First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

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First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby mt_goodrich » Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:48 pm

I've been to camp several time as an ASM. However, this year was my first as SM and it tended to be somewhat stressful.

We had six boys and a total of four adults. Here is what I had to deal with:

1. A sixteen year old Scout who is starving for attention and has a propensity to get into trouble...which he did. In the showers, he took water hose and sprayed the dry clothing of other boys in another troop. The SM of the other troop went to the Camp Director, who in turn, came to me. When I asked him why he did it, the boy responded "it was funny at the time". :roll:

The same boy was also signed up for the C.O.P.E. course. When he realized he wasn't going to go down the zip line the first day, he lost interest. He attended a total of three days until the C.O.P.E. director asked him not to return as he was not taking the course seriously and was a "major accident waiting to happen".

2. A twelve year old Scout who was sent to camp by his parents with an ingrown toenail that was infected. No one knew about it until two days later when he was limping. When asked, he said he stubbed his toe. I made him go to the medical office and glad I did. His left big toe was three times the normal size and NASTY looking. Medic (EMT) that treated his toe thought I would have to take him to an emergency room sixty miles away. After soaking it in warm water, the puss from the infection began to ooze out. The Scout was require to see the medic three times a day for soaking, cleaning and close monitor. A medical doctor (OB-GYN) attending camp with his troop checked on it to make sure infection was not getting out of hand.

I had called the parents to let them know what was going on and they "swore" they didn't know it was that bad. The Scout told me that his parents knew...had made an appointment two weeks prior, but got "busy" with other things and canceled the appointment.

3. A committee member (father of one of the Scouts), who I had to constantly remind that we MUST follow Youth Protection guidelines and must have at least two leaders at the camp site when any Scouts are present. He had a propensity to leave to go "exploring" and several times left me or the other leader in camp alone with Scouts. We had to quickly gather Scouts and take them down the hill where other adults were around. He also thought several rules were stupid (no kids riding in bed of pick-up truck; no lighting fires with white gas; no adults in shower area when Scouts are taking showers; etc.) Of course, this is a committee member who will not attend training. I finally told him that if he doesn't not attend training, he was not allowed to go on anymore outings. The COR backed me up and he is scheduled to attend the next training session offered by the district.

With so much drama, I didn't have time to enjoy camp too much. Also, it rained five of the seven days we were there.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:25 am

What penalty did you give the 16 year old when he sprayed the other Scouts' stuff? I would have made him go and apologize to each and every boy, and then have him rig a proper clothesline, and hang their clothes to dry. Good for the COPE director for kicking him out of class. Boys who stay in camp rather than classes are always great for trash removal and rock pickup. If he continued to act up, I'd have called his parents to pick him up. There HAS to be consequence for misbehavior or it will continue (and, no, a talking-to is not an effective consequence).

You could have made the parents come pick up the 12 year old. Or turned it in to a learning experience for the other Scouts present (boys that age love gross things). It was an added burden you didn't need.

Why did you need a second adult in camp? That's a very narrow interpretation of the two-deep leadership. I've not seen it applied that way at summer camp. What a nightmare. If Scouts are assigned buddies, that means there won't be a solo Scout in camp with a solo adult. We made ours sign in and out so that we knew where to find them at any moment.

Your parent is allowed to think rules are stupid -- still has to follow them.

The rain probably had a lot to do with the stress, on all of you. We opted to drive further this year and play in the sunshine.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby mt_goodrich » Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:40 am

The sixteen year old was made to apologize to each Scout that was affected by his actions and to the Scoutmaster of that troop. Then had him clean the showers (he liked playing with the water hose, so he did by hosing out and spraying down the showers and picking up the trash/mess left behind by Scouts) and got to clean the latrines.

As far as the two deep leadership....yes, I made it a narrow interpretation in order to try and keep this one leader from wandering off all the time. Also, I am probably a little more paranoid than most and had three Scouts that I did not know very well. We did assign buddies and that worked out well for the most part.

Because of all the rain, mud was a problem and boys had hard time keeping clean. With the toe incident, I made sure they all knew how important it was to keep as clean as possible when camping (as well as any other time).

I think as I get a little more experience, I will get better. I hope so. Next year we will have seven new boys going to came who will be coming up from Webelos. And from what I understand, they will be a handful! :)
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby wagionvigil » Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:40 am

OK Welcome to the SM world. We have all been there. :lol:
1. The 16 year old should have went home Immediately.
2. The Parents Falsified the scouts Medical records. We are doing rechecks at camp after an incident last year where a kid brought a bug in and infected the whole camp. If they are found with any problems they are sent home on Sunday afternoon.
3. The Committee member would never attend another outing.
4. If it aint raining you ain't campin. It can put a damper on things but you have to deal with it and make the best of it. The boys will learn they need quality rain gear and will also figure out ways to keep going in the rain. One thing our council did was put a pavillion in each campsite. The OA built them and you can put three Picnic tables under them. The cost was around 1500 each.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby kwildman » Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:39 am

i dont know if i would have sent the 16year old home for that. Doesn't seem that any permanent damage was done. I think the apology and cleaning sufficed for punishment. I might hang him up on a SM conference for not living the scout oath and law. Make him wait a month or so for his next review.

