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SHOULD NEPHEW GO TO SUMMER CAMP, OR IS IT TOO SOON


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#1 UncleP

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 03:21 PM

My nephew has joined boy scouts. 

 

He is "Scout" rank, and working for "Tenderfoot".  They will have Summer Camp in July,, and I was wondering:

 

1.  Should he attend or is it too soon (experience might overwhelm him)?

 

2.  If he does go to Summer Camp, any advise on how to get the most out of the experience.

 

I took some of the advise from this forum, and got my nephew a scout handbook and fieldbook.  I also suggested that he start an Excel Spreadsheet to log in all of his activities (hikes, night camping...).  I and my nephew discussed things, and we made an agreement with each other that - a) he would try scouts for at least a year, and b) not worry about advancement but instead take things one day at the time.

 

I really want this to work for my nephew, so any suggestions are welcome.

 

Thank you


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#2 Chadamus

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 03:46 PM

UncleP, he should absolutely go. When my son was at that stage, he resisted going. I pushed him. He now tells me thank you for that. Never underestimate what a boy can handle. Obviously you know your nephew better than any of us, but if you're at the point of considering he go off to summer camp, IMO he's ready to have an experience he'll remember for the rest of is life. And possibly the hook to make a lifelong Scouter out of him.


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#3 NJCubScouter

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 03:50 PM

My answer would be "yes", unless there is a particular reason why he shouldn't go.

Is there any specific reason why you think a week at summer camp might "overwhelm" your nephew? Is "homesickness" a concern? I have seen parents concerned about homesickness, including me when my son went on his first week-long summer camp, but in my experience, the large majority of the time (including with my son), the Scout gets so busy doing stuff at camp, he forgets to be homesick.

Does he WANT to go?

Has he done any camping yet? (That is, weekend camping with the trips, Webelos camping, family camping, etc., and if so, how much?) If he has already been on one or two camping trips, unless you have a really serious and specific concern, and he wants to go, I would say, let him go.

Most council-run summer camps have some sort of first-year camping program where basic Scouting skills (matching the advancement requirements for the lower ranks) are taught and practiced, and in some cases some requirements might be legitimately signed off at camp. (At the camp my troop goes to, the first-year program is a full-day five-day program and includes skills through First Class and also 2 or 3 "basic" merit badges, which I wish they would hold for the second year, but that's just me.) Does your nephew's troop attend a camp that has such a program?
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#4 Stosh

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 03:53 PM

I would agree that he should go.  But DO NOT sign him up for everything the camp has to offer.  Get him into the S->FC sessions, maybe one two at the most EASY MB's, basketry, wood carving, leatherwork, etc. A little something he can take home and show the parents.  His first experience is to go and learn what summer camp is all about, the tents, the cooking, the MB's the programs, the fun.  DON"T make it a school lesson, it's an experience lesson.  If he likes something he does well already, then capitalize on that.  He like swimming?  Do the MB, but don't force him to "finish" it if it's too much.  If he thinks sailing boats is cool, have him do that.  Make sure he does what HE wants to do the first year.  If he says he just wants to go and goof off with his buddies, that's okay the first year too.  He'll see what the other boys are doing and the second time around he'll have a whole new perspective on what summer camp is all about, just keep it on HIS terms.


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#5 desertrat77

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 06:06 PM

By all means, he should go to camp!   The right age when every camp activity seems like a big adventure.   Impressions will last a lifetime.

 

Many moons ago, I went to my first summer camp as a rather shy and unsure Tenderfoot.   It was a great experience.    Very busy, fun days.   Didn't earn a single award or merit badge.   But that's okay.   The experiences were invaluable and the memories still clear.

 

@Stosh brings up a good point:  don't sign him up for everything.   Heck, he may not bring home a single merit badge.  Or earn anything for that matter.  No problem.   The intangibles--making friends, the skits at the closing campfire, open swim at the pool, getting a bull's eye at the rifle range during open shooting, looking at the constellations--are just as important for a scout's growth.

 

If he comes home with the camp's 2016 attendance patch, that is ample evidence enough of an important milestone in life.  


Edited by desertrat77, 12 June 2016 - 06:17 PM.

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#6 desertrat77

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 06:11 PM

UncleP, he should absolutely go. When my son was at that stage, he resisted going. I pushed him. He now tells me thank you for that. Never underestimate what a boy can handle. Obviously you know your nephew better than any of us, but if you're at the point of considering he go off to summer camp, IMO he's ready to have an experience he'll remember for the rest of is life. And possibly the hook to make a lifelong Scouter out of him.

