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Cell Phones at Summer Camp

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The statistician in the forum has doubts:

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“Calling home is not a treatment for homesickness,” says Thurber. “Five percent of the phone calls have no effect, and the rest have a deleterious effect.”

If I understand Thurber's research (Thurber C, Walton E. 2007. Preventing and Treating Homesickness. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 16 (4), 843-858), it is based on a sample of convenience in a camp in New England with no controlled trial. Most of us aren't talking about treating homesickness. Most of us are talking about preventing it. And from the time we walked with our SM and our homesick buddy so he could use the payphone to call his mom, we should have learned that the phone isn't the problem.

His study suggested that there were ways to blunt "homesickness intensity", and much of that involved preparing the parents. So, that's a great job for your CC.  But, it's not at all clear that the incidence of homesickness (i.e,. percent of boys actually withdrawing from activity and/or asking to go home) was reduced.

So far, I have not found a multi-center randomized trials of cell-phone strategy that would test if setting policy one way or another would reduce the % of scouts who need to head home on day three of camp.

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3 minutes ago, qwazse said:

His study suggested that there were ways to blunt "homesickness intensity", and much of that involved preparing the parents. So, that's a great job for your CC.  But, it's not at all clear that the incidence of homesickness (i.e,. percent of boys actually withdrawing from activity and/or asking to go home) was reduced.

So far, I have not found a multi-center randomized trials of cell-phone strategy that would test if setting policy one way or another would reduce the % of scouts who need to head home on day three of camp.

I'm not sure I should respond in this discussion because the easy answer is hard.

But I want to respond this this part about homesickness. We found that preparing the parents did indeed help the majority of our homesickness. What I personally believe is the parents are the ones who are homesick. For most scouts, the first summer camp is the first time the parents are separated from their kids for more than 1 night. They respond by telling their kids "I can't wait until you get back", or "when you get back, we will have fun doing this or that". Their kids are being programmed that being away from their parents is a "temporary must" that is bad for them. So, we sit down and work with the parents to start encouraging the kids to look at the adventure side and the fun activities. That the week will be short and packed with a lot of great memories. Then for the parents therapy, writes letters of how they are excited to hear stories of the fun, so have as much fun as they can get. Don't say how they miss them or that even the dog misses them.

I feel that most kids go through some homesickness because their routine is changed so much for such a long period time. But, summer camps keep kids pretty busy, so they don't have much time to harp on it. And if the parents are excited for them, well,  all the much better. Yes, preparing the parents a few weeks before summer camp helps a lot.

That being said, there are now and then those chronic homesickenss scouts that nothing seems to help. Usually, there is something else behind the situation. Most often for us was divorce and the fear of separation. In most cases, the parent sees it coming and warns the troop. And in most cases, absolutely nothing helps. In the end, the parents came to pick those scouts. I think two in my experience.

HOWEVER, I want to warn that other causes might be in order. I give the one example of the scout during our summer camp in Colorado. This is one of those scouts that absolutely loves camping and has a very supportive family. So he was a big surprise. He was so depressed that suicide came up in the discussion. But, on our way home from camp, as we descended below 5000 ft (camp was around 8000 ft.) the scout came alive. He was all of a sudden his chatty self and excited for the rafting activity we were doing on our way home. He, was a complete opposite of what he was the day before. We later discussed this with doctors and they certainly believe the scout was suffering from altitude sickness. After that, we prepared for altitude sickness future high adventure activities. I can count two that we encountered on backpacking trips. One at Philmont. It's amazing to witness because getting to a lower altitude fixes the problem.

Barry

 

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15 hours ago, David CO said:

I think there is a very simple solution. Call home. If the parent says to take away the cell phone, take it away. No theft involved.

We did that at Sea Base last year when a situation with 2 scouts on our vessel reached a point where the parent needed to be called.  Also, they were told to leave cell phones in the van back at the Sea Base barracks but this scout didn't leave his.  The scout refused to turn over the phone so we got the parents to talk to him.  Then he turned it over.

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Had a discussion with our new CC. She said the cellphones were a concern of hers. I told her it should be determined by whatever the new SM can stand.

I did not go over the legalities of theft, even though we might find ourselves camping on her family's property in Ohio.:D

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13 hours ago, elitts said:

I'm not sure if you are being deliberately stubborn in refusing to understand what I'm saying or if you are just completely unfamiliar with how summer camps and kids work.  

Thanks for the condescension. 