The medical thing needs to be addressed w/ the parents. It is unacceptable for them to send their kid in that condition. I am sure that had they spoken to you about it before hand you would have still taken the kid but been aware that he needed treatment and been prepared to deal with it.

I would have told the committee member/father that he follows all the rules and your guidance or he would need to leave. Did this guy have YPT? Based on the items you mentioned him questioning I would have serious reservations about this guy being involved with youth even if he took the training. I don't know that you can teach COMMON SENSE. As a leader, i find that parents are often more of a management issue than the youth.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby Mrw » Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:30 am

My summer camp as SM was much less stressful than yours! I took six boys with a rotoating second leader about 5 years ago when another leader backed out at the last minute.

I think the consequence for the 16 year old's incident in the shower was pretty appropriate. I would make sure he understands that I have no problem in having him call his parents to come and get him early if he cannot follow the basic courtesy rules.

I would certainly have to sit down with the younger boy's parents and discuss the medical issue. I am sure they care about their son, but it doesn't show very well in this instance. (Although, maybe the son told them is was getting better so he would still be allowed to go to camp.)

As far as the adult who could not follow the rules....wow. I think I would have had to ask him to leave. I certainly would not allow him on another outing without him attending training. And if he comes back from training with the same attitude, I might still not allow him on outings.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby smtroop168 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:08 am

6 boys and 4 adults. Try it with 25 boys and 2 adults.

Anyway...IMHO

The 16 year old needs a non-advancment SM Conference. Is this behavior been exhibited before? Any other issues that you didn't know about? Sounds like he corrected his shower antic. The COPE issue was also handled correctly by the camp

The 12 year old's parents need a SM conference as they placed you in a tenable position. I had a parent 3 years ago send their son without his ADHD meds and did not list this as a condition on his med form. They told me well after the fact that they liked to take him off the meds while he was out of school. We have since corrected this.

The adult needs to understand and follow the rules or be gone. He can not like the rules but he cannot express his views in front of the scouts. Sounds like he may be coming around by going to training.

Your 2 deep interpretation is a little too restrictive. I would not have showered all week if we had to have 2 of us in the site when scouts were there.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby mhjacobson » Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:00 pm

SM conference with the parents!!! -- I do not think so. The conference with the parents, and the unruly adult should be performed by the Committee Chair. That is one of the jobs of the troop committee. It is also necessary to have that separation so that the SM has less of a problem serving in the role as mentor.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby smtroop168 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:18 pm

I'm good with that. Someone needs to have a discussion with all three (2 sets of parents and one adult).
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby WVBeaver05 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:51 pm

Sounds like you did OK. Hope you do get to enjoy camping more at future events.

Now my $0.02.

I think sending home for the show incident would have been too harsh. As others have said, no permanent harm. Apologizing seems to hurt youth at that age more than anything else, so that was good. Cleaning the showers using the hose that had gotten him into trouble probably wouldn't have been my choice since he may not have seen it as much of a negative consequence. Further discussion of this incident at SMC would be part of my plan for the future.

Getting kicked out of COPE would have caused me to double check with the Director to make sure he wasn't doing anything else. Also, I would have made sure that he had some activities in that time slot even if he could not get the MBs done. No sitting around camp!!

Can't add much to the other sentiments on the 12 year old. In youth activities it has been my experience that the parents are more of a problem than the kids.

I'm with everyone else that the interpretation of 2 deep leadership requiring 2 adults in camp at all times is way overkill. Stick with no 1 on 1 contact and everything should be OK. Instead of "stupid", I like to describe BSA safety rules as (rightfully) very conservative.

However, this is a case that illustrates why I would like to insist that all leaders in attendence at a camp out have not only YPT, and the training for whatever their position is, but also have completed SM Specific and SM Intro to Outdoor Skills. At least they will have seen what the rules are, and if the training is good will have some idea why.

Now, the rain. It is something that we can't really control and can be pretty depressing. But, we had a week with VERY HEAVY rain Sunday through Wednesday PM and I had 4 new Scouts. The weather was warm and they learned a lot about staying dry and getting things done in the rain. I later heard them telling some Scouts that could not go how it really hadn't been a problem :D (yippee!!! Sometimes they really do "get it")

So, all in all, I would say you weren't too bad off. Probably the most stress came from the adult. Better luck next time.

