Another school year is complete and soon your kids will be packing their bags and heading off to their summer camp adventures. Kids get their first taste of independence at summer camp, and for some, it's also their first encounter with homesickness. It's a normal situation, says the American Camp Association (ACA). Before your child's departure, there are a few strategies you can employ to ward off the homesick blues.
Homesickness Prevention Tips
The ACA offers the following tips for parents to help their child deal with homesickness when they are away:
- Practicing separations, like sleepovers at a friend’s house, can simulate the camp environment.
- Involve your child in the selection process. The more your child owns the decision, the more comfortable he will feel being away.
- Discuss what it will be like before your child leaves. Try role-playing anticipated situations.
- Reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child’s destination has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.
- Send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day.
- Pack a personal item from home, like a favorite stuffed animal.
- If a “rescue call” comes from your child, offer calm reassurance and put the time frame into perspective. Avoid the temptation to bring him home early.
- Talk candidly with the director about his perspective on your child’s adjustment.
- Trust your instincts. While most instances of homesickness pass in a day or two, there is a small percentage of cases that are severe. If your child is not eating or sleeping because of anxiety or depression, it’s time to go home. But don’t make your child feel like a failure if his stay is cut short. Focus on the positive and try again next year.
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Featured photo courtesy of Riverview Camp for Girls.