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Rooster7

Trials & Tribulations at Camp

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Just returned from summer camp Saturday, August 9. I spent a week at Rodney Scout Reservation in North East, MD (on the bay), with 43 boys and 10 adults, as the stand in Scoutmaster. It went pretty well. Heres a quick accounting of my trials and tribulations:

 

1) Three boys skipped the opening campfire. They had a plausible excuse, but I have reason to doubt their story. For two of these boys, there were no further incidents.

 

2) 1 of 10 first-year Scouts failed his swimming test. He was bawling after his older brother (one of the three aforementioned boys) gave him a hard time about failing the test.

 

3) One boy got upset when he decided to join a bunch of boys fighting with sticks (like they were swords) and got poked. No real damaged, but we banned the stick play. Coincidentally, of the five or six boys playing with the sticks, one happened to be the old brother in the previous story.

 

4) Some boys thought they would surprise two fellow Scouts (all from my troop) by hiding in their tentwaiting to give them a scare. They didnt come fast enough, so a third boy (second year, very young, very nave) tells the two unsuspecting boys that someone has ransacked their tent. The boys in the tent decide they made a mistake and run off. The two other boys run their tents and find their misquoting netting knocked down. They advise me that some boys ransacked their tent and stole some things. After the smoke is settled nothing is stolen, but the tent was a little disheveled. It was a very badly staged prank, which had all the appearances of something more sinister. Especially when you consider the fact that the two victims are two of only four African-Americans attending camp with us. Fortunately, they saw the crime for what it was and accepted apologies from the three boys involved. Coincidentally, one of which was the older brother in the previous story.

 

None of the above stories were horrific, but the fact that one boy was always in the middle of things really bothered me. I had a brief conversation with the older brother and the remainder of the week was quiet (at least in terms of his involvement).

 

My two biggest trials were these

 

1) A first year Scout couldnt sleep (at least not until late) and yearned daily to be home with mom. Dad was on the trip and catered to him to the Nth degree (allowed him to take naps on his cot in the leaders cabin in the evening, back rubs, phone calls to home, etc.). Eventually the kid breaks and has to go home to mom. Mom decides that his homesickness is a legitimate handicap and wants to treat Boy Scout summer camp as if it was Webelos day camp. She advises dad (her husband) that she intends to drive their son back forth each day and night to camp. Fortunately, Dad sees the lunacy of that tact and convinces mom to keep Johnny at home. That one could of turned real ugly.

 

2) One boy, who has a serious me first attitude, doesnt get along with a large number of boys (probably more than half of the troop). He claims someone urinated on his cot. There was urine on the cot. No one can be identified as the culprit. Volunteers clean the cot. A new cot is brought in for the boy to sleep on. Still waiting to see what happens when this boy goes home to complain to mom and dad

 

Despite these problems, everyone seemed to have fun except for the boy who yearned for home. I think mom and dad has been creating this problem for some time now. Their older son almost went home as wellbut as soon as his younger brother left camp, he became a happy camper.

 

Anyone else has some stories to share?

 

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Here's mine, from Webelos resident camp. Actually, I posted this before on the end of a dying thread and never received much feedback from anyone. I'd love to hear what y'all think:

 

We had 18 boys, four registered leaders and six parents attending camp. One of the Scouts, a 10-year-old Webelos II, was the most disrespectful, ill-mannered, undisciplined child I have ever worked with. Unfortunately, he was the son of one of the other leaders. The boy is basically out of control and the father does nothing to discipline him, except when another leader steps in and embarrases him into action. On the positive side, the kid is very bright and never gets into any real trouble (i.e. fighting, stealing) -- he's just a spoiled brat.

 

Sunday morning, while packing up, his father called the boy and asked him to come over. The boy screamed "WHAT?!?!" in a very hateful tone. The dad asked him to pick up a duffle and carry it to the car. The boy started stomping the ground and arguing about how he wasn't going to do it. At that point I stepped between the two of them (the boy was still half-way across camp from the dad) and told the boy that I didn't care what he did at home, but he is in Scout camp and that he would not speak in that manner to any Scout leader. Feeling a bit self-conscious about breaking in between the father and son, I left it at that (I had much longer and more detailed conversations with the boy about his behavior earlier in the week, when the father wasn't right there). As I walked away and the dad took over, the last I saw, the kid was dumping the duffel out and kicking the contents.

