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Was this camp by chance in NE Georgia?


To be honest, if you don't trust the troop leadership, why are you letting your son be in the troop? As the parent of scouts, we have to trust that the troop leaders will let us know when anything serious happens. My son is a first year scout, having crossed over in February. This is his first year at summer camp - they're at the camp in NE Georgia. I'm not worried at all. I trust the SM and other leaders. They are giving us some updates and pictures from camp on our troop Facebook page, which is nice, but if they weren't, I'd be fine with it. I'm perfectly ok with my son going off for a week with this troop. I see no reason to have to contact my son to check on him throughout the week. Even if I knew there was a stomach bug going around this camp like there was a couple of weeks ago, I'd be ok. Again, I trust the troop. We did have one of our new boys cut himself in woodcarving MB class, seriously enough to have to go to town and get stitched up. The troop leaders notified the parents, and took care of things. All is well.

I personally don't see the need for kids to have cell phones at camp. I don't even see the need for kids to have cell phones, period. I have an almost 13 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. Neither one of them has a cell phone. Neither of them needs one.


That solves that problem for me.

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One wonders what people did 20 years ago before cell phones were common!


National needs to remember that facebook is a double edge sword.....If they screw it up....the world will know instantly.....


I don't think there even have to be any screw-ups. There are going to be times when certain boys are bored at summer camp. If they have cell phones, then they will Tweet that they are bored or post it to Facebook. "At camp ... so f'ing bored!" After camp they might not remember that they were bored, and look fondly on their experiences, but during camp is quite another matter. It might be better for leaders to post during camp, tagging the boys in their photos and posts. If boys want to post then let them do it after camp.

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Yeah, a bleeding cut is not the same thing as over 60% of the scouts coming down with a serious illness.


And whoever said "for the benefit of mom", yeah way to be kind. I'm sorry my worrying over my kid being ill puts a damper on your camp activities. And for the record, I didn't call camp.

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Ive talked before about the summer camp experience can be as stressful, if not mores stressful, for the parents as it is for the scouts because its the first real separation in the scouts life. Because of that, we have a parents meeting about a month before to prepare them what is going to happen at camp. We give instructions for the parents of how to talk with their son so as to push him toward the camp experience and not back to them. Dont say things like we are going to really miss you. Rover is going to miss you and your buddies are going to really miss you. Instead say how we wish we were going to have fun you are going to have or think of the stories you can tell your buddies.


We also ask that all letters be keep the same positive tone like: we are expecting a lot of good stories when you get back, so do as much as you can. We dont recommend phone calls because they are usually disruptive to the scouts experience and rarely make the camp experience better. If we feel they need to call, then we will encourage it or call the parents ourselves first. Our troop usually keeps a couple of moms at home briefed on whats going on so that any parent can call them to keep up. If the parent has something more urgent, then by all means call the camp. I would even suggest that today when the scout has a cell phone to make sure the call is serious enough. We usually get one or two every year. But in general, we like to keep phone communication at a minimum.


And I can see the problem of a scout having what might first appear to have a bad day on a rainy campout. But it will likely best his favorite day some weeks later when looking back. So yes, I think instant communication could set things off in the wrong direction and make more drama for the adults at camp. Trust me, drama can be very stressful. So me personally, I wouldnt want all the moms at home to learn of the illness spreading through camp unless their child was sick. I would tell the two moms we call everyday to tell anyone concerned that everything fine at the moment and they will be the first to learn if anything changes.


Camp goes through a phase of the first two day being physically stressful because the Scouts AND Adults are up early doing a lot of physical activities thru the day and usually whipped by lights out. Food takes an adjustment and by the time Wednesday comes, folks are getting cranky. High adventure Crews go through the same process. I always have an adult on meeting Wednesday to prepare them so that they know that we know that its getting kind of hard. But we must put up a good cheery front for the scouts no matter how we feel so we can get the scouts to Thursday when they are starting to get a hang of things and camp is becoming a lot of fun. When parents' worries and concerns start adding to the mix at camp, it can be very stressful.


