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Preventing homesickness at summer camp

Jill Tipograph is the only independent summer planning expert, founder of EverythingSummer.comand the author of Your Everything Summer Guide. She is passionate about identifying and designing the right summer experiences for kids, teens,...

Camp chatter: Happy camper

Your kids are off to camp or a summer program. While you want them to be happy, there are times they may not be. Your child tells you he or she is unhappy. Our first inclination is to intervene! Being a good parent requires not only being there for your children, but also knowing when and how to let go.

Preventing homesickness once camp starts

Once your child has started camp, follow these tips to keep homesickness at bay:


Write letters

Letters from camp can be poignant, sad, and at times extremely funny -- as you can read in the book, P.S. I Hate It Here! By Diane Falanga


Don't overreact

Keep in mind that by the time you receive a letter the emotions of the moment have likely already passed; don't overreact. Your child's writing is a venting mechanism, and he/she has probably forgotten all about the emotions! However, if you have any serious concerns, call the Camp Director.


Be upbeat

Keep your letters and cards funny, upbeat and above all, rather than giving a report of what is going on at home (which will make your child more homesick), focus instead on what is going on at camp.


Encourage growth

Remember that you have given your child the gift of growth and independence which camp will provide, in addition to learning coping skills. Like most life lessons, it may not always be easy and require some sacrifice (by child and parent); however, it will be one of the best emotional and financial investments you will make, and have a lifetime impact.


Make new friends

Remind him/her that the camp or program decision was jointly made and he/she will feel better in making it work; encourage them to start to enjoy all the new activities at their disposal, and make new friends (the best part of camp).


Create daily goals

If the tone of homesickness persists, ask your child to write each day detailing his/her efforts to reduce it, such as making a new friend that day, or volunteering for a task at camp, learning a new skill, or helping another camper who is even more homesick! This new direction will shift the focus from his/her feelings of homesickness to a plan of action.


Reach out for assistance

Remember that teens are not exempt from these feelings. Often a new environment different from camp, with more independence and expectations to focus on a single skill for a longer period of time, and learning to get along with teens who may not be like them, create big challenges. Give them to time to adjust, and do not run to their rescue. Instead, help him/her realize this is a great opportunity for growth and preparation for transitioning to college. Encourage him/her to reach out to a leader or residential advisor for assistance. Parents who have great concerns should call to speak with the program director or senior staff member in charge.





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Let your child know how proud you will be of the new skills acquired and new friends he/she will make. Congratulate them on their accomplishments and share you can't wait to hear more from them.

Rather than obsess over every picture that is posted on a password-protected camp website (making yourself 'child sick') structure your day with productive efforts and activities. You will be happy at the end of the summer of all you accomplished, too!

Do you have a question for our camp expert Jill?

Do you have a question for our summer camp expert, Jill Tipograph? Go to our camp message boards here and post your question.

For more tips from Jill, check out her site, and read her Everything Summer blog here. You can also connect with her on Twitter or Facebook.

More of our Camp Chatter series:

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