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Cell Phones at Summer Camp

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Does your unit allow cell phones at summer camp? Does your summer camp allow phones?

My Troop allows phones at summer camp but if the SPL sees one out he will take it. Are camps leaders guide says they would rather kids don’t bring cell phones (probably because of issues with homesickness, camp is only accessible by boat making midnight trips home a pain for everyone involved). We once had a kid who called home in the middle of the night and the parents showed up to camp the only problem was that night there was a thunderstorm so you couldn’t go on the boat so the scoutmaster, spl and I walked the kid up the “fire road” a steep access road that could only by used by a 4 x 4 with clearance or tractor. We ended up meeting the kids parents  on CA-168 (2 lane non divided mountain road). After that incident we are considering banning cell phones to prevent that incident. What do you guys think??

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2 hours ago, chief027 said:

Does your unit allow cell phones at summer camp? Does your summer camp allow phones?

My Troop allows phones at summer camp but if the SPL sees one out he will take it. Are camps leaders guide says they would rather kids don’t bring cell phones (probably because of issues with homesickness, camp is only accessible by boat making midnight trips home a pain for everyone involved). We once had a kid who called home in the middle of the night and the parents showed up to camp the only problem was that night there was a thunderstorm so you couldn’t go on the boat so the scoutmaster, spl and I walked the kid up the “fire road” a steep access road that could only by used by a 4 x 4 with clearance or tractor. We ended up meeting the kids parents  on CA-168 (2 lane non divided mountain road). After that incident we are considering banning cell phones to prevent that incident. What do you guys think??

They aren't allowed for our boys and girls.  I know some kids sneak one in their bag and use it at night, but other than that, or for kids that have some specific medical need for it, they aren't allowed.

We also explicitly tell new scout parents that they should NOT plan on talking to their kids during the week of camp and if somehow the kid calls them, they should try and disengage and get off the phone ASAP because the longer the kid is on the phone, the more likely homesickness will become a problem.

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We allow cell phones but they can only be used for "Scouting purposes".  i.e. as an alarm clock, camera, requirement fulfillment, etc.  We will confiscate it if we find them using them to play games or as social media.  We also let them no there is no way to charge them so whenever the battery goes dead, that's it for the week.

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Our main Council camp ground has zero cell service anyway. So about all the phones are good for there are as alarm clocks and cameras. 

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Summer camp isn't supposed to be prison camp. I would never keep a scout at camp against his will. Even if he didn't bring a cell phone to camp, I would let him borrow a leader's phone to call home and ask to be picked up. 

 

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8 minutes ago, David CO said:

Summer camp isn't supposed to be prison camp. I would never keep a scout at camp against his will. Even if he didn't bring a cell phone to camp, I would let him borrow a leader's phone to call home and ask to be picked up. 

 

I don't think that's the intention. It's just that kids are more likely to get homesick if they have ready and easy access to call home. 

At least, that's what I've been told over and over. I haven't witnessed it. My own older kids never seemed to suffer from homesickness. I expect my daughter might, but for her I honestly think being able to call home would help. But she's a unique kid. 

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We defer to the SM. For a while we had an SM who tried to lock things down. Sure enough, after the SM's son loaned the boy a phone to call Mom, he definitely wanted to go home. But the kid's family situation was making things worse. The trouble started at family night when Dad planted the seed.

The next, and current, SM was more easy going. Sure boys would phone home. But when they did we could work with parents more effectively. The kept the boys talking to us, and made sure that the line was "see you at the end of the week."

The new SM is all about Scoutbook, so I don't think the phones will be stashed any time soon.

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The leaders' guide, for the camp we will be attending, says

Quote

Mobile Phones are NOT allowed in camp. The use of mobile phones by Scouts in camp is strictly prohibited.
Adults that need to use them are requested to use them out of sight of the Scouts and down in the parking lot
area. Mobile phones that are used by Scouts will be confiscated. Mobile phones detract from the outdoor
experience of Scouting and can complicate issues of homesickness.

I have been told, by those who have been to the camp previously, that the camp is strict about its phone policy.

I am quite happy with that.

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We dont allow the scouts to have phones in camp, they stay in the car. Before we go to camp the SPl talks about the no phone policy and always mentions one of the reason why is because we don't want first years calling home. So even if the older scouts sneak a phone they know not to share it.

