Summer camp is an opportunity for children to gain independence while making friends and enjoying a range of activities, from canoeing and kayaking to campfires and baseball. For some kids, feeling homesick is a part of the camp experience.
Homesickness is a common source of stress for parents, but the good news is parents can also play a major role in helping their children overcome homesickness at summer camp by preparing them ahead of time.
How Common is Homesickness?
About 96 percent of campers who spend at least two weeks at summer camp have some amount of homesickness at the start of their stay, according to the American Camp Association. Homesickness is a normal response to being separated from a familiar environment, and the degree of homesickness often depends on the child’s age. Children with previous camp experience, as well as those who were involved in the decision to go to camp and those who can use coping strategies like writing letters home, generally have reduced anxiety.
This homesickness usually passes quickly. It’s often a short-term interruption to what is otherwise a very positive experience. In fact, most kids who initially felt homesick look forward to returning to camp the next year.
Prepare Your Child with Sleepovers
If your child has never spent a night away from home before, it can help to prepare your child with sleepovers at a friend’s house. The first few times your child can call or text you if they need to, but make it a goal to get through the sleepover without contact, because that’s how it will be at camp.
Discuss What to Expect at Camp
It’s also important to address any concerns your child has about the camp experience. If your child is worried about something specific, try to help him or her figure out some solutions themselves. Visit the camp website with your child. Looking at pictures of the camp grounds and facilities, along with the schedule of activities, can make the setting more familiar before they arrive. Give your child as many details as possible about what to expect, including what his or her days will entail. This can help reduce anxiety and create a sense of excitement.
Feeling isolated at camp can worsen homesickness. Writing letters back and forth lets your child express his or her feelings and feel closer to home. Let your child know you will send regular postcards and letters, and pack them plenty of paper and pre-stamped, addressed envelopes so they can write you, too.
Encourage Friendship and Connections
Let children know you want them to have fun and make friends, and express how proud you are that they have the courage to go to camp. Let them know their new friends will be there to help when they need it, and they can always get help from camp counselors, who can help them adjust to camp life and get through any anxiety. Encourage your child to not only make friends but also participate in plenty of activities.
At Kingsley Pines, we know it can be difficult for kids to be away from home for the first time. Our staff offers the support and guidance first-time campers need to relax, have fun, and enjoy the benefits of attending a summer camp. Your child will have a positive experience; in fact, we guarantee it.
Call Kingsley Pines Camp in Raymond, Maine toll free at 855-799-7788 or 207-894-9030, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us online at www.KingsleyPines.com. We can answer any questions you might have, schedule a tour of our camp and assist you in registering your child for camp.