Why Scout Camp is Awful for Helicopter Parents….

Ah, Boy Scout camp….the dirt, the camping, the lack of good bathrooms.  It is all the experience of growing up and not having your parents hovering over you every minute of the day.  Some parents enjoy sending their child off to summer camp (hey, free babysitting and they get fed three times a day? What isn’t to love?).  Others are quite anxious that their little baby is headed off to summer camp.  I can understand that.

 Compared to school, summer camp is the helicopter parent’s worst nightmare.  At school, the parents know what their child is doing.  They can view their child’s grade online.  They can volunteer to be the room parent.  If their son messes up, they can email the teacher, then do a follow up voicemail to make sure the teacher received the email, and then write a note to the teacher (and send it back in the child’s homework folder), and to make sure the teacher got the note in the homework folder, the parent can come to the classroom before school starts.

What do you mean my son didn’t earn anything while at Scout camp?

Of course, it doesn’t matter that the email the helicopter parent sent was at 4:30 pm on Friday afternoon, the voicemail they left was at 4:35 pm, and the note they wrote was at 4:37 pm, and when they show up at school 35 minutes before school on Monday morning, they wonder why the teacher hasn’t replied yet.

Now, these helicopter parenting skills just won’t work for summer camp.  Scoutmasters don’t answer emails and they don’t return voicemails.  At the last summer camp this past week, I had no Smartphone coverage.  And I like it that way.

During summer camp, helicopter parents don’t get a daily report from their kids about how their day went, they don’t know what they are eating at every meal, they don’t know what their bunk looks like, and they don’t know what they are working on.  It is a wasteland of no information, a fog bank of the unknown, and a storm of mystery.  Their helicopter is grounded.

What happens to the poor scout when their helicopter parent isn’t around?  They survive.  They wear the same clothes all week long (using these clothes as a bib, towel, and Kleenex).  They don’t think of showering, they spill numerous food items on themselves and others.  Brush their teeth?  What is that?

Now what kind of Scoutmaster would let this “Lord of the Flies” attitude prevail?  The same Scoutmaster who gives up his vacation time to go to summer camp with your child.  The same Scoutmaster that pays to attend summer camp (yes, I pay to watch your son be a screw up).

Our job as Scoutmasters is to remind your son to put on sunscreen, drink his water, get to his merit badge classes, and wash his hands.  If your son chooses not to do the fore mentioned items, that is his choice.  Yes, it is a stupid choices but it is his choice.  We’ll ride his ass and remind him about ten times a day but it comes down to him doing it, he has to be self managed.  I’ll tell him to take a shower but that doesn’t mean he’ll do it.  And when I ask him if he has taken a shower, he’ll say “yes” but that shower was the one back at his house three days ago.  When I see him on the trail, I’ll ask him if he has been drinking his water (from the water bottle he left back in his cabin) and he’ll say “yes”.  And when I see him sunburned and ask him did you put on sunscreen, he’ll answer “yes” (he put in on yesterday….doesn’t it last three days because he didn’t take a shower?).

A Boy Scout's bed...a helicopter parent's nightmare!
A Boy Scout’s bed…a helicopter parent’s nightmare!

We are constantly reminding them to do things for their well being but that doesn’t mean they will actually do it.  They’ll walk off and pretend to do something but they don’t.

Now we all know that the helicopter parent would be hovering and following their scout back to their tent, making sure they grabbed their toothbrush and toothpaste, escorting them back to the water spigot, watching them brush their teeth, and then walking them back to their tent and carefully instructing them how to place their toothpaste and toothbrush away.

Will they die if they don’t brush their teeth?  Probably not.  Will they be shamed into brushing their teeth after EVERYONE tells them that their breath smells like the inside of an outhouse?  Yes, most likely they will brush their teeth after other scouts say they can smell their stinky dead rat breath from across the table.  Peer pressure can be a wonderful motivator.

As I’ve said before, not letting your child do things on their own will lead to their failure in school, at Scout camp, and in life.  Scout camp is the week long test of how you have failed as a parent.  Does your child come back from summer camp smelling like the sewer plant down the street?  Does your scout come back with no merit badges completed because he can’t do them without you?

One of the worst mistakes you can make is packing your scout’s backpack for summer camp.  If you pack it, how is he going to know where anything is in his backpack?  Have him lay out his clothes, you double check, and then he can pack his own bag.  Then he can find everything at summer camp and his Scoutmaster won’t be asking him where his toothbrush is.

