First time campers
and their parents usually spend a good bit of time worrying about homesickness.
Most kids do just fine... but here are some thoughts which may help minimize
potential emotional distress:
openly of possible homesickness. Homesickness is natural, and certain feelings
of missing home, parents, friends or pets are pretty normal. Once this is
understood, your child may accept homesick feelings with less anxiety.
statements like "I'm going to be so lonely without you!" Don't make your
child feel guilty about going away.
your child's interest by pointing out some of the exciting things you remember
about your own camping experience. Be sure to be positive about how you
were able to handle being away from your mom and dad.
painting a bright, promising picture of camp, be sure her expectations are
realistic. She'll be expected to really work on some skills (such as swimming,
if she's not a good swimmer already), share in camp chores (such as making
her own bed and taking turns sweeping the cabin), etc.
don't say, "If you have problems, call us and we'll come get you."
A camper thus invited to fail is likely to give up at the first difficulty,
abandon thoughts of adjusting to camp, and focus immediately on going
home. You might say something like, "This is a commitment for one camp
session. We expect you to have lots of fun... but if it's hard at times,
you have to stick with it. If you don't like it, you don't have to go
back... but no changing your mind in the middle!"
you bring her to camp, take long enough to see the facilities and meet her
counselors; then leave. This is not a good time to visit and watch activities.
A cheerful, confident attitude on your part will help greatly in getting
the summer off to a good start.
calls are generally not a good idea. Some campers may be doing just fine
'til the sound of a parent's voice triggers a setback unexpected by either
party. If for some reason you do wind up on the phone with a crying, homesick
child, you need to be supportive,
encouraging, positive about her ability to adjust, and absolutely firm about
"sticking it out". "Just try it one more week" is likely to translate to,
"I'm going home in a week!". It's an invitation to fail; it leaves open
the possibility of going home as a goal just when the focus needs to be
on adjusting to camp. "You must stay" is more likely to translate to, "Well,
I don't have a choice, so I might as well make the best of it..."
that you will probably hear the very worst. We have often seen a youngster
be absolutely miserable on the phone, and be perfectly happy 30 minutes
from home which reassure and give confidence are wonderful. (A letter on
the second or third day of camp is always welcome.)
- Be supportive,
encouraging, empathetic but firm.
- Keep her busy.
- Try to identify
and solve any underlying problems (being teased, perhaps) or help her learn
to live with the insoluble ones (it's raining, the water's cold, etc.).
- Keep you informed.
We can't win
the battle without your support. Some homesick campers want the world to know;
others are embarrassed and try not to show it. We do want you to tell us about
homesickness and other problems of which we may not be aware, and we're glad
to give you feedback about your daughter anytime. Feel free to call us any
time if you have concerns. If we're not by the phone, we'll be happy to call