I started to go to camp when I was 5 years old at the rec center in town. I really do not remember those summers but I do remember being homesick for some of the other years I went to camp. As I have gotten older, I have been able to understand why kids (and even sometimes adults) become homesick. I was recently reading an article centered around homesickness and it listed out some great tips for parents to help their children and there children’s counselors combat homesickness.
Before Camp Begins:
•Avoid committing to a “Pick Up Deal.” We find that when families promise their children, “If you miss home, we’ll pick you up,” the chances of homesickness actually increase because this commitment undermines the camper’s confidence. As a parent, you will always be able to pick up your child at any time. However, with this fallback in mind, campers become preoccupied with the idea of coming home, possibly missing out on all the wonderful activities and friendships here at camp.
•Encourage your camper to talk to other children who have been to camp. A peer’s experience is often more relatable than that of an adult.
•Have your child practice spending time away from home before camp begins. A good start is to have your child stay overnight at a house with which he/she is somewhat familiar, like a relative’s or best friend’s house.
•The cornerstone of homesickness prevention is the family’s outlook. We suggest expressing confidence, optimism, and a positive attitude about camp to your children. Your children look up to you and will role model the tone you set.
•Have your child contact us with a list of any questions! Giving your child the autonomy to ask for help, will give them the self-confidence to be away from home as well as the assurance that we’re here to support them.
While at Camp:
•When writing to your camper, avoid focusing on how much you miss him/her. Simply saying, “We miss you but hope you’re having lots of fun,” is a great way to express both confidence and affection. However, writing an entire letter focusing on how sad you are without your child can cause feelings of helplessness or even guilt.
•Avoid communicating bad news that your child can do nothing about. Even something as seemingly simple as the unfortunate passing of a pet goldfish could make a child feel helpless and intensify homesickness. In the event of an emergency, we encourage you to call us here at camp.
•When writing to your camper, focus on camp! Ask a lot of questions about what’s going on here – who are his/her friends, what’s his/her favorite activity, what’s the daily schedule, who are the counselors, how’s the cabin, etc.
•If your child writes home to say he/she is homesick, avoid talking about anything at home he/she might really miss. Instead, encourage your child to talk to other campers who have experienced homesickness and suggest that your child let the counselors know how he/she is feeling. Our staff has undergone extensive training on how to deal with homesickness and will support your child.
•If your child expresses wanting to come home, avoid making any promises. Going home early from camp can increase future anxiety about leaving home when the time comes again. In order to foster independence and growth, we find it’s best that your child work through homesickness and leave us feeling empowered after having completed what they set out to do!