1. Discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
2. Reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child's camp has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.
3. Send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say, "I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp."
4. When a "rescue call" comes from your child, offer calm reassurance and put the time frame into perspective. Avoid the temptation to take your child home early.
5. Don't feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.
This summer, millions of children will get their first taste of independence at a summer resident camp. For many, it will also be their first experience with homesickness. But parents don't have to feel helpless when homesickness strikes. The prescription for camper homesickness is a simple solution of preparation and patience.
Phillips Exeter Academy psychologist Dr. Christopher Thurber studied homesickness in 329 boys between the ages of 8 and 16 at resident camps. According to his results, homesickness is the norm rather than the exception. A whopping 83% of the campers studied reported homesickness on at least one day of camp.
Thurber and the American Camp Association (ACA) suggest the following tips for parents to help their child deal with homesickness at camp:
© 2005 American Camp Association Inc. Founded in 1910, the American Camp Association is a national community of camp professionals and is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults through the camp experience.
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