How to Help your Child through Homesickness at Camp


If your child is going to a sleepaway camp for the first time, there is a chance he or she may experience a bout of homesickness. This is especially true for younger campers, where sleeping away from home, for both short and longer stay camps, is a new experience. Camp studies have shown that most kids experience home sickness at some time or another at camp, and that it is completely normal. I experienced being homesick several times, my first summer away at a traditional overnight camp; however, I loved the camp so much, that I continued returning the following 8 summers.

How to Deal with Homesickness at Camp?

  • Prepare your child ahead of time
  • Let your child know that experiencing homesickness is a normal feeling
  • Discuss with your child, ways to deal with homesickness while at camp

Prepare your Child Ahead of Time
Didn't you love having sleepovers with friends when you were a kid? I did, and it sure helped me adjust to being away at camp more easily. And that is the point. Your child will adjust to life at camp more easily if he or she is comfortable spending time away from home. This could be spending the night at a friend's house, or staying for several days with grandparents.

Feeling Homesick is Normal
Kids, just like adults, gain comfort in knowing that something they are feeling is normal: especially when it is an upsetting feeling. Let your child know that it's okay to feel homesick at camp. Share with him or her your own experiences about being homesick.

Discuss Ways to Deal with Feeling Homesick
One minute you're homesick, next minute you're not; what happened? It's amazing how feelings can change so quickly; however, for a child if a positive distraction occurs, such as writing a letter, or participating in a fun activity, those moments of feeling homesick can subside. It's a good idea to discuss with your child ways to deal with moments of homesickness: writing a letter, playing cards or whatever else you both come up with.

Resources:

For more information about being homesick, we recommend purchasing The Summer Camp Handbook by Christopher A. Thurber and Jon C. Malinowski.

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