Missing home and family is completely natural for children. In fact, it can be considered a *good* thing, as it means your kids have a great family back at home! The good thing is, it’s possible to miss home AND have fun at camp in the same time. Plus there are plenty of things to do to help reduce the amount of time your child feels homesick.
Summer camp staff are trained in working with children and helping them to deal with missing their family. It is common that the first letters you receive may indicate some homesickness or sadness. Ninety-five percent of campers experience a short adjustment period during the first few days of camp. Soon, campers get caught up in the excitement of new friends, activities, and camping adventures. Your support of this normal process is critical to your son or daughter’s success.
The good news is, when children arrive at camp with a repertoire of coping strategies and some practice time away from home under their belts, they are ready for those normal feelings of homesickness. Sure, they’ll miss home, but they’ll know exactly what to think and do when it bothers them. Best of all, their counselors and directors will be there to help. Nothing boosts children’s self-esteem quite like overcoming a bout of homesickness and learning how good they are at controlling the amount of fun they have. Camp truly is a classroom for life lessons.
What can YOU do to help with your child’s adjustment to camp?
How can you help your child adjust to being away from home?
- Start while your child is still at home and help them be proud of being independent and ready for camp. Review information the camp provides prior to the summer – online videos, camp tours, photos, information packets – and reinforce his excitement/interest about camp.
- Please do not tell your child that they can come home or that you will pick them up if they are homesick—it sets them up for failure instead of success.
- Practice overnights with family or friends to help first time campers get used to being away.
- Letters are important!!! Send upbeat, cheerful letters that focus on the fun your child is having. Two to three letters each week is plenty, since too many letters can actually make a well-adjusted camper homesick.
What should you write about? In your emails to camp, it is best not to dwell too much on what your child is missing at home or how much you miss them, as this can promote homesickness. Sharing news of what everyone is doing is fine, but it is also suggested that you encourage your child to do their best at camp, try new activities, enjoy his trips, etc.
If your child complains of some situation that is upsetting to them, by all means acknowledge that when you write back; then focus on some positive aspect of their personality and tell them that you’re confident they’ll work things out.
Most of all, it is important to communicate with your child prior to the summer so that they know it is completely normal to have feelings of homesickness. The key is for them to remember that they can miss their family and still have a great time at camp!