Feeling homesick is normal for kids at summer camp, but it’s more fun if you can overcome it! These five ways to overcome homesickness will help kids, parents, and camp counselors.
I went to Camp Timberline last weekend, and remembered the homesickness I felt as a kid at camp in the summer. I went to Beaver Creek Bible Camp, and desperately wanted to go home.
Maybe that’s why I wrote 8 Tips for Overcoming Homesickness for Women Traveling Alone – because I know how it feels to be so homesick you could die, or cry, or fly all the way home. And that’s why I’m writing this article about kids and homesickness today, because I want to help kids enjoy their summer camp experience.
And I read an article in the local newspaper this morning, about homesickness and kids at camp. I thought I could do it better. I’ll let you be the judge!
How to Help Your Kids Overcome Homesickness
The first three tips will help you ease your child into summer camp, and are especially helpful if you know he’s prone to feeling homesick when he’s away from you.
Give your kids lots of experience being away from home
This tip is for parents, and it’s way more helpful if you kick it into action before your kids go to summer camp: send them off on practice trips so they get used to being away from home. If they go to summer camp by themselves for a week – and they’ve never been away from you before – then they’ll freak out with homesickness.
It’s important to start teaching your kids to be independent early, to help them adjust later on.
Introduce your kid to other campers before they leave
This is another tip for overcoming homesickness that works best if you do it before camp starts: arrange a play date or meeting with other kids who will be at camp, so your kid doesn’t feel so lost and alone.
If you can’t organize a meeting with another camper, try to introduce your kid to a camp counselor or the camp nurse before camp starts. You might even take your child on a tour of the campgrounds or cabins before camp starts, to help them gently ease in.
Involve your kids in the summer camp decisions
There are lots of decisions to be made about summer camp, ranging from what swimsuits to pack to what week to attend. Encourage your child to be as active as possible in making those decisions, so he feels he has some control over the situation. Feeling empowered won’t necessarily erase feelings of homesickness while he’s at camp, but it may help him feel more grown up before he leaves.
If your kids are prone to anxiety, read How to Help Your Kids Cope With Stress.
The next three tips are tools for kids to overcome feelings of homesickness while they’re away…
Distract yourself when you feel lonely or homesick
This is a great tip for overcoming homesickness for people of all ages: distract yourself with activities or other people (but not food!). Do something fun, like playing games with friends, exploring a different area of the campsite, or trying a new activity.
If I felt homesick at camp, I’d spend time with animals if I could. Camp Timberline has a lovely little petting zoo, with baby goats, sheep, and calves – not to mention the bunny rabbits, chickens, donkeys, and mini horses. I loved being with them, because they relaxed me. What makes you feel calm and happy when you’re away from home? Do more of it.
You might even talk to a camp counselor or fellow camper about your feelings of homesickness. It may seem like you’re the only one who is homesick, but trust me – other kids and even some of the camp counselors struggle with homesickness, too!
Remember that everyone is waiting for you at home
Another way to distract yourself is to think about positive things. Remember that you’ll be going home in a few nights, and your mom/dog/dog/cat/friends are waiting for you at home! They love you, and they’ll be there when you get home. I don’t encourage you to think a lot about home and all the things you miss…just remember that home is there, waiting for you.
Also, remember that your time at camp is short. It feels long and lonely, but it will go by faster than you realize!
What do you think – how do kids overcome feelings of homesickness when they’re away at summer camp!
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.