Camp Prep #5: Homesickness
Welcome back to the WimberLead, your number one weekly news source for camp preparation. This week’s topic: Homesickness!
CYJ is proud to provide top-notch medical care to ensure a healthy summer experience for your children. There is however one type of sickness that even our Mirpa’ah (health center) cannot prevent, a topic that can worry even the most seasoned camp parents. What is this troublesome bacteria you may ask? It’s homesickness temporaryness.
Though not contagious, we take this plague no less seriously than any other ailment. The most important thing to understand is that homesickness is normal (even for older and returning campers) and usually passes very quickly (we’re talking about campers here; parents, we make no promises about your emotional state!) Leaving home and moving in with new people is always an adjustment, whether it’s summer camp, a college dorm or marriage! We place special emphasis in our first few days on routine, bunk dynamics, and keeping busy.During staff training, our counselors learn and practice strategies to help the campers overcome homesickness. Our Camp Moms are also always available for extra support. The best way however to prevent homesickness is to address it with your camper before camp begins.
Some effective preparation strategies:
- Have your child sleep over with a friend or family member. (Warning: Do not try to simulate the amount of fun they will experience at camp. It’s not possible!).
- Talk to your children about what their new home will be like, including their "bedroom" and "dining room." If there are questions we can answer to facilitate this conversation, please ask!
- Send a letter to your camper ahead of time so there's something from you waiting for your child on the first day of camp.
- Instead of telling your child "We will miss you," try "I know you'll have a great time at Camp" or "We are so proud of you for going to Camp on your own.” If you were a camper yourself, share some stories about your own experience including how you overcame homesickness.
- Explain what we wrote above: missing home is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
- Pack a few personal items from home, like a favorite stuffed animal and/or family picture.
- Don’t bribe your child to enjoy camp; the real reward will be your child’s newfound confidence, independence, and friendships.
- Discuss with your child the need to trust and confide in their counselors and camp staff when they need someone to turn to. It is important for them to know that the staff has their best interests at heart and that you (as parents), trust them, too.
If you do get a homesick letter, don’t panic! The mail is slow in Wimberley, so that letter is probably 4 days old. By the time you are reading it, your child has probably moved along and put that letter in their rear-view mirror.You are welcome to check in with us whenever you like—our Camper Care Team is there to support parents as well as campers. They will be available by email (email@example.com) or phone (713-723-8354) during the summer to address any questions or concerns you may have. More about our Camper Care team in the next Camp Prep email…Now, as for YOUR emotional well-being … if you find yourself struggling without your child, we suggest meeting a friend for coffee, seeing some movies, getting away for a weekend, writing lots of letters to your camper, and enjoying less laundry and grocery shopping. Before you know it, you’ll be greeting your returning camper with a big smile and a warm hug, and they’ll be telling you all about their successes this summer at CYJ!
And of course, if you can’t bear to send your child off to camp alone, be sure to join them next year for one of our CYJ Family Retreats.
If you have any questions at all as you get ready for camp, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-723-8354. You can also search our Knowledge Base to learn more about not only homesickness, but anything you may be wondering about to get ready for camp.Next up in the Camp Prep Series: Camper Care & Medical Teams