 

Had the kid's dad not been there (and had it not been two hours before check out) I would have sent the boy home. But how far should a leader go when the parent is right there? Do you send both the boy and the father home? The guy had a younger son with him (who is usually the worst behaved of the two, but the little one had a pretty good week this time.)

 

An interesting dynamic: We are trying to introduce the boys to the patrol method by picking one Scout to lead the others in simple tasks (policing the campsite, sweeping the bathrooms, collecting firewood, etc.) This kid won't follow instruction from any of the boys, either and usually ends up being a detriment to the completion of the task. By the end of camp, all the other boys in the patrol were sick of him and his attitude and didn't mind telling him so. It will be interesting to see how that peer pressure works on him.

 

 

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Twocubdad,

I have always told my Socuts that there are no parents at summer camp, only adult leader. I tell the parents the same thing. This seems to work well.

 

In you instance, I feel you did the correct thing & the dad should have backed you up.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Rooster, congrats on summer camp. If everyone came home alive, consider it a resounding success! (Yes, for the comically challenged, that was a joke).

 

I tend to give the boys a lot of leeway at summer camp. MB classes, opening/closing campfires, meals, etc. are all optional events. Miss a class, don't earn a MB. Miss a meal, go hungry. Stay up late, you get tired. I attend every event and if a boy does not what to attend he may IF he follows the G2SS (buddy, or minimum of two adults, etc.). Miss a campfire and you miss out on a lot of fun (or don't have to endure drudgery dependent on how good the campfires are!). What a great concept! Learn from your mistakes just like adults do! There are consequences to our decisions! It is extremely rare that the boys choose not to attend. I found that if the adult leaders make it mandatory to attend, being adolescents and wanting to show their independence, they fight it.

 

I have two sets of brothers in our troop. One is a set of identical twins, the other my sons (19 months apart). The older one is a fine gentleman when interacting with everyone except for his younger brother. The twins are no problem. Sibling rivalry is a tenacious thing. Just like the SPL does not view me as the SM (I'm dad), the 2nd Class Scout does not see an SPL or SM but a bossy older brother and dad. I don't like it, but I'm aware of it. It is a fairly natural and common occurence.

 

 

As for horseplay, keep safety in mind at all times. I also tend to watch out for the individual who becomes the butt of too many jokes or pranks. Patrols & troops are forms of gangs with all of the positive and negative connotations attached. We need to try and emphasize the positive and attenuate the negative. One negative is the mob mentality. Try to squash it quick.

 

Homesickness, that can be tough. Usually it occurs after day two or three. IF you can get them over the hump and into day four, it seems all downhill (easier) to get them through all six or seven days.

 

I got lucky this year. Good help from my fellow leaders, 100% attendance by the boys (plus a couple of provisional Scouts), good weather, and no real homesickness problems. Last year, we were not so lucky.

 

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Rooster,

Sounds like an interesting week. A couple things I noticed:

 

The homesick Scout with dad catering to him? Why was this allowed to happen? And then he went home! Don't agree. I have had numerous Scouts get homesick & have never sent one home. They will get over it & it will be a great accomplishment for them! And the dad should have been reeled in. It seems his catering to his son made things worse.

 

The older brother. Seems like there is a potential excellent leader there if his resources are channeled the right way.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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In regard to "the dad not being reeled in", I stand guilty, for I was the stand in Scoutmaster. His catering always teetered in a gray area and I wasn't quite sure how to approach him. As for the boy going home, it was really his choice. He wasn't sent home. He basically begged to be brought home and his mother accommodated his request.

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Many years ago at a Scout summer camp out east, one of our first year campers had a skunk visit his tent after lights out - and got sprayed. About an hour later, presumably the same skunk, came back for more and sprayed the kid again.

 

Several years ago our Scoutmaster had a heart attack and I had to do much of the CPR on him. The heart attack was fatal. It was a long day, night, and a long ride home.

 

 

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