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From what I've gathered, a lot of parents tend to hover with their kid to make sure they get from place to place. Granted, it's not a large majority, but it's an increasingly growing minority of parents that make it a big deal. Whenever they aren't being bossy, they're guiding little Johnny from place to place.
Nothing major beyond home sick cases..."disaster" was an exaggeration on my part.
Cub Scout camp is GREAT and I think it is wonderful for parents to spend time with their kids.
The few times at Boy Scout summer camp a parent came it was usually because the kid was homesick and they either took him (and he never came back to the Troop) or he was worse after they left.
I did see a parent at another Troop drive up to argue with camp staff over shooting time for their son. Other times folks have eaten with the boys and complained about the camp food tasting like...camp food.
The few times parents have brought kids late or took em early. I think it detracts from the bonding experience...but it is their kid.
I think that summer camp kinda creates its own "spell" of time out of the ordinary and seeing one's parents breaks that spell. Same reason that adults doing a lot of work texting or phone calls at camp do not get the same experience as those who go cold turkey.
Occasionally a new scout parent goes to summer camp as an ASM but is really just keeping an eye on his kid. Occasionally we had some that were dead-weight and it caused friction...the rest of the adults were doing tasks and felt like they were servants...
Yeah we have a couple of boys with real disabilities and they manage to find there classes at camp. I mean if a summer camp can't direct lost boys who would. In those cases we have sometimes walked the path partway the first night if a boy thought he needed.
If a parent wanted to do that I would switch with him so I, not the parent, would go.
From my own experience: My dad attended summer camp my first year I was in Boy Scouts; he was an ASM. I think I exchanged fifty words with him the whole week. I was too busy doing fun stuff (like doing a Wilderness Survival overnight), and he was too busy doing ASMy things. I think he may have attended my second year, but I really can't remember. What I do remember that year is having a blast taking Lifesaving MB.
Then there was the mother I met while I was working on staff at the same camp a few years later. She accompanied her kid to every single merit badge class, sat down her camp chair nearby and watched. The kid was almost never out of her sight.
My point is that it depends on the parent. Some can go and stay out of their kid's way; others can't.
While it's been a while since I been with a troop, or worked camp staff, here are some things I've experienced, seen, or remember hearing about.
1)Kids whose parent were at camp getting them out of some of the "dirty assignments" like waiter duty, cleaning the campsite latrines etc.
2)Parents who were pressuring kids to complete x number of MBs in addition to FYC program (luckily a crusty old Marine MGySgt in charge of the program would tell the parents to knock the crap off and let the kid have some fun, just not in htose exact words )
3) I've heard parents curse out scouts as well as insult and bash them and their own sons. Worse case was one parent helping teach a MB class and getting angry 'cause the kids couldn't do the skills yet. He cursed out the two kids in their canoe i the middle of the lake from shore, and everyone could hear him. He wasn't teaching the rest of the week.
4) I've seen pull politics into allowing their sons to remain at camp, when they should have been sent home for theft.
5) I've seen parents pressure staffers to award MBs that should not have been given.
6) I've heard about parents trying to pressure CDs into allowing their kids to stay after they assaulted leaders.
I've also observed that homesickness is most often felt, or felt most strongly, among those kids whose parents can't cut the ties - who check in with the SM by phone daily, or visit multiple times a week, or have the kid call home daily.
Those boys who are left alone for the week, even the newbies, usually love it and thrive. For many, I'm sure it's their first real chance to stand out of their parents' shadow and breathe the heady air of freedom.
A Cub perspective:
Parents going along? Sure get trained, register and be prepared to ignore your son except at campfires. All of the leaders agreed this year to "trade sons" for normal discipline. We were there I was "in charge of" our Cubmaster's sone " (a challenge at time) he watched my son, the web leader watched the Bear leaders' son etc. It worked well we had a great time with our sons and were not "the bad guys" all week and we are looking forward to going back. Is it July 1 yet??????
On another note, Camp Carpenter Cub World, Manchester NH has NO documented cases of homesickness in the last year. NOw the cases of Revecitis have been increasing lately.
I find it hard to be around one my sons at Camp. He behaves so badly that I feel I must step in and discipline him...I have to tell the other adults to PLEASE step in when they feel he needs it. I think we all tend to hang back a bit with another leaders son when the adult is there.
The last year he would seek me out at meal time and I sat next to him at the opening and close. Walked with him to the showers with him a couple time. I did not take him to his classes though I doubted he could find him due to his disabilities but he did fine.
