Yes, that is what I said!
Homesickness is one of the biggest concerns a parent has when discussing sending their camper away to camp. And yes, almost every camper will say that on at least one day of camp she was homesick. But families who sit down with their campers and actually have a conversation about homesickness usually see much better results.
Here are some things you can do to lessen homesickness:
• Keep frequent letters cheery and upbeat in such a way that they will not make your camper homesick. Don’t say you can’t get along without her, or ask about homesickness.
• If your camper has never slept away from home, try having your camper do overnights at friends’ houses before coming to camp. Try to simulate contact during this time, as you would have during camp.
• Pack a personal item from home.
• No rescue plan! Don’t tell your camper that you will come and pick her up or you will talk to her on the phone if she doesn’t like something. This often sets up an already anxious camper for failure, as she’ll focus on any reason not to like camp in order to go home.
• Don’t bribe your camper by promising something valuable if she makes it through camp. It sends the wrong message. The benefit is your camper’s new confidence and independence. Going to camp can be an important developmental milestone.
• Have a conversation about the many activities there are at camp, and that she probably won’t like all of them, or be as good at some activities as some of the other campers, but that is okay.
• Help your camper think of things she can do to cope with feelings of missing home.
• Tell your camper that her counselor is there to help her. If the camper doesn’t feel comfortable telling her counselor something specific for some reason, tell your camper that she can go to her Division Leader or one of the Directors.