Arachniphobia in Scout
John Pannell (PANNELLJ@DELPHI.COM)
Wed, 5 Jul 1995 11:09:02 -0400
One of the problems we had last week at Camp was a Scout with a _bad_ case
This young boy had skipped fourth grade in school so had to complete the
Webelos program in one year (he did) so he never had the opportunity to
attend Webelos camp. He is (obviously) a very bright child, but socially
and emotionally he seems less developed than his peers. He earned the Arrow
of Light, and is 10.5 years old. (Early cut-off dates for school here tend
to result in slightly older children in each grade than I remember from my
own childhood in NY.)
He was afraid of all "creepy-crawlies", especially spiders. His fear of
spiders literally bordered on the neurotic. Neither his parents nor his
Webelos leaders were aware of this phobia. He crossed over in late May and
his only previous camping experience with the troop was a trip to the USS
Yorktown. He was unable to attend the other two campouts to which the
pack's Webelos were invited.
At least one night he would not even enter his tent because there was a
spider on the outside. He would become a "basket case" when he saw one
on the _inside_. Predictably most of his peers were brutal with him,
especiallly when no adults were around. Even those who were trying to
comfort him were viewed in his eyes as tormentors.
Very wet weather at camp -- the third week of a wet spell with daily rain
and lots of mud -- did not help the situation at all. Mix his phobias with
the rain, and add in some homesickness and you can imagine what we were up
We were at a loss for better ways to help him get over this fear. He didn't
mind the toads, salamanders, and frogs -- especially when we told him they
ate buge -- but had the predictable fear of snakes as well. We had
several ideas, dealing mostly with confronting this fear head on and
showing him that most such things are harmless. We were trying to take him
"spider sniffing", a not too uncommon pursuit here in the South, but the
nightly rains killed that idea. I was hoping for an exhibit of creepy-
crawlies in the Nature lodge, but they had none. Earning the Insect Study
MB is a possibility, but not an immediate or workable option.
Anyone ever encounter this before? What do you do for it? I would hate to
lose him over a bad experience at camp.
Maybe we can convince him of the virtues of Winter camping (no bugs)*g*!?
ASM Troop 39 -- Old North State Council (NC)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City