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ScoutMom45036

My new Scout's going to camp but freaking out

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I have been an involved Cub Scout mom for 6 years, and my 11yo recently crossed over to Boy Scouts. I want him to go to the weeklong camp this summer (Ransburg in IN); I feel it's important to start scouting with an immersive experience. He is bucking it big time. Supposedly he doesn't want to go because I won't be there. Backstory: his father and I divorced when he was young, and while we're both involved, he prefers time with me. His dad is not involved in scouting. As a school teacher, I could get certified as a volunteer and go to camp--but helping him become independent is a major reason I want him in scouting. He does see a counselor for anxiety and emotional issues. BTW I am not a hover mom-- I am excited about him trying new things at camp--but he is freaking out. Thoughts? TIA

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Posted (edited)

With anxieties...Small steps. Gradual transitions, with no sudden surprises, to build confidence.

Become a trained leader. Plan to stay the week if he needs you. Hopefully after 2 or 3 days, he will say I got this Mom.

Edited by RememberSchiff
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4 hours ago, ScoutMom45036 said:

He is bucking it big time. 

Don't make him go.

 

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I think a lot a new cross overs are concerned about going to a week long summer camp.  My son goes to therapy for anxiety as well and will be going to summer camp.  I would first recommend talking with his counselor.  Any advice coming from us is not with the full background of knowledge of your son’s situation.  The counselor should be able to help.  

1) My son will be going on a new scout camp out before summer camp.  Just 2 nights away then home.

2) I’m working with my son prepping him for the swim test.  He’s close but not quite there.  If he doesn’t pass or doesn’t feel comfortable I told him sticking with beginner is fine.  

3) I’ve let the leaders know he is anxious about the trip.  He isn’t medicated at all, but I thought they should know.

4) I may go later in the week.  I really want him to build resilience.

Each kid is different so it’s difficult to know what he can take.  My father was a scoutmaster for many years and he found that  most parents underestimate what their sons can handle.... but I know it’s a tough call. Again, I would highly recommend talking with his counselor to get their input.

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Has he had the chance to go on any troop campouts (weekend) yet? One of the big advantages of earlier crossovers is to go on a few weekend trips before summer camp. That said, yeah talk with his counselor about the best approach, if its putting off summer camp for a year, you going for part of the time, or what. I would recommend against the phrasing of "go and if you get too worried I'll come and get you" because that can setup the wrong dynamic in his mind.

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Posted (edited)

Go with him!   Go with him and make some memories.  At camp, don't let him velcro to you, he can go off with the other Scouts but see you back for whenever the adult leaders and youth are in proximity -- meals?  (I don't know, I have not been to summer camp yet). But be there, but when you are there he has his own schedule and stuff, and you have your own stuff.  

Talk to the counselor and the Scoutmaster about it.  Your son should be working with his patrol leader and that kid will be the point person for your son at camp, NOT you. 

I hope that helps!  

After his first time he may be much more comfortable.  

Edited by WisconsinMomma
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Did he do any multi-night camping as a Cub Scout? I think this is where those cub camp summer sessions can really make a difference, doing 2-3 nights in camp with mom/dad, then maybe 5 nights as Webelos, so that by the time they cross over the idea of a week at summer camp is no big deal.

I know it's a little after-the-fact in this case, but just saying for others reading this thread. If you have a scout that might be anxious (as I do as well), I view the summer camp experience as a Cub as being a crucial transitional step into a Troop.

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Out of the hundreds of scouts that attended summer camp while I a leader, I can remember two that were absolutely miserable, no matter what we did to help them. Both those scouts were in the same situation of good caring single mothers who put their sons in scouting to give them some experiences with independence. I agree with the comments that this is a difficult to answer your question because each scout is different as well as not knowing the adults of the troop. I'm sure you are being as  up front with the troop as you are with us, so this may just take some gradual steps.  

I will throw out one possibility if it comes to this point, there are some older scouts or past scouts who might be willing to personally assist and guide your son if you pay for his camp fees. 

I wish you all the success because I have seen that whatever your son is struggling, you as a mother are struggling that much more. 

Barry

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@ScoutMom45036, welcome to the forums!

A couple of son #2's best buddies had anxiety issues ... maybe related to divorce, but usually it was more complicated than that. If the boy's telling you he's nervous about it now, it's a good indication that giong "cold turkey" wont work.

Our troop has welcomed moms like you with kids like yours to come camp with us adults. You're not the problem mom who we generally worry about. Generally, you're good company, and you're not hovering over your son. You get to know the leaders and other parents and catch them up on the things your son is going through. You might actually do us a favor and mentor some of our other boys -- that's not expected, but when it happens, it's good to see. During the day, you might be able to help the camp staff .