 

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22 hours ago, qwazse said:

His study suggested that there were ways to blunt "homesickness intensity", and much of that involved preparing the parents. So, that's a great job for your CC.  But, it's not at all clear that the incidence of homesickness (i.e,. percent of boys actually withdrawing from activity and/or asking to go home) was reduced.

 

Most of the other camp pages I've seen talking about homesickness said there are a number of ways that well-meaning parents sabotage their own kids before camp and warn parents against it.

  • Sending kids off with a teary "I'm going to miss you SOO much";
  • Talking about what the family is going to do while the scout is gone as anything other than "sitting at home doing nothing";
  • Reassuring "last minute jitters" with "Just give it a try and see how you like it the first day or two";
  • Writing multiple letters to arrive each day (implies lack of confidence in the scout's ability);

Many of them suggest the best option is to completely shut down any hint that going home early is even possible so that the kids give up on the hope (conscious or sub-conscious) that they can convince the parents to come get them; because once they give up thinking about how much they want to go home, they resign themselves to participating and end up having fun.  (Obviously if the SM thinks the kid has clearly proven they aren't ready, a call can be made to parents, they just don't want you to let the kids know that)

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On 6/2/2019 at 9:59 PM, SSScout said:

The well mannered kid wants to be ignored and the badly behaving one wants the attention. It is a learned behavior.  Too late for the parents to re-learn how to direct the child...

As a sub teacher, I learned early on to call the kid's bluff. (he 's just a sub, he won't do anything..." yes he will and has).  7th grade science class.  Average suburban school, overcrowded class, tho.  Class was about volcanoes !  Neat video about Hawaii and Kileuaua, which I had happened to have been to.  Girl in back of class on cellphone, talking LOUD.  I continue my lecture, walk back and take the phone out of her hand, saying "you may pick this up after school", walk back to front of class and continue.... you never saw such a surprised look on a girl's face.  She later apologized, and I had no problems with any other class that day.  

LOL, I've had this happen in college classes. Students are amazingly 'entitled', some of them. So what I've done is stop the lecture, announce to the offending persons that they should stop being rude to the rest of the class and to me. That usually results in a resentful acknowledgement. But a couple of times they ignored me. So I announced to the entire class a 'pop quiz' on the subject of today's lecture. Enough points to make a difference on the final course grade. Surprisingly, I have never had to repeat this tactic to the same class...perhaps they CAN be taught.

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27 minutes ago, elitts said:

Most of the other camp pages I've seen talking about homesickness said there are a number of ways that well-meaning parents sabotage their own kids before camp and warn parents against it. ...

Most of these suggestions are part of Thurber's toolkit. And I do believe they lower the average level of homesickness symptoms. But averages can work in two ways: they can reflect low "background" symptoms getting lower without reducing incidence of disorder. In other words, all kids might have apprehensions about camp, but only a few kids have them to the point of misery. Any given treatment (in this case changing parent behavior) might lower every kid's apprehension a point or two. That makes a study look good. But, it's possible that the kids who would never be miserable enough to get "diagnosed" as homesick are the ones whose scores actually improve. Or that couple of points improvement in the kids who are likely to get homesick might not be enough to keep them willing to stay in camp.

In other words, without a really well designed trial that actually tracks incidence of youth going home in a study of randomly assigned treatments, we don't know what works to keep kids in camp for a full week. There have been some studies that actually track cell phone use and severe homesickness in college students. But, those exposures are much longer than one week, and obviously in adults, not children. So, we have never really measured how frequently (if at all) certain parent strategies that help the average youth feel better also help the homesick-prone youth avoid being miserable at camp.

That said, it is nice to be able to tell parents that there are a few things they can do to help the average child feel better about their first week away from home. And, it is nice that some of those suggestions have made their way into camp manuals.

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And then there is the scout who ran away from home to go to summer camp. Long story.

Barry

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On 6/4/2019 at 11:20 AM, Eagledad said:

And then there is the scout who ran away from home to go to summer camp. Long story.

Barry

So....Barry, how many years ago has it been now....?

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1 hour ago, packsaddle said:

So....Barry, how many years ago has it been now....?

2 weddings, 3 college graduations and 3 grandkids.😳

Barry

 

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On 6/5/2019 at 8:30 PM, Eagledad said:

2 weddings, 3 college graduations and 3 grandkids.😳

Barry

 

And they've been really good years too. I can tell. 

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