Homesickness, Just Plain Sickness and the Friends Who Make it Worthwhile

Most Boy Scouts will tell you that the best part of being a Scout is camping. I mean, there are a lot of wonderful activities throughout the year, but camping usually ranks number 1.

Last year was a major bummer for Luke. It was his first week-long camp and he was bullied relentlessly all.week.long.  We then moved him to a new Pack (and closer to home, too!) and he seemed to like it. He fit in well and when he graduated he moved up with the other guys into his current Troop. All was well.

Needless to say, Luke was really looking forward to camp this year. He has one really good buddy, Nate (who is also gluten-free) and is friendly with all of the other boys. What could be better?

We made the long drive to S-F and helped him unpack. He was thrilled to get to share a tent with his good buddy and couldn't wait for the week to begin. He gave us a few hugs and didn't seem sad to see us go.

[caption id="attachment_2208" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Ready to go! Ready to go![/caption]

We returned home and Ben went right out, braved the heat, and started spreading gravel in the driveway. Just an hour into it and I received a call from Luke's Scoutmaster. He hadn't packed any pants. Or shorts. And it was so hot out! Argh!!!

To say Ben was ticked is putting it mildly. I packed up several pairs of shorts and pants and Ben drove another 3 hours to deliver it. Oy. Luke was embarrassed, but nothing to ruin camp, right?

Turns out the pants were just the beginning of his crummy week, poor guy. We got down on Thursday for Family Night and he told us he hadn't been feeling well. He seemed okay at first, but was pretty subdued which is not like him at all.

When it came time for us to leave he became clingy and hysterical. He begged to return home with us. He said he'd had a bad sore throat and wasn't feeling well. We talked to the EMT there and he said that his throat had been a bit raw-looking, but that it could be from seasonal allergies.

We talked to the Scout Master in charge and he thought that the heat had just worn all of the boys down. He also said that Family Night could be hard on some boys because the initial excitement of camp has worn off and they are more prone to homesickness. We were really torn, but he also reminded us that Luke needed to spend the entire week there for it to be able to count toward badges.

I had no idea what to do. If Luke was really sick I didn't want to make him stay - for his sake and the sake of the others. But if it was just homesickness, I didn't want him to regret throwing in the towel.

That's when something cool happened. The other boys gathered around him. They encouraged him and comforted him. An older boy asked if he'd like to stand with him and another older guy that night during the ceremony. Another boy jumped in and told Luke he wouldn't want to miss the huge bonfire they were going to have the next evening. We reminded Luke that Nate would miss bunking with him and that Luke was getting to ride home with Nate, too.

He reluctantly agreed to stay and we hightailed it out of there. When I looked back one last time I saw him sitting dejectedly on his cot...but he wasn't alone. Several other boys milled around. One crouched down in front of him talking to him, encouraging him. I knew he was in good hands. It's the only thing that kept me from sweeping him up and bringing him home with us.

When he arrived home, it was pretty clear that he was, indeed, sick. Poor guy! He felt horribly for another day or two and then Gabe and I got it. I cannot imagine how miserable he must have felt out in the heat day after day while feeling so miserable.

Despite all of that, this turned out to be a wonderful experience for him and he was glad he stayed. He still managed to earn a couple of merit badges and looks back fondly on that trip and. Best of all, he learned firsthand what friendship and encouragement can do for a person and how much our attitude can impact our outlook and circumstances. So proud of him and so incredibly grateful for the leaders and boys who were there for him!



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