But, at the very least, by getting registered and trained, you'll get a sense of how we leaders should be accountable to one another. That's always helpful.

One other thing you might not have noticed: but your son is old enough to take on chores. Make sure he's responsible for some things besides homework ... garbage pick-up and putting out ... setting up and cleaning up dishes ... helping you cook ... checking the doors/lights in the evening ... putting away laundry ... making his bed in the morning.  Just enough of those, and a week away from home begins to sound sweet. :cool:

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Go with him!   Go with him and make some memories.  At camp, don't let him velcro to you, ...

I fully agree.  I'd also suggest developing your own plan for camp.  Such as ... bring two or three large books to read.  Or bring wood carving supplies for yourself.  Or work on your schoool lesson plans for next year.  Or a sewing kit.  Or take lots of naps.  Create a plan for yourself so that you are busy.  Maybe there are courses at the summer camp for adults to become trained adult leaders.  I've seen that too.  But make your activities boring for your son so that he goes off on his own with his friends and grows.

Edited by fred8033
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Independence.... 

Every kid goes thru some homesickness, to one degree or another, sometime. It may not be at camp, the grown  adult may not remember it or acknowledge it, but it was there. 

Your Scout needs understanding and folks to acknowledge and accept his feelings, his reticence. He needs to join with and get to know the Scouts in his Troop and to be reassured that, yeah, he is feeling low and lonely and misses … mom? Dad?  but it will get better.  Sometimes all it takes is another kid to say "yeah, I felt like that, but it does get better."  

Dealing with separation anxiety is tough.  Your boy must eventually learn and accept that 1) you and his home will be there when he gets back from wherever he goes. You WILL be there. 2) The divorce was NOT his fault, regardless of anything else he may have heard or decided. 3) Metaphorically, the world is his, he can take it in as slow or as fast as he wishes.  Fire burns, ice chills, the world reacts accordingly, it doesn't care who one is or where one comes from.  And Mom (Dad?) will be there when he gets back.... 

As he gains in life skills (doing his own laundry, cooking, putting stuff away so it will be there when he wants it the next time...) and Scouting will definitely help in this, he will come to realize  he needs mom for other stuff, and the tent he set up and slept in is just temporary fun, another experience to experience and have fun with.  

Should you become a Scout Leader?  Absolutely, and help the other Scouts over their humps, just as the other Scouters will (I hope and expect!)  help your boy over his.  Repeat after me:  "Why don't you go ask your Patrol Leader?" 

Find a book by Eric Sloane, "Diary of an Early American Boy".  If your young Scout is a reader, I think he would enjoy it.  If he likes doing with his hands,  find "A Reverence for Wood"  by Mr. Sloane.  Your boy may well become  a Troop Instructor.   

See you on the trail.

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Sign up and go as a leader.   Scouting should be a years long journey.  One of the surest ways to have that journey cut short is if the scout has a truly miserable experience early on.  If your presence is necessary to keep his experience from being immiserating than you should be there.  He may still not like it, scout camp can be a long week away from the things he knows he does like, but it's OK if it's not a great experience just as long as it's not so bad that he doesn't want to continue in scouts at all. 

DavidCO's advice was don't make him go.  I would choose that course of action only if you believe that even your presence will not make it a miserable experience for him, and you of course are the best, albeit still an imperfect, predictor of that.

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Homesickness at summer camp for most scouts wears off by the second or third day. Homesickness also lessens once they become occupied with their activities and the boys begin to bond and mesh as a group. IMHO, that's really the greatest thing about summer camp. No other time of the year (except for possibly High Adventure outings) allows for that same level of building camaraderie and brotherhood.

Again, the vast majority of kids who do experience homesickness do adjust in the first few days, and then do just fine, but there are more extreme cases.

A few years ago, there was a second year scout in our troop who went as far as to actually stop eating, or eat very little, in order to make himself sick with the hope that his parents would be forced to come and get him. I don't remember if he had gone to summer camp for his first year or not. He actually did make it through the full week of camp but he was completely miserable the whole time and sadly never really adjusted. Suffice it to say, he quit scouts. 

If you go with your son this year, will he feel more comfortable about going solo next year? Or will your being there strengthen his dependence on you being present next summer also?

I'd recommend having him not attend summer camp this year. Let him get to know the scouts and other leaders more over the year and hopefully he will be ready to go next year. When he sees that the other boys who did go have a leg up on advancement, that may also motivate him to attend next year.

 

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