Even the most enthusiastic camper can miss home every once in a while at overnight summer camps. Whether your child is a seasoned camper or is leaving for the first time, here are some cures for combating homesickness while they’re at camp.
Make it Their Choice
Make sure your kid is fully on board with camp and that you didn’t just sign them up. Include them as a part of the decision process. Visit their summer camp if you can so they can get comfortable.
Make sure they know what the expectations are before they go. Most camps don’t allow electronics and not all allow letters. And even if they do, you shouldn’t be writing to your kids every day. Be honest about how you will—or won’t—stay in touch with them while they’re gone. And especially do not make a deal about coming home if they don’t like it. If your child knows there’s an out-clause, they will act on it the moment they feel unhappy instead of working it out.
One of the most important parts of camp is instilling confidence, independence, conflict resolution, and cooperation in campers. They may be too young to understand all of that, but by letting them go, you’re allowing them to grow. That means they’ll have to endure some hard things and make tough decisions. But these challenges will help them in the long run as they grow into adults.
If you keep talking about how sad you’ll be while they’re gone and frame camp as a place to take your kid from you, they will see it as a negative place too. Frame camp as a positive experience, not as a place where you’re sending them away.
Tell them that you will miss them but are so excited to hear about their time when they get back. Reaffirm how camp is an amazing experience and a new place to learn and grow. Remind them of all the cool things they can try and people they can meet. By focusing on the positives, your camper will remember how you felt about camp, and remember those feelings when they’re away from you.
Encourage Kids to Stay Busy
There’s no better cure for homesickness at camp than to stay busy. Camp has so many fun opportunities to distract them, and new people to meet! It’s easy when we feel homesick to isolate or hide away and mope about missing home. But that will only make things worse.
Encourage your kids to not go off by themselves if they feel left out or sad. Advise them to try talking to someone new, try out a new activity, or even go to the social spots like the lunch hall to see what’s going on. By pushing themselves to get out of their comfort zone, campers have a chance to truly engage with others and develop themselves.
If campers are truly homesick, remind them that they can talk to their counselors and the staffers at camp. Counselors are some of the best people at managing homesick campers. They’re right there by your camper’s side, and can serve as role models and mentors to your campers.
Encourage your camper to have a good relationship with their counselor or another staff member so they can talk to someone if they feel sad. Our counselors at our summer camp in New Hampshire love helping and comforting campers who miss home. And they pay special attention to campers who seem to be struggling. Maybe even a strong friendship will come out of it that your child will be forever grateful for.
Grow At Camp Cody
Summer camp is an amazing place for your camper to explore new places, get outdoors, meet new friends, and grow personally. While there will be some challenges, approaching these difficulties with a strong community and supportive parents will help your child grow better than anything else. Learn more about Camp Cody and what amazing things your child could do or learn here.