This is right on the money.

 

It's natural for new scouts to become apprehensive about going to camp.   A solid push is fine. 


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#7 qwazse

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 06:21 PM

Has he asked to go? If so, that's a good sign he should go. If the troop is doing a camping weekend this month (and it's not some involved thing like 20 miles of backpacking) he should go on that to get used to these guys.

You should also introduce yourself to his scoutmaster and other adult leaders. I always enjoy meeting our youths' families.

Edited by qwazse, 12 June 2016 - 06:22 PM.

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#8 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 06:33 PM

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( and yes I'm shouting at ya! ;)  )

 

Seriously though, I did not go to summer camp my first year. I didn't find out about it until about a month before camp and couldn't' come up with the money. My peers who went had such a huge advantage on me when they came back, not only rank wise, but also acceptance-wise with the troop, That I eventually became discouraged and quit. Only by being reminded of some cousins' troop did I get back in.


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#9 UncleP

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 08:23 PM

Thank everyone for their responses.

 

To reply to your questions:

 

a.  Homesickness:  This is not a problem.  He wants to get away from his family, and do something besides be quiet while his parents nap and pass gas.  His only concern is leaving is dog and the family cat (he is afraid his sister will do something while he is gone).

 

b.  Does he want to go:  Yes, in fact I a afraid it may be hard for him to comeback.

 

c.  Merit Badges (MB):  Initially, he wanted to go for a number of MBs, but I talked to him and we agreed that to start he should take the first year program and swimming.  He already knows how to swim , so I thought it would be a good one for him.

 

He wants to avoid badges like basket weaving, because his father will mock him endlessly.  I cannot understand how a man can enjoy publicly humiliating his own son so much.

 

My concerns were as follows:

 

1.  Advancement:  I want to keep him from getting obsessed about advancing.  I just want him to have some good memories.  Also, I do not want him to get burned out and quit.  The advancement process with patrol method and leadership requirements would tear him apart.  He needs to just be a happy First Class Scout who does a lot of hiking and camping.

 

2.  Introvert:  My nephew is an extreme introvert.  Introvert does not mean shy as most people think.  Introvert is someone who recharges their energy by being alone.  Conversely, they lose energy by being around people.  I am afraid that being around people constantly will turn him into a zombie.

 

3. Temper:  My nephew has a temper, and I do not blame him.  Most of the time he keeps it under control, but if he gets really tired he could lose it.  A couple of weeks ago an old man who lives in his neighborhood threw a rock at his dog, because he thought it would "funny" to hear him yelp.  My nephew was on him like a wolverine with rabies.  He backed him into a corner and cussed them out royally.   

 

If something like that happens at camp he will get thrown out, and his parents will use it as an excuse to never let him out of his room again. 

 

If he goes to camp he will not make any friends, he does not have it in him.  Instead he probably make some enemies.  He has to learn to be around people, but I am afraid camp might be "jumping in the deep end" for him.  Alone he can do anything he sets his mind to, in a group situation he falls apart.   I think the reason he initially got interested in camping was the idea of being alone outside where he was free.


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#10 desertrat77

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 08:44 PM

Uncle P, your concerns are reasonable.   But I believe your nephew will do just fine at camp.   He'll be away from home and home-related baggage.  In the fresh air.   Different dynamics than he's used to.   I've seen kids with similar traits really grow at camp.  

 

He'll meet scouts like himself, and many others that aren't like him at all.   Yet they'll connect on a level that brings about mutual respect and camaraderie.

 

Good call re the first year program and swimming.   Just enough to achieve/progress, yet with enough free time to roam around the woods with new pals.

 

If he's got the gumption to a) want to go to camp and b) has the sense freedom and self sufficiency, summer camp is just what he needs.   It's a safe environment to learn a bunch of things, be it merit badges or making friends or figuring out what he wants in life.


Edited by desertrat77, 12 June 2016 - 08:46 PM.

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#11 desertrat77

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 08:51 PM

Post script:

 

I realize I'm painting a very rosy picture of camp.   But we know it's not always perfect.   There will be cuts and scrapes.   Disagreements.   Meals that aren't so good.   Afternoon downpours when you've forgotten to put down your tent flaps and your sleeping bag is soaked like a sponge.

 

All part of the plan.   Overcoming.  Adapting.   Learning to turn the page.   And laugh about it.


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#12 Stosh

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 08:56 PM

Thank everyone for their responses.

