Anxiety: Turning Scout Camp Into a Nightmare


Will my Scout Camp leader yell at me? Will the other boys be nice to me? What about the time when I was at Scouts and I spilled my drink? What will happen if I do that again? It's too early. I don't wake up this early.  Kids aren't supposed to have to wake up this early in the summer. Summer is for fun. None of this is fun. I don't want to live anymore.

This is a fraction of the string of statements I heard yesterday while my 9YO was trying to articulate his pain.

The facts?

He woke up on time. He's an early riser. He loves Scouts. He has friends there. The night before, he was planning to go to Scout Camp and told me everything he'd buy at the trading post and asked me if I knew anything about archery. When I said I didn't, he promptly told me I couldn't come, even though I had signed up to be a volunteer leader for the day. Why? "Because you have to know archery to go to Scout Camp, mom. So you wouldn't fit in," he said matter of factly.

Then morning came and everything changed.

No more thoughts about the trading post and the $5 of candy he would buy. That's saying a lot, because this kid is like Elf. Sugar is his favorite food group!

And no thoughts of bows or arrows or friends or being outside all day long.

Anxiety took over my child until he not only lost control of all positive thoughts, but his actions as well. He ruined the wii game my mom had bought him as a gift the night before—the one he was excited about and had wanted for so long. He wreaked havoc on the bathroom and then the kitchen.

Where were we, his parents? Talking to each other, trying to figure out a solution. Then, talking to the people at the Scout Camp to see if he could come late. Then, getting mad at each other, because we don't know what's going on and why he is so worried. Is it really anxiety? Is there something we can do about that? The doctor says ADD, but we don't think that's right. We don't know and we're frustrated all while he's damaging things.

I sit him down. I want to punish him for the things he's done. I let him sit. I don't know what to say. I look at him. He's my baby again with all that red hair. He has no idea what's going on. I ask him how he feels. He starts bawling. I ask him why he ruined things. He says he doesn't know. I believe him. Not because I'm his mom and want to believe he didn't do it on purpose... although I would want to believe that. But, because I know he doesn't know.

So, I called a new therapist. I called an allergist. And, I spend a long time talking to my son about how awesome Scout Camp would be tomorrow. We role played every scenario. We answered questions like: What would happen right when he woke up? What would he do first? What would he do next? What would he do when he got nervous? What would he do if that happened at the camp?

Today, he woke up right when we told him he would. He took a shower. Then, he got dressed. Then, he ate breakfast... the very things we said he would eat. Then, Troy took him to the church where the group gathered.

What's happening now? Chase is at Scout Camp. It's 12:16 p.m. No news is good news, right? Now... to figure out a long-term solution.


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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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