Now cell phones werent popular enough to be a problem when I was a SM, so I dont know the answer. Facebook, wow. But I do know that I would have a really good parents meeting a month before the camp so as to prepare them for their struggle of jr. not being at home for a week, and the possible fatigue of those at camp. Summer camp is a wonderful time for all and everything should be done to make it the best experience of the scouts summer.


I love this scouting stuff.




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I'd like to clarify a couple of things:


1. My kid had been away without me and dad before. Not only at webelos campouts, but for a full week at a non-scout camp. He was fine and so was I about letting him go. In fact he was barely 8 years old the first time he went away for a week by himself. I didn't have any anxiety and neither did he. So I'm not a separation noob.


2. I read all the literature and did all the "right" things regarding preparing for camp. I was positive and upbeat, we talked about how to handle things if he got homesick, I never called. I didn't write because the letters weren't going to reach in time. I sent a CARE package because the troop encouraged that.


3. I am not involved with troop leadership because they don't exactly welcome female leadership. And I am sorta ok with that really. Not what I would do, but I can see why. Boys need men role models, specially boys that don't have that home. Boys also tend to feel more comfortable with male leaders and male leaders do tend to understand boys better than women.


4. I am NOT in any way, shape, or form a clingy or helicopterish parent. I encourage my son to try new things on his own, and grow in scouting without his parents.


Having said all that, I could not help but being extremely worried when I heard about the illness and I will not change my position that communication was not great. I haven't made a decision on how to handle the cell phone thing in the future. But I still might tell him to pack it deep in his bag and off just in case.

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"One wonders what people did 20 years ago before cell phones were common!"


No need to wonder! If there was a true emergency,(injury or illness where transporting would pose a problem) a "runner" (the ONLY time running was allowed in camp) would be sent to the nearest program area, each of which was equipped with a CB radio. The person with the radio would call the appropriate person/area of camp depending on the scope of the emergency. Since the majority of Scouts were either already on their way to a program area, or already in a program area, help was never far away. I would think that all Scout camps had similar procedures back then, and those with poor/non-existent cell service still would employ a similar procedure.

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Wow! Some real good discussion here!



Eagledad makes some good points.


I found that Scout Camp was not an idyl --- a carefree vacation.


It was often a pretty stressful experience ---challenging for boys and often adults as well. The biggest positive from summer camp is not earning Merit Badges, but learning to deal with the challenges that confront you and living with other people.


Boys can often do that easily enough on a weekend camp out, but along about Wednesday or Thursday of Scout Camp some different personalities can begin to emerge!


Giving boys easy communication home probably interferes with the ability of a boy to deal with those issues.


Homesickness is fairly common and usually manifests itself within a day or two of the beginning of camp. If I couldn't deal with that, I let the Camp Director talk to the boys and decide what was best to do. Phoning home might be helpful in some circumstances.


Bad behavior might also be an expression of those kinds of issues. Usually that tended to be a problem early in camp rather than later as well. Again I would resort to the Camp Director if I had problems I couldn't deal with.


(The experience and independence of the Camp Director can be very valuable. The CD may have better advice than a tired or stressed Scoutmaster or other adult troop leader may have.)


Moms's concerns about sickness in camp seem quite reasonable to me. Such issues could be soft pedaled and risk the health of campers. I might want to talk to the camp Medical Director and expect to get frank answers about what was going on. If I wasn't reassured, I might ask the family doctor to get answers or to be on my way to camp to get answers, talk to the unit leaders at camp and take at least your own boy home if you didn't get sound answers.



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Again, it comes down to trusting the troop leaders.


There was a virus going around camp. Ok. You were told it was going around, you were told some boys got sick, you were told that it was being taken care of. Did you not believe them? I'm not sure what more you would have wanted. If they were taking care of the boys, and they were recovering ok, then I don't see it as anything to worry about. I don't know what camp you're talking about, but the camp that my son is at right now had a stomach virus sweep through a couple of weeks ago. Boys got sick, throwing up and diarrhea, they rested, they were fine in 24 hours.


