If Your Child is Anxious About Camp: Try These Tips
March break is over and parents are now thinking about and planning the next big break for their kids – summer holidays! Most of us can hardly wait for the lazy, hazy days of summer and the break from our everyday routine of work, home and school life. However, not all children are waiting with baited breath for their summer to arrive if it means heading to camp and leaving the security of Mom and Dad behind. Many children are anxious about heading off to camp and often face homesickness during their time away.
The best strategy is to be prepared for a bout of homesickness even if it does not happen. Even children who normally are very independent can have a case of homesickness while away at camp.
Try these suggestions to help you deal with your child’s homesickness this summer:
- Before choosing a camp, attend the information nights that are usually offered by the camps. Ask what kind of training is provided to camp counsellors to deal with a child’s homesickness or other difficulties, such as sleeping in a strange place. Also ask what kind of contact you can have with your child while at camp. Phone calls are usually discouraged as they make settling a child more difficult. However, you may be able to write, email, fax or even visit your child while they are at camp.
- Have your child bring a favourite item (or items) from home. Teddy bears and blankets come out even with eleven-year-olds! Their own pillow also makes falling asleep easier. Make sure all items are labelled so they return home safely.
- Send a picture of the family (including the family pet).
- Pack a journal. It may be helpful to help write out their feelings if they do not want to talk them out.
- Send some self-addressed stamped postcards so they can keep in touch with you by mail. Send a letter and have other family members send letters too – all kids love to get mail! You may even want to mail it before they leave to ensure it arrives while they are at the camp.
- Arrange for them to go to camp with a friend. Most camps allow requests for cabin-mates.
- Be concerned more about comfort than appearance. Old pajamas can be much better than new when it comes to comfort.
- Have a positive attitude about your child spending time at camp. Communicate your confidence in their ability to be away from you for a period of time. If you have faith in them, they will have faith in themselves.