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Thread: Post camp blues

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Post camp blues

    Something that I have picked up on from my many scouting friends is the phenomenom of what I call "post camp blues". That feeling that many people get after a big camp or other event. After days of being away which is often the culmination of weeks of planning and suddenly with far less to do, with all the stress over, those involved often feel a little, or even a lot down.

    It applies to other walks of life too, maybe a big project at work, or a big family occassion or whatever it may be. And I'm told by people who know more about psychology than I that it is a quite natural thing.

    I am curious though as to how other people deal with it? Do you have a particular routine that you go through? Some sort of wind down system?

    Full disclosure, if you were to rewind the clock 3 years I was suffering with mild depression. I'm pleased to say I am now fully recovered (although there is the occassional "day"!) and I'd also add that given how common it is and how many users there are of this forum there must be plenty others of you who have also been through or are going through it. Hence I am always on the look out for ways of being mentally healthy. And with this year's summer camp involving hosting our twin troop from Canada and home hospitality for them it's been particularly busy!

    So over to you good people....

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Yeah I get post camp blues to a greater or lesser extent most years after our summer camp. I look forward to summer camp and really enjoy camp so its hard not to have it to look forward to any more and having spent a week running camp with people I consider friends many of whom I don't get to see the rest of the year as they don't live in Leeds anymore its hard to go back to life where I don't get to see and spend time with friends every day. Its also hard to go back to the day to day of work.

    I am lucky that I always have a family holiday booked in the summer as well so have that to look forward to after camp, however I tend to be even more down after that as then that is two big things in the year I look forward to done. The last couple of years I have booked a weekend city break away with friends in October as something else to look forward to but that is looking unlikely this year as one of them had a baby earlier this year. I also tend to start planning where we will go for our Feb indoor trip and even next year's summer camp so that I have something more to do and can start looking forward to them.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 07-08-2019 at 09:42 AM.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
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    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Yes, definitely a thing I've had. Though curiously, not really this year. It's usually combined with caffeine withdrawal as I only drink tea on camp, just for added fun.

    The things that help me are two fold...

    1. Have a leader's social. We went to the hut to finish putting away, then went to the pub and for a curry. Chewed the fat around the good bits and the bad bits, the good kids and the bad kids, and some non scouty stuff and nonsense.
    2. Start looking forward. After reflecting on what could have gone better, and if that's something you can carry forward as something to improve the next one. Start looking at the map and pondering where to go. Start finding someone that's camped at a site you like the look of. I've been looking for international camps/Jamborees for explorers next year. Idle speculation at this point, but it's not dwelling on the past.
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
    All sections, all countries, runs December 2018 - May 2019
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    I get what you're saying - I somewhat warily agreed to go on our Scouts summer camp to help out as one of our usual leaders couldn't make it until half way through. So I went for the part they couldn't do. Somewhat out of my comfort zone, load of people and kids I didn't really know, and spent the first few hours thinking "Just got to survive until mid week". Back in work the day after I came back and I was sat at my desk missing the banter, wondering what the kids were getting up to, worrying that X patrol still hadn't got the idea of teamwork - it was like the first decent shower and night in a proper bed didn't mean anything.

    I suspect caffeine withdrawal played a part - like Ian I don't normally drink a lot of it other than when camping. Sleep deprivation was probably part of it - never sleep much first night away and it just follows on from there. But mainly I think it was a few days with some really decent people, pretty much like minded, no politics despite some different approaches. Probably took a few days to "get over it" - think getting older means the physical effects of going from a day job sitting at a desk to 4 days barely sitting down creates a bit of a need for physical recovery!
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Cheers for your thoughts chaps.

    Expanding this a bit further.... do we, by which I mean both TSA which accounts for the majority of users on here, and the scout movement more widely, do enough to support volunteers with stress or other mental health issues? Scouting can easily take over if you let it and on top of that we do take a lot of responsibility for the lives of very young members in potentially dangerous situations. I know one of the best things I was ever told in training was “learn how to say no. Your other options are a divorce and/or a nervous breakdown”

    I personally am beginning to wonder if TSA should be doing more to train those in manager roles to look out for signs of stress or burnout among those they are managing.