Now, if your son was one of the ones taken to the hospital for dehydration and you were not informed - then yes, I agree that there was a major communication issue. But if he wasn't one of the ones taken to the hospital, if he got the runs and the heaves, rested up, and was fine the next day...I don't see the issue here.


We had a new parents meeting shortly before our troop went to camp. We discussed the virus that had made the rounds., One mother was worried because her son had never thrown up without her there to hold his head. I rolled my eyes on that one. Obviously, noone wants a boy to get sick on a campout, but things do happen. You have to trust the leadership, or find a troop with leadership that you do trust.


I love my kids dearly. But I don't feel the need to be tethered to them constantly. Neither one has a cell phone, and neither one will get a cell phone until they have a job and can pay for it. Kids do not need cell phones.

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"I haven't made a decision on how to handle the cell phone thing in the future. But I still might tell him to pack it deep in his bag and off just in case."


Sorry if you think I'm picking on you in particular, but this last sentence is a huge part of the underlying issue being discussed.


A Scout is obedient.


When the leaders (be they the SPL or the SM/ASM) publish a list of equipment for an outing, it's usually based on experience. I've been running outings for 10 years, and camping for over 30. The professionals who put together the packing lists for summer camp do so after seeing thousands of boys go thru their facilities.


Feel free to question why a particular piece of equipment is required or isn't allowed *before* your son leaves for the outing, but ignoring the instructions does nothing to help the situation at all.


If anything, telling him to "pack it deep" just undercuts the leaders' authority.


It's also a slippery slope --- if they get away with ignore the packing list this time, where is that going to lead? Bringing the illegal cell phone is a gateway action to things like forgetting about the buddy system, the need for blood circles, adhering to burn bans, etc... After all, isn't it a bit unpatriotic to tell Scouts they can't blow off a few firecrackers on the Fourth of July?...


Again, sorry if this appears to be a bit of a rant, but it's from experience.


I've seen tents destroyed by skunks and raccoons because a parent didn't believe that the patrol's menu or dining hall was going to provide enough food for their Scout, and the Scout was too afraid to put their stuff in the critter box, lest it be confiscated.


As I mentioned earlier, over $400 in electronics were destroyed by my own son within 12 months, because he saw fit to ignore the rules on no electronics on campouts. Another boy had his iPhone stolen out of his daypack (which was a $600 replacement according to his parents).


This summer, I watched a spring loaded knife get confiscated by camp staff because the kid's parents didn't read the rules, and apparently didn't think it was a safety hazard.


All of those situations were due to parents and/or the Scout deciding that the rules didn't apply to them because they knew better or didn't think it would be a problem.


Rant off...


As for the illness, I agree with what Shilue wrote above.


What good would have been accomplished by getting a call that others were sick but your son was OK? Would you have spent the next three or four days worrying that he'd be the next one to wind up with the Hershey Squirts? I know several of my parents would have been driving the 270 miles to camp just to check up on their son.


As I said to the parents when we left the parking lot, no news is good news.(This message has been edited by eolesen)

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Our SM and ASMs keep their cell phones OFF during the day at Summer Camp, and check them in the evening---IF they can get a signal! :)


Troop returns from camp this weekend--I can't wait to hear from the SM how many "dead" phones there were by Tuesday morning because of constant texting and/or signal searching (very rural area--little to no cell signals), which eats up the batteries fast! BTW, there's no place to charge the phones! :) Ya tell 'em every year, and some of 'em just...don't...get it.


And I mean both Scouts AND parents!!

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I'd go along with the general trend of 1) having fewer rules (especially adult rules), 2) having natural consequences be a good enforcement, and 3) having the Scouts enforce the rules where it makes sense.


I also am a big believer in communication with the parents. The more you can explain to them why you have the rules that you do, the more likely you are to get their buy-in.


