activities. If you're constantly on the phone, maybe you just need to excuse yourself and head back to the office. As a practical matter, if the Scouts see you on your phone, it's hard to tell them no when the ask to make a call. Worst yet, a kid teetering on the edge of homesickness may be reminded how much he would like to call his folks.

        A couple years ago, when cell phone hot spots first came out, I had an ASM at summer camp spend four or five hours a day on his laptop sitting in the middle of camp. I repeatedly asked him to go to the SM room at the camp office (which had normal wifi service). Things started to get tense between us but he finally limited his computer time to when the boys were off at MB classes. At some point, trying to diffuse things by strikin a friendly conversation, I asked what sort of projects he was working on. "Oh, I'm balancing my father-in-law's checkbook" and boasted about setting up the software so he could remotly access his F-I-L's computer. So much for a friendly chat. I later figure out this guy wasn't taking vacation to to go camp, but "working from home" for the week.

        Adults do have responsibilities which, unfortunately these days, means they can't let go of the umbilical. But they still need to be respectful of everyone around them and be descrete about using electronics too.

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        • #49
          "But even then, our troop policy was to ask Scout LEADERS to keep their phone useage out of sight ....."

          Sorry. Dashed out to an appointment without proofing.

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          • #50
            I don't ban phones from camp but we do have an appropriate use policy and we don't allow them to charge.

            A camp we did back in October saw photos appear on facebook while we were away. Lots of approving comments from the non scout friends of scouts. Got some great publicity there.

            More amusingly on a winter camp a couple of years ago a scout who had friended me on facebook posted that he was cold in his sleeping bag. I was able to comment on the spot, before his mum noticed, to put a hat, an extra layer and some socks on, as he had been reminded by me and his PL before he went to bed and only come moaning when he had done the things he had been trained to do. His status was deleted within 5 minutes, all without either of us having to leave our tent!

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            • #51
              "But even then, our troop policy was to ask Scout LEADERS to keep their phone useage out of sight ....."

              Sorry. Dashed out to an appointment without proofing.

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              • #52
                I don't think Scouts bringing cell phones to camp means the terrorists have won :-) I do think it means that the world we live in is simply not as secure as it used to be. Plus, mom is having trouble trusting you care as much about her son's well being as you do. Well, maybe not that as much as you don't care about her son as much as you do your own, so if the boat is going down and you only have two PFDs it will be bye bye Johnny. And, of course, she is having a difficult time knowing he just doesn't need her as much anymore - her role in his life is changing :-)

                When we go on any camping trip the boys get to have their phones on the trip, they call home when we arrive and then they all get stowed away. They call home when we are ready to leave and then they have them on the return trip. All mothers have MY cell number and permission to call any time night or day. Last summer at camp (500 miles away) we only had one mom call and I convinced her that talking to her boy at that point would not be in his best interest because he was not struggling with homesickness and we didn't want to introduce that into his experience, right?

                All parents knew how we were going to handle the phones because, as we assured them, we needed to save battery life for a real emergency. I do know that the moms seem to relax a bit knowing there is a "mother" on the scene. Of course, one learned that I don't mother quite the way they do, but ... her son actually survived without being coddled.

                I can't help the guy whose wife calls every day. That would be me - not because I don't trust them, but because I miss them terribly. I solved that by being involved and fully trained so I go along ;-)

                I must say, listening to you guys talk about this stuff is quite fun :-)

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                • #53
                  Cut the apron strings. The boys will be ok for 36 hours with out talking to mom and dad.

                  we have had some issues with inapproprate things on ipods and smartphones. All are ban from scout events period.

                  Parents can call my cell phone and I will check the voicemail if I have coverage. I will not call back unless it is an emergency.

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                  • #54
                    Well, cell phones are necessary to keep track of children when they are in camps. It is obvious that parents will want to talk to their children and get worried when there is no conversation for a day or two. So cell phones should be used but for a limited time.

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                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You are so right, scout camp has been a total disaster for the past 100 years without cell phones. Thank God, we have them, now and the BSA finally reach its full potential. As little as 10 years ago my troop would routinely come back with 3 or 4 less scouts the we took. It was unfortunate, but the needs of the many...

