Homesickness at Summer Camp
…A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
Homesickness / Missing Home is a normal part of growing up and is to be expected in varying degrees. Missing home is not a sickness but certainly is part of being human. It's just missing home. We are very open about “home sickness” and discuss it as a camp family to help our campers and sometimes our staff to face and understand how they feel. We tell them that it's a normal and very natural feeling, and that it's OK. We encourage campers to tell someone how they’re feeling, to get a hug, but not to allow themselves to dwell on it. We help these campers set goals and encourage them to stay positive about the independence that they are developing, to stay busy, and make their families proud. Our success rate is near 100%. Once in a great while, a camper will really have a problem with homesickness. If, after 24 hours, the camper is still missing home and not able to participate in camp activities because of it, we will call you and together we will decide what to do.
DO NOT TELL YOUR CAMPER, PRIOR TO COMING TO CAMP, THAT IF HE OR SHE IS NOT HAPPY, THEY MAY COME HOME.
Having an "out" often sets a camper up to fail. If things are not going well, they will focus on the "out" you have given them, rather than working with you and us to find a way to success.
How Can I Prepare My Camper for Being Away From Home?
It is crucial that YOU maintain a very positive attitude. Accentuate the wonderful opportunities for new friendships and new experiences that camp will provide. Friends are easy to make at camp and there is a lot of help when trying new things. Your child needs to know that you think he or she will be a GREAT CAMPER. Campers need the confidence of their parents and their enthusiastic encouragement for a positive camping experience.
Listen to your child’s feelings about being away from home and gently reassure him/her. Tell them you love them, how proud you are of them, you’ve chosen he best camp possible for them, you’re happy they will have so many fun things to do at camp and nice people to do them with. They will have so many exciting things to tell you about when they come home! Jody Ellena is our resident TLC Director and has had amazing success conquering every imaginable homesick-related situation. As a mother of three, she can readily empathize. Do not hesitate to contact her. Camp is a comfortable place for this personal growth to take place and your camper needs all of our encouragement and support.
Should I Write My Camper if He or She is Homesick?
Mail call is a special time for campers. It is very important that your camper continues to receive your positive support by frequent “upbeat” notes from home. You might include a cartoon or funny story. Make news about life at home chatty but not too exciting (which might cause him/her to feel left-out). Tell them you love them, but don’t overemphasize how much you miss your child or they might feel guilty for leaving you. After all, you’ve given them this wonderful opportunity to grow and gain confi dence, and above all, have FUN, so allow them the freedom to do so. You both will gain from his or her enriching camp experience. Don’t hesitate to call us with any concerns.
What if My Child Writes that He or She is Unhappy?
It is very common for campers to write homesick notes during the first week of camp, expressing that they do not like camp and want to come home. Be sure that you continue to write back with positive, reassuring notes to help them make an effort to adjust. Ask about the camp experience so far (i.e. What are your favorite activities? Who are your favorite counselors? What’s your favorite meal? etc.). Remember that telling them how much they are missed can be detrimental.Don’t hesitate to call us with any concerns. PLEASE DON’T tell campers that if they do not like it they can come home early. This technique almost always ensures that the camper will give in to homesickness.
Feel free, however, to call us to discuss any situation, anytime. We are always here, directly involved with your camper and we need your trust.