Updated: Mar 22, 2022
Summer camp can create lifelong memories. Here's how to ensure they're wonderful!
There are lots of topics when it comes to the overnight summer camp experience: how to find a camp, what to bring, suggestions on how to make friends, and so on. However, homesickness is discussed and written about more than any other because it's so prevalent. Let’s cut to the chase and review our list of 8 things you can do to help your child avoid homesickness...or at least lessen its impact so they’re free to have a great summer camp experience. Keep in mind, what works for some might not work for others. You can read dozens of articles on homesickness, apply what you’ve learned and still have a few bumps in the road along the way. The good news is, when you listen, learn and act on a some common sense solutions, it’s likely you’ll succeed and so will your child.
8 ideas things consider…
1. Be sure to involve your child in the entire process of finding a camp and preparing to go. Just like you, when they get involved, they’ll feel in control and that helps lower the anxiety while giving them confidence in their decisions.
2. Whenever possible, visit the camp with your family. Online profiles and camp websites are very helpful but as they say, there’s nothing like being there. That will help you and your camper shape your list of what you’re looking for and give your child a head start in becoming familiar with a new environment before attending.
3. Camp’s a great place to try new things, but don’t forget to look for activities that your child has an interest in. For many, having that favorite activity to rely on can make all the difference.
4. When camp is in session, try not to make your camper feel like they’re missing exciting family activities or events while they’re away. Telling them how much they’re missed can make them feel like they’d be much happier at home…which is rarely the case!
5. Ask questions of the camp director and operator. They have all the answers you and your camper need to find the right program.
6. Talk to other parents about their child’s experience with camp. You’ll learn about some wonderful experiences and possibly some disappointments. The end result is you’ll have more criteria with which to whittle down your list of potential camps.
7. Know how you and your camper will communicate while they’re away. In many instances, they’ll be a short period (a few days) initially that limits or prevents communication. You might think a phone call on “Day 1” can alleviate a case of homesickness but giving kids some time to adjust to their new environment first is generally a better choice.
8. Well before the start of camp, encourage your child to sleep over at a friend’s house. This will help them get used to being away from home. When possible, make it a weekend.
The best time to deal with homesickness is before camp starts. However, experienced camp staff are trained and well-prepared to help kids turn things around and get the most out of their summer. Between your preparation before camp starts and attentive, well-trained professionals at camp, you’ve got this covered. Happy Camping!