                      Those new sub-dermal GPS chips we install in all our scouts has been a real lifesaver for our Scoutmaster and a soothing salve for helicopter moms. Now all from their iPads moms leaders can see Billy swimming across the lake or Tom and Jerry hanging out in the woods rather that attending the Environmental Science workshop. They learn so much more responsibility this way. There is nothing a boy needs more than to be tracked every second of the day.

                  • #55
                    Scouts simply don't need phones in camp. The whole reason for going to camp is to build self-assurance, develop new friendships and enjoy the outdoors away from technology. Leave the communication with back hom to the Scouters who are sending email updates and posting pictures online. They will get over being home sick by staying active. In my experience nearly every time I have seen a home sick kid be allowed to call home (not allowed in my troop, but have seen it many times in other troops) the Scout takes a nose dive and is essentially miserable the rest of the week and on the ride back. Lucky leaders, but they deserve it if they cave in.

                    For over 8 years now we have not let a single kid call home when homesick and we have a 100% success rate in them bouncing back within 24 hours. We do make exceptions for kids who have suffered medical emergencies. Different kettle of fish that. But basic "I want mommy syndrome"? Go get an ice cream with your SPL at the Trading Post and take a swim...the kid will be fine.

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                    • packsaddle
                      packsaddle commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Shucks, you changed your avatar!

                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      George is dead also. Better change it.

                    • mozartbrau
                      mozartbrau commented
                      Editing a comment
                      My tribute to General Buck Turgidson.

                  • #56
                    This topic caught my attention. After the new youth protection video showing cell phone camera abuse, I pretty much assumed that cell phones were out. Our council camps have had a long history of banning personal electronics so I didn't worry about developing a troop policy. So just today I reviewed the leader guides for this year. There is no cell phone rule. Only one camp retained the music machine ban. Cameras have always been OK.

                    Now I have to rethink my policy. Two things are at odds. As a parent I was very upset when our local Junior High school refused to allow students access to any phone. The logic went something like this. The office phone is for us so students can't use it. We turn the pay phone off in the first 2 months of school every year after 2 idiots call 911 for no reason. So as a parent, I think kids should have access to communication with their parents. As a Scout Master, I don't want parents calling every day, homesickness is only half the story. Last year I had 3 kids who were so home sick on Friday afternoon that they just had to call home. Arrangements were made. 3 sets of parents showed up and three kids went home. To this day I believe that the whole point of that exercise was to get out of helping take down camp. Officially I can't say that. I have planed two changes this year to prevent a replay. First tent inspections will be double checked by an adult. Second we will be under the stars Friday night, with most of the packing done.

                    This years camp has great cell coverage. I like the idea of using the Scoutmasters phone as the contact. Things get broken at camp, I'll probably use that as the basis of my strong recommendation against phones and electronics.

                    Comment


                    • Twocubdad
                      Twocubdad commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Why the heck can't you say anything, officially or otherwise. That would have been the first dang I said, and told the parents they needed to be back Saturday morning to help pack out.

                      Similar situation a couple years ago. One Scout had an annual family vacation for which he had to leave at lunch Friday. Arrangements had been made months in advance. His buddies figured this out and four of them -- the max which would fit in the car -- called home for permission to leave early. They were really upset when I told them the only way they could leave would be for a parent to personally sign them out. "But you can call my mom and she'll give you permission over the phone!" Yep, I can ---- but I won't. "WHY NOT??" Because the only reason you're leaving is to get out of helping pack up tomorrow morning. That was the end of the conversation.

                      And by the way, "I'll help clean up early and do my share before I leave" is baloney. It never works.

                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Twocub,

                      Seems like that would be a ding to scout spirit. This will be my first year at scout camp, how hard is it to pack up? I can't imagine it is all that different than a two day. Unless they make you haul all your gear 500 yards, I have heard of those boot camps.

                      The camp we are going to this year has a camper release form. Unless that form is signed by a parent a parent or ambulance is the only way they get to leave. .

                      I am not going to inform them of the ambulance option. They just get a bright idea.

