Feeling homesick is common with children at overnight camp. Fortunately for most, those homesick blues quickly pass.
Going away to overnight or residential camp can be one of the more rewarding experiences of childhood. Living in the great outdoors, experiencing new challenges, and making new friends is a memory that will stay with kids for a lifetime. But being away from family can pose its own problem…the homesick blues.
Recreation Director, Nina Devaal, who has worked with YMCA camps, says preparation can be the key to preventing homesickness. “The best way to avoid homesickness is to make the whole experience a shared family experience. Involve the child in selecting the camp, go visit the camp with the child, let them lie down on a bed and let them see what its all about. Talk to the camp director and find out who the camp counselor will be so your child will have a name”, suggests Devaal. She adds “many camps will phone ahead of your child’s arrival to find out more about your child so they will feel more welcome when they come to camp. And if you can do all these things you can usually prevent a lot of homesickness.”
Keith Publicover, who has worked as a director for Tim Horton and YMCA Children’s Camps, suggests that if you know that your child is the homesick type, it’s a good idea to notify the camp director from the onset. “First of all communicate with the camp prior to the camp experience and let them know that homesickness may be an issue. So before the child arrives at camp, the staff are already sensitive to the needs of that child. Secondly, parents should call the camp a few days into the experience to see how they are adjusting to it.”
If your child does become homesick, Publicover says you shouldn’t jump too high and too fast when learning your child is missing home. “First of all don’t feel that because they’re homesick you have to immediately come to their rescue and pull them out of camp. Homesickness is felt by everybody and every age. Even adults, when away from home look forward to getting back to their favorite chair. For kids they think about their pet, mother, father, friends next door.”
Overall most camp counselors say homesickness generally passes as children get comfortable in their new surroundings and among their new friends.
Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.