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NATURE OF BOYS Creeped Out by Camping


Try these simple strategies to help your guys get comfortable in the woods.


temperaments are more physi- ologically reactive. Their heart rate accelerates, their blood pressure goes up, they feel more nervous when faced with novel circumstances.” Kids who are temperamentally


inhibited often seem shy, but shyness is actually different. Thurber says the best way to figure out if a Scout is temperamentally inhibited is to ask his parents a simple question: “Is this the way Johnny typically acts when faced with a new experience, even a fun one?” A previous bad experience


LONGTIME SCOUTERSSAY YOU can’t take the outing out of Scouting, but some Scouts would be happy to try. While most kids take to camping like dogs take to car rides, others consider sleeping in a tent (at night! in the dark!) to be nothing short of cruel and unusual punishment. Getting such kids out of the


house—and out of their comfort zones—can present a challenge to even the savviest Scout leader. To learn some techniques that work, we talked with Dr. Chris Thurber, a board-certified clinical psychologist, author, and camp consultant who


20 S COUTING ¿ September•OctOber 2011


spends each summer working at Camp Belknap, a YMCA camp in New Hampshire. The father of two young boys and camp counselor to hundreds more, Thurber has become an expert on homesickness and related subjects. Although every case is different,


Thurber says reluctance to go camping usually stems from one of three causes. The first is temperament. “Some people seek out novelty.


Their temperament is a good match for adventure; they look forward to things they’ve never seen or done before,” Thurber says. “Other kids’


can be the second cause for the fear. It might have been a trip to church camp when it rained all week, but it also could have been a first sleepover at a friend’s house. Thurber recommends asking the Scout about times he’s been camping or away from his family overnight. “Here’s an area where most kids are fairly accurate in reporting whether or not a previous experience was good,” he says. The third cause is ambivalence. The Scout might want to go camping but could be concerned about one particular aspect of the trip—anything from fear of the dark to anxiety about looking less com- petent than the more experienced Scouts. While some boys might acknowledge their fears if you ask them, Thurber says that question asked by other Scouts might get better results. Thurber recommends counsel-


ing by a slightly older Scout as the first strategy to help a boy get over his fear of camping. “Kids can ask each other the kind of kid questions


JAN FEINDT


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