Posted on April 18, 2012 by Sharon
I remember spending a few weeks with my Grandma in northern Virginia one summer. I believe I was in Middle School at the time. I traveled up to her house with my dad. He dropped me off and then traveled around the area for his job. He would come check in every so often to see how I was doing. Even while I was with family, I made myself physically ill because I just wanted to go home. It wasn’t a comfortable setting to me.
After I finished my junior year of High School, I went to Windy Gap (a Young Life camp just outside of Asheville) as a leader with some inner city kids for the week. There were more than enough leaders with my group, most of which I did not know. After the first day, I made myself physically ill because I just wanted to go home. I was not familiar with my surroundings and the people I was with. Unfortunately I did not stick it out and my brother came to get me.
These are two (out of many) very memorable times in my life when I became homesick. When I hear the topic of “homesickness”, I think of myself. I often felt there was something wrong with me because I was homesick so much. I was embarrassed but I couldn’t help feeling that way. I never thought I’d say this, but I am thankful for those times because I know somewhat how kids feel when they come to camp for the first time. Those experiences have helped shape me into the person I am today.
If I had a child I was sending to camp for the first time, I would do a couple things to help prepare my child to be away from home. I would have my child stay the night or possibly two nights at a friend’s house on a semi-regular basis. This will allow them to have “nighttime” experiences away from their parents. It will allow them to make decisions on their own and build confidence. I would also help them become familiar with camp surroundings. You may not physically be able to see camp before you come, but looking at pictures from previous summers, watching videos, and looking at the daily schedule may help. You may even know another family in your area that has been to camp that can help you become familiar with the program.
While my child is at camp, I would consider writing a letter or sending an e-mail after the first few days of the session not after the first day. When I was in Virginia at my Grandmother’s house, I loved receiving letters from my brothers and talking to my mom on the phone. But each time it would make me realize that I wasn’t at home and it provoked the homesickness. When communicating to your child, emphasize the positives about camp and let them know that you are proud of them. Try not to focus on things that are happening at home or on pets.
Homesickness is not an abnormal thing and children shouldn’t be embarrassed by those feelings. Our staff are trained in how to handle homesickness and do their best to make sure campers have the time of their life. If you have any further questions about homesickness at camp, please give us a call at 1-800-968-1630.
Assistant Director, Camp Crestridge