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Summer camp bed wetting

I am the Health and Safety Coordinator for the troop. Last year, there was an issue with a crossover. Not only did he wet the bed but would soil himself throughout the day. I do not know what action the SM took to address the issue at the time.
Flash forward, and we are starting registration for 2020 summer camp and three parents have come to me with concerns about sharing a tent with this scout. One scout said he does not want to attend. None of the scouts want to share a tent with him. I am thinking I should address this as a medical concern? How would you proceed? I would appreciate any insight.

I think a first a soft aside with parents is called for. And calling out scouts on their personal dumb stuff. It is an awkward situation, but one that can be overcome.


We had a cub in that situation and on family campouts it was easy, the dad just stayed in the tent and they were prepped with proper undergarments.

One thing to remember is that issues with toileting is somewhat rare, but not so rare that it doesn’t come up. Unfortunately, there is almost no literature available on toilet training for teens. Often times when toileting is an issue for teens it’s coupled with another medical issue such as autism, Asperger’s, or such.

I agree that having a meeting with the parents is an important step, and there may be a special need or medical issue that needs addressed so the scout can be successful at camp. Normally scouts do not stay in the same tent as a parent but this is a case where it may make sense.

In our area, there are occupational therapists that help with youth in such a situation. Naturally that’s a decision for the parents, but they may take comfort in learning that they are not alone and that there is help.

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Unfortunately this is now directly violates the Guide to Safe Scouting. I agree that it shouldn’t be the norm. I agree that if possible any such arrangement should be done with an eye to move away from it. But I also think volunteers should know when they might be violating rules.

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Is the SM no longer available to ask? This would fall into the category of the SM needs to be involved in my opinion. And as previously mentioned it would certainly point to a potential medical problem. It could also root into some emotional problem.Several things come to mind here

  • Without support there is a ton of stink built up in a week.
  • It is not fair to ask any scout to live with this for a week. (It will definitely affect the other scout.)
  • Input from the parents would be needed.
  • The scout leadership can help, and it is a growth opportunity if they are not overloaded.
  • I would start a conversation with the camp now.

I was all ready to show references about how this statement is wrong. I was shocked to learn that in May 2019 that policy changed and now in a scout troop parents and family members cannot stay in the same tent.

I’d like to ask for an official ruling on that (can the internet be trusted?) and some source. If that’s the case, there needs to be medical exceptions in place at once. Scouting has a history of supporting youth with special needs, but a 12-year old should not be expected to have the safety training required to support special needs youth during the night. Sometimes you need a family member or even a nurse.

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If someone is determined to get an official ruling from Nationals, the best bet is to reach out here:

Just be aware that it’s not necessarily anyone who actually has experience with special needs youth directing the answers.

I would recommend talking to your local council or district first to see if their special needs scouting committee already has an official answer on this topic. Maybe it would be considered as an accommodation of medical conditions (enuresis)? That said, a local council answer might not “carry over” if you went camping at another council’s facilities…

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Yea, it caught me flat footed when I discovered that just after a campout where I had a new scout in a tent with his dad because he had a bed wetting issue. I personally think they went too far. While the norm is that a scout doesn’t sleep with parents, there are other things that need to be considered.

  1. Some scouts will never be able to tent without an adult (medical) helper.
  2. The rules also no longer allow siblings to share a tent.
  3. I desire to reach youth where they are.

If a scout is afraid to sleep without a parent let me the local leader help formulate the plan to fix that.If a scout needs someone to undress and dress said scout then what? I have seen that reality. Our unit’s first year we met such a scout at summer camp. The young man’s uncle gave his all for him to participate at a level I couldn’t have done. Though the boy had no use of his legs he participated with his troop in the gaga ball tournament. The only thing said was that the ball hitting the uncle didn’t count against the scout. The most heart warming part is that level of involvement was driven by the youth.

I have to agree with you, @KirkWood. Prohibiting parent/youth tenting seems unreasonable. In addition, the explanation for this rule given in the YP and Barriers to Abuse FAQs seems like a complete non sequitur:

My scouts lead me all over the place when we go hiking and camping, but I don’t see what that has to do with tenting arrangements. I wouldn’t want to tent with somebody else’s kids at all (heck I don’t really want to tent with mine…), but there are various circumstances that might make tenting with your child the least problematic of the options.

Yea, they are full of that kind of thing. They need to separate the safety from the program intent.

Youth should not sleep in a tent with an adult who is not:

  • Guardian
  • Caretaker approved by the guardian

Youth should not sleep in a tent with another more than 2 years apart unless they are siblings or both youth’s parents have expressly agreed with the specific arrangements. I am not the parent of scouts not from my house. I am not the parent…

I have two youth who would make perfect tent mates. If they were a couple months closer together in age.

Contact your council if you need an exception to the “Scouts tent separately from parents” rule. Your Scout Exec or designee can authorize exceptions to the Guide to Safe Scouting. I have written permission for two of my Scouts (aunt and niece) who are more than 2 years apart in age to share a tent. The parents requested this ability and I was able to get it approved with an e-mail to the Scout Exec.


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