Alan Jones (alan@SAWASDI.APANA.ORG.AU)
Fri, 5 Aug 1994 19:19:16 +0930
A couple of weeks ago the thread was around about homesickness and how to
overcome it (and some stories).
I have compiled a list here and have decided to post it, if anyone else has a
suggestion please e-mail me back (don't want to clog up the bandwidth with old
news), if I get enough I may eventually upload it to the listserv.
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 1994 11:43:55 METDST
From: Joern Lodahl <jqrn@MI.AAU.DK>
Homesickness occur in very different forms. Some heavy cases I have
experienced, are from our national patrol-leader courses where the scouts are
13-15 years old. They know a lot of camping etc. but only kvow 0-3 of the other
participants. And its the very first time they are on camp/holiday without
knowing the adults! In this case I don't think ghettonlasters, Mc. Donalds and
other "city-reminding-tricks" would help. (I agree, it might help when we are
talking younger scouts knot used to camps).
Edward A. Haluska wrote some other suggestions about visiting parents and
regular phone calls home. I don't think this is always wise. Sometimes it is
getting worse, when the scouts are getting in contact with the parents - and
then you have to deal with the parents two...
Edward also suggest
>5. Camp as close to home as possible.
Well, yes and no, it might depend on the age group. But when you are far from
home, it is somewhat easier for a scout to understand, that the parents can't
visit him every know and then.
The best "cure" in my opininion, is to keep the scouts working together with
his patrol, preferably to activate him with things he is good at. I remember a
very homesick, but also very rational scout, who cried each night, but during
the days where involved with activities, told long stories at the campfires and
had a pleasent time.
But scouts are different and I think its impossible to give
generel advices. Unfurtunately.
From: "Robert V. Schornstein" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I'd like to ask a question, not strictly scouting in nature. Home sickness.
What the best or a good way to handle it. In some cases it can surface before
the actual camping trip.
Parents of one boy in our troop boy in the troop (about 12.5yrs old), have
reported he will not want to sign up for trips because he knows he will be
unhappy later. They are asking for help. I don't know how to advise. Should
they make/force his to go until he gets over it, or just let it continue until
it goes away by itself?
Any suggestions would be helpful.
From: Peter Van Houten <peterva@QM.WV.TEK.COM>
Ed -- Your receipe for dealing with Homesick Scouts was right on the mark. With
my Cub Scouts I've done the following to ensure Homesickness isn't one of the
features of summer camp.
One week before we leave to go to camp (we've done overnight camp for the past
two years, this year being the first year webelos camp) I have the group over
for a backyard campout! We start at aprx 4:00pm on Friday, and go through the
night until 11:00am Saturday! During this time we have a 'Short Course' on
camping. We set up camp in the back yard, cook dinner, play games, go over
rules of conduct at camp, review knife safety, and talk about what we want to
get out of camp the next week. We have a mini-campfire (this always makes my
neighbors wonder what I'm doing) with songs, and short skits.
We make something (Hats or flags) that builds pride and team spirit among our
group. We also put the buddy system in place so they have a buddy right off.
After lights out, the boys sleep in the tents, myself and the other leaders in
attendance sleep in the house. We leave a light on and the door open so anyone
who needs the security of the house can come in, or if they need to use the
toilet they can do so!
The next morning we cook breakfast, clean up and break camp. I've had good
success with the boys, and when we get to camp they seem to be the group that
is already comfortable with the surroundings and adapt more easily. I've had
my share of other experiences (ie. bed-wetting, sickness, fighting) but have
not had one Cub Scout get homesick.
From: Haluska Ed <edh@MAILS.IMED.COM>
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 camping experience.
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
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 additional boy.
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 been homesick.
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
From: Rasmus Hansen <wardance@INET.UNI-C.DK>
On Tue, 5 Jul 1994, Robert V. Schornstein wrote:
Well, the problem is quite common, so I guess there will be a lot of different
responses to this one... At our pack we have our anual summercamp, and to avoid
such problems we arrange (before the summer camp) a sleepover at our hut (it's
not really a hut, a house to be percise, but you get the point), as to 'train'
the kids and make the kids comfortable about the concept of not sleeping at
From: "C. Findley" <c.findleyGENIE.GEIS.COM>
All this talk about homesick Scouts reminds me of the worst case I ever took
camping. The mother warned me in advance of the problem. She also sent along
to camp a small tape deck with earphones (given to me, since they are ususally
not allowed) which I gave to the Scout in question at bedtime. On the ONLY
tape that was allowed (to be fair to the other Scouts--I discussed this with
the mother) she and the father had recorded family talk and what- not that they
felt would ease the problem. It seemed to work. The first campout with this
kid I spent half the night each night talking my way out of calling home, and
the second (with tape) it was less than five minutes the first night. It seems
mom "forgot" to send it the first time even though the kid had made a royal
scene each and every night at church camp that same year and the year before!
I felt sorry for the Scout, but I wanted to choke the mother!
From: David Weintraub <dhw@HPTELE24.TELERATE.COM>
Sometimes the scout _wants_ to go camping! Maybe because friends are going or
because it sounds like something they want to do. The scout may not realize
they're homesick until the first night spent away from home. When it's too late
to really do anything about it.
I had a friend who told me about her only experience at a sleep away camp. She
begged her parents send her because all of her friends would be there. On the
second day, she was terribly homesick and called her parents to ask them to
take her home. Of course, they couldn't, but she managed to get use to camp and
had fun anyway.
Well, what do you think?
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