Bed-wetting on camp
Ian Ford (ianford@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Fri, 4 Aug 1995 00:45:13 +0100
Charlotte refers to my incident with the Scout who had not told about his
bed-wetting problem , and I suppose it makes sense that some parents may
think we might exclude their son.
Most of my adult Scouting has been with the British Cub Scout program ,
and our parent's permission to camp form (required for each overnight
activity) asks specifically about this problem. I always tell parents that
if we know a kid has a problem we could deal with it. Certainly with Cub
Scouts I do a pre-camp briefing with the boys , and I usually mention
health problems and say that I will not exclude them , I just need to
If I know that a kid has a wetting problem I recommend a cotton sleeping bag
liner which can be washed easily and several changes of night clothes,
either pyjamas or teeshirt and shorts ... these can then be rinsed out
by hand in detergent with a drop of disinfectant added.
I also recommend that for the first few camps at least parents should buy
sleeping bags made of artificial filling rather than down. These are
easier to dry when wet , whether caused by urine or if kids allow the bag
to touch the walls of the tent when it is raining.
Artificial filling also lessens the risk of affecting an asthmatic /
allergic Scout or his tent mates. I learnt this the hard way ... my parents
bought me abeautiful down-filled bag for my first camp. Fortunately I
asked to try it out on the floor at home first ... I had a major asthma
attack due to the feathers , and my parents had to buy a new polyester bag.
I still use a " four season plus " bag with artificial filling - I bought it
twenty five years ago and it cost me a week's wages as a junior bank
clerk ... but it was a good investment.
Obviously for cabin camping it is possible to use plastic mattress protectors
for bunk beds. Many campsites have them as standard equipment in the kids'
Another thing we do in UK Scouting, particularly with Cub Scouts and
younger Scouts, is have a " full kit layout " inspection at least
every other day. The Scouts lay out all their kit on a groundsheet for
inspection. The leader can then discretely check sleeping bags - I just
pass my hand between the folds as if I am smoothing it out, but I am
actually feeling for damp. If I notice anything I see the kid quietly
afterwards and suggest that he airs the bag. At the same time it is
possible to check that the towels and flannel are damp , the soap out of
its wrapper and the toothpaste tube has been squeezed.
If the weather is warm I get all the kids to air their sleeping bags by
either hanging them (inside out) over the ridge of their tents or putting
them on a line.
It also helps if the junior leaders are aware of the problem ... on one
Cub Camp it was a nine year-old Sixer (Denner) who told me that one of the
lads in his tent had a wetting problem. He handled it quite well, came
up to me privately and told me in a matter-of-fact way. I made sure that
I checked their tent the next morning , and " discovered " the problem.
Sometimes medication can be used a a temporary measure - in some cases a
doctor can prescribe drugs for short-term use when a kid is away from
home on camp or on holiday. One such is desipramine , which is actually an
antidepressant but also has an effect on bladder function. Whilst
medication may not be possible in every case , it is something that
parents can discuss with their child's doctor.
Remember too that some kids may be afraid of the dark , and will try to
hold on rather than go to the bathroom in the dark - so if the kids go as
a group to the washrooms for a wash and a leak just before bedtime that
may solve the problem.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City