Homesickness

Homesickness is a normal part of adjusting to Camp, and our staff are prepared and willing to help campers deal with it. Most campers will feel some degree of homesickness while they are at Camp – for some it may be a few moments, for others a few days. Working through those feelings and finding confidence is an integral part of each camper’s growth while she is at Camp.

There are a few things you can do to help your camper prepare for and manage her homesickness. Below are some things we’ve learned from years of helping campers overcome their anxious feelings as they adjust to Camp.

We highly recommend the book Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow by Michael Thompson. It will help you better understand how the challenges your child faces at camp - like homesickness - are the very emotionally significant and character-building experiences you send her to camp to receive. This is a great resource to help you equip your daughter to navigate her difficult emotions, as well as to alleviate your own parental anxieties.

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Preparing Your Camper

  • Before your daughter comes to Camp, assure her that you are confident she will settle into Camp and have a good time.
  • Encourage her to ask questions. If you don’t know the answers, find them out together. Help her think through who she can go to with questions once she gets to Camp.
  • When you hug her goodbye on Opening Day, make sure she knows that you will miss her and that you are proud of her for going to Camp. She needs to know that even if you are sad to tell her goodbye, you are glad that she is at Camp for the month.

While She’s Away

  • In your first letter to your camper (which you can drop in the Camp mail on Opening Day), tell her how proud you are of her, how brave she is being, and how excited you are for her to have this experience.
  • If you receive a letter from your daughter about missing home, do not panic.
  • Remind yourself that your daughter is surrounded by counselors and other staff who are making every effort to make her feel safe and included.
  • It is very likely that by the time you receive her letter, she is enjoying herself and feeling much better about Camp.
  • Feel free to email or call Phil or Marsha to find out how your daughter is doing (phil@campdesoto.com, marsha@campdesoto.com).
  • The best thing you can do if your daughter writes about her homesickness is to write her back a very loving letter acknowledging her feelings and reminding her of your confidence in her ability to make the adjustment.
  • Encourage her to talk with her counselors, her head counselor, or with Phil, Marsha, or Sarah.
  • In your letters, focus on her experience at Camp, rather than what she is missing at home. Tell her how much you love her and miss her, but also make sure she knows you are OK without her and that you are glad she is at Camp.

We realize it is easier to watch this transition on our end than it is for parents who are receiving letters describing their daughter’s desire to come home. A strong-hearted parent who can remind his or her daughter that she has what it takes to adapt to and to enjoy Camp is essential to a camper’s ability to turn the corner and settle in to Camp.

It is amazing to see girls deal with these difficult emotions and come through on the other side, confident and happy in a new situation. This is exactly why you are sending your daughter to Camp, and while it may be a challenge for her at first, ultimately it will be one of her best growing experiences.

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