 

To reply to your questions:

 

a.  Homesickness:  This is not a problem.  He wants to get away from his family, and do something besides be quiet while his parents nap and pass gas.  His only concern is leaving is dog and the family cat (he is afraid his sister will do something while he is gone).

 

Remind him that if the sister is going to do something to the cat and dog, she doesn't need to have him go off to camp.   She can do that at any time.

 

b.  Does he want to go:  Yes, in fact I a afraid it may be hard for him to comeback.

 

That's kinda like all of us here on the forum.  :)

 

c.  Merit Badges (MB):  Initially, he wanted to go for a number of MBs, but I talked to him and we agreed that to start he should take the first year program and swimming.  He already knows how to swim , so I thought it would be a good one for him.

 

Perfect!

 

He wants to avoid badges like basket weaving, because his father will mock him endlessly.  I cannot understand how a man can enjoy publicly humiliating his own son so much.

 

A nice balance between "school" and "outdoors" would be any of the nature MB's.  Mammals, Reptiles, etc  Heck, just have him go fishing and do the Fishing MB.

 

My concerns were as follows:

 

1.  Advancement:  I want to keep him from getting obsessed about advancing.  I just want him to have some good memories.  Also, I do not want him to get burned out and quit.  The advancement process with patrol method and leadership requirements would tear him apart.  He needs to just be a happy First Class Scout who does a lot of hiking and camping.

 

From what I can tell, advancement shouldn't be a problem.  He has the were with all to do that and might even enjoy working more with this hands rather than just the heady knowledge kinds of things.  The leadership shouldn't be a problem either, he can work into that slowly and if he gets into real servant leadership, it will open a lot of new doors for him relative to relationships with others.  The "in charge" style of leadership/management isn't the only style available to him.  I have seen a lot of the "quieter" boys do very well with servant leadership, much to THEIR surprise.

 

2.  Introvert:  My nephew is an extreme introvert.  Introvert does not mean shy as most people think.  Introvert is someone who recharges their energy by being alone.  Conversely, they lose energy by being around people.  I am afraid that being around people constantly will turn him into a zombie.

 

Being Buddied up with someone quiet will be a good thing for him.  Let the SM know this and work it out that the boy who likes to sit and listen would make your nephew a good Buddy.  An agressive, active boy drains the energy out of a regular person.  He just needs someone to quietly "be with" until they kinda grow on each other.  It'll work just fine with a nice match.    An older, more mature, Buddy who understands this would be a good fit too.  He can keep an eye on him from a long arm's length when needed.  As he goes to the different activities he'll need different temporary Buddies.  Simply being exposed to a number of different boys will be good for him.

 

3. Temper:  My nephew has a temper, and I do not blame him.  Most of the time he keeps it under control, but if he gets really tired he could lose it.  A couple of weeks ago an old man who lives in his neighborhood threw a rock at his dog, because he thought it would "funny" to hear him yelp.  My nephew was on him like a wolverine with rabies.  He backed him into a corner and cussed them out royally.   

 

Let the SM know about this.  If he is aware up-front, he can help the boy stay clear of volatile situations.  Heck, I'd tear after someone throwing rocks at ANY dog.  It may not be a temper issue in so much as it's a caring issue.  He's worried about his dog/cat and is sensitive to the welfare of the animals.  This is a good trait to have.  The caring attitude goes a long way if he can focus that onto other people along with the animals.

 

If something like that happens at camp he will get thrown out, and his parents will use it as an excuse to never let him out of his room again. 

 

Again, let the SM know about this and if he/she has an understanding of how it works, they won't be taken off-guard if push comes to shove.

 

If he goes to camp he will not make any friends, he does not have it in him.  Instead he probably make some enemies.  He has to learn to be around people, but I am afraid camp might be "jumping in the deep end" for him.  Alone he can do anything he sets his mind to, in a group situation he falls apart.   I think the reason he initially got interested in camping was the idea of being alone outside where he was free.

 

Never underestimate the possibility that others will make friends with him!  If those in his patrol know he's "different" they will have the opportunity to reach out to him and not wait for him to reach out.  Maybe explain to your nephew that scouting is not just for him, for his advancement, for his enjoyment, but that he's a part of something.  This dynamic is not something he gets at home.  He doesn't get a positive sense of belonging to family, but maybe if he is aware of it, maybe scouting can become the family he's missing.  Maybe a heads up for him to be looking for that at camp, too.


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#13 Cambridgeskip

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 02:27 AM

Your nephew doesn't sound that unlike me as a kid. Introverted, bit of a temper, recharged by being alone.

