Allowing Girls to Call Home

Junior Leade
Columbia River Girl Scout Council

In a word, yes. I have always allowed phone calls home, as I have a young one myself who needs to hear from mom before she can sleep.

When a Scout expresses homesickness, either by a direct request to call home or by tears and unable to settle at bedtime, I take her apart from the group. We talk a little and I ask her what she needs to do. If she wants to call home, we talk about what the parents are doing at this time and I try to discover if she just needs a little reassurance or if she will feel worse after talking to them. If I think she will feel worse, I will try to comfort her or distract her for a time, hoping it will help. if she ends up needing to call home so be it.

I would never want to keep a sad miserable little girl from talking to her parents. Only once have I had a parent get exasperated with talking to her child, and that girl is no longer in my troop (sadly) most parents talk briefly and then the child is better. Only once have I had a parent have to come get the girl the next morning, and it was partially because she wasn't feeling well.

By having your girls do day trips, then day into evening trips, then close one night overnights prior to a two night or more "away" camp, you get to know their psyches pretty well. In the past I have been unable to separate girls, and their parents know this so mom comes along.

I would encourage allowing calls.

Gail Branum

The first year I was a leader I let a girl call home. Call it inexperience or something along those lines, but we had just had a minor scare, and I guess Mom was a better confidant than myself. In short, once Mom got on the phone, the girl went hysterical and blew the incident way out of proportion. Mom dashed over and "saved" her baby (took her home). The rest of the girls couldn't believe what had happened, and talked more about the girl's reaction and her mom's than about the small scare we had experienced.

In the 19 years since then, the only time I have let a girl call home was when she was feeling ill or something along those lines. Come to think of it, that's the only time since then that anyone has even asked to call home. Through other scares, homesickness, and the like, I have always tackled them head on since then, and tried to be very sensitive to each and every girl's fears and such. When and if a girl has called home, it was done after a LONG one-on-one talk with myself about the situation at hand, and then done discreetly so as not to bring on a wave of call-home-itis. I treat this "electronic umbilical cord" on an individual basis as the need arises.

In my experiences the girls that ask to call home are quite often the ones that have never been away from mom on an overnight before, those that are very sheltered and protected by mom, and those that are having a problem of some sort at home. The talk usually brings out what the underlying problem is...even if the girl doesn't reveal it verbally. From
there, it is a judgment call based upon your knowledge of the girl and your ability to deal with the child and/or problem.

Julia Gomez

Delaware Raritan Girl Scout Council: The only time I call home is if there is a real need - illness, accident, serious behavior problem. Especially at Brownies, you could easily fuel the homesickness fire and have a very upset child on your hands. Sometimes the parents say the wrong thing such as how much they miss the girl which can make her miss home more or they tell them about something that went on at home and then the girl feels the need to be there too. I feel that the girls are there participating in a group Girl Scout activity and should be involved in what is going on with us, not at home. I have also found with homesick girls that is they are given some one-on-one for awhile with positive reinforcement about what a great job they are doing being with us, it usually helps them calm down. I try and divert their attention to an activity.

Sometimes I have kept them with me or another adult I know they are comfortable with until they calm down. But basically calling home is not on the agenda.

Donna McIntyre

Leader Brownie Troop #389, Council Trainer: I ran into this problem last year at our troop camping weekend. Only a couple of girls in the troop had ever been troop camping. Some of them had never even gone family camping. If you feel that the girls would sleep better and be less prone to wake up at 3 in the morning to go home, I'd suggest bringing a Cellular Phone and letting them call home. You can limit it to only a couple of minutes not a long conversation home.

Of course, if you can try to "convince" the girls that their going to have so much fun there won't be time to call home that's even better. You are right. Once one girl calls home there's a chain reaction!! Maybe if just the one girl really can't go without calling home, you can find a way to allow her to do it without all the girls knowing??? :-) I don't mean that you should deny the other girls the same privilege of calling home but if they don't ask then you don't have to worry. :-)

I try very hard not to have the girls calling home when we go camping. I would never NOT allow them to call homr if they really were nervous or homesick. Sometimes they just want to know that if they really wanted to call home, that you would let them. It sometimes just helps them get through the weekend having that security.

Clare Zimmerman

When girls complain about wanting to call home (or even if they don't) I suggested that she write in a journal instead. Wouldn't it be neat to get a journal for each girl to use through her years as a GS!!?? You could keep them as part of the troop "stuff" and hand out after field trips, or afternoons when camping or traveling. What a great legacy to give the girls when they bridge to adults, change troops or even drop out.

Bev Crim

I make it a practice that girls CANNOT call home. (save an emergency!!!) When we went to Boston (because some parents wanted to know we got there) we called one mom and if any parents wanted to know they could call her.

This time (going to the songfest) we didn't call anyone. I suppose they could have called Hershey to see if we had checked in yet.

Calling home wastes time on your trip and can cause a "homesick" kid to be more homesick. (Speaking from experience of being an exchange student).

Of course there's always an exception that you might have to change your rule, but.....I truly believe that if you set down the rules ahead you will have NO problems.

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