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and get the kind of kid answers that are much more believable,” he says. Next, Thurber says, try a slow- immersion strategy, planning a series of outings that build up to an overnighter. The first could be a day hike, the second a session on outdoor cooking, and the third a late-night stargazing event. These activities could even take place at the site of a future campout. “If you’ve gradually built up, maybe the only thing that’s really new is that you’re going to sleep there,” he says. Thurber’s third strategy is to


involve fearful boys in planning their own trips. “The more that adults can be there to facilitate but not decide, the more comfortable those kids feel, the more ownership they have over the experience, and the more excited they’ll be to partici- pate,” he says.


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Youth-led planning is a natural


part of Boy Scouting and Venturing, of course, but there’s no reason Cub Scout-age boys can’t be involved in planning as well. Sure, you may eat macaroni and cheese three meals a day, but you’ll survive. And your boys will thrive. So how can you tell if a boy’s concern about camping is more phobia than fear? If a boy seems unusually stressed or unable to func- tion normally, it might be time to seek professional help. The criteria are subjective, but don’t worry. “Most


Scoutmasters and most parents have enough contact with a comparison sample of other kids that they can pretty easily distinguish normative anxiety from something that indicates more of a concern,” Thurber says. In the end, helping kids get


over their fear of camping does far more than expose them to the fun of the outdoors—it increases confi- dence. Thurber adds: “Forget about sleepovers and nighttime and being outdoors. They’re just more ready to do anything because they’ve had this confidence-boosting experience.” ¿


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