Land that helicopter now.  Let your son do things on his own and learn from his triumphs and failures.  Let him be peer pressured into doing the right thing.

 As always, your witty comments and vast knowledge are welcome!

Boy Scout Camp: The Torture Continues

We just returned from another week at Boy Scout Summer Camp.  As with all the years prior to this, a few of us always think of ways we can improve our experience as adult leaders.  This is our reflection time.  This is the time when we think back and review all of our mistakes and ask ourselves “Why?  Why do we still keep doing this?”

Our view from our campsite.
Our view from our campsite.

Over the next few days, I hope to gather my notes and thoughts about summer camp.  Last year, I didn’t blog about my experience because I was lazy.  Hey, I’m honest.  It is one point in the twelve points of the Scout Law.  There were good stories there but I just couldn’t get my butt in gear to write about them.

This year I actually spent 20 cents and purchased a 70 page spiral notebook binder (it was on sale; I’m frugal).  We had our brainstorming session where no idea is a bad idea (unless I tell you it is a stupid, really, really stupid idea and why do you even think you should be talking?).  And I now have some material to work with.

These thoughts will be wrapped into a Guide Book for Assistant Scoutmasters.  A rookie Assistant Scoutmaster will definitely benefit from my vast amount of knowledge.  I’m pretty sure jaded seasoned scoutmasters will also enjoy it as well.  I’m sure all Scoutmasters will find it helpful as well because frankly, it will be awesome.

This Guide will be directly to the Assistant Scoutmaster.  I know you probably want me to write about the head honcho job: Scoutmaster.  Here are my thoughts about the Scoutmaster job: I don’t want to be writing or commenting on a job I don’t do. We’ll stick to the back up Scoutmaster’s job that I know.  A tale about taking naps and wearing flip flops.

Overall the Boy Scout camp we did this past week was a great one.  We trekked all the way from Kent, Washington down to Tillamook, Oregon and attended Camp Meriwether.

Camp Meriwether's Beach Enterance
Camp Meriwether’s Beach Enterance

Camp Meriwether is located right on the Oregon Coast and we had a truly wonderful campsite location.  Our campsite was on a bluff overlooking the beach and I must rave about how amazing the view was.  I was able to see the ocean waves from my bunk.  Each night I fell asleep listening to the waves crashing and the sounds of four scoutmasters snoring away….

We had great weather through the whole week.  Not too hot, not too cold.  We really lucked out.

As always your comments are welcome!  Put down the milkshake and hit the “Like” button!

How to Keep the Inmates Happy: Teaching Your Children Good Manners!

One of the best parts of being a parent is getting rid of your kids.  During the summer, some parents like to pawn their kids off to the grandparents for various lengths of time.  The problem with grandparents is that your kids have access to the telephone or electronics.  This means they have a way to bug you and complain about how bored they are.

I know some parents that like summer camp where there is no electronics.  The kids actually have to wait for a letter from their parents for any sort of love.  And heaven forbid that your child actually has to write to you.  With their terrible spelling and texting skills of a monkey, you can totally blow off their requests to come home early.  When you pick them up at the end of camp and they are complaining “Didn’t you get my letter?”  You can honestly say that you couldn’t understand their strange “texting” language and the handwriting was so bad you couldn’t read it anyway.  But it did make an awesome nesting place for their pet rabbit.

I’m pretty much a fan of both ways to get rid of your kids during the summer.  Honestly, I like to get rid of my kids all the time.  If I can’t send them to a friend’s house, it means I’m a failure as a parent.  If no one wants my perfect kids, then I know they must be some of the rudest worst brats around.

With skill and considerable talent, I have trained my children to be polite and well behaved. When they are at other people’s homes, the friend’s parents love them.  They use their manners and we get reports back raving about how wonderful they are.  Man, are my kids the greatest actors or what?  Because if you saw them at home, you’d think they were from two rival gangs in prison, ready to jab a sharpened toothbrush into the other inmate’s neck! 

I keep asking other parents if they are talking about my kids when the good reports come back. Are they sure they have the right kids?  Because the facts and observations they make certainly don’t match up with my in home data that I collect EVERYDAY.

Now and then, my kids will surprise me and get along for an extended period of time.  Usually I start to think that maybe they do love each other and that we should take a vacation together.  It is a moment of weakness on my part to think this way.  I think a 2-3 hour car ride with two rival gang members is a smart idea.  Now who is the fool?