Coping With Homesickness at Summer Camp
Tips and Tactics to Make Your Child Feel at Ease
Updated Oct. 26, 2009, 8:14 a.m.
One of the biggest fears that most parents have when sending their children to summer camp is their ability to cope with homesickness. Below are some tips and tactics to prepare your child for summer camp and minimize the effects of homesickness.
Practice Overnight Stays Away from Home. It's a great idea to give your child the opportunity to spend nights away from home in the months leading up to summer camp. Encourage sleepovers at the homes of friends or relatives to get your child comfortable with the idea of spending the night apart from you.
Collectively Agree Upon a Call Schedule. Schedule a time for a phone call each week while your child is at camp. If you can both agree upon a set schedule, you will set your child's expectations and they will look forward to telling you about how much fun they're having during your call. It's important to note that many camps have rules about phone call frequency, and it's important to discuss those rules with your child and abide by them.
Discuss the Camp Experience Beforehand. Let your child know what they should be expecting at camp; tell them that they will make many new friends and try dozens of new activities. If you were once a camper, share fond memories of camp that will get them excited about going.
Have Faith in the Camp Staff. Homesickness is one of the most common issues that camp directors and counselors deal with each year. Trust them - they're experts. Have faith in their ability to manage the situation, help your camper effectively cope with homesickness, and get excited about spending time with their fellow campers.
Pack Comforting Items from Home. Familiar toys or stuffed animals go a long way.
Send a Well-Timed Letter or Care Package. Send a letter or care package that will arrive the first or second day of camp. Remind your camper that you miss them, but reinforce the idea that they will have an amazing time at camp.
Don't Be Too Quick to Withdraw Your Child from Camp. Many campers phone home with a "rescue call" during the first few days of camp. This is very common, and parents are encouraged not to bring their camper home too early. Instead, put the timeframe in perspective and encourage your child to embrace the camp experience.
Know When to Act. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), most cases of homesickness pass in a day or two. Still, the ACA reports that approximately 7% of homesickness cases are serious and families should work with the camp director to evaluate the situation. Trust your instincts, stay positive, and know that your son or daughter is in good hands.
If you're still concerned about homesickness, call a Choice Camps Expert at 617-264-0939. We would be happy to put you in touch with programs and camp directors who have decades of experience dealing with homesickness.