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I guess we are fortunate (?) in that our camp is about a 7.5 hour drive from home. That discourages parents from wanting to make the drive to pick up a homesick scout. Also the only pay phone at camp is about a 2 mile walk from our campsite!

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Just got back from week-long overseas camp. Got two homesickness cases. One for about 1 and half days and the other several days later for about 2 days. Interesting as I expected the first but number 2 was an experienced and motivated Scout who is invariably cheerful.


Both have smothering mothers - in the nicest and most non-malicious way I might add. Both had older siblings on the camp too (not sure if this worked for or against). Regardless the following will be the trigger if not the cause


The stranger the Scouts situation the more likely and longer lasting the episode. For example:


does the Scout know the other campers?

are the activities very different?

are the leaders different?

...the food/tentage/gear?

...the weather?

...the natural/man made environment?

...the culture? and in our case language.


The more yes answers the more likely the problem. Some you can prepare for and others just need running solutions.


I explained why they were feeling awful, that it is normal, that everyone feels down at some point during camp, that the solution is:


get busy, and





Homesickness seems to happen on later camps if it was not handled well (by the Scout) on the first occassion.

(This message has been edited by ozemu)

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Left for Summer Camp at Camp Friedlander last Sunday (one hour from home). Everyone fine, busy fisrts day at camp. Weather was hot and humid (heat ndex over 100 for 2 1/2 days).


At about 2AM Monday morning, I had a scout (15 years old and the oldest in the troop) crying that he couldn't sleep and his stomach hurt. I told him I would take him to the medical lodge, wake up the medics, and have him checked out. He refused. I told him to just go back to his tent and try to go to sleep that with the heat and humidity everyone was having trouble sleeping. He did. His tentmate told me he cryed for about another hour. The next morning he was up, went to breakfast, merit badge sessions, etc. and told me that he was fine. At 9PM on Monday, he was back for the same reason. I spoke to the other leaders in the camp and we agreed that I should call his mother. So I did. She went on and on about how his asthma is so bad along with his "other" lung problems that she was worried how he would handle the high heat and humidity because he can't breath well when that happens. She also asked if his stomach was hurting. She told me she had his medicine at home and said he should probably come home. I asked why we didn't have it and why it wasn't on his medical form. She didn't know why. Shen spoke with him and he packed up to leave. As he did so, I retrieved my copy of his medical form and all it said was that he had asthma and should have an emergency inhailer with him and that he has upset stomachs with no mention of medication. When the medic asked about the inhailer at the Sunday evening med check, he said he didn't use it anymore.


He showed no signs of having trouble breathing and definitly was in no distress. And the medics had plenty of over the counter remidies for upset stomachs. So what it boiled down to was that he was homesick and spoiled to boot. His mother said she would bring him back the next day after the front came through that would cool things down a bit. They didn't show up. She also told the other leaders wife (that came for family night) that she was bringing him for family night and leaving him there. They didn't show up.


This incident opened the flood gates. I had another boy ask if I had anyone go home from camp early because of homesickness. I said not yet, but give it an hour. I also reminded him that he couldn't go home because he gave his dad such a huge amount of lip service that he wouldn't be homesick and that he needed the vacation from dad. He agreed taht he should stickit out and got extra busy, the other scouts in camp jumped in to help too.


Then the next day, a third boy wanted to call his mother. He wanted to ask her to come to parents night (she told him she wasn't when we left).


Then my son said he wanted to go home (he lives with his mother), but he knew he couldn't do that.


By Wednesday, the fifth wanted to go home too.


That left my girlfriend's son. I was proud of him. Not once did he show any sign of homesockness, not even when he found out I was speaking to his mother on the cell phone (he did ask me to ask her to bring more underwear when she came for parents night, then ran off). Adn he only cryed for about 10 seconds when she left on family night.


I didn't have any of these problems last year with these boys, but we were 3 1/2 hours away. I think we will choose camps at least 2 hours away from now on.

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After reading many of the above, I am grateful our camp is about 7 hours from home and thus there are no provisions for Family Days. Seems that sparks some of the problems. I think our scouts realize their parents would not be very happy driving 14 hours round trip to bring them home!



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I just can't imagine attending family night mid-week and leaving without my son! As I said, he didn't get homesick until I was there a few hours. He started getting tired and realized he had not had any "one on one" time with me in some time. Being an only child, he is used to quiet time with either me or his grandparents. I knew before hand that once I showed up, I would not be able to leave without him. There would be no showing up for a couple of hours and then saying "see ya later". He would be hanging on to the bumper of the car!


If they go to a camp with family night during the week, I'll just have to say "oops, can't make it". He did do fine the next week at 4-H camp even after getting hurt and talking to me on the phone. He had a great excuse/reason to come home and turned it down. There was TOO much fun going on.


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This is not the approach that everyone would take, but this is how I prevented homesickness. For the first year, I attended all of my sons' camping trips (as a Scouter). I did not hover around their site. I stayed with the adults. They knew I was around if they needed me. They soon discovered that I was "not needed". My sons realized that if I were not there, they would still have fun and be just as safe. Consequently, when I did stay home, it was no big deal. Of course, the trick is...you can't be babying them on these trips. You have to make yourself transparent. Any way, it worked for my family. My kids are pretty independent.

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I don't understand why camps even have a family night. The camp that we went too is three hours away and I was surprised at the number of parents that drove up for a visit. They couldn't eat in the chow hall and we were going to watch an OA ceremony after dinner so they only got to visit with their kids for about a half an hour. A six hour drive for a half an hour visit.


