Re: home sickness remedies????
Thu, 8 Jul 1993 14:43:32 CDT
On Thu, 8 Jul 1993 15:14:25 EDT Don Izard said:
> For me some of my own most difficult time at camp was to recognise
> a HOME SICK condition, and then to find a way to deal with it.
My experience is that homesick kids tend to mope, be off their feed, and
sometimes constipated (a consequence of avoiding latrines and not
drinking enough water). It's not been my experience that gender of
leader has much to do with effectiveness in dealing with it; what seems
to matter, though, is the ability to empathize without falling into the
"ain't it awful" trap. That is, it's OK to say "I can understand that
it's tough adjusting to new food, new surroundings, and new people" so
long as it's followed immediately by "...but I know you can do it and
that we can count on you to join us in all the fun things we've got
> I am wonderding what others have found that works to prevent or
> cure homesickness? Does everyone agree that keeping them active
> helps? What about calling HOME? And what about the parents visits?
> Our troop also invites parents to even stay at the camp for a night.
> I am just thinking that there might be some good home sick remedies
> lurking on this list.
I'm pretty hardcore about parent contact. I guess I view it like
offering a recovering alcoholic a shot to help him get over the
separation anxiety of giving up drinking.
I have never found that having parents visit, call, etc., has helped;
generally, it's just exacerbated the problem.
My approach has been to employ the junior leadership: "Joe doesn't seem
to be having a very good time; can you see to it that some of the older
kids invite him to do some fun things?"
If the patrol leader can't make it work, he bumps it up to the SPL who
gives it a try. The SPL is an older, respected Scout and almost always
it ends there.
Only a few times have we had anyone who got referred to the adult
leadership. Generally, we sit down and talk about the situation. If
the complaint is legitimate (that is, if there is an underlying issue
such as kids picking on him, food is unfamiliar, etc.) we attempt a
reasonable accommodation. Usually, though, it's just that he's lonely
for familiar things and people.
We try to get him to start a project: what can he bring home from camp
-- something he made, something he drew, pictures he took, a story he
wrote -- which will tell the folks at home what the camp was like. In
the midst of researching this or working on this, the homesickness has
Our most effective tool has been a mentor/buddy relationship with the PL
or an older scout recruited for the task by the PL.
Working with hundreds of kids in my own and other units, I think that
adults have needed to intervene maybe twice or three times.
With Cubs, I'd imagine it might be tougher since there aren't any junior
leaders; den chief types might be able to handle it, but peer
counseling might not work too well.
(Cubs can be really mean to each other sometimes.)
By the way...the "no-contact-with-parents" principle needs to be bent
when there is legitimate reason to do so, such as when a child's
separation anxiety is well-founded. Children of recent divorce or
parent abandonment, for example, need to be reassured sometimes that the
other parent is still there. For kids like these, a quick phone call
(coached, perhaps, with a suggestion to think about a couple of neat
things to talk to the parent about during the call) can be useful.
Bringing parents up to camp is, I believe, a poor practice unless they
ALL come, to share in a closing campfire, perhaps, or a middle-of-period
visitor day. Homesick kids know that they're acting differently from
other kids and that the other kids have probably identified their
"weakness" and "vulnerability." Kids don't like feeling different. To
have mom and/or dad show up at camp might set up a situation where the
only thing the kid figures he can do is BEG to go home with them so that
he won't have to deal with the kidding from the other scouts afterward.
Long 2 cents; 'hope some of it was useful.
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