Homesickness: Helping Your Child Cope at Camp
A couple tips for parents to consider before your child leaves for camp:
- If possible, visit the camp ahead of time so that your child will be familiar with the cabins and other general surroundings
- Consider arranging for a first-time camper to attend with a close friend, relative, or camp "buddy"
- Do not tell your child in advance that you will "rescue" him/her from camp if he/she doesn't like it
- Discuss what camp will be like well before your child leaves, acknowledging feelings; consider role-playing anticipated camp situations such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom
- Send a letter to your child before camp begins so he/she will have a letter waiting for his/her arrival
- Allow your child to pack a favorite stuffed animal and/or picture so that your child will have a reminder of home
If adjustment problems (such as homesickness) do occur while your child is at camp:
- Talk candidly with the camp director to obtain his/her perception of your child's adjustment
- Resist the temptation to "rescue" your son or daughter from this experience
- Acknowledge your child's feelings and communicate your love. You might say, "If you still feel this way in two days, we'll discuss what we can do."
- Support your child's efforts to work out the problems with the help of the camp staff
- Remind him/her, if necessary, that he/she has made a commitment
- Trust your instincts: The occasional child who is truly not enjoying anything, having a miserable time and not adjusting to camp life at all should be allowed to return home after a reasonable amount of time and effort.