The unfamiliar environment, different daily schedules, and separation from the familiar can intensify these emotions. It's not uncommon for campers to feel a sense of isolation and yearning for the safety and security they associate with their homes.
During summer camp, homesickness can manifest in various ways. Some campers may struggle with sleeping difficulties, appetite changes, or a general sense of unease. They may find it challenging to fully engage in camp activities or build new relationships due to their preoccupation with thoughts of home.
As the days pass, campers often realize that they miss the small, mundane details of their daily lives—such as family meals, cozy bedtime rituals, or even their own bedrooms. These reminders can intensify their longing for home, making it difficult to fully embrace the camp experience.
However, homesickness can also be an opportunity for personal growth and resilience. Camp counselors and staff are trained to address these feelings and help campers navigate through them. By providing a supportive environment, encouraging open communication, and organizing engaging activities, camps aim to create a sense of belonging and community.
Over time, campers often find solace in forming new friendships, discovering new interests, and gaining a sense of independence. As they adapt to their surroundings, homesickness tends to fade, and campers may even develop a newfound appreciation for their homes and families, making their return all the more meaningful.
Things You Can Do Prior to Camp To Help With Homesickness
As a parent, here are ten things you can do prior to camp to help your child not get homesick at summer camp:
1. Research the Camp
Gather as much information as possible about the camp, its facilities, activities, and staff. Share this information with your child so they know what to expect and can feel more prepared.
2. Involve Your Child In the Decision-Making Process
Include your child in the camp selection process and discuss their interests and preferences. When they feel involved, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership and excitement about attending camp. Below is a list of things of a few things to go over with your child:
- Land activities
- Water activities
- Camp traditions
- Camp schedule
- Hiking trails
- How many campers and counselors will be in the cabin
- Look at pictures of the camp activities, cabins, and campgrounds
3. Attend an Orientation or Pre-Camp Events
Many camps offer orientation sessions or pre-camp events where parents and campers can meet counselors and other campers. Attending these events can help your child become familiar with the camp environment and alleviate anxiety.
4. Communicate With the Camp
Reach out to the camp staff and counselors to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Share important information about your child, such as their interests, hobbies, and any previous experiences with separation or homesickness.
5. Encourage Independence
Prior to camp, gradually encourage your child to take on more responsibilities and make decisions on their own. This can help build their confidence and independence, making the transition to camp smoother.
6. Practice Sleepovers
Arrange sleepovers with friends or family members to give your child practice in spending nights away from home. This can help them become more comfortable with the idea of being away from home for an extended period.
7. Pack Familiar Items
Help your child pack items that remind them of home, such as a favorite stuffed animal, a family photo, or a comforting blanket. These familiar objects can provide a sense of security and comfort during their time at camp.
8. Discuss Coping Strategies
Talk to your child about different coping strategies they can use if they start to feel homesick at camp. Encourage them to express their emotions, reach out to counselors, engage in camp activities, or write letters home.
9. Stay Positive and Supportive
Emphasize the positive aspects of attending camp, such as fun activities, new friends, and personal growth opportunities. Show confidence in your child's ability to handle the experience, and provide ongoing support and encouragement.
While your child is at camp, write them frequently. Your notes don’t need to be long. They should encourage the positive discussions you had before camp. You can also ask about the friends being made and the fun being had while at camp. You can also ask about a favorite activity or accomplishment or a new skill learned from a camp program.
10. Foster Resilience
Help your child develop resilience by teaching them problem-solving skills, positive self-talk, and strategies for managing stress and anxiety. Resilience is a valuable asset for overcoming homesickness and other challenges they may encounter at camp.
To help foster resilience, please do not tell your child they can come home after a few days of camp if they are homesick. If the child does indeed become homesick, they will only think about the possibility of being able to go home, instead of giving camp activities and experiences a fair try.
Rest assured, our counselors and staff are trained in handling homesickness. We will work with each camper to ensure they are having the best possible time at summer camp.
Remember, every child is different, and it's essential to consider their individual needs and personality when preparing for camp. It is also important to evaluate if your child is ready for camp. Supporting your child emotionally and providing them with the tools to cope with homesickness can greatly contribute to a successful camp experience.
Tekoa Foothills is a United Methodist Summer Camp and Retreat Center located in Casar, North Carolina. The property of 117 acres of land is filled with an abundance of beautiful nature, open fields, and hiking trails, along with a swimming pool, multiple natural bodies of water, and a bamboo forest- all for you to enjoy and explore!
Our mission at Tekoa Foothills is Touching Hearts, Changing Lives, and Sharing the Light of Christ. We aspire to forge a new path that may inspire a closer relationship to God and to one another.
For more information on having your child join us for one of our summer programs, visit our website.