Handling Homesickness

Today is the first day of summer 2012!! Campers will be all sorts of emotions today and our Greenwood Trails staff have been trained to handle all of them. Here’s an article about handling camp homesickness:

By: Jess Michaels, American Camp Association NY & NJ

School is out and your child is off to camp for a summer filled with swimming, sports, arts & crafts and learning important life skills such as leadership and independence. But what should you do if you receive a letter or a phone call from your child saying he or she is homesick? Don’t worry! Research indicates that it is common for campers to feel a tinge of homesickness at some point during the camp session.

The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey offers parents the following tips to help their child handle homesickness at camp:

1. Do send a letter from home, acknowledging you will miss your child in a positive way. For example, the note can say, “I will miss you but I know you are going to have a wonderful time at camp.”
2. Do honor your child’s camp phone policy. If the camp has a no-phone call policy, honor it.
3. Don’t bribe. When writing or speaking to your child, don’t link a successful camp stay to a material object when your child returns home. This sends the wrong message. Your child’s independence and growth at camp is the reward.
4. Don’t plan an exit strategy. In correspondence with your child, don’t discuss plans to pick up your child early from camp if he/she doesn’t like it. If you receive a “rescue call” from your child while at camp, offer calm reassurance and put the time frame of camp into perspective.
5. Don’t feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. If your child wants to come home, don’t feel bad about encouraging your child to stay. For many children, camp is the first experience towards independence and it plays an important part in their growth and development.
6. Do talk candidly with the camp director. Talk to the camp director about his/her perspective on your child’s adjustment to camp. Remember, camp staff are trained to ease homesickness and have dealt with homesick children before.

Remember, extreme homesickness is rare and tends to pass quickly. Before you know it, your child will forget that he or she was ever homesick and will be writing home about all the fun they are having!