Homesickness at Camp
What is homesickness? - The Do's and Don'ts
Homesickness is a completely normal emotion to feel at camp. Infact most of our campers and staff will feel homesickness in some form while at camp. It is human nature to long for what is known and comfortable at home. Summer camp is filled with lots of new and unknown things for campers, and here at camp we acknowledge feelings of homesickness as valid emotions. We use our experience to help campers through those feelings of anxiety and unease. Successful natigation of homesickness at camp requires prepartion of both the camper and parent. Read below for the Do's and Don'ts of preparing your camper for camp.
❖ DO – Send lots of mail! Campers love getting mail while they are away from home. Remember that snail mail is called such for a reason. If you want your camper to get letters through traditional mail while they are away at camp, consider putting a letter in the mail before your camper leaves for camp. This will best ensure that they get something in the first few days of camp.
❖ DO – Talk positively about camp. Always talk about how much fun camp is going to be. If you know someone who's been here before ask them to share their favorite parts of camp as well.
❖ DO – Let us know! We are happy to talk about any concerns you or your camper has about their time here at camp. We are here to support you and your child and would be happy to answer any questions you guys may have leading up to camp. We also enjoy getting any tips and tricks from parents that will help make a camper feel more comfortable.
❖ DO – Ask lots of questions. Ask about their favorite activities, new friends, and camp life in general! Asking questions will help prompt your camper to write back with answers.
❖ DO – Your research! Include your camper in reviewing our website, looking at activity options, and learning all the parts of camp. Knowing what is going to happen and what is offered will help ease some of the first day anxiety.
❖ DO – Contact Us! If you have any concerns or just want an update on how your camper is doing at camp, let us know and we'll be more than happy to check in on them.
❖ DO – Remember it's normal! Homesickness is normal, and almost everyone experiences it to different degrees. If we inform you that your camper is homesick, it doesn't mean an immediate pickup. We are happy to work with you to meet the goals you have for your camper.
❖ DO – Visit camp! We love having showing our future campers around camp. Take opportunities such as scheduling a camp tour or coming out for an open house to show your camper around camp. That way on the first day they know where they're going.
❖ DON'T – Offer a "pick-up" clause. Try to avoid saying things like "if you don't like it, we'll pick you up". Once the camper knows this is an option they will be more likely to stick to that and come home after a day or two instead of focusing on all the fun they could be happening. You may be faced with the decision to either pick up your child and they loose out on a valuable growing expereince, or break your promise to you child. We will never stop you from picking up your camper when it is time, but we want them to have the best chance to gain that independence.
❖ DON’T – Go into detail about how much you miss your camper, or discuss all the fun you are having while your camper is away. This information can work to heighten feelings of homesickness. You can read more about keeping in touch with your camper on our Camper Correspondence page.
❖ DON'T – Talk negatively about camp. Try to avoid saying things like "I don't know what we'll do without you" or "I'll be so sad while you're gone". These comments are likely to increase your campers anxiety and make them feel like they're "supposed" to miss home.
❖ DON’T – Deliver bad news to a camper through a letter. If there is emergency information that needs to be communicated to your camper, please call the camp office and we’ll arrange for the best way for your camper to receive the information.
We have a photo gallery that is updated multiple times a day by our dedicated photo team. They strive to capture every moment of camp and all of camp's campers. You can visit that photo gallery through your Parent Portal. This is the same place where you can write your camper emails. Over the years, we've learned a few do's and dont's when it comes to writing your camper, you'll find those below.
How do we deal with Homesickness?
While at camp, if a camper is feeling homesick, we try to keep them very busy and involved with their peers. We have found that being able to keep their mind busy on an activity helps for them to distract their homesick thoughts. In the rare case that the camper is still not adjusting after a few days, one of our program directors will get involved personally. If it is needed, they will call you to discuss and make a plan that works for your child, you, and camp. Campers do not call home when they are homesick; In many cases getting on the phone makes them feel worse! Instead, they are encouraged to send emails and write letters. We wish to help every camper overcome their homesickness and help them have a sense of accomplishment after defeating it. Camp will contact parents once homesickness reaches the persistant or severe state. Symptoms of severe homesickness include crying all day and night, making themselves sick, threats of violence or harm, screaming at others, not participating in any activities, extremem isolation and other similiar symptoms. Mild or moderate homesickness typically includes anxiety or crying during down times or evenings, not wanting to participate in all activities, and some isolation. Camp will typically not contact parents regarding mild or moderate homesickness. If you would like camp to contact you in cases of mild or moderate homesickness please contact our office.