Do children get homesick when camping? —— It might happen

There are different degrees of homesickness for different children. Mild homesickness is normal. Almost all children have some mild homesick feelings when they are away. Severe homesickness is rare. Talking about homesickness does not cause homesickness, nor make it worse. There are many things to think and do before leaving home to lessen homesickness. Homesickness feelings reflect the love you have for things at home. Homesickness, and getting over it, is a normal process that helps children develop independence and self-confidence. So what do we do when children are homesick:

  • Include your child in planning for camp – they feel more comfortable if they have some control over what's happening.
  • Talk with your child about homesickness – it's best to acknowledge that it might happen, that it's normal, and that there are things that we can do to handle it. You can address any fears your child might have, such as bedwetting, fear of the dark, unfamiliar people and surroundings, etc.
  • Use a calendar to plan for camp. Show your child when camp starts, how long it lasts, and when you'll pick him/her up. For younger children who don’t have a well-developed sense of time, it can be helpful to put the length of their stay in perspective. The fewer surprises, the better!
  • Find out if a friend or sibling can attend camp at the same time. Provide your child with materials, including your address, for writing letters home.
  • Keep doubts to yourself – try not to say things which will make your child worry about how you'll feel when he’s at camp. Better to say, “Of course I'll miss you, because I love you. But I know that you'll have a great time at camp,” then to say, “I don't know what I'm going to do while you're gone at camp. I'm going to miss you so much, but I’ll survive somehow.”
  • Please encourage your child to participate in camp activities, as this will help him or her relate with other campers.
  • Arrange for practice time away from home. Consider planning an overnight stay for your child at the home of a friend or relative.
  • Anticipate changes in your child's daily routine, and allow your child to try new procedures at home. For instance, if your child is used to taking a bath, encourage him or her to try taking a shower.
  • Do not overreact to an unhappy letter. A child may go through emotional ups and downs at camp. If, however, you are concerned about your child, please call the camp office. This way you can check on your child without his or her knowledge.
  • Please send letters that do not cause stress. A letter telling your child how much he or she is missed and how much fun everyone is having at home may bring on homesickness. In your letters encourage your child to have fun; share with them how happy you are that they are able to have fun for a week at camp.
  • Please do not encourage your child to call you, or make pickup deals with him/her. This conveys a lack of confidence in his/her ability to handle the separation, and can discourage him/her from investing in
  • the group and can contribute to homesickness.