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Cell Phones at Summer Camp

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actually, there were several complaints from scoutmasters because the camp's two pay phones were always full of (usually) first year long-term campers. Scoutmasters' opted to use their cell phones, but there was zero reception.

In the case of emergency, there are, at any place in camp, several buildings around with working phones.

Scouts don't need cell phones for emergencies. Plain and simple. Scoutmasters maybe, but probably not.

This is why my father, a scoutmaster with many years experience under his belt, has forbid them and any other electronic devices on campouts.

So instead of scouts calling their parents or friends, they're enjoying the scenery and comradery of their troopmates.

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I don't have strong feelings about this either way, but I do think that with respect to troop campouts this decision should be made by the PLC, not the SM, since it's not a safety issue.

For long-term camp, the unit should obviously abide by the camp rules, and if they don't cover it, the PLC should decide.

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nldscout. Cell phones are on the written list of items that are not allowed at camp. The only time a scout has brought one, it was taken up. The parent was called and told we had taken it. It wasn't stolen. The scout handed the phone over.

I also ask one of our parents who is an attorney and was told, as long as the item is on the written list of banned items and we inform the parent that the phone has been taken we are breaking no laws. And to be honest most of the phones that come to camp are to be used as phones but to be used for the computer games on them.

Our rule is that if it requires a battery to operate it had better be a flashlight.

One other question. If a boy brings a phone to camp and it is lost, stolen or damaged who do you thing the parent will hold responsible. The leader.

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If a tent is lost/stolen or damaged who do you think the parent will hold responsible?


If a flashlight is lost/stolen or damaged who do you think the parent will hold responsible?


If a stove is lost/stolen or damaged who do you think the parent will hold responsible?


If a compass is lost/stolen or damaged who do you think the parent will hold responsible?


If an adult takes a cell phone from a scout and it is lost/stolen or damaged who do you think the parent will hold responsible?


The Leader.


No one is going to win this battle. I personally would not participate in a troop that banned cell phones altogether, but at camp, especially if it's specifially on a ban list, you've been forwarned. It's an issue of following your troop and/or camps policy. If you disagree fine, you have a right to help change the policy, but not to flat out disregard the rules.



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in our troop, no one is allowed a cell phone (or anything else electronic) except for the SM. he only carries a cell phone for emergencies. there is no need for any one else to have one. why would you want one anyways. all it does is disrupt the peaceful feeling of nature. out here most places we cant get reception anyhow.

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  • 3 months later...

Since we just returned from camp yesterday, I am resurrecting this thread. Another reason for scouts not to have phones at camp: Several of our first-years had personal cell phones (unbeknownst to us). Little Johnny calls parents who are out on a "date" for the evening, so he leaves a cryptic message on the answering machine, garbled by bad reception and his general inability to speak in complete sentences. Mom returns home late and finds the message, and immediately starts calling everyone she can...Leaders have their phones off for the night, since it is after Taps, and to conserve battery. Finally, the camp emergency number is called and the Camp Director had to come to the site to tell us that Mrs. Jones needs to talk to her son right away. We wake up Johnny (who has not been having any obvious problems), and calls Mom. Bottom line, there was no problem or emergency...he just wanted to say "hello". We wanted to throttle him. Next year there will be a definite policy. Personal freedom is one thing...until it inconveniences others for no reason.


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After just returning from a week of camp as SPL i have a comment to make. At Camp Sequassen in Connecticut, we had a leaders meeting the first day. The first thing the program director asked was that no scouts were allowed cell phones. She said that it is possibly a danger that a scout may become homesick and try to leave without informing the scoutmaster and camp staff. The camp went as far as putting a lock on the pay phone. All the scoutmasters were given the combo, but the staff felt it was necessary for the scoutmasters to be aware of all calls home for safety purposes.

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Control Freaks....


Case in point FOR a cell phone. A leader got dehydrated and went into heat stroke. Hot red and dry. Nasty. Another leader upon seeing this fliped open his Motorola and called 911. The guy was saved.


This was life and death stuff folks...not homesickness. My son was a camper then a CIT on waterfront. While working he had his phone clipped on. No one said Boo.


How does everyone feel about a Scout with a Zippo Lighter?

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I'm not talking about adults, I'm talking about 11 year olds calling mommy in the middle of the night. At our camp, every program area has a 2-way radio. If there's an emergency, help is 5 minutes away by radio. If someone calls 911, the nearest help is more than 30 minutes away, and no one else in camp knows the call was made.

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Fair enough. What about the 15 year old on his 3rd summer camp? I'm pointing out that cell phones are now a commonly recognized safety device. If the 11 year old gets hurt and the SM has taken away his cell phone then the 11 year old's mommy may own the camp! Cell phones are not Game Boys.


Maybe Scouts should cover the use of cell phonesnot only at camp but in public. I think BSA National is seeing the light.


