Being away from home can be a very traumatic experience for a child, and every camp has ways of helping a child overcome the feelings of being homesick. Homesickness is a tricky thing as it can hit at any point of the day and not all homesickness is the same. Homesickness can hit a camper who has been going to camp for the past 4 summers, a camper who has never had a sleepover before, and even adults. It’s very normal, and at no time should the camper or adult feel out of place because of his/her feelings.
It is important for counselors to check in with each one of their campers on a daily basis, because even if your camper is not openly crying to you, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t feeling sad. Homesickness normally hits when there isn’t a lot going on, such as free time or before bed. Campers have time to think of what their families are doing and missing being that they are not with them.
If your camper is showing signs of homesickness you need to speak to them about their feelings and also let your head counselor aware of the situation. The most important thing to remember is to never promise something to your camper that you cannot deliver on. For example, if your camp policy is that a camper can’t speak to their parent until a week into camp, then do not promise your camper that they can chat on day 2 of camp.
Remind your camper of all of the fun things that they have lined up to do that day and future days. If your camper loves to play soccer, maybe have a cabin soccer time, or ask the soccer counselor for extra practice time for your camper. Also let your camper know that camp is only a short period of time, sometimes making a countdown can help them visualize that it isn’t forever. Writing letters home can be a nice outlet for your campers as well.
The most important thing is to keep them busy and be available to them if they need a ear to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. Missing home is completely normal, and with your help your camper will be able to pull through it and have an amazing summer.