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To shower or Not to shower, That is the Question

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It seems like most kids get rinsed off in the pool or lake at least once daily. Unless I notice something out of the ordinary ( visibly dirty kid, stinky kid, kid getting uncomfortable because he is so dirty) I don't push it. They're only out for a week, and historically some mountain men have gone months without bathing.

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We always tell the Scouts & parents at our summer camp meeting the Scout will be taking a shower on Wednesday evening and Friday evening. And a leader walks them to the shower house & waits outside until they have showered.


There is no excuse for not showering at summer camp. I shower every day & so do the other adults. Setting the example so to speak. And being clean.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I ditto Ed's comments. We make the guys shower at least twice. Tuesday or Wednesday and then again on Friday before the parent's show up.


Thankfully, our camp installed privacy walls in the showers last year. We saw much improvement in their willingness to take showers.

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I was a boyscout back in the 70's, and I remember our Scoutmaster would have a huge following at night to walk down to the shower rooms. It was usually not very many people there, and some of the younger scouts felt safer walking down to the shower room at night as a group.

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I think it is the stigma of showering naked that gets to the younger boys. How times have changed. When I was a scout, the whole troop would be naked in the showers together horsing around. In high school, our swim classes were all bare. Now the boys are petrified if someone sees them. We tell the young ones they can shower with their bathing suits on, and that seems to help. I guess it's the times we live in now. Things were simpler way back when.....

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eagle90, I remember exactly the same thing. It really wasn't a big deal back then (for me, high school in the late 60's).



We tell our Scouts that they have to clean up everyday. Showering and pool or lake time all count. If they get too "ripe", somebody let's them know.


Let's face it, this is summer camp. Some guys proudly come home with all their spare clothes still folded up in their bag the same way they went in. :)

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Fresh ideas?


Here's a few:


1. Have the SM present each boy with a bar of soap after the Sunday night welcome campfire, with the mention that this is a gift to be used up during the week.


2. Present a 11th Point award to all of those scouts that have their showers signed off during the week.


3. Have a SM minute each night of camp, with the Wednesday minute focusing on cleanliness.


4. Volunteer to clean the showers at the camp. That way, at least you can hose down the truly cruddy ones and feel like you've done your duty.

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We would always have the boy leaders ensure that all the kids went to shower on Wednesday night. Once in a while, one would slip through, but generally, they were fairly clean on Saturday morning.


I agree that nakedness factor gets into it big time. Kids never take public showers anywhere anymore. Used to be we all had to shower in PE. Didn't take long to get used to it. Now they don't. Our troop took a lot of road trips by bus, overnighting at military bases. Come morning, we took 'em all to the gym and hearded them into the showers. Kids would narc on each other if they didn't shower. A couple of days of that and they would think nothing of showering in front of everybody else.


Still, I don't think it's as big a deal today as it was years ago. Kids are not used to being dirty these days so they find a way to keep clean.

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A lot of the younger boys in my son's troop don't shower at camp, but they do swim.


Another hygiene issue that gets overlooked is brushing teeth. I don't think my son has ever brushed his teeth on a camp-out or at summer camp. Any ideas to promote tooth brushing?

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Having worked at camps for years, I've reached the conclusion that there is no magic cure for this issue. Anything you can think of, short of getting in there with the kid (a big NO to that idea, of course), and a truly dedicated non-showering kid will figure out a way around it. And hey, it is only a week. If they really get ripe, they'll probably get teased enough that they'll head for the shower on their own; if not, well, they'll live. It's the kids who go to camp for 8-10 weeks and never shower that you really need to watch out for.


I do like Semper's ideas, as well as just announcing that showers WILL be had by all (it may still work with some of the first year campers who don't know they can avoid it if they really try).


Also I always found that kids who had shower shoes with them were more willing to get in there - less of an "ick" factor from slimy concrete floors - so I guess I'd encourage boys to include those on their packing list.


