One way to successfully overcome your little one’s fear of camp

firstimecamper

As a first year Daisy, my daughter was trying to earn her first nature badge. To do this we decided to take a hike through some of the trails at Loch Raven. Not only did my daughter not like bugs, she hated the idea of being in the woods. Needless to say she cried, retreated from the trails and vowed to never go into the woods again.

I figured there had to be a way to get her to adjust to being in the woods. After sharing this experience with Membership & Community Specialist Elise Highsmith, she invited my daughter to participate in the Iron Birds sleepover when she was a second year Daisy. Not only did Elise provide a tent and sleeping bag, she took the time to teach us how to assemble both. Just having the opportunity to sleep outdoors and learn how to put together a tent meant the world to her. When her troop leader, said that she was planning an overnight camping trip in PA, I thought my daughter would decline participating. I was shocked when she excitedly said she wanted to go. The little girl who once hated the great outdoors and the possibility of lions, tigers and bears now was willing to take on a new adventure. When I asked her about her change of heart she replied. “It’s just what the lady (sic Elise) taught us when we stayed outside Mommy.” While shocked at her change of heart, I figured she would change her mind. Well, I am happy to share that this weekend my daughter roughed the outdoors and had her first real camping experience. She and I put together our tent, roasted marshmallows and spent the night outdoors at campgrounds in PA.

On a personal note, I am scared senseless of bugs and do not care for the cold elements. But I had to follow my daughter’s lead. If she was not afraid, neither could I be. That experience helped shape her interest in camping in the Great Outdoors. As soon as we left on Sunday, she asked when she will be old enough to go to Girl Scout Camp.
–proud troop 259 mother, and now, experienced camper

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2 replies »

  1. But what is the advice? My daughter gets hysterical over bugs, so the prospect of spending the entire night outside is nightmare fodder for her. I would love some real advice on how to get her outside, or better, to get her to want to go.

    • Fear of bugs is as common with young children as fear of the dark. I recommend approaching them in similar ways. What are her raw spots, how difficult is it for her to think about bugs? Is there a way to introduce her to bugs by drawing them, or reading about them in books. This may help her approach bugs in a non-threatening manner on paper. Once she in comfortable with this, take her outside to view bugs from above. Maybe look over some ants, see how large she in in comparison.
      When I talk with girls at camp about Leave No Trace, I always use an example of ants and Glittery purple rocks. I explain to the girls that like us, ants and other bugs have homes and families. They have mothers and siblings and may even have a favorite toy they come home to at night. I find this helps the girls, especially those with fears, find a commonality with the bugs. Especially if the bugs are bright and their favorite colors like butterflies!

      You could also bring her to the Caitlin Dunbar Nature Center at Camp Ilchester to learn about the working bees we have there (they are enclosed in glass) and learn what working bees do for the planet and for us. To make an appointment contact Ranger Billy: 443.740.0639 or bheinbuch@gscm.org.

      Hope these tips are helpful!

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