Homesickness is an emotion that most campers feel to some degree during their time at camp. In most cases these sad feelings are swallowed up by the fun and joy of camp life. A significant focus of our staff’s training is in helping campers adjust to camp life. We offer you the following recommendations, especially if this is your child’s first away from home experience.
Here are some tips to help prepare you and your camper for their time away:
- Keep the focus on how much FUN camp will be! It is crucial that you maintain a positive attitude.
- Let them know how proud you are of them for practicing their independence, your child needs to know that you think they will be a great camper; and let them know how excited you are to hear of all their adventures when they finish camp.
- Listen to your child’s feelings about being away from home and reassure them that it is normal to miss home and family while away.
- If they ask, tell them that there is not an option to call you from camp or come home early. For a homesick camper the promise to go home early becomes the focus, instead of learning to cope with being away.
- Encourage them to write letters, journal, and take pictures of their new friends and the activities they are doing at camp.
- Write cheerful and encouraging letters to your camper.
- Acknowledge your own bittersweet feelings about your child being able to live without you for a few weeks, but don’t express your sadness about missing them. You do not want them to feel guilty for leaving you.
- Signing up your camper for an escorted flight makes for easier goodbyes.
- Remind yourself that there are many more tears at the end of camp than the beginning.
- Expect a sad letter, but realize that letters are usually written during quiet times when campers are feeling more reflective. Usually, they are perfectly happy long before the letter makes it to your mailbox.
Here is a list of coping strategies to discuss before camp so that your child will have the tools to succeed:
- Keep a positive attitude. Focus on positive thoughts and fully participating in the activities at hand, even when feeling sad. Make memories for story telling after camp.
- Keep a journal about camp and their feelings.
- Keep busy with activities and friends.
- Occupy yourself with making those around you happy.
- Take pictures to show parent after camp
Our staff are well trained to help campers cope with the feelings of homesickness. If you would like to check-in on your camper we have a Camp Mom Line you can call. More about this in the Family Handbook.
Breanna Owens is our TLC Director; she will be answering all of your messages on the Camp Mom Line. She has had great success in helping campers and parents adjust to camp life. Camp is a safe and comfortable place for this personal growth to take place and your camper has all of our encouragement and support.
“The way the Directors handled homesickness and worked directly with me on ‘stay strategy’ was incredible. I felt there was an appropriate balance of encouragement / nurturing and tough love. I appreciated the patience and understanding. He was happy he stayed the month and describes camp as an ‘amazing experience’. “