Scout parents are usually less prepared for summer camp than their Scouts. Parents of Scouts headed to camp (especially for the first time) are going to be anxious; they may find the experience more difficult than their Scouts will.
It’s fair to expect Scout parents may feel uncomfortable turning over full-time care of their child, especially to Scouters they may have just gotten to know. They may worry about their Scout’s diet at camp, who will be looking after daily concerns like clean clothes or taking a shower, and how their Scout is getting along.
Our good intentions can go awry if rational concern becomes paranoia, when we overplay natural parental fears.
How can Scout parents prepare themselves?
First we have to acknowledge all this causes most parents at least some distress, especially if this is the first long term or long distance separation. On the other side of the question we know most Scouts experience some homesickness, some ups and downs.
As you prepare your Scout for camp you need to prepare yourself:
It’s perfectly normal to experience at least some reluctance in letting go, some distress while your Scout is away. Our children define a big part of who we are. When our children are away we can be at loose ends. Consider planning something interesting or special to do while your Scout is away, a change of pace, your own summer camp experience at home.
Be informed rather than fearful.
The Scouters accompanying your Scout to camp are happy to answer questions, so ask all the questions you like. There are no silly questions (really!). It is always better to ask than to worry. serious malnutrition from week-long candy binges. Wearing dirty clothes won’t kill them either. Concerned your temperamental child won’t fit in socially? Allow for the possibility she’ll find buddies to hang out with all on her own. Don’t let your beliefs limit kids’ potential.
It’s going to be great.
We know that the self-reliance we all want for our children means letting them do for themselves, but letting go is hard. Remember that Scouts really do thrive at summer camp and return home happy. Instead of discussing your worries or how much you will miss your Scout talk about the new experiences they will have.
Maintain a sense of perspective and proportion.
A lot about going to camp is being resilient and enduring the wonderful miseries along with your fellow Scouts. Your Scout will learn they can endure some rough spots you aren’t there to smooth over. When we face discomfort we learn about ourselves, we build resilience and courage in the face of adversity.
Parents would not keep sending their children away to camp if they were not being cared for or in real danger of being harmed. If they don’t change their clothes, or eat properly for a week, it’s unlikely they will suffer too much. Don’t worry about a temperamental Scout finding friends, there will be plenty of other temperamental Scouts there too!