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Alfy04

Extreme Anxiety at Summer Camp

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1 hour ago, David CO said:

Yes, I have. I sent him home. Why keep him at camp if he is not enjoying it?

That is the exact issue I’m struggling with and talking to my husband about. If we tried camping numerous times and he always hates it what is the point?  That said, there is value at working through things that are difficult. There just comes a point that it might not be worth it if it never gets better. 

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15 hours ago, awanatech said:

I've never had a Scout who got to the point of crying for hours, but it could easily have been my oldest son.  He is 18 now and earned his Eagle rank last fall.  He has dealt with severe social anxiety for many years.  He started Scouts as a Tiger Cub in 1st grade, so he has grown up in Scouts and camping.  However, his anxiety is one of the reasons that I got started as a leader 12 years ago, actually being the Committee Chair for 10 years and now 2 years as Scoutmaster.  My being there eased his anxiety to where he can function.  He learned a long time ago that I'm not there as dad, I'm there as Scout leader.  I didn't want to bring any dad/ son issues from home to Scouts, so I stayed out of their way to let the Scouts lead & function as a Patrol.  But by me being there, he was able to function and be a part of the Troop without having his anxiety/ breakdowns.  Is there any chance that you or his dad could be active, at least as another adult on the outings or to spend some time at camp?  I know there are several who will say to leave him and let him get past the anxiety on his own.  But having a son who can be paralyzed by his anxiety, I have become much more sympathetic to the youth who have very real issues. Many of these issues will not be overcome by just "sucking it up and dealing with it". However, there is certainly a time for some Scouts to just suck it up and get over it.  As the Scout leader, it isn't always easy to discern which Scouts need which level of response. 

As far as making him do things that trigger his anxiety, I will add that from the time he was young, we have been easing him into uncomfortable situations.  Things like making him start to order his own food at a restaurant.  This forced him to look at a menu and find what he wanted.  It forced him to speak clearly and loud enough for the cashier/ server to hear his order.  I would also let him answer questions about his order (i.e. do you need any sauces?).  There have been many things like this that I have pushed him into, some of which have been very hard for him.  But over the years, we look back and see that each step has moved him towards dealing with his anxieties. It's much easier to deal with that level of anxiety knowing someone who knows you is nearby. 

I say all of that to say that you know your Scout the best.  I hate for his anxiety to keep him from all that Scouting has to offer.  Scouting can offer him ways to face and deal with his anxiety.  Look for ways that you can help him to deal with it & support him, while maintaining some distance and give him room to excel and thrive, knowing that he isn't having to do it alone. It may mean that you or dad end up on Troop campouts.  There are certainly worse things than that. 

Thank you! This is all really good advice and I’m glad there are others out there that can relate to a child who has above average anxiety. We are working on it from different angles as well.

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9 hours ago, ianwilkins said:

I would say this kid needs some counselling to get to the bottom of it, and finding ways to cope with it. I've had kids on the autistic spectrum not be able to cope with certain aspects of certain camps, one had to go home in the middle of the night. Not great. 

My uninformed and unprofessional guess is maybe he's catastrophising, and that's working him up, and him getting worked up is slipping into a vicious cycle where he's worrying about getting so anxious, which is making everything worse, making him more anxious, which is worrying, and all rationality goes out the window. He's probably getting anxious at the knowledge that he'll be crying and having an anxiety attack when he goes to bed on camp, what will his friends think, and he feels powerless to stop it.

My guess is the best thing would be someone calm and rational to talk to, even in the middle of the night, plus some counselling to give him some tools and coping strategies.

We will be pursuing counseling when we get home. Panic attacks actually do have a vicious cycle and people want to avoid the triggers because it’s embarrassing to feel completely out of control.

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8 hours ago, ItsBrian said:

I see this all summer long! I work at a Boy Scout camp in the first year scout program so I’m working with be youngest in camp. I don’t want you to think that this isn’t atypical. 

I’m not entirely sure how a Cub Scout summer camp works, but I’m assuming it’s somewhat structured like a Boy Scout one. Have your leaders tell the staff that he interacts with throughout the day. They can help keep him engaged and keep his mind off home. This usually works for scouts I work with. Small tasks such as getting something for me, holding something, has a huge impact on them since it makes them feel more needed and that they belong there.

Staff at camps are usually pretty good about dealing with homesickness.

He is 12 and at a Boy Scout camp. This is his second year at summer camp.

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5 hours ago, Alfy04 said:

He is 12 and at a Boy Scout camp. This is his second year at summer camp.

Whoops, I misread it earlier. I would still have the leaders let the staff he is with throughout the day and they shouid be able to help.

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5 hours ago, ItsBrian said:

Whoops, I misread it earlier. I would still have the leaders let the staff he is with throughout the day and they shouid be able to help.

Good point make sure the staff (MB instructors and management) know about it, the staff should be trained in the subject and willing to help to the best of their ability

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, chief027 said:

Good point make sure the staff (MB instructors and management) know about it, the staff should be trained in the subject and willing to help to the best of their ability

I wouldn’t say trained. It’s just something you learn as you instruct, I staff the first year program and every scout reacts differently. Some want to be alone and some want attention. I’ve had leaders come up to me and let me know before I even met the scout.

Edited by ItsBrian

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I'm going to repeat in a reiterative way something that has been said before in various fashions.  *whew, that was a fun sentence* 

1) You know your scout the best.

2) You are the first judge of whether your scout needs a helpful push into uncomfortable situations or when they need .... (see 3 & 4)

3) A consultation with your scout to ask what they want out of things. Sometimes they want to drive on. Sometimes they want to back away. The most difficult part is knowing when to rein them in or nudge them forward. 

4) Second independent judge. Never be afraid to ask for advice (which seems like you've got that) and hopefully any unsolicited advice doesn't become difficult to deal with. That can either be in great respect for you and hoping that they aren't intrusive when they do it -OR- busy bodies thinking they know better than you without knowing anything about the situation. 

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4 hours ago, ItsBrian said:

I wouldn’t say trained. It’s just something you learn as you instruct, I staff the first year program and every scout reacts differently. Some want to be alone and some want attention. I’ve had leaders come up to me and let me know before I even met the scout.

What camp do you work at? Just out of curiosity (resident scout camp or day camp )

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On 6/17/2019 at 11:25 PM, awanatech said:

 

 

On 6/17/2019 at 11:25 PM, awanatech said:

In rereading your post, has he given any reasons for his camp anxiety?  The woods do get very dark and, surprisingly noisy, at night.  Can he point to anything in particular that bothers him?  Is it primarily during the day? Or night?  

I think the darkness (and sleeping outside) is a trigger for him.  There are other things that add to it that push him over the edge such as the fast pace of everything, feeling overwhelmed, keeping track of this stuff,  getting tired. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, chief027 said:

What camp do you work at? Just out of curiosity (resident scout camp or day camp )

Two years ago I staffed a CS day camp, last year and again this year I will be staffing a resident scout camp.

Edited by ItsBrian

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On 6/18/2019 at 2:44 PM, Alfy04 said:

Thankfully he’s doing better. 

How is he doing?

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