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Messages for an Anxious Camper

10 Messages for a Homesick Camper

Ep. 37: Tips for First-Time Camp Parents

Ep. 39: How to Handle Your Camper’s Homesickness

Ep. 10: Homesick & Happy with Michael Thompson

Homesick & Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow, Michael Thompson

Homesickness Do’s & Don’ts

Do…

1. Focus on how much fun camp will be.

2. Tell them it’s natural to miss parents and home when they’re away, and that those feelings are normal.

3.  Discuss possible coping strategies if they feel sad at camp, such as:

•  Keeping a positive attitude and having fun, even when feeling sad.

•  Talking to their counselor or other adult at camp.

•  Writing a letter telling about camp and their feelings.

•  Keeping a journal about camp.

•  Keeping busy with fun camp activities and friends.

•  Taking pictures to show parents after camp.

•  Keeping a calendar and marking off days to see how quickly camp is going.

4. Let them know how proud you are of their independence and how excited you are to hear of their accomplishments when they finish camp.

5. Tell them that there is not an option to call you or come home early (if they ask you).

6. Encourage them to write letters and postcards telling about their new friends and the many activities they’re doing at camp.

7. Write encouraging, cheerful letters to your child.

8. Acknowledge your own bittersweet feelings about your child being able to live without you for a few weeks, but don’t express your sadness about missing them.

9. Sign your child up for the bus or have them take a flight into Fresno on the way to camp. It makes for much easier good-byes at the beginning of camp.

10. Remind yourself that there are many more tears at the end of camp than at the beginning.

11. Expect a sad letter. Realize that letters are usually written during quiet times when campers are feeling more reflective. Usually, they are feeling much better long before the letter makes it to your mailbox.

Don’t…

1. Tell them, “If you are sad after a few days of camp, call me, and I’ll come pick you up.”  In camp lingo, we call this a “pick up deal,” and it sets your child up for failure. Since most likely your child will experience some sad feelings that they will need to work through, they will assume that these sad feelings are what you were referring to and will insist that you follow through with picking them up.

2. Express a lack of confidence in their ability to be away at camp, either directly to them or in front of others.

3. Tell them you’ll be sad and miserable at home without them.

4. Write sad letters to your child outlining how much you miss them and telling them events they are missing at home.  If your child is homesick, it will be encouraging to hear that “nothing exciting is happening at home.”

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