    What do others think?

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    Senior Member johnmcmahon's Avatar
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    I have little personal experience of mental health issues. I had a Leader who did, he told me that the only thing that kept him going in the dark times was Scouts.

    I have found that I am so tired after camp, putting the kit away, sorting out the canvas and equipment that needs repairs / replacement doing the accounts etc that going away is only a small part of the process. It generally overuns for weeks afterward.

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CambridgeSkip View Post
    I personally am beginning to wonder if TSA should be doing more to train those in manager roles to look out for signs of stress or burnout among those they are managing.

    What do others think?
    More burdens on the managers? Who's watching the watchers?

    But yes, I get you, though in a way it's kind of like the kids, you only get to see them for a brief time in a week, a time that's usually very busy, so even if you do notice something's "off", when do you deal with it.

    TSA has a long way to go with this, all the talk of mental health "first aid" for the young people, when the adults can be just as susceptible. For me this ties in nicely with the vacuum of support for suspended leaders, just when they are likely to suffer mentally the most, backs are turned, it's shameful.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
    All sections, all countries, runs December 2018 - May 2019
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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnmcmahon View Post
    I have little personal experience of mental health issues. I had a Leader who did, he told me that the only thing that kept him going in the dark times was Scouts.
    From experience that can be a two edged sword.

    When I was going through depression yes, scouting was a positive aspect of my life that did help me. On the other hand I know I was also throwing myself at it in an unhealthy way, it was meant to be positive but I took so much on in attempts to hide from the other things that were going on in my life and in my head that in some ways it made matters worse.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    More burdens on the managers? Who's watching the watchers?

    But yes, I get you, though in a way it's kind of like the kids, you only get to see them for a brief time in a week, a time that's usually very busy, so even if you do notice something's "off", when do you deal with it.

    TSA has a long way to go with this, all the talk of mental health "first aid" for the young people, when the adults can be just as susceptible. For me this ties in nicely with the vacuum of support for suspended leaders, just when they are likely to suffer mentally the most, backs are turned, it's shameful.
    I agree with your post entirely! Especially about the suspension process.

    Regarding pressure on managers, is there an argument to say that what you get in you may get back? By that I mean think of adults we probably all know who have quit because they are mentally frazzled. Which in turn puts pressure on managers to replace them. Now if the burn out or stress etc had been recognised earlier and that had been managed could we have a situation where adult retention was better, so taking that pressure off of GSLs and DCs? I don't know the answer to that but it may be worth thinking about.

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    I think this also ties in a wee bit with what Scouts is these days. It's no longer a hobby or pastime, it's more of a job. Spare time activities are supposed to not be a burden, they're supposed to be something you do for fun. For the most part (for me anyway) Scouts is still that. However, it's changed a lot over the years - away from being a hobby and toward being a profession of sorts.

    I don't think the support structures have kept up. The febrile atmosphere around youth work generally doesn't help either.

    Personally, I miss the kids when we're off. But that's life. There are always ups and downs, and you need to find a way to deal with them - what ever you do will be unique to you.

    Laterally, I've found, towards the end of Explorer trips, I was about ready to get back to normal anyway. I loved spending time with them, but it turns out, the love was not an infinite supply.

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    The unpaid help ASLChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnmcmahon View Post
    I have little personal experience of mental health issues. I had a Leader who did, he told me that the only thing that kept him going in the dark times was Scouts.

    I have found that I am so tired after camp, putting the kit away, sorting out the canvas and equipment that needs repairs / replacement doing the accounts etc that going away is only a small part of the process. It generally overuns for weeks afterward.
    Scouting has been, for me, both a help and cause of mental health issues. It helps as a space to forget your troubles and destress; but it can also be a cause of stress. It will all depend on the individual, and whilst "managers" in scouting should be trained to spot signs, there isn't a lot they can do without forcing someone down a road that could actually harm them.

    Mental health isn't as easy to deal with as physical health, or as easy to spot. Plus the stigma makes it harder to acknowledge as well. Scouting should instead develop access to help that members can access anonymously (like many employers do).
    Chris Hawes, District Media Manager, Watford North Scout District and Watford Scouts; Group Treasurer and Webmaster, 9th North Watford Scout Group.
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    Having come back in the early hours of this morning from a brilliant 10 days at Kandersteg I'm definitely feeling a bit flat today...I can feel with all of this at the moment.

