If it's your kid's first time at an overnight camp, it's expected that they may become homesick. It's natural to miss family and the comforts of home.
Dr. Stephen Fine, who runs the Hollows camp and has done extensive research on the summer camp experience, says the decision for a child to attend summer camp should be made as a family.
In the time leading up to the summer, families should discuss their plans as early as possible, so that they can visit the camp and talk to camp directors about the upcoming experience.
Homesickness goes away
Once at camp, there are too many adventures and new people to dwell on homesickness. Dr. Fine's strategy is to get campers interested in doing something immediately.
"Children find that there are so many exciting things going on and friendly new people. When you’re at school, you see the same people. When you're at camp, you get an opportunity to start fresh – new people, new environment."
Tips to prepare your child for summer camp:
- Do speak about going to camp in a positive way especially if it's your child's first time away.
- Don’t anticipate homesickness.
- Do keep the conversations leading up to camp positive. You risk negatively influencing your child's attitude.
- Don't say: "Granny is going to miss you because she just lives to see your face.” Or: "The dog is going to stare out the window and cry until the day you come back.” As the time to leave for camp approaches, your child may start feeling anxious because the dog may be unhappy or that granny may pass on.
- Do make the decision to attend summer camp as a family, and talk about expectations as early as possible.
- Don’t make deals with your child about leaving camp early before they arrive. For example, don’t say: "If you don’t like camp we’ll pick you up on Wednesday." This becomes problematic when Wednesday arrives and your kid doesn't want to leave because he's having a good time.