The time is almost here and most families have already decided what summer camp their child is attending. Many kids will be going away for their first time. This can be difficult for both the parent and the child, initially, but soon they both realize how much fun camp is and all the worries are in the past.
From the campfires to the mosquito bites, summer camp is an iconic rite of passage for generations of American children. While some kids, especially those with a few camp tours under their belts, anxiously await their chance to return to camp each summer, others struggle with homesickness that can make the experience a difficult one for everyone involved. Still, summer camp is a great way for your kids to have fun and learn new skills while also taking crucial steps towards independence from you as they get older.
When homesickness and parental dependence threatens to ruin your child’s vacation, these tips may help to smooth the situation over.
Give Her a Say in Choosing the Camp She Attends
It stands to reason that if a child is old enough to spend a significant portion of her summer away from home, she’s also old enough to have a say in the camp she attends. Choosing your child’s summer camp may seem like a method of eliminating any stress she might feel about making the decision herself, but it also effectively robs her of any say in how she spends her vacation. Working together to make the right choice and genuinely taking your child’s desires regarding the experience into account will help her to feel a greater sense of ownership over the time she spends at camp. When she feels forced to attend a camp that she didn’t have a hand in choosing, she’s more likely to feel trapped and homesick when she arrives.
Get Your Child Involved in Camp Preparation
The rush to amass all of the things that your youngster needs for camp can be a stressful situation, or an enjoyable experience in which the two of you work together to collect those items and inspire more excitement about camping. Like choosing your child’s camp for her without giving her a say in the matter, filling a trunk with the belongings she’ll be allowed to take without her input makes her a bystander in the process, turning camp into something that’s happening to her rather than a new and exciting experience she’s seeking out. Even if it holds the packing process up a bit, make shopping for and packing camp supplies a group effort. After all, an extra pair of hands to label a mountain of objects is never a bad thing!
Talk About Homesickness Before Camp Starts
It’s tempting to avoid any mention of homesickness in hopes that your child simply won’t think about it in the rush of preparation and settling in at camp, but it’s just not realistic to think that the feeling can be avoided through a refusal to acknowledge the possibility. Sit your child down and have an open, honest discussion about how it’s normal and natural to feel homesick, but that those feelings pass as she gets more acclimated to her new environment. Kids tend to think that homesickness won’t go away until they leave camp, and operate under that assumption in ways that makes it more difficult to overcome. Making sure that she’s prepared for the possibility of feeling homesick and that she understands the temporary nature of those emotions gives her the tools she’ll need to combat them.
Making phone calls every hour and sending multiple letters per day will only distract your child from the fun and educational experiences of summer camp, but it’s also not wise to cut off all communication in a bid to keep her from thinking about home. Striking a balance between constant communication and a more manageable level isn’t easy, but it’s an important part of helping her to enjoy the process without feeling either smothered or abandoned.
Keep Your Own Anxiety Quiet
When your child senses anxiety from you, it will almost certainly make her immediately anxious in response. Telling your child that you’ll miss her but that you’re sure you’ll both have fun during vacation is one thing; making her think that you’ll be miserable without her and incapable of functioning only makes her feel guilty about any fun she has while you’re so upset. Also, picking up on anxiety from you sends the message that there’s something to be feared from camp, otherwise you wouldn’t be worried about it. Swallowing your fears and anxiety at separation isn’t easy, but it’s essential that you present a strong, cheerful front for a child that’s departing to summer camp for the first time.
Source: Summer Nanny
Are you still undecided about a summer camp? Contact Camp Finders! They can still help you for some last minute decisions and find out where there is still space available.