Any troop wishing to earn the Emergency Preparedness Award the requirements indicate..."Be sure everyone knows to call 911 and other emergency numbers; and how to call on different kinds of phones, such as cell phones."


A cell phone is listed as an item in the Jamboree Travel Emergency Preparedness Kit.






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Cell phones in themselves are not bad. It's how they are used that creates the problems. And if we start worrying "mommy will own the camp" if we don't let an 11 year old use his cell phone then we are not addressing the problem.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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"Cell phones are not Game Boys" is not a true statement. Have you seen the number of games that are on some of these cell phones. We have one boy who brought his cell phone to camp. He didn't use it to call Mom. He spent the night talking to his girlfriend keeping his tent mate and tent neighbors up all night.


Cell phone should be part of emergency preparedness kit. Cell phone at camp for a youth? It will be a hard case to judge. We can go back to the fact that these boys need to take the opportunity to appreciate nature and to learn from it, but during free time or down time, what is harmful in utilizing these gadgets (including gameboys) before they sleep? On the other hand, gameboys, cell phones are distractions that we don't need. They can cause envy, hostility, etc among the boys. Case in point, we allowed gameboys, CD players, etc, in the van for the 8 hours trip to our summer camp this year. In our van, two boys had them and the others didn't. It turned out to be one begging and pleading session after another, then it turned into a war of words. These devices can give the driver some peace and quiet to drive.


After all, I have pointed out once before. This is the new day and new age of scouting. There has to be a happy medium.


Hmmmmm ... such a quandry this issue is!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Stop me if you have heard this one...

Just got back from camp (Webelos Adventureland) and could not believe how many adults had cell phones and were allowing the boys to check in with their parents at home on a DAILY basis...

Put me on the list of banning cell phones from all non-leader personnel at camps...and especially at ALL cub scout and Webelos camps...

Leaders need them for emergencies (if you have cell coverage)

But with technology today, you don't need to talk on a cell phone...games aren't the only option with text messaging (which could be done all night without waking any of the other scouts) and now sending pictures.

Obviously, we are all sensitive to YP training and cell phones that have camera capabilities are a reality and before an abuse or "mistaken" picture is transmitted intentionally or by accident...well I would hate to see what happens..

If you are going to have them at camp, then devise a way to check the cellphones in with the head of the camp and allow use during certain periods in one area of the camp or tent and have certain hours that the phones may be used and limit the amount of time.

Just a thought, but you will not find my son with a cellphone next year camping with his new troop, but he will always have money and the ability to use the payphone if the need arises.

BTW..Camp Gerber, Twin Lakes, MI both the Webelos and Boy Scout camps are fantastic and well run (despite the not-quite-as-hot-but-close-to-JAMBO heat).

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First let me say this, the past several years I have grown to hate cell phones! I think that a lot of people using them (adults & children) have absolutely not ettiquette (?sp) regarding when to use a cell phone. There is nothing so rude to be at a school event, church or somewhere else & as someone is speaking to the audience someone's cell phone goes off & a conversation is started. It is so annoying to be eating in a restaurant, whether it's Red Lobster, Friendly's, TGI Fridays or Burger King than to have some yakking away on his cell phone during the meal! The height of rudeness as far as I'm concerned! Or driving! yes there are some people, despite the law in Suffolk County that bans talking on hand-held cell phones while driving, still yak on the phones! I almost got hit by some jerk driving & talking on a cell phone! I was in the pedestrian crosswalk (the cars are supposed to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, a state law I believe), I had checked before I stepped into the crosswalk & no car was coming & then as I was halfway across a car was coming but going very slow (as they almost hit me I knew why they were going slow, they were talking on a cell phone) & this minivan almost hits me because the driver wasn't paying attention as she was yakking on her cell phone. I yelled to her that you're not supposed to be talking on the phone while driving! There's nothing so annoying & rude to be in a store & have to hear someone's cell phone conversation while you're shopping! What did they do before cell phones? I think they can manage to shop at Wal-Mart without the need to talk on a cell phone! Those walkie talkie phones are even worse!


As for a child needing a cell phone, I think it's ridiculous. Yes, you hear of stories where a child was able to save someone because they had a cell phone but those stories aren't enough to warrant a child having a cell phone. Besides, most of them are "toys" as they have games, etc. on them!


As for scouts & camping, I don't think it's a necessity for a scout to have a cell phone, especially as others have mentioned, new scouts; makes them too homesick & they have games on them, in my opinion. I think the SM should have a phone for emergencies only. I think electronics are distracting while camping, everyone should be enjoying nature! Maybe on a hike, one cell phone but turned off & for emergency use only.


I had a cell phone & only used it in emergencies, like when my car broke down & had to be towed; when I had a flat tire & if I was running late coming home from work. I pulled over to make the call. I don't have one now because I had lost my job & couldn't pay the bill. When I find a job again, I'm not sure if I'll get another one, but if I do, it will always be turned off & for emergencies only!



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