We do remind them to use sunscreen. That's pretty much it. We don't check that they use it. We don't verify whether they've packed it. We do remind about possible consequences, but we figure they can decide for themselves after that.


We don't have any strict "no soda" rule. We don't have it on the patrol meal plans, but we also don't check every Scout's personal gear.


In general, if a Scout were to disobey a direct adult directive on a trip, saying that their parent said they didn't have to do it, I think we'd have an issue. More with the parent than with the kid. If the kid doesn't want to do geocaching, I won't make him, unless there is a logistical problem about him hanging out by himself. In that case, I'd say, you have to come with us. You can work on whatever you want as long as you are with the rest of the troop.


"Mom may say you can wear flip-flops, but your mom isn't here. Camp safety rules can get to be more restrictive than your parents. So sad." I'd also probably email mom just to let her in on the status. In our troop I think it's almost guaranteed that the mom would say "I never told him any such thing. He can follow your rules like everyone else."


The three tote thing is pretty funny. I think I might have a conversation with the parent first regarding just how bizarre this looks. "Do you really want your kid to be the one hauling a mini-mart around with him?"


You constantly have to do things to normalize the behavior of the kids and the parents. Most of it comes from being around the rest of the troop and learning how you do things. Lots of communication helps - both one-on-one, and messages out to the group. The kids also teach each other what's acceptable.

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I would have rather heard NOTHING at all!! What good was it to send a vague e-mail telling some people were sick? What was accomplished by THAT? Absolutely nothing. I would have been fine not knowing a dang thing UNLESS it was one my children that got sick.


How difficult is it to make a 30 second phone call? "Hi Mrs XYZ, this is Mr ABC over at Camp BSA. Everything is fine, we just wanted to let you know Johnnie got a stomach bug, nothing serious, he's drinking fluids and we are taking very good care of him, and doc says he'll be back on his feet in a day. Kaythanksbye!


I guess that would put a damper of Medical Officer's camp experience. But there was NO point in sending a vague e-mail with no real details. It only served to make people worried. I rather have nothing at all.

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Our last overnighter was a 3 1/2 hour drive there, 4 1/2 hours back (took a little detour to an observatory). One of the scouts riding in my truck had his cell phone. He was supposed to use it to call his dad to pick him up when we got to the return rendezvous, but he played games all the way down and killed the battery. I didn't have the right adapter in my truck to charge it again on the way back...


I really expected kids to have a better understanding of battery life by now...

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I had my scout at camp, and he did get sick.


It really didn't make me feel any better to get the txt message that says I'm puking.


Of course, that txt message came from his dad(he's ASM), who checked his phone once a day and told me that most of the troop was coming down with pukes.


Being able to communicate by txt message at that point did not make me feel any better. Talking to him on the phone wouldn't have helped either since you can't see how green around the gills they are, or tell for yourself if they are dehydrated or give them the hug you know they want when they are sick. either I trusted they had it under control, or I needed to go get in the car and pick him up if he was too sick for them to handle.


I will suggest to you that the email that went out from your troop that said some of the boys has a stomach bug, and they were being treated was to give you a heads up that there was an issue

but they had it under control.

You HAVE to trust at that point that they are on the ball, they know there is a problem and they are working on it.

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oh the phone/txts were a problem not only for letting me know they were puking and I couldn't do anything about it....


but another scout, he's old enough to "know better" was txting his dad on the day they were to come home that he didn't have a ride and that dad would need to come get him. There were plenty of rides, there were actually 8 extra seatbelts and one driver (we carpooled) could have stayed home.


and another scout who got sick was txting his mom and dad both asking them to come get him when he was sick. he puked once, layed around for a few hours and then was off and back to normal and doing merit badges. but as far as the parents knew, he was deathly ill puking his guts out.


then there is the committee sending out message that parents needed to be ready to pick up the scouts by noon instead of 2 because they'd be leaving camp early. yeah they didn't leave camp til noon so I had to send out the message and field the phone calls explaining that the committee member with electronics had jumped the gun on sending out the word they were leaving camp early....


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