scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Homesickness flyer
Wed Jul 12 2000 - 08:38:29 CDT
I got this on the net and pass it out to parents every year.. it's a classic.
Please credit its original author.
SA T47 Sandwich MA
Cape Cod & Islands Council
Abake MiSaNaKi Lodge #393
NSJ 1997 Nat'l Health & Safety and going in 01!
I useta be an Eagle...
*THE HOMESICK SCOUT
by Fr. Francis Schwartz. From the Canyon Camp Leaders Guide, courtesy of the
Blackhawk Area Council, BSA; Rockford IL.
Homesickness is described psychologically as a "manifestation of separation
anxiety" or the "unconscious defense mechanism called regression." The Camp
Director and Scoutmaster describe it as the longing for home." Many a young
camper would put it more clearly as "that terrible feeling in the pit of my
stomach.” Regardless of how homesickness is defined, it is, indeed
experienced in varying degrees by Scouts who come to camp.
What causes homesickness? It is a product of a happy home life, and it occurs
often in a child who misses the warmth and security that comes from a good
relationship with family and friends. Homesickness is also a problem for a
child whose parents are anxious about his welfare. A parent who will miss the
child while he is at camp or worries that the camping experience will be
unhappy often transmits this fear to the Scout. In short, while at camp, the
boy often feels the anxiety of his parents and fulfills their expectations
that he will miss home and not enjoy camp by becoming homesick.
Homesickness often produces regressive behavior in a child. In order to cope
with the situation he will revert to behavior used at an earlier age to gain
attention. Sometimes a boy will cry easily, wet the bed, or withdraw from
others. When a boy who is normally sociable and active suddenly becomes
quiet, alone and disinterested in what is happening around him, this can be a
sign of homesickness.
The treatment of homesickness is not simple. It involves the active
participation of the Scoutmaster, troop members, camp staff, and often firm,
but understanding parents. When homesickness is detected, the youth must be
listened to and his feelings understood. Often an understanding person,
willing to listen and empathize is all that is needed. Any unusual behavior
patterns that have developed, such as bedwetting must be taken in stride and
not be overly emphasized. Next, the boy must be kept active and interested in
some phase of camp life. An effort must be made to make the Scout part of the
Troop and a part of all the camp's activities so that he can make friends. If
parents are contacted, they should do all in their power to avoid promising
the Scout may come home, unless advised to do so by the Camp Director and
Scoutmaster. Once a Scout leaves a summer camp experience because of
homesickness, he may not ever return.
Homesickness can be prevented. Parents are the best preventers. Parents must
not promise their child that, if he doesn't like it he can come home. This
promise sets the boy up for defeat. Parents must try to transmit positive
messages about camp, emphasizing that his days at camp will be a worthwhile
experience, and that they are happy he is going. If a child wishes to take
something special with him that reminds him of home, such as a pillow,
blanket or toy, he should be encouraged to do so. This special object will be
a reminder of and link to home. Do not tell a Scout to telephone if he needs
anything. Such advise could be contrary to the camp policy against
indiscriminate use of phones. When a Scout is ready to leave for camp, avoid
a dramatic departure scene.
While the boy is at camp, letters can provide a bond with home during
separation. The tone of the letter and its contents have a great effect on
the production of homesickness. The letters should be conversational about
events at home and ask questions about the Scouts experience at camp. They
should never contain such lines as "We all miss you very much; we love you
so." "Your dog hasn't eaten since you left." "We served your favorite meal
last night, too bad you could not be with us to eat it." Items that may cause
jealousy should also be avoided like "Yesterday, we bought your brother a new
bike". Campers sometimes break into tears after reading such well-intentioned
letters from home.
Homesickness is a common occurrence, and if faced with understanding and care
is just another step in the process of growing up. Parents, members of the
Troop, and the Camp Staff should all be aware of its causes, means of
prevention, and above all, its cure. The cure is simply a great deal of
understanding, and willingness to help another person deal with his feelings
while getting involved in the Scouting Program.