What If I/My Child Gets Homesick?

CAMPER MISSING HOME/PARENT MISSING CAMPER 
 
Camp is a unique environment that promotes growth and independence. For many families in today’s plugged in society, camp is the first real separation they have experienced — and many parents may be worried about homesickness — both for their happy camper, and for themselves.
 
Homesickness is normal. Even kids who are experienced campers may experience homesickness from time to time. Homesickness is not age-specific either - campers of all ages may become homesick. Teenage campers may experience homesickness as part of the emotional ups and downs of just being a teenager- sometimes because of things that have nothing whatsoever to do with camp...
 
It is common for campers and parents to feel a tinge of homesickness at some point during the camp session. So, how can parents help?  
  • DO encourage independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend's house, can simulate the camp environment.
  • DO discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, like having to sleep in a room with lots of other kids.... 
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  • DO send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say "I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp."
  • DO pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.
  • DO remember that camp staff are trained to ease homesickness.
PARENTS WHO BECOME CAMPSICK
Ok, so the hard reality here folks is that we have more campsick parents than homesick campers!
Parent-child separation is often much harder on the parents...And sometimes it's hard to accept that what you are feeling about your child being away may not be at all what your child is feeling about being away....
 
First of all, relax...you are not the first parent to be campsick. Remember that you have selected a good quality program, with well-trained staff, who are looking out for your child's best interest. And that kids need to learn healthy independence from their parents, particularly as they progress into adolescence.

When parents send their children away to summer camp they are often filled with conflicting emotions. On one hand, they know they're doing the best thing for their child, but on the other, they are filled with guilt and doubt when the homesickness sets in. All of these feelings are both natural and valid. It's healthy for parents to have some anxiety when their child is leaving home. But separation can also be healthy for both parents and child.

While it can be difficult for parents to strike a balance between nurturing their child and encouraging independence during an away-from-home experience, there are important lessons that spring from a period of separation. After a couple days, children adjust to, and even thrive in their new surroundings, and parents can rest easy knowing their child is in good hands.

Unfortunately, parents are often the cause of their child's homesickness...
It's really important for parents to find positive ways to deal with their own anxiety in ways that don't have a negative impact on their camper.

DON’T bribe. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child's new found confidence and independence.

DON’T plan an exit strategy prior to camp. Please refrain from telling the child that if they don't like camp, you will just come and get them straight away. This only sets them up to not try and make it work, and undermines the staff's ability to help your child through the process.

DON’T feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.
 
DON'T give your child guilty feelings about being away. Telling them that their puppy wont eat the entire time they are away or how dreadful you will be feeling doesn't help them focus on the positives of camp.
 
DON'T make promises to your child that the camp will not honor, such as being able to call home whenever they want, or being able to keep their cell phone, or that they can come home whenever they want to
 
WHAT IF MY CHILD GETS HOMESICK WHILE AT CAMP?
Camp staff are trained in a variety of methods to deal with homesickness. Generally, most kids who experience homesickness are over it within the first few hours to first day of arrival at camp. 

When Does Camp Call Home?
The camp will not call home for "garden variety" typical routine cases of homesickness. For kids who have homesickness that is severe, or which lasts longer than 36 hours, the camp will call the parents/guardian.  
 
What do I do If I Get The Phone Call?
Remember the camp is seeking to partner with you to find the best solution for your child's well-being. Typically, we do not put the camper on the phone in this first call home, and the child is unaware that we are calling. This is so we have an opportunity to work together and come up with a mutually agreeable "game plan". Generally, in most cases, we try to create a plan in which the goal is to keep the child in camp. However, please know that if we feel that staying at camp is not the best option for your child, we will share this with you.
 

If we agree that having your child try to get over their homesickness and stay in camp is the best option, we ask that parents give the plan time to work and allow for your child to find success - please don't just hop in your car and "rescue"... We know its hard, however the rewards of your child being able to work through their feelings and find new independence is worth the wait!

your child just called you asking to come home....

Before hopping in your car and rushing up to camp to rescue your child...Please extend us the courtesy of a call to let us know what is going on and allowing us the opportunity to check in with your child! Again, most homesickness is resolved fairly quickly, and it will be frustrating for you, your child, and the camp if you arrive on site and your child is fine and now doesn't want to leave....