How to Help Your Child Overcome Homesickness
Each summer, thousands of boys and girls attend summer camp. Many of these sleep-away camps can last several weeks, so it is quite possible for a camper to experience a little summer camp homesickness at some point.
Homesickness is just a natural but small growing pain that should not ruin an otherwise wonderful summer experience — an experience that if given the chance will allow your son or daughter to make lifelong friends and lifelong memories.
For many campers, it may be the first time they have been away from family and friends for an extended period; and longing to be back with their family and friends or just back in the comfort of their home is a normal feeling. Homesickness is usually the worst during their first few days or first week of camp. Although most summer campers will experience some initial homesickness, only a very small percentage of campers actually experience real distress.
Fortunately, there are number of things you can do to help your camper overcome homesickness while he or she is away for the summer.
Research Summer Camps – Choose a camp that keeps the kids busy!
- A summer camp’s schedule of activities should not contain long inactive periods. It is normally during these times that campers begin to think about home. Summer camps that pack in the activities like the Marine Military Academy Summer Camp keep campers busy are usually the best choice.
- Ask how the summer camp staff helps campers who suffer from homesickness. Do the camp leaders and counselors encourage the campers to write home? Is the schedule of activities different each day? A good summer camp will be very transparent and tell you how it keeps campers from getting homesick and how it helps campers overcome homesickness.
Before Leaving for Summer Camp – Prepare your camper!
- When choosing a summer camp, try to make it a joint decision between you and your child.
- Listen to your child’s feelings about camp and openly discuss them with him or her. Your son or daughter will feel supported.
- Do not express YOUR fears or anxiety about summer camp to your child. This will only increase his or her anxiety.
- Help your son or daughter prepare for camp. This will help get your camper excited.
- Talk about the activities your son or daughter will be participating in at summer camp. This will also help excite your camper. Encourage your child to take on any challenges he or she may face at camp.
- Get everything ready early to relieve your stress and theirs also. Learn what steps you should take to prepare for camp from Camp Laurel’s article: 10 Things to Do before Your Children Leave for Summer Camp.
When Dropping Off Your Camper – Don’t make it hard!
- Be sure to meet the summer camp leaders or counselors. Collect phone numbers and/or emails so you can easily contact them if you feel the need to check on your camper.
- Once you say good-bye, leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce your child’s doubts about summer camp. Leave without fanfare.
While Your Child Is at Summer Camp – Write! Write! Write!
- Write your camper a letter at least once a week. Let your son or daughter know you are proud of him or her. Encourage your camper to write back and tell you about all the activities he or she has engaged in.
- Listen to what your camper is writing, but do not panic if he or she does not love everything about summer camp right away. Encourage your son or daughter to reach out to a counselor or another camper if he or she really needs to talk to someone. Remind your child why she or she chose to attend camp in the first place.
- Feel free to contact your camper’s counselor or leader should you suspect your child is experiencing a serious case of separation anxiety instead of a mild case of homesickness. The counselor or leader will have a very good indication whether there is need for concern.
Every boy and girl should experience summer camp at least once. It is an opportunity for your son or daughter to truly experience life rather than watch it on television. In the time your camper is away, he or she will make friends, learn new things and begin learning some independence.
Prepare yourself, and prepare your child. Homesickness should not ruin what could be a great summer!
Need more ideas on how to beat homesickness? Read Michael Thompson’s article on Helping Kids Beat Homesickness at Sleep-away Camp.
Interested in learning more about our summer camp? Visit Marine Military Academy’s all boys summer camp website.
Authors: Harold Compton & Andi Atkinson