Spent a lot of time telling him to go away from the adult area. The great irony of the parent-scouter: your wife thinks you are spending time with your son while you are spending your time telling to go away.
the issue we have the most often is homesickness at the end of parent night. Unless they are spending the week we ask that parents visit just at parent night to avoid more of this. biggest thing we stress is that the boys are safe, that if there is a major storm that we will contact 1 adult to email out that all are safe.
we have had a parent attend before that was a helicoptor parent - I had to get him to knock it off once because he was yelling at his kid after the SPL had yelled for round up. I simply went up to them and told the parent to stop that the SPL is in charge and when he calls for roundup that everyone stops what they are doing and comes together so the boy took off toward the group. and then I just mentioned nicely that hey we try not to yell at the boys, and that it's important at camp to let the boys have their freedoms - that they will make mistakes, but they will learn from them so let him learn. He did back off with the always being on his son, but he still went every where his son did.
now as for when I see my son when we are at camp... basically only when everyone is at base camp. the only exception to this is when I am having issues with my anxiety due to my PTSD as my son knows better than anyone else what to do or not to do. so if he sees me in a panic look and then walk out of the dining hall or whatever he will follow me and check on me (or if he just suddenly doesn't see me he'll ask someone I was with)
I'm a More-the-merrier type.
One year, we had a helicopter parent, but she was very pleasant, knew when to get out of the way, and was achingly polite. She camped away from her son. She enjoyed walking with her son and other Scouts to the Merit Badge classes, and sat away from the class and read her book.
One guy who is a Marine, bellowed out his son at the Dining Shelter. We had a chat with him, and he behaved himself more circumspectly after that.
One guy was kinda antsy, didn't like sitting around. I took him sailing, and had him work some Browsea stuff with younger Scouts.
Another guy comes and goes on long runs, and works on legal case files in his tent.
In other words, it isn't much of a problem. In the last few years, I, as Scoutmaster, have been the only one that stayed the whole time. Other Troop Adults take turns being the 2nd Adult. That's kinda nice...
We put a great deal of effort into preventing parents from attending summer camp. But we're completely welcome to as many adult scout leaders as want to attend.
Unless they are able to attend the full week and serve as a troop leader, I flat-out tell my first-year parents they need to stay home (I suppose that makes me a bully and/or intimidator). If they really must, I suggest they drive up Friday, spend the night, then help drive the troop home Saturday morning. Otherwise, if they try to come up for a visit earlier and leave before the end of the week, there is a high probability they'll have a little 70 pound package riding home with them.
Disasters? You want a disaster? War story:
Despite this, last year we had one of the worst situations with a parent in my 8 years of summer camp with the troop. One first year dad planned to come up with us Sunday and stay through Monday, or so I understood. I wasn't too concerned as the dad has been around the troop a few years with an older brother and pretty well understood the program.
The first hint of a problem was with the son sitting through the entire opening campfire snuggled up in his daddy's lap. To such a point that I had camp staff members asking me if there the boy had medical or emotional problems. Later that night, my SPL comes to me with this boy's tent mate in tears. The tent mate wants to go home because he's afraid to stay in the tent by himself. Huh? You guessed it, the first kid is bunking-down with his father. So I spent a half hour or more that night shuffling tent assignments to get everyone happy.
The next two days were hell. I had two more boys terribly homesick, constantly wanting to call home so their mother or father could come stay with them. Tuesday morning we sat the dad (who was now planning to leave sometime Wednesday) and told him that if couldn't wean his son into his own tent before the dad went home, he would have to take the boy home with him -- the dad wasn't going to leave and dump on us the aftermath of moving the boy into his own tent. That percipitated a huge, dramatic production that night of moving the scout into his own tent, only to learn after lights-out the boy moved back to his dad's tent anyway.
Of course, the son was victim to all manner of illness. Stomach ache, headache, some ill-defined leg problems, you name it. Meanwhile, everytime I can separate the dad and son, the boy had a blast. Without his dad he's running around like a nut with his buddies. But just as soon as the dad comes around the corner, the boy's smile turns to a pained grimace, his shoulders drop, he grabs his stomach and limps toward his dad.
And this really isn't communicating the drag this put on the whole troop. All I did the first three days of camp was deal with this kid and the two others. I can't guarantee without the dad in camp these boys would not have been homesick. But by Thursday morning all three perked up and went on about having a good time with their friends. And I can say for sure dealing with a homesick 11-year-old is much easier than dealing with the parent.