The tooth brushing thing makes me laugh a bit. Fear of bad breath has become a major issue among our younger guys - not that they have it necessarily, but that they don't want to be accused of having it. But rather than packing a toothbrush (and actually using it, for goodness sake) they've latched on to those dissolving breath strips instead. Go figure. This one actuallly grosses me out more than the lack of showering.




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In a previous troop I served in, we had two boys in particular who took great pride in not bathing at camp. They also were major BO factories within the first day or two. Luckily, we had an SM who wouldn't take no for an answer on showering. He would allow them to wait until they were really ripe before requiring them to hose off.


I guess I remember my past differently. I entered junior high in 69 and graduated high school in 75. I hated showering in public in PE and at church camp. Part of it was because I was overweight and made an easy target. Teen aged kids are seldom kind. For boys who mature at different rates, there is also the "size" factor that comes into play. Again, teen aged boys are seldom kind. I helped muck out the church camp cabin a number of times before camp started and always thought it wasn't fair that the girls had doors on their toilet stalls and a system of curtains in their showers and us boys just had to just let it all hang out. One of the things guys liked to do was keep an eye out for a shy guy to sneak to the bathroom to do his business and then walk in and strike up a long conversation while he is trapped on the pot. They thought it was a hoot.


Privacy needs to be respected, especially for the younger boys. when designing a shower house, putting up dividers and curtains doesn't cost that much more.

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We tell the scouts going to summer camp, they have three main jobs at camp:


1) Have fun.

2) Work on advancements.

3) Be safe. Use the buddy system. Follow the camp rules, and take a shower every day, and while you're at it, check carefully for ticks, especially deer ticks. Lyme disease is a real concern and the best way to avoid getting sick is to remove the ticks within 24 hours. It works.


Also, without raising alarm, we explain to parents and scouts the symptoms of Lyme disease and West Nile virus, just to keep everyone as safe as possible.


Those are two things we didn't need to worry about, oh so many years ago....


Here is a quote from a website on Lyme disease.


"If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small. But just to be safe, monitor your health closely after a tick bite and be alert for any signs and symptoms of tick-borne illness."(This message has been edited by Aquila calva)

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The problem we've seen at Cub Scout Res. Camp isn't showering - it's so hot, the boys are usually ready for a cool-down shower at bedtime. The problem is ... um, er... holding it all in for 3 or 4 days. Those boys who don't go to the bathroom for several days usually end up in the med station with a really sick stomach.


As Res. Camp last year, the Scouts earned beads at different stations they visited. It became an inside joke among our den that when they went to the potty, they were (QUOTE) "earning a red bead!" They would proudly come running up to me and say, "I just earned a red bead!" Some got 2 a day :-) One boy didn't earn his first bead until the 3rd day - whew!


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Swimming at our camp is in a lake. Since most, if not all, of the Scouts are in the lake during the day, we feel it is important that they wash regularly with clean water (and soap). We have also had complaints in the past about stinky tents and boys.

So we have adopted the following rules (suggested by our PLC a few years ago) for Summer Camp Hygiene:


-SPL or his designee will take a group to the showers every morning - gives scouts the opportunity to shower if they want to.


-All Scouts will shower at least every other day - On Wednesdays, if you did not shower Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning or look dirty, you will shower prior to families arriving for Family Night. Note; showers at camp are communal (not private shower stalls) if you are uncomfortable with this you can wear your swim suit in the shower.


-You should bring a toothbrush & toothpaste and plan to use them. If you forget to bring them, you can purchase a toothbrush & toothpaste from the troop for $1.00.


-You should bring and use deoderant.


-Do not wear wet clothing. Plan to change out of wet clothing immediately after swimming or showering. Wearing wet clothing for an extended period of time can cause chafing.


-If you do not bring your own powder, powder is available from the Troop for use in helping to prevent or sooth chafing.


-Dirty clothes should be put in a plastic bag and not left lying in your tent (it makes your tent stink). If dirty clothes are wet, you should hang them up to dry before bagging them.



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