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andysmom

severe homesickness at camp

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Our troop is at summer camp this week. Yesterday one of the scouts was suffering from a severe bout of homesickness. He was wailing and crying for his mother, it went on for hours. His mom's orders to the troop leaders were to tell him to "suck it up". This was this scout's 3rd attempt at camp and both times previously he needed to go home early. He transferred into our troop from another earlier this year and had not been camping with our troop. Has anyone dealt with anything like this before? What did you do? Neither the youth leadership nor the adult leadership could calm him. His hyperventilating was so bad that he was passing out. It was eventually decided that this scout was causing such a disruption that we had to call and tell his parents that someone had to come stay with him or they could take him home and bring him back in the morning for program. His mom came to get him last night and brought him back this morning. She plans to go up to camp every night to stay with him, but he started crying again when she left today and a leader had to stay with him all morning. Before he left last night he was encouraged to come on more weekend campouts and he agreed, but does anyone have any other suggestions?

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3rd attempt at camp? Does this mean he is a 3rd year scout as in 12 or 13? Not having any friends in the troop can be hard on any kid as well. Do you have any exceptional scouts that could be his buddy and help him fit in?

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Sounds like you've done everything you can. I don't know about you guys, but we don't go to summer camp with enough adroit to provide 1:1 handholding. If the kid can't stand his mother being gone during the day, he needs to go home. It's rare, but every once in a while I get a boy who simply isn't ready or doesn't have the maturity for Boy Scouts. This sounds like one. His parents need to figure out his issues before dumping them on the troop.

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Yes, he is a 3rd year scout, going into 8th grade, probably 13. He has friends in our troop which is one of the reasons he left the other one. His tent mate is a friend who encouraged him to give our troop a try instead of quitting scouts. I think he has severe anxiety issues and needs to learn to manage them but I am worried about him.

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Some kids just can't conquer separation anxiety with immersion therapy. (Son #2's best friend had similar issues. Resulted in him quitting scouts.) Give the boy a chance for the next weekend camp, but don't get your hopes up. Talk seriously with the mom. If this is happening in other areas of the kids life, it's probably time to talk to a psychiatrist.

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You are in tough spot. He likely needs some therapy but suggesting that to Mom is WAY above your pay grade. Hopefully she will come to that realization. How is he with weekend campouts?

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Have you tried the camp chaplain, if your camp has one? One of the camps I worked at would hire a seminarian, those studying to become ordained ministers, to work the entire summer. One of the things the chaplains did was deal with homesickness.

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If he is hyperventaling and passing out because of this, it's a medical situation and he needs to go home. With Mom bringing him back, then a parent needs to stay with him.

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Thanks all. I haven't heard how he did last night. I think everyone might be right and this is just something that cannot be handled by the troop leadership. I suspect this might be why he left the other troop he was in. We are lucky enough to have a scout camp very nearby and the troop camps there often. Maybe if he starts by coming just for the day, or even a few hours at a time we can get him over this. Even if he is able to call home every couple hours so he knows that everything is ok. Summer camp has no cell service. Personally I think this is a problem that needs serious attention from his parents and I know there is only so much we can do. Everyone deals with the occasional homesick scout but this was beyond anything I had ever seen. It is sad for me that he is suffering so much and I would hate for him to miss out on the benefits of scouting because of it.

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Yeah I'd contact camp staff. I had to deal with a hyperventilating boy who cried for days and eventually got so upset he vomited on my class A's (at which point I thought 'I am spending a week of vacation on this'.) But he was a first year (and apparently his mother bribed him as well). Eventually we paired him with an older boy who made the MAJOR mistake of letting him call home on Father's Day.

 

DO NOT let him call home unless Mom is prepared to pick him up. Any time I have seen someone give in on that one it always seems to blow up on you.

 

We have had some luck just running the boy ragged, doing extra jobs, making sure he is busy and tired.

 

I don't think Mom getting him for over nights is working.

 

In my experience most of these boys leave scouting...

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... He likely needs some therapy but suggesting that to Mom is WAY above your pay grade. Hopefully she will come to that realization. ...
Maybe I'm biased because I work "in the business", but this fear of insulting someone HURTS THE KID. This is the right age for a person to start building strategies to keep the anxiety at bay, to learn when meds are needed, to learn when to call for help.

 

Now if this is just about scouting, no problem. But scouting and school, or scouting and when mom and dad leave for work, or scouting and church camp, or scouting and sleeping over at his best friends' ... telling the parents that this is the worst case you ever saw and suggesting professional help may just save the kid's life.

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I have anxiety issues myself and was able to connect with this scout when I told him about my most recent anxiety attack. He seemed to appreciate that I could somewhat relate to what he was experiencing. He told me he doesnt have the anxiety with school. I do know that Mom was his den leader in cub scouts and has purposely not been involved in troop activities because she wants him to more self sufficient. I dont know the Mom well, as he is new in the troop, but I would like to talk with her more to try to figure out her position and see how open she is. I agree that having Mom spend the nights at camp is not ideal but atleast the scout will get to experience what camp has to offer during the day. For what it's worth, my own son has anxiety issues as well, we choose to medicate him because I could see how it was negatively affecting his life.

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IMHO, home sickness is much more common now. Especially as kids spend so much more time "IN THE HOUSE" and "WITH THE PARENTS". When we were kids, parents kicked us outside and told us not to come back until the next meal. Now, kids are watched so much that they can't handle independence.

 

We see it every year with a few scouts. It is very hard for them. The only good solution we've seen is to keep them busy morning to night. Work on MB requirements and advancement requirements. Make them learn lashing inside and out. Then, build some lashing construct for camp. Keep them hydrated, but get them worn out so they fall asleep.

 

Another issue we've found is tents. Young scouts are not used to old style tents that can have spiders and dark. They like the nylon tents that have zippered doors and keep the bugs out.

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This topic hits me right at home at a young age about 13 or 14 I went to a boarding school for high school and homesickness was very tough for me. I had spent a lot of time away from my parents as a kid but this was for three months at at time with a bunch of strangers and this is what the school did for me and all the other kids there as well. they worked our butts off the first few weeks we were doing something just about every minute of the day. They kept our minds off of home. This scout does sound like he has more issues then are normal and he does need help a lot of it is way above your pay grade and how do you tell a parent that the kids need to see a professional ?

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