Updated: Feb 13
How we work through homesickness at camp and grow from it
When faced with something new, being unsure or anxious is a normal reaction, summer camp is no different. Regardless of age or previous experiences, home sickness is a normal reaction that can occur with your first time in a new environment. That being said, with some help from parents and our staff guiding hand, campers learn to grow through these new experiences, learning incredible life skills along the way. We love seeing the personal growth and confidence that our camper leave with at the end of the week!
With all this in mind, how do we tackle the sad days when our campers are missing home? Clinical Child Psychologists, Dr. Christopher Thurber, suggests that the most effective method for decreasing homesickness involves a two step process. The first involves actions you can take at home to get your child physically and emotionally ready for an overnight summer camp. If you think that your child may have a hard time or if its just their first time at Camp Lawrence, these are some great tips to help ease the transition:
Preventing Homesickness Prior to Camp:
Involve the whole family in choosing, packing, and planning for camp! The more choice your child has in the process the more confident they will feel in their decision.
Prior to camp, practice spending time away from home, like a sleepover at friends or relatives house for a weekend.
Preparing pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes to bring to camp so that your child can write to you, creating a feeling of connection. We send out and receive mail everyday at Camp Lawrence!
Bring a toy, stuffed animal, blanket that your child loves. This will give them a sense of home away from home
Visit Camp Lawrence ahead of time. We have an open house prior to the start of camp so that campers and parents can come familiarize themselves with the camp grounds.
Consider coming to camp with a neighbor, close friend, or sibling to ease your child's nerves
(Thurber, C. & Malinowski, J, 2000; ACA, 2015)
The second step involves intervening and assisting if homesickness occurs at camp.
That where we come in! Our staff is well trained in effective homesickness interventions that focus on creating a welcoming and warm environment, identifying early warning signs, keeping our campers preoccupied with engaging activities, taking time to acknowledge and talk out many of theses new and unsure feelings, and celebrating the progress that your child makes throughout the week. If it becomes clear that a child's homesickness is not getting better as the week progresses, the directors will contact parents to consult with them and make the necessary decisions. However, thanks to our incredible staff, for most of our campers it only takes a few days before they fall head over heals for our summer home. Summer camp and homesickness is a big step for many children and we welcome and support the whole process. We are grateful to be apart of your child's journey and growth!
For more resources on Homesickness and Summer camp, see the following articles:
American Camp Assocaition. (2015). How to Choose a Camp: Homesickness. American Camp Association. https://www.acacamps.org/press-room/how-to-choose-camp/homesickness
Thurber, C., & Malinowski, J. (2000). The Summer Camp Handbook: Everything You Need to Find, Choose and Get Ready for Overnight Camp-and Skip the Homesickness. Perspective Publishing.