I am really good at getting first year scouts to rat out scouits with phones, it only works the first year though :)

 

 

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Our camp tells scouts to not bring cellphones because lack of coverage, damage/theft/loss,  and program distraction.  Scouts still bring their cells along with a charger pack which more than lasts the week.

Our unit parents decreed  their scouts can carry their cellphones for safety as they already do for school and further argue

    1: from YP: "All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents"  and so their scouts should be able to directly contact their parents.

    2.  today, the cellphone is the multi-purposed device  (flashlight, camera, compass, communicatios,...) which they can always carry, whereas a pocketknife  less so. 

So far no problems. YMMV. 

 

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Since I staff the area in a camp with for first year scouts, I work with the youngest scouts. I have seen a small amount of phones during instruction time throughout the whole summer. It’s easy to notice if they are homesick and texting their parents. My camp suggests to not bring it, but people still do. 

If they do bring a phone, the best thing I’ve noticed was to simply just talk to them. I feel like if I took it away at any point, they would get even more homesick. 

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Last year, as a new ASM, I inherited a prior Troop policy that allowed smart phones at camp.  It was a real problem all week.  Scouts watching movies of questionable content and language;  Scouts huddled around the only available plug to charge their phones.  It was equally disruptive for those scouts who didn't have or didn't bring their phones.  After camp, and as the new SM, we instituted a new policy which banned phones in troop meetings and on campouts (except for drives of greater than 3 hours, after which they get locked away in the car).  Our trips over the past year were much improved by the absence of the distraction.  Interested to see the new policy in action in July.  

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This takes me back to boy scout sheath knives and hatchet on belts.  We had similar issues back then.  Although different and uses differ, my weathered experience tends to lean toward allowing them.  The best thing I suggest is educate, enforce, and praise limited use of phones and electronics.  I've seen units set aside 15 minutes of call times when parents and scouts were available.  We have parents as "separated" and needing the contact as the scout.  Phones are not going away, better to fnd a way to work positive into our programs.

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Best source of information on nature, weather, cooking, skits, songs = the "device."  "No, no, no" lists do not teach appropriate behavior,.  Remember why we are doing this, even if some have forgotten.  

 

"A boy carries out suggestions more wholeheartedly when he understands their aim."

 

"Correcting bad habits cannot be done by forbidding or punishment."

"Trust should be the basis for all our moral training."

"We never fail when we try to do our duty, we always fail when we neglect to do it."

B-P

 

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Our troop went through several iterations of views on electronics, from absolutely none, to OK to use them in a car on the ride there, to our current policy that phones are a tool, and like all tools need to be used correctly.

As with most things, it was the adults who had the hardest time adjusting to the evolution of this practice.  

There is no one right way to experience the outdoors, and there is certainly no one way to prevent or treat homesickness.  I've had kids for whom having contact was a good thing, and some for whom the contact didn't help.  Most often setting limits and expectations seems to provide the most consistent results: call home once or twice a day, maybe after dinner, maybe last thing before bed.  But there is no one size fits all, the most important thing is communication between the leader and the parent to work together to help the scout manage his distress.  I feel strongly that our troop, our leaders, and our scouts are in a better position to decide this than some blanket decision by a camp director or council Camping Committee.

One example I use to illustrate for other scouters why our troop has the practice that we do comes from a Philmont trip a couple years ago.

A handful of scouts and two adults from our troop were set to go to Philmont as part of our council contingent.  The trek leader was going to be a scouter from another troop who pretty much makes the trip every year.  During the shakeout phase he told the scouts that they absolutely would not be allowed to have phones with them on the trek.  They would need to get cameras for pictures, wouldn't be allowed to contact anyone outside the trek, etc.  Why?  Because that's just the way you should do Philmont.  I know this scouter, and for all his virtues, he does often espouse the view that there is only one right way to do things.

By the time the actual trip came my troop's scouts were part of a different crew led by one of our adults and fleshed out by a couple of scouts and an adult from a third troop.

During the trek, soon after summitting Baldy, my scouts managed to find just enough of a signal to text me a photo of them from the top and a long heartfelt thanks for having been instrumental in preparing them for the great adventure they were on.  It brought tears to my eyes when I received it, and I since have printed and framed both the note and the picture. 

Any argument that their doing that was somehow wrong, given the pleasure it brought both me and them, seems totally absurd to me.

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