Tips for Parents:
- Don't bring up home sickness. Sometimes a well meaning conversation can plant a thought seed where there wasn't one.
- If your camper brings up a fear of being homesick, reassure them that home sickness is totally normal! "Of course you will miss home, home is awesome!" and then list strategies that they can use while at camp, including writing letters, thinking about good things or talking to their Counsellors.
- Use positive language when talking about camp. Statements like 'it's going to be so much fun' sets the stage for camp, instead of 'i'll miss you so much' and 'i hope you'll like it...' which makes kids worry. Also, you may want to avoid horror stories from your camping days 'when i went to camp, there was a terrible thunderstorm' or 'when i was a kid, all we ate at camp was ever oatmeal and hotdogs - i hope they feel you better...'. These may be important memories to you, but don't exactly instill warm and fuzzy camp feelings.
- Send pre-addressed, stamped envelopes for your camper to write to you and share their great memories. Our Counsellors use this as one of their 'tricks up the sleeve', to help home sick counsellors and it does wonders!
- Spend time on the Blog and our Social media sites with the camper before camp, so they can see some of the things that they may experience. A sense of familiarity and knowing what to expect, really helps!
- Don't come up with an 'exit plan'. Don't let them even think for a second that if they need to, they can call you and go home. Instead reassure them and give them tools to cope with their jitters. This may sound silly or even cruel, but girls are amazing at coping with their feelings when given the opportunity and it's an important life skill. Please rest assured, that if the Camp Staff feel the need to have your camper picked up, they will contact you. This is very rarely a situation.
- Also, avoid telling them that they can 'call home anytime'. A phone call home is WAY more upsetting to campers and often, Camper's Parents (who then start worrying)! If our Staff feel a phone call home is warranted, a Director will call you to set up a phone call 'appointment' and give you an explanation as to what the camper's needs are, so you can prepare some calm and positive statements. Nothing is more upsetting to a camper, then calling home to no answer or a parent's shock that they are calling!
- Let them know that while at camp, they don't need to hold their feelings in. Talking about your feelings is the best way to work through them. Often girls at camp want to 'be brave' or don't want to 'bother anyone', so they keep their feelings inside which just tends to make the negative feelings grow.
Check out this ARTICLE, written for the American Camp Association on the new way of thinking about home sickness.