                    • TAMScout
                      TAMScout commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I wanted to add some follow up. The last night under the stars was a limited success. The boys who slept out enjoyed it. But the tent was not cleaned and down on Friday. So we really didn't have any time savings. The more I think of it Friday is full of fun stuff to do and If they will go participate in it that is the better course. I was at another event where scouts were ordered to sleep without tents. They did not have pads or tarps . It was a bad decision on the part of the semi adult who decided. So if you want to try it plan for it. As to home sickness and wanting to leave early we had no trouble.

                      TAM

                  • #57
                    this is very true, many kids in TORRANCE rough it, and go it alone. what this does, according to many professionals here in TORRANCE, it builds character and toughness. which is why many of our children go to these campsites with an an open mind, and leave with a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of independence. our children in TORRANCE succeed in the classroom, because they believe they can achieve anything. hopefully those parents of other kids in other cities can learn the same thing we learn here in TORRANCE.

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                    • #58
                      Just wanted to add a couple of bad experiences to having cell phones at camp....

                      1. A girl scout (age 14) once got a call from her mother on a weekend camp, on the Saturday night, completely hysterical and rather drunk, saying that her Grandad had been rushed to hospital and she needed her home to 'help her cope'. This resulted in the girl in question also being completely hysterical, packing her stuff and being driven home by one of the scout leaders (a good 2 hour's drive away) to find, once home that her mother had stopped being hysterical, was more drunk that she was before, and the girl having to deal with the Grandad situation herself (as it turns out was ok in the end), as her mother was useless - so having to deal with/look after her mother.
                      Surely in this situation, the girl would've been better at camp, enjoying herself and finding out what had happened when she got back the next day?


                      2. A boy scout (about 13) texted his girlfriend so much while he was on camp, that he ran up a massive bill (of which led him to having his phone confiscated by his parents) but of which was blamed on the scout leaders for 'letting him' text his girlfriend so much.... the problem was he usually did this out of the sight of leaders, so we weren't aware of this problem.

                      3. One boy scout (age 12) broke his v.expensive IPHONE on camp (by dropping it in the river) - Scout leaders got blamed by parents and were asked to use scout funds to replace it! (thankfully, eventually after a leader/parent chat the parents finally admitted they shouldn't have let him take it on camp - well DOH!)

                      So, due to the instances that happened (all within 2-3 years) we ban mobiles from camp - unless with parental permission slip - signed - that any damage is not our responsibility. and on camp we ask that all boys hand their phones in (we have to trust that they do this) and keep in a lock box (then given out on a limited basis - say 1 hour a day before bedtime) - hopefully most problems are then solved.

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                      • #59
                        Gill -- don't know what to say about #1. The cell phone is the least of the issues in that story.

                        #2 and #3 are covered by our troop's appropriate use policy and training. I'd have a difficult time not laughing in the face of parents in #2. No, check that, I would make a point to laugh in the face of parent's #2.

                        For #3 our policy specifically states that the troop is not responsible for loss or damage to any personal electronics for any reason, including instances where the device was confiscated by troop leaders and the loss or damage occurs while it was in our possession. Think that sounds harsh? Leave your phone at home or stay home with it.

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                        • King Ding Dong
                          King Ding Dong commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I like that. As IH I am going to discuss that with my COR. As a general rule we don't allow electronics outside the vehicles, but at the last cabin campout a few older scouts had them and they tried to tell us the SM was more lax on cabin campouts. SM was not there, just me and SM In Training.

                          I can't recall if it was this thread or another one but I was a bit surprised when Kudu came out in favor of allowing them even on the trail. Many of the trails around here are shared use with horses and mountain bikers. Even without earbuds they can sneak up on really fast.

                      • #60
                        Many things have been said, but not much time has been spent on three essential items: 1. Scouts go to week long camps to become independent, and have association with non-parent adult role models. 2. Scouting at it's best takes place in wilderness settings to remove the distractions of every day life. 3. When all the gadgets and gizmo's are turned off youth hear and see the real world around them. Not to get overly spiritual, but God has spoke to me many times, and in many ways, none of them involved a cell phone...

                        On this past weekend's camp out a fellow leader, busy texting and checking weather on his phone, asked me where my phone was. I replied" "in my jeep, back where we entered the property". In shock he asked if I thought my phone was dead. My response: "I certainly hope so" ... he put away his phone

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