Although the specific causes of homesickness differ from camper to camper, there are things you can do prior to your camper leaving to help prepare and prevent homesickness.
- Make sure to talk about camp with your camper. These positive conversations help build excitement and positive anticipation. Start these conversations a month prior to your child attending camp. You can visit Camp Echo’s website together and watch videos. Talk about all the great things they will be able to do at camp and about all the new friends they will make. Include a quick mention about missing home. Reassure your camper that missing home is normal.
- Go shopping for camp gear, and label clothes together. Ensure that your camper is present when packing so they can find everything while at camp.
- We suggest discussing strategies on how to cope with these feelings while at camp for example, writing letters home.
- Encourage your camper to talk with counselors or other staff if they feel sad or upset.
- If your child is not used to spending the night away from home, make sure to schedule some sleepovers with friends or relatives prior to camp. These small experiences can make a big difference for kids while adjusting to camp life.
Every parent dreads the classic, “I am homesick, come get me” letter. We understand the helplessness that parents feel when they receive a letter like this. In coping with these feelings, please keep a few things in mind. First, remember that the letter you received was likely written 1-2 days ago. In most cases, by the time you receive these letters, your camper is having a great time and has forgotten that they were ever homesick or upset. Also, our experience tells us that campers are more likely to complain to their parents than to anyone else. Your campers are going to feel most comfortable sharing their everyday frustrations with you. Although the complaints in these letters may sound monumental, it is likely that your child is just venting when he or she writes and is off to play again within minutes of sending.
In all of these cases we ask you to consider the “two letter rule”. As we said before, if you get a letter with an issue in it, remember that your camper sent that letter days ago and that the issue is already resolved. If you get two letters expressing a concern, please call camp. Not only will this put your mind at ease, but if your camper is not expressing the problem to anyone else, your phone call will help us to provide the best care for your child and address the issue immediately.
If you have been receiving happy letters all summer and all of the sudden you receive one that isn’t sad, but just doesn’t sound quite right, by all means we encourage you to call camp. We are here to be your resource into your child’s world while he or she is at camp. Helping to put your mind at ease and ensure that you are enjoying your child’s time away without worrying is very important to us.
Studies have shown that family influence is a powerful factor in whether a camper will be homesick. There are some important things to avoid saying.
If you receive a troublesome card, letter, or camper email from your child, please call Elise, our Wellness Manager at 231-924-7076.
- Do not tell your camper how much you’ll miss him or her (even though you will) and do not tell your camper that the house will be empty without him or her (even though it will). These statements cause children to feel guilty about being away and having fun while you are at home miserable without them.
- This can be very difficult, but avoid crying when sending your child off on the bus. This will be their last memory of you and we want it to be a positive smiling face.
- Most importantly, DO NOT tell your camper that you will come to camp and take them home if they are not happy. Many parents tell their campers this with the best of intentions, but it causes huge problems while at camp. First, the statement sends the message to your campers that you don’t believe in their ability to succeed at camp. Secondly, it sets up unrealistic and low expectations about camp. These feelings often leave campers to take the easy way out if they are ever sad at camp instead of working through the issues and gaining independence.
- Finally, make sure to avoid telling camp “horror stories.” What is funny to you or an older sibling about camp memories may scare your camper.
We encourage all parents to come to an agreement with their child about how many letters you will write and how many letters he or she must write. No matter how much you may want it, it is not realistic to expect that your camper will write every day. We require that campers write home once while at camp. Writing to your camper and reconnecting with them helps to put your mind at ease, so write often. – but not too often.