How can I prepare my camper for homesickness before camp starts?

It’s perfectly normal for campers (and their parents) to miss home at some point during the camp session. Before camp begins, you can help prepare your child with a few strategies recommended by the American Camp Association:

  • Encourage independence throughout the year. Practice short separations, such as sleepovers at a friend’s house.
  • Involve your child in the process of choosing a camp. The more your child owns the decision, the more comfortable he or she will feel at camp. Look at pictures of camp, and let your child pack his or her suitcase.
  • Talk candidly with your camp director with any anxieties that you or your child may have.
  • Discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
  • Our camp has a no-phone-calls policy—honor it.
  • Send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive on the first day of camp.
  • Acknowledge that you will miss each other in a positive way. For example, “I am going to miss you, but I know you’ll have a great time at camp!”
  • Pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.
  • Don’t bribe. The reward for a successful stay at camp should be your child’s newfound confidence and independence, not a material object.
  • Don’t plan an exit strategy. If a “rescue call” comes from your child, be patient and help put the timeframe into perspective. Avoid the temptation to bring your child home early.
  • Don’t feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.