Scout camps though did me the world of good. It's where I developed my own self confidence and identity.

Regardless of what badges or skills etc he may or may not learn or gain he will still get a lot out of being away from home with his fends for a week. It's where the bonds form and the memories are made. He should go for it!
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#14 ianwilkins

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 04:35 AM

His parents sound delightful :unsure: . A week away from them...

 

Sorry, not very scout-like of me.


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#15 qwazse

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 05:49 AM

This is exactly the stuff your SM wants to hear about,
Your nephew will discover he's not alone.
Scout camp is a great place for introverts. Trust me, I know, Even if you're supposed to always be with a buddy, you usually have your pick, and there's plenty of space for the two of you.

I would suggest he add one more merit badge. He should consider something he would really like to try for the first time. Maybe a craft, so he could come back with a basket for his sister!
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#16 scoutldr

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 05:51 AM

This young man NEEDS Scouting more than I can tell you.  He is where I was at that age.  My Dad was a career military man, and I was the fat little bookworm who preferred to be curled up with a book than playing outside.  Scouting changed my life.  ABSOLUTELY YES, go to summer camp.  As mentioned above, enroll him in the "First Year Camper" program (goes by various names at different camps).  That will take up half his day.  At the end of the week, he can have most of the requirements for T-2-1 completed.  Let him take one merit badge of substance...the "craft" MB are more for the first year camper, basketry, leatherwork, metalwork, etc.  I took Rowing, because I was a fish in the water.  If he's not a strong swimmer, (which will become evident at swim check), let him sign up for the instructional swim class (which MAY be part of the T-2-1 program).  You must be classified as a "Swimmer" to take any of the aquatics MB at most camps. First Aid and/or the Nature MB group is another one that is good for first-years.  I would stay away from the MB that can be earned at home.

 

Thank you again for taking a special interest in this young man.  It sounds like he needs you.


Edited by scoutldr, 13 June 2016 - 05:51 AM.

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#17 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 09:06 AM

I agree to the above. Yes, yes, yes. 

 

My son volunteered to clean the campsite latrine first day of camp. While he collected many scouter atta-boys he  later told me "better the first day than later in the week". He would have never learned that  at home!


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#18 perdidochas

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 12:40 PM

My nephew has joined boy scouts. 

 

He is "Scout" rank, and working for "Tenderfoot".  They will have Summer Camp in July,, and I was wondering:

 

1.  Should he attend or is it too soon (experience might overwhelm him)?

 

2.  If he does go to Summer Camp, any advise on how to get the most out of the experience.

 

I took some of the advise from this forum, and got my nephew a scout handbook and fieldbook.  I also suggested that he start an Excel Spreadsheet to log in all of his activities (hikes, night camping...).  I and my nephew discussed things, and we made an agreement with each other that - a) he would try scouts for at least a year, and b) not worry about advancement but instead take things one day at the time.

 

I really want this to work for my nephew, so any suggestions are welcome.

 

Thank you

Of course he should, if he doesn't have any mental problems that would prevent it.  The Handbook has spaces to log in all of his activities. The spreadsheet would be a nice backup.


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#19 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 12:46 PM

Remind him to take a picture or scan his signed pages as a backup as well. No need to tell them that now.

 

A new boy can really benefit from ACTUALLY reading the book, :)


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#20 Hedgehog

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 06:42 PM

Our troop hangs out at night at camp.  There are at least three or four chess games, a checkers game and a couple of card games including an interesting one where you play without people telling you the rules (which I've never figured out).  A couple of guys bring books to read.  I can't think that our troop is that much different from the rest.  

 

Have him do the First Class skills.  Our camp includes rifle shooting and archery, a 5 mile hike and a lot of swimming as part of that.  If he is a good swimmer, swimming is a great badge (and there is some overlap with the First Class skills) and it is Eagle Required.  That is the badge we usually tell our First Year scouts to take.  Actually, some of the guys like the basket weaving merit badge because they make a stool with a woven seat that you bring home.  I saw one scout working on his on night and it looked really difficult but came out great.

 

I know scouts that like your son get easily upset and can mad at the world.  I came to camp mid-week last year and one of those boys had just about had it and I could tell by taking one look at him.  After about 10 minutes of talking and solving a couple of problems, he was all smiles and ready to go back into the game.  It is amazing the infulence that a caring adult can have on these boys.  As Assistant Scoutmasters and Scoutmasters, "these boys" really become "our boys."

 

To quote Stosh - tell him the first rule is to have fun.


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