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Local scout leaders train to deal with trauma

KNOB LICK, Mo. - When you think of summer camp, trauma and toxic stress may be the last things that come to mind.

But it's often someone like a camp counselor or scout leader who's the first to pick up on the signs of toxic stress or trauma in a child.

That why the Boy Scouts of America just began training leaders to become trauma informed.

"What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word trauma?" asks a seminar leader with the St. Louis Regional Health Commission at a recent training session.

It's a heavy topic, in a carefree and beloved space.

"Each year we have more than 40,000 youths go through our program,” said Joey Stokes with the Greater St. Louis Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

A group of local Boy Scout volunteers recently took time out at the S Bar F Scout Camp to learn to help scouts live alive and well.

Photos: Scouts, Venturers return to the S-F Scout Ranch

"We're going to be talking to them about the important of changing the question from what's wrong with you to what happened to you, and how they can apply that in their daily interaction with scouts," said Emily Luft, program director of Alive and Well STL with the St. Louis Regional Health Commission.

It turns out, having the support of at least one adult, even if it's not a parent, can hugely relieve the damaging effects that trauma or stress have on children.

"Sometimes a scout master is the only person a youth might feel comfortable talking to because they know they will be compassionate and try and help them through any situation they might be going through," said Stokes.
"With that isolation comes a sense of hopelessness."

Along with teaching these trusted adults what questions to ask, they're also training these scout leaders to teach resiliency.

"If we have a better understanding of trauma and see behaviors as the result of what happened to someone then we're not talking about that bad kid doing that bad thing we can think about what's behind that behavior and look at ways to change it,” said Luft.

And with two-thirds of the population experiencing at least one traumatic event during childhood, it's a lesson none of us can afford to miss.

"It affects all of us. It's an everyone issue,” said Luft.

Related photos: Local scouts receive emergency preparedness training

Visit AliveAndWellSTL.com to learn more about reducing the impact of toxic stress and trauma on our health and well-being.