How Best to Prepare Your Child
at summer camp is a concern for millions of parents and kids each year
as they prepare to head off for camp for the first time. Homesickness is
a normal reaction to being away from home and overcoming it is a part
of the personal development that kids undergo at summer camp.
There are strategies
for setting your child up for a successful camp experience, but also
know that camp staff are trained to deal with homesickness.
If you have a
particularly introverted child you might consider sending your child to summer camp
with a friend to help them cope in the adjusting period.
At Home – Setting Up Your Child for Success
Involve your child in the
decision making process of selecting a camp, watching DVDs, visiting the
camp beforehand, and buying required items and packing.
child is expressing concerns about homesickness then acknowledge their
concerns and help to understand that it is okay to feel excited and
scared about something new. Talk through some strategies that they can
use in the first few days of camp- using friends as support, approaching
a known counselor, taking pictures or a toy from home. etc…
them of the reasons they are excited about camp and let them know that
you will be thinking of them even though you know they will be fine
because they are great at making friends, playing in teams, being a
leader…, any strengths that they have shown in the past.
At Camp – More Positive Words..
Before your child goes
to camp send a letter so that it reaches them in the first few days.
Send encouraging words of how proud you are of them and remind them of
their own strengths. Don’t mention events happening at home that they
might be missing out on.
Campers who are showing
signs of homesickness will get extra attention from staff in trying to
get them involved in activities and meeting new people. They will also
let your child know that homesickness is completely normal and encourage
them to write a letter home to help express their feelings. If you
receive a sad letter, don’t be concerned, the homesickness will probably
have passed by the time it reaches you.
Coming Home Early
If your child comes
home early from camp then don’t tease or shame them, even in fun. They
will already be feeling guilty and embarrassed and will be needing your
understanding and support.
Know that camp
counselors will only send children home if they truly feel they have
pursued all avenues to make camp enjoyable for your child, without
success. This will only be after extended periods of choosing not to be
involved in camp activities, combined with depressed moods and
isolation. It will also only be done with consultation and agreement
with the campers parents.
together and discuss how your child is going to enjoy the rest of the
summer break and make yourself available if your child wishes to talk to
you about their camp experience. Summer camp is not for everyone, and
it’s important that you help your child to move on quickly and realise
that there is life after camp.
On your child’s first visit to summer camp, don’t make any big plans of
your own. Try to remain accessible, just in case homesickness becomes
an issue and your child does need to come home.