Being homesick is not that unusual for first-time campers. Here’s how to help your children deal with the nerves before they leave so you'll all be happy campers.
Before they leave:
* Talk to your kids about how they’re feeling
* As the time approaches, talk about camp in a casual way and get answers to any questions that may arise
* Don’t remind them of what they’ll be missing or say you’ll be lonely without them
* Let them know you trust they’re ready for this new experience. Tell them you can’t wait to hear about it all
* If your child has a hard time establishing friendships, have them go with a friend, sibling or cousin and arrange for them to bunk together. This can make all the difference to a very shy or insecure child who would otherwise never brave camp alone
* Make sure younger kids have a concept of how much time they’ll be away and have a way to measure it. Clearly mark the camp start and end dates on a calendar and highlight any especially fun days or events so they have specific things to look forward to and mark time with
* Work with camp staff to create a support system for your child. This is especially vital if your child has special needs
* Visit the camp beforehand with your child, so they have a chance to familiarize themselves
* See if your favorite summer camp operates during spring breaks or school PD days to try it out ahead of time. This one would have to be done well in advance, but if possible, it’s a great way to make your child comfortable with the whole process
* Make sure your kid has realistic expectations and understands that they won’t have the same level of privacy or “alone time” to unwind that they have at home
Top 3 ways to keep in touch:
1. Write letters and encourage siblings and perhaps other relatives to do the same.
2. Send care packages.
3. If the camp allows email, use it! (You’ll notice phones aren’t on this list and the main reason is that calls are hard to time and can be disruptive in more ways than one. Much as you may love to hear each other’s voices, phone calls are best left for emergencies.)
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