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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby evmori » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:56 am

1. The parents would be called to pick up the 16 year old.
2. Again, time to go home! The parents should be told how serious this really was.
3. He shouldn't have been allowed to go to camp if he hasn't been to training. And as long as there are more than one Scout present, on adult is OK.


It always rains when you go camping!

Sorry your week was so bad! But it happens!
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby wagionvigil » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:27 am

We have great shower and Restroom facilities at Eberly Scout Reservation. Three Large SHower Houses with six 12 showers and 12 Toilets plus 6 sinks in each. No Pit Latrines, Yet scouts insist on damaging these. SPreading you know what all over. Stuffing clothing down the commodes. Week one they ripped two doors off two toilets. I guess they thought it was funny at the time. I would like to put pit latrines back in the camp. Then if there is any damage the shower houses are locked. One shower house by the pool has outside showers these would be left on then if there is any more vandalism around camp these then become cold showers. Leaders would still have access to shower facilities.
This all goes hand in hand with what the 16 year old did .Vandalism is vandalism regardless.
I am sure the scouts that do what they have done at our camp thought it was funny at the time. Vandalism of any type cannot be tolerated at a scout camp.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby mt_goodrich » Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:03 am

"Vandalism is vandalism regardless." - wagionvigil

Couldn't have said it better. I just cannot fathom why a Scout would think damaging property is "fun"?

Also, why do they think it is funny or cool to go into the latrine (pit latrine) and throw all of the TP rolls down the hole? Thus, I have learned to BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper). This happened several times at the latrines used by five campsites.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby wagionvigil » Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:14 am

The TP Issue was resolved several years ago when we went to the Large Rolls in the Lexan Cases. It ended up being cheaper. We have the ability to put several Pit latrines back in as when we took out the old ones we put in several septic systems all we have to do is put the Structure on top and connect the water to the sinks. But of course that takes $$$$. Our shower houses cost for materials was around 35K each 10 years ago we never pay for labor and Wagion Lodge#6 Built them from the Floor Up.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby kwildman » Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:50 am

Wagionvigil - i guess i wouldn't consider getting dry clothes wet vandalism. I would consider it inappropriate behavior especially because it affected another scout troop. Had it been an issue internal to the unit I would have looked at the incident a little lighter. Kids will be kids and they still make bad decisions. Good kids screw up all the time.

Physical damage to any of the facilities or personal property is definitely a serious issue. It always seems like the bathrooms, showers, and porta-johns are targets. This behavior can not be tolerated. In the past we have addressed these issues by strictly enforcing the buddy system and also making it clear to all of the leaders that they are responsible for their youth and that any future issues will be dealt with by addressing the entire unit - restitution for damages and/or dismissal from camp.

mt - BYOTP is part of being prepared. Just like most things in the BSA no job is complete until the paperwork is done!

Summer camp should not be stressful. I look forward to taking a week off work each year to have fun w/ the boys and taking my afternoon naps in camp. I leave for camp this weekend...wish me luck.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby wagionvigil » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:00 am

I guess I see things a bit different after serving on Camp staff almost every year since 1968 in some capacity. Also teaching for 35 years. and dealing with this sort of thing at school. Which this would have gotten a 1 day suspension and removal from all extra activites for a 9 week period. Our DIstricts Code of conduct is strict.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby evmori » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:47 am

BYOTP! Always! On every trip!
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby wagionvigil » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:01 am

I the car in a coffee can! In the pack ready to go!
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby kwildman » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:53 am

wagionvigil wrote:I guess I see things a bit different after serving on Camp staff almost every year since 1968 in some capacity. Also teaching for 35 years. and dealing with this sort of thing at school. Which this would have gotten a 1 day suspension and removal from all extra activites for a 9 week period. Our DIstricts Code of conduct is strict.


I understand the difference in perspective between my one week a year and your being on staff (not to mention 40 years of this kind of stuff). Somethings are funny once but get old after you have to deal with them over and over. Dont get me wrong I am a law and order type and an old testament disciplinarian. :)

I guess had it been my unit that had got their clothes soaked, i would have taken it up directly with the other unit's SM instead of troubling the camp staff with that stuff.
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Re: First Year at Summer Camp as Scoutmaster....Very Stressful

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:53 pm

mt_goodrich wrote:The sixteen year old was made to apologize to each Scout that was affected by his actions and to the Scoutmaster of that troop. Then had him clean the showers (he liked playing with the water hose, so he did by hosing out and spraying down the showers and picking up the trash/mess left behind by Scouts) and got to clean the latrines.

I wouldn't have sent him home for that - it's not a big safety issue. Sounds like you handled it perfectly!

As for the Webelos coming up, you might find that they are the BEST behaved boys in the troop. I've found that at that age, they're used to responding well to direction. When they have clear-cut objectives and rules, they've been model Scouts.
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