Homesickness is a normal response to a new experience and can be expected. During staff training, we identify homesickness as the stress of the unfamiliar and disconnection, recognizing that there are two main underlying reasons for it:
Children feel detached from their usual support systems that provide stability and comfort (parents, siblings)
Children feel lost - they don’t know the space, the people, what’s going on
Especially after the last year, children might feel more of this stress related to a new environment and people. Staff is cognizant of this and are trained to address the new forms of homesickness this summer. We anticipate that our pod structure–especially the first few days together in this bubble–will provide more stability and connections early on.
We take a proactive and collaborative approach to homesickness and believe it is key to overcoming and ensuring a successful experience. By being proactive we aim to tackle homesickness at the source, and put a big emphasis in the first few days at camp on:
Creating connections with counselors who are the caretakers at camp and the main source of support - initiating conversations, inviting to a group at play, etc.
Facilitating the creation of bonds with other campers, by finding out overlapping hobbies/interests ahead of time and connecting campers, focusing on activities that include pairing campers, team building games, etc.
Creating familiarity with the space and people, with tours, guided introductions to different staff members, etc.
We create familiarity with the schedule/program by providing and repeating explanations as to what’s going on now, what’s coming next, explaining camp “lingo”, etc’.
We aim to collaborate as much as we can with the homesick child and with home - both before and during the session. When we create homesickness plans with campers, they gain a sense of predictability and control over the situation, and that reduces stress. We do it at camp, and recommend to consider creating a plan at home as well, prior to the start of the session.
If your child expresses concerns of being homesick before arriving at camp, or if you think it is beneficial to raise the issue with them, create a plan together. When creating a plan, it’s important to:
Normalize homesickness (“it’s totally natural that this will happen, and most kids feel it at camp in the first days”).
Work on it together to provide a sense of empowerment.
Make it specific. You want to include a when, where, what. Ask questions that will create a detailed plan. For example, a plan could be:
“When I’m feeling homesick, I will talk with my counselor after dinner, and will ask them to help me find paper and pen and sit with me while I write a letter to mom/dad. In the letter, I will start by describing the one activity that I enjoyed most today, and the one difficult moment that I had today. I will also write what I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
You might want to suggest talking to a counselor or to friends, writing a letter, listening to music. Ask them to reflect on similar experiences and think about what helped in these cases.
Another aspect of the collaborative approach is sharing the plan that you’ve created at home with us (you can send it via email to email@example.com or give us a call), so that we can provide continuity, reassurance, and a sense of stability, by bringing up the steps that you have agreed on at home. If you have a strong concern before or during the summer about your child’s homesickness, please contact us to discuss.
Parents of all new campers can expect to hear from us with an update in the first few days. If there are any difficulties or severe homesickness, you will hear from us sooner and we will work together to help your child overcome it. You are always welcome to contact us and request an update sooner - email firstname.lastname@example.org or text/WhatsApp 323-605-8485 and you can expect a response within a few hours.
It is important to be able to contact parents during our camping session. If you are going to be away on vacation or business for any length of time, please keep us informed about how you can be reached or who can act on your behalf in your absence.
Successful camp experiences are a team effort! We look forward to working together to support your children this summer.