scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Re: Homesick Scouts
Bob Lazell (rlazell@QED.NET
Tue Jul 11 2000 - 16:26:02 CDT
>One thing that is generally considered not helpful, and that should be
avoided, if at all possible, is to have the scout call home.
>Have a nightly SM conference
>Try having an older boy take them under his wing & keep them occupied.
These three suggestions are ones that I heartily second as methods for
helping boys through bouts of homesickness. The phone issue is one that I
hope your camps give you some control over like restricting the phone use
for boy under a certain age. I don't think it is necessary for an adult to
accompany a 16 year old on his nightly calls to profess undying love for his
girl, but, I think that controlling the little kids access to the phone is
key. What I try to do when a boy asks me if he can call home is to, be
sympathetic (but, as someone else pointed out, not so sympathetic as the kid
thinks homesickness is a serious problem) I then suggest that he "stick it
out" for another day to "see how you feel tomorrow" I keep this up for as
long as the boy keeps asking. If necessary, toward the end of the week, I
start saying "hey, you've made it this far I bet you'll make it until
Saturday when you'll see your folks". All the while I employ the "SM
conferences" not necessarily at the end of the day when the little guys
might be a little low, to praise their progress in whatever they're doing
and, most importantly, tell them how glad I am that they are sharing time
with me and the Troop at camp.
As father of Brad pointed out, one of the most effective things you can do
is alert you SPL or other older boy to help the homesick boy. I make
lessons in caring for each other and especially the young guys a part of the
leadership training I do each year for all the leadership boys. (those 11
skills my friends) Like everything else in Scouting "train them, trust them"
and you will be rewarded with success.
If all the above fails and a call home becomes, in your judgment, a
necessity to calm the boy, YOU MUST, insist on accompanying the boy and
speaking to the parents yourself. This will help calm the parents and keep
the allied with you in the desire to have the boy succeed in conquering his
homesickness. I assure you that the boy who overcomes homesickness and
makes it to the end of camp will be among the proudest smelly boys the
parents greet at the end of the week.
A humorous closing note. During his first year at camp the SMs son
approached him on the second to last night and announced he was homesick!
Yes, that would be my son who did that and it was all I could do to keep
from laughing. It was "swim test anxiety" and although I did point out that
his loving dad was with him and would see him through it, I did get the SPL
to "take him under his wing" and help him. That SPL and my son, by the way,
became close buddies despite their difference in age and that friendship,
like most Scouting friendships has endured beyond scouting to this day. The
SPL is a junior in college and my son is now the SPL who will lead the troop
at summer camp for the first time next week. I wonder if he'll have his own
homesick boy to deal with?
SM Troop 127
Valley Cottage, NY