Haluska Ed (edh@MAILS.IMED.COM)
Wed, 6 Jul 1994 10:57:06 CST
Homesickness is a temporary depression brought on by culture shock.
For example, the absolute worst case of homesickness I've seen was in a
new Scout that we took to summer camp. 1. This was the first time he
had ever been far away from his family, 2. He didn't yet have a real
pal in the troop. 3. This was the first time he had been to that
particular camp, 4. He had never been to a Scout summer camp. 5. He had
never slept in a wall tent (Scouts feel more vulnerable in a wall tent,
not to mention the daddy-long-legs). 6. He had very little overall
Needless to say, the Scout was a wreck. He cried every night.
So to treat (or even prevent) homesickness, try to minimize the amount
of new experiences the scout is exposed to at one time. To ease the
Scout you mentioned into camping, you could:
1. Encourage the parents to get the Scout to sleep-over at a friend's
house, preferably with someone from his patrol who will also likely be
on the next camp-out.
2. Have the Scout do some back-yard camping. Have a parent sleep out
also if the Scout doesn't feel safe even in his own back yard. Use a
tent that can be completely zipped closed. If possible, have someone
from his patrol camp-out with him. Youth Protection Policy alert: If
you advocate that the Scout invite a fellow patrol member over to camp
out in his back yard, this "camp-out" could be construed as a Scout
event. Tell the parent (s)he may not sleep in the tent with the
3. Get (at least) one of his parents to come on the camp out. Don't
advertise that this is for the Scout's emotional security.
4. Camp somewhere the Scout is already familiar with. For example, our
Cubs often go to our Council Scout camp, but my troop hardly ever camps
there. But going to the local Council Scout Camp would probably be the
best place for a first campout with a new Scout.
5. Camp as close to home as possible.
6. Do a very short camp, just overnight.
7. Plan activities that are part of the Scout's city life, such as a
softball game, Soccer, etc.
8. Let the Scout bring part of his city life with him. [Yes, I mean a
radio or a game-boy. I don't mean to start a debate here as to whether
these are inappropriate and detract from a wilderness experience.]
9. Let the Scout stay in touch with his family with frequent calls
home. Make sure the Scout knows ahead of time that he will be able to
do this. But try to make the call in the morning or some other time
when the Scout is not exhausted. He may choke up and cry anyway during
the call, so try to not have a lot of other Scouts around to see him.
You may even need to wander off a little ways if he starts crying.
10. For really bad cases, go have lunch at McDonalds, let the Scout
watch some television, or figure out some other way to let the Scout
"touch base" with his previous life. This may be particularly useful
for a summer camp situation where the Scout is calling his parents and
begging to go home.
Don't deny or try to minimize the emotional pain the Scout is feeling.
You will not be able to cajole a Scout out of this depression. "Cheer
Up, Snap Out of It," will not work or help. On the other hand, it may
help a little to explain to him that this is a common reaction
experienced by most humans when they are yanked out of their normal
environment and is temporary. Admit to the Scout that you yourself have
Some misc. other thoughts on the subject:
A couple of weeks ago I sent my 8 year old daughter off to spend a
month with her same-age cousin. She calls every couple of days and asks
to extend her stay. My 4 year old daughter constantly begs me to spend
the night over at one of here friends house here in town. My 18 year
old daughter left for college this summer and hasn't been back yet. No
home sickness here. Why not? My wife and I have a goal that we want to
raise our children so that they will be (reasonably) self-sufficient
and (reasonably) independent when they hit 18. To do this, you have to
have some practice "letting go" and "little good-byes" while they are
growing. Staying overnight with a friend, going to camp, choosing their
own hair style, solving their own problems, etc. are examples. The more
"little good-byes" a Scout has had, the better he will deal with
| | |
| Edward A. Haluska | To make fine, hard steel, first the smith |
| 6105 Deer Run | heats the metal red hot, then he pounds |
| Angleton, Texas 77515 | on it with a heavy hammer. |
| U.S.A. | God doesn't make any junk, but sometimes, |
| firstname.lastname@example.org | He needs to make some fine, hard steel. |
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City