Homesickness At Sleepaway Camp In The Adirondacks
Homesickness is a common ailment among campers of all ages when they attend sleepaway camp. The Adirondacks lend themselves to a variety of summer camp activities, but when the fun is over at the end of the day, some campers start getting a little homesick.
If your child starts feeling some separation anxiety either before or after they leave for camp, try not to be too quick to assume that sleepaway camp isn't for them. While there are exceptions, most campers overcome homesickness and enjoy themselves at camp. It can be a very valuable learning and growing experience as well.
Here's what you can do to help your child through...
Before They Go
Did you know homesickness can start even before your child leaves for camp? You may start hearing, "I changed my mind. I don't want to go to summer camp." Recognize that your child may be feeling anxiety about the separation from home before quipping back, "You're going!" Talk through their fears with them, and help them weigh the benefits of Adirondack summer camp versus staying home for the summer.
Prep them for the overnight, away-from-home experience ahead of time. Plan a few sleepovers with friends or cousins in the months leading up to summer camp. This will likely make your child more comfortable with spending nights away from home and could help reduce the anxiety they feel about sleepover camp in the Adirondacks when the time comes.
Find a friend to go to the same camp. Many children feel more comfortable going away to sleepaway camp if they have a friend or sibling accompanying them. Keep in mind, this may not work for all children, so try talking to your child about it ahead of time.
Give them something to remember you by. Plan a special moment to give your child a charm or memento to carry with them to sleepaway camp. Let your child know that you will be thinking of them, and that charm will be a reminder to look at whenever they are homesick or missing you.
While They're Away
Write often! It's exciting to get a letter from home while away at sleepaway camp in the Adirondacks, and it can help your child feel connected instead of homesick. Keep the conversation light and upbeat in all of your letters. Write about funny things that happened that day, things you remember from your years at summer camp, how everyone is doing, etc. Try not to dwell on how much you miss them or wish they were home, though it is perfectly appropriate to end the letter with "Miss You Lots, Mom" or something similar. Ask lots of questions to get them excited to write you back and inform you on all that has been happening at camp. This also keeps their mind occupied and focused on the good, instead of feeling homesick.
If you receive a letter or phone call from sleepaway camp and your child is terribly homesick, it doesn't necessarily mean that summer camp isn't for them. Before you reach for the car keys, try to understand why your child is having these feelings. Oftentimes homesickness is brought on suddenly by an unfavorable social encounter that day. Your child may just need time to heal, and will likely be having fun again in no time.
It's important to give your child a chance to overcome their homesickness with your support and comfort. While some may need to come home, the majority of children conquer homesickness within a matter of days at sleepaway camp. Allowing your child to conquer their fears and overcome this emotional obstacle without mommy or daddy coming to the rescue can foster growth in resilience, independence and self esteem.
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