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It can be stressful for a parent to get a tearful phone call from a child at camp. For children who are away from home, it is very common for them to experience homesickness. Ninety percent of all children report experiencing feelings of sadness when separated from their home environment. Most children are able to function at camp and learn to work through homesickness. And it’s worth the struggle when kids return stronger and more independent. Some preparation ahead of time may help lessen homesickness at camp.

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Have your child help pack. If your child is picking out his clothes and making sure they he has all that he needs, this will help him start to think about time at camp and taking care of himself.

Be positive when you talk with your child about camp. Remind him how much fun he will have with new activities and making new friends.

Address any concerns your child may have about being away from home. You can create some coping strategies together, or better yet, have him come up with suggestions of what he might do in certain situations. For example, when he feels homesick, or lonely he could write a letter home, find a friend, talk with camp staff, or get busy with an activity.

Back up Plans. Do NOT make a back up plan with your child in case he wants to come home. If a child and a parent have an easy ‘out’ it will likely be taken. Camp staff are usually prepared to help a homesick child. You might, however, talk with camp staff to make sure your child is working through it and still having a positive camp experience. You can encourage your child to stick it out. If the homesickness is severe and your child is not functioning well, decide ahead of time what you will do.

Pack notes in your child’s bag with encouraging words, affirmations, and even some funny jokes or camp mad libs for him to complete.  If you mail letters to camp, be positive and encourage your child that he can do it! Telling your child how much you miss him may not be helpful. Consider sending stamped envelopes and paper so your child can write you back. It will help him feel connected with you, and it’s neat to read the notes even after camp.

Prepare yourself to be apart from your child for the week. Have a friend you can talk with and that can give you positive and encouraging reminders. Click here for more tips for parents to manage their own worries about summer camp.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County

Sources:

American Psychological Association. “Summer camp blues: Planning ahead to lessen homesickness at camp.” 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/camp.aspx

American Psychological Association. “Sending your child to camp: Manage your own worries.” 2017. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/camp-worry.aspx

 

 

 

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CampingEvery year around this time my daughter and I start looking at camps that she wants to attend over the summer. Sending your child to camp can be overwhelming for the first time. When picking a camp think about your child’s interests. You may also want to consider your family finances. How much can you afford to spend on the camp? Are there special items you need to purchase for the camp?

To have a successful camp experience, remember to include your child in the decision making process. Check out the camp website – you should be able to see pictures of the area and activities which will help your child get excited about going to camp. If there are reviews by campers, take time to read them.

American Camp Association suggests you consider these things before enrolling your child:
• What locale do we want to consider? (mountains, ocean, distance from home)
• Do we want a traditional camp that gives my child a wide variety of experiences or do we want a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity or set of skills?
• What size enrollment will make my child feel comfortable?
• How rustic do we want the camp to be?
• How structured do we want the program to be?
• Does my child want lots of choice in the activity schedule?
• Is my child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? This will help you to select either a resident or day camp setting.
• What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer? (One week? Two weeks? Eight weeks?)
• How can we stay in touch with my child during camp? Does the camp allow mail, phone calls, texting or e-mail? Does the camp have parent visitation days?
• How will the camp meet my child’s special dietary or physical needs?
• What is my budget for camp tuition? Remember, many camps offer financial aid.

There are many things to consider when selecting a camp. Think about your family, your child and their needs and interests before registering. Make the camping experience a positive way for your child to gain independence, learn new skills, and make new friends.

Happy Camping!last day of camp

Source:
American Camp Association
http://www.acacamps.org/

Writer: Brenda Sandman-Stover, Program Assistant, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County, sandman-stover.1@osu.edu

Reveiwer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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