For many reasons, it’s not unusual for neurodiverse children to have a strong attachment to a favourite soft toy, teddy bear, special blanket or pillow. These objects can be calming and provide a sense of security well after the age most children are generally expected to grow out of this kind of attachment. Peer pressure and the desire to not be seen as uncool or babyish can lead to youth members feeling pressured to leave teddy bears or other favourite items home even though they may be an essential part of sleep routines.
Encouraging all youth members of all ages to bring teddy bears and similar items on camps and sleepovers helps to lessen the unfamiliarity of sleeping in an unusual place, often with lots of unexpected sensory information.
Having a unit teddy bear available gives youth members an opportunity to ‘adopt’ a comfort item for the night as a substitute for their own favourite teddy bear. Having a unit mascot also helps to destigmatise bringing a teddy bear on camp. If a Scout is worried about losing a much-loved toy, encourage them to pick a ‘camp teddy’ they bring on camps instead. This is particularly useful at Cuborees and Jamborees where the extended length of camp and increased mess can be hard on soft toys.
Encouraging teddy bears and other comfort items can be a simple but effective way to help reinforce regular bedtime routines and ensure Scouts get enough sleep – an essential ingredient for making the most of camps and sleepovers.
What you can do:
- Add ‘teddy bear or favourite soft toy’ to your packing lists – no matter what section you lead!
- Get a soft toy unit mascot and bring it to every camp, sleepover or even just fun events. Make it a part of a unit challenge to get a group photo with your group mascot.
- Make sure your unit mascot goes to bed with a youth member every night – not just when they’re needed.