    At least I get a weekend to recover before back to work...

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    Just got back from 12 days at the Haarlem Jamborette in Holland, and apart form the tiredness, the first thing you notice is the gear shift, as you drop back into the real world

    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Definately feeling in the post camp blues this week. All that work and jobs being done prior to the week and then a week away keeping you busy and then back to lots of freetime (i'm a student so not working at the mo). Apart from slowly starting to sort kit making sure it's all aired and starting to sort the finances out I have been at my wits end and feeling a bit flat. Lol. Next week the kit sorting shifts up a gear and I'm starting on the plannign for Autumn term.

    Its very interesting how this thread moved into the wider issue of mental health and wellbeing amongst adults. I also have some experience of mental health issues a few years back and scouting was definitely something positive I could focus on. I can't actually recall letting anyone in scouting, either at section, group or district level know about it. I think a couple of parents knew but as one of them had seen me have a little episode at work in the run up to it all that was inevitable. It does raise the question of what is on offer from Gilwell to support leaders and adults in scouting - and what could be implemented in the future

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    Our summer camp (I'm guessing like many on this thread) tends to run relatively early in the summer hoildays, for all sorts of good reasons. But it does mean that it creates a year-long build-up wtih a cliff edge and then a relatively big gap (4-5 weeks) of no scouting (not counting paperwork, planning etc., but you know what I mean).

    The caffeine thing is really interesting: I don't drink coffee at all, and I drink at most two cups of weak tea a day normally, and I drink practically *no* caffeinated drinks at camp. I slept reasonably well - probably less than an hour short of what I would get at home each night on average.

    I think my campsickness is mitigated by having a scout + beaver at home! So maybe some part of it is simply going from having lots of people around, to having very few people around. I suspect that if you asked sports groups, or music groups what it is like after an intense week-long trip, you'd find the same things crop up.

    One thing I'm half-thinking of in the next few weeks is doing an outdoor activity in a nearby town/city (scavenger hunt type thing) on a Sunday afternoon. Partly to break the 4-week scouting drought and partly to give scouts who weren't on camp something to do.

    On the overall TSA thing: I don't know. As an anecdote, I can say that where the number of adult volunteers available is only just what is needed to run at a "tolerable" level (this is subjective, but let's say it is the level at which those volunteers feel it is worthwhile continuing), it is very important that all leaders watch out that they (and the others they work with) aren't sacrificing their mental health or other relationships to keep the hamster wheel spinning (or to make it spin faster). Someone needs to be bold enough to say "this isn't working, we need to address this by reducing the demand" - whether that is blocking incoming joiners to get a section size smaller, skipping one section meeting a term, accepting that chief scout awards aren't going to get awarded this year, or whatever.

    <rant>
    On the last one (CSA), I'm just about tearing my hair out at the fact that after a week-long camp with 9 scouts and a heaving programme of activities, I can award *two* challenge badges according to the letter of the requirements. Yet, with about a half-hour box-ticking exercise in a section meeting next term (reduce environmental impacts of adventurous activities/ countryside code/ camp gadgets/ mini troop forum) I could probably award another 4 at least.

    So, on my "lessons learned" for next year will be bring a print-out of all the challenge badge requirements and all the progress of those on camp, so that in down-time we can do these box-ticking bits and clean-up). We use OSM but a) the mobile version is not easy to use for this, and b) we had rubbish reception. (And I did do a "troop forum" round the campfire late at night)
    <rant over>

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Have I mentioned that I hate some of the current challenge badge requirements?

    I suspect we will only be handing out one challenge badge after our summer camp, outdoor challenge, to the one new PL on camp (the other PL already has their Outdoor challenge and we ran without APLs) due to the ridiculous inclusion of the requirement to lead or help lead a patrol on camp in the outdoor challenge when IMHO that requirement should quite obviously belong in the team leader challenge badge.

    We might have a few adventure challnege badges as well but the extra parts apart from just taking part in the activities meanwe probably wont at least immedietly.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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