Just let the kids go. Cut the apron strings. It is part of life.

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I was told the reason for Family night is so the parents see the camp and to make them feel they want to send their son there next year.


I think the best I've seen is the camp had family night on Friday. They were invited for dinner ($6 seemed steep for a piece of chicken or two andsome mashed potatoes and salad.), a tour of the camp and closing campfire. At closing campfire the troops paraded into the ampetheater(?) with the Troop being announced along with SM and SPL. Each troop that was performing skits, etc did their thing and the parents were there to see. If homesickness overtook the boys then, they could just pack up and go home with mom & dad (with the promise they would show up the next afternoon to help unload and stow the troop gear, of course). All they were going to do was sleep, pack up and leave the next morning anyway.


If I had to vote for what night parents night should be and I couldn't pick none, then I'd pick Friday.


Camp Friedlander had it on Wednesday, disruptive, fostered homesickness in the middle of the week,

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"I was told the reason for Family night is so the parents see the camp and to make them feel

they want to send their son there next year."


That never occurred to me because I just assumed that the camp must be pretty decent if the troop goes there every year and 90% of the boys claim that it was a blast.

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Yeah, but I guess you could put the boys in an environment where they would have fun, but the parent might have reservations about thier son being there. Even at a place like a Boy Scout Summer Camp.


One of the complaints from a few parents on parents night was the rudeness of the lady at the front desk when they came in. One parent said that if she had let that first impression guide her, her son would have gone home with her. So it doesn't take much for people to think something is unsuatable for thier child.

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I suggest that everyone copy and save the text of smaster101's comments dated 7/22/02. I did. I intend to use it in next spring's new parent letter -- it was far more articulate than my equivalent message!


Needless to say, as a fellow SM with about 10 years behind me, I agree wholeheartedly with SM101's advice.


We just returned from camp. We took 34 boys 400 miles to camp in another state. We had 3 homesickness cases. Two lasted the 1 hour average that I have learned to expect. After a small talk about how much fun the boy was having and a suggestion of a new activity, they were both "cured" and had a ball the rest of the week.


Boy 3 is the one I'm writing about. His dad was on the trip, helping to drive and staying the first two full days of camp. We go out of state every other year, this year to Mt. Rushmore. After a week of camp, we have a 5 day "vacation" as a troop and go sight seeing. Dad of boy 3 had to go home after two days for work. He made a big deal of his leaving (one of several places he didn't follow my advice). He also told his son that he had "special permission" to call dad that night after Dad would be home (the troop rule is that no boy is allowed to the use the phone, period.) We have SM mail, regular mail, care packages, etc.


The boy was upset as afternoon approached and so we had a talk. He admitted he was having fun, and that he would probably have fun the next day. We didn't talk about the phone, I decided to let him bring it up, but he didn't. I had another leader talk with him a bit later, and he admitted to her that he really didn't want to call home because he knew that he'd feel worse, but he clearly wanted someone to tell him it was ok not to call. She did. He was fine by morning and had a ball the rest of the week.


In short, we never permit calls home from any outing, and in more than 15 years of summercamps, the only boys I've ever had with really bad cases of homesickness have been those who did call home. In all those years I've only had one boy go home, and that was because "helicopter mom" hovered in for a rescue. Of course, they promised to return the next day, but I didn't expect to see them again, and sure enough, they not only didn't appear at camp, but left scouting as well.



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I have received some pretty pathetic letters from my girls and sometimes from the boy when they are at camp. Fortunately the mail delays the arrival of these letters and I know from experience that they never want to go home by the time I pick them up from camp becaused they have had such a good time.


I have never received a phone call but if I had I know for a fact that I would not rescue for homesickness........it's not fatal and generally not even long term damaging. Keep the kids busy and distracted. Most bouts occur the first night and may disappear if the scout is allowed to stay up and read or play cards, or talk to another night owl. The next night they are generally too tired to fret.


One campout one of my Brownies periodically wept, but stuck it out and never asked to go home just always had wet eyes. We kept her busy (she was only 7)extra hugs, let her sit on our lap when working on a project if she needed (might not fly with all the boys) and kept her company at night. The next year she was the first to sign up. Most girls and boys can suck it up. We also tried a sad chair or spot within sight of the activities so that the camper could be homesick but still SEE the fun they were missing. They usually didn't stay sad for long because they were missing out and not getting too much attention.

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Great Points...though I don't agree with the no phone deal. I tell my new scouts that they are now big guys, and there is the phone, BUT they should be trustworthy and let me know if they call home about homesickness. This experiment worked real well in years past, not so good this year. I had a scout go home this year. I believe this was a battle between mom and scout, and this may have been the first time mom said no to the scout and the scout was not about to allow this pattern of behavior continue. Now I know that all of us scouters are paid handsomely to deal with these problems, but this kid had gotten so out of control that we had to deal with 10 seriously homesick kids. We are going over this matter, to see what we can learn from it and hopefully prevent it in the future, but sometimes you gotta cut bait.

The good news is all the scouts who made it. This new bunch is one of the most immature scouts we've had in a while, most being young for there grade. I held a mini ceremony commending their bravery at end of camp, with parents there. I've also schedule, through PL's, follow meetings with the new scouts in the weeks following camp to re inforce a positive experience.

Hopefully next year they will all stay and yes, I will continue my "you can call home anytime policy...it just takes a good pre camp parents meeting to